A lot of the work that we are engaged on can be categorised as automation. That is to say it is about reducing or eliminating the amount of effort that is needed to complete a task. In some cases, for example using Splunk to capture, index and interrogate log files from a myriad of cloud-based processes, the task would be all but impossible without automation. In most cases however, the work to be automated is currently done by human operators. The incentive to automate in this case is cost reduction.
Clearly, when evaluating automation opportunities, the viability of the potential project is often based on the number of FTEs that can be eliminated; too few to justify the upfront investment, and the project will be put to the back of the queue. The work, often tedious data entry, will continue to be done manually.
It might be time however to go looking for these less obvious potential pieces of work. This robotics article in The Atlantic has (to some) surprising anecdotes about what they call “self-automation” – employees figuring out the potential themselves, doing the work to make it happen and then keeping the benefit to themselves! In every case, an enterprising individual with some development capability has figured out that some, or occasionally all, of their tasks can be automated with free to use, open source tools. Without the upfront investment in an Enterprise grade Robotic Process Automation suite, the low return projects can be immediately more viable.
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