June 14, 2024

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Taking advantage of technology  Debris.com

Taking advantage of technology Debris.com

It's better to start than not to make a mistake at all – this is the advice that Udo Urbantschitsch, Vice President of GEO Technology Sales at Red Hat, gives to all those who are still afraid of IT automation projects. But anyone who automates their processes can only win. Not only time, but also a whole new company at the end.

The main problem with automation is that you need fewer people to do the work.

Urbancic: This is a fear that exists and is therefore often addressed. But the opposite is true: in the end, no one regrets automation. In fact, everyone is still sitting in their places. Automation brings new freedom in life that can be used for higher value tasks or converted into free time. Keynote 32 hours a week. In my opinion, no company will be able to achieve this if it does not reach a certain level of cultural maturity.

So what are the drivers of automation?

Urbancic: Certainly not a reduction in staff, because skilled workers are currently still in short supply. Companies are highly sought after. This is exactly why many people want automation, so that they can use the company's valuable talent as professionally as possible. Specifically, so that they do not have to undertake low-value activities, but can instead focus on innovation and thus generate more business value. The second reason is generally an issue of security and auditability. Anyone working in a regulated company, such as in the banking or insurance sector, must adhere to requirements for protocols, documentation and overall traceability of operations. This is virtually impossible with classic manufacturing work. This is where automation helps a lot. Because once you automated something, you also documented it. Another reason arose from the issue of business continuity. What do I do if all my employees are home from day to day? Yes, we have already tried that and have mastered a lot in remote work and the like. But how can you keep some sensitive processes running if no one in the control center presses the button to make something happen?

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What are the easiest or most logical application areas for IT automation?

Urbancic: The first use case is almost always in the IT department, where it involves provisioning resources such as computing capacity, access to specific platforms or onboarding a new employee. These are always the first touchpoints we see. So the question is: How can I as an IT department make it easy for my internal customers or internal stakeholders to resource? However, the topic of IT automation has become much more than just a cultural and process-oriented topic. Many people are now interested in end-to-end automation. So we talk often and for a long time about the benefits of processes before we talk about the technology itself.

Who needs to take the initiative? Is this the IT department or the administration department?

Urbancic: It is implemented seriously, it is strategically thought out and scaled to the right level, and 90 percent of the decision comes from management. This is also the distinguishing criterion between IT automation and business automation. But the initial spark, interest in the topic of IT automation, actually originates in IT departments. However, it's more about solving a specific problem: I mean, I do the same thing five times every day and I want to simplify that. But this is not strategic thinking. As long as IT simply automates tedious manual activities, the company has not yet culturally adopted automation. But if management sees automation as important, standards in the company start to rise. And then things get really interesting.

What role do people play in an automation project?

Urbancic: Once a company truly aims for end-to-end automation, i.e. tries to automate entire value chains, it succeeds only if there are people who write the necessary intelligent instructions and define the quality. After all, automation can only work as intelligently as people tell it to. This means you need trained employees who can contribute their own experience and knowledge. But downstream automation processes also need maintenance. You shouldn't fall into the mindset that once you automate something, it runs on autopilot. This would be nice. This tool definitely needs more maintenance. People are not exempt from this care. This means I need staff who can do this at all times.

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There is no IT interview without AI: How does AI play its role in automation?

Urbancic: We look at the mix of automation and artificial intelligence very carefully. Why? End-to-end automation means a lot of work in-house. This is not something you can buy. You can just buy the technology and support, but you always have to do it yourself. Artificial intelligence changes the game a bit. For example, you can use AI models that analyze a company's current infrastructure and its automation nuggets and learn from them how to fundamentally automate that company. Then suddenly all employees will have a tool at hand with which they can say, like Chat GPT: I need automation for XY, please. What comes back are not just general instructions, but instructions related to the company's names. This also helps us incredibly in giving the company's marketing, sales, logistics and purchasing people a tool with which they can create a 95 percent ultimate automation system. Of course this is a huge boost and democratizes this technology.

Where are the greatest risks inherent in automation? What could you really be doing wrong?

Urbancic: Don't even start. Many clients experience this initial discouragement because they don't want to make a mistake. Another thing you can do wrong – but this also applies to many other IT tools – is: you're not ready to adapt your culture. If you think everything will be fine by purchasing an automation tool, you will fail miserably. What I mean by this is: I think it takes strong internal project management and really change management to be able to use automation successfully even remotely. You really have to take your employees with you and inspire them. You have to show them the added value and communicate it transparently. Many employees are reluctant to know them due to completely normal fears. However, this will never achieve the effect that would be possible. Another mistake is not getting enough help and taking advantage of other people's experience and failures.

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Where are potential vulnerabilities in technology?

Urbancic: One of the special prerequisites for IT automation is that I must use systems that can be automated. To serve our core motto at Red Hat: openness matters. Translating it to any technology: If a manufacturer doesn't commit to developing open source standards or providing interfaces through which you can programmatically play or play certain discs, I'll be left with a closed door. We therefore advise our clients to adopt a company-wide policy of not purchasing anything that does not have an interface that can be automated.

Will future generations thank us for what we are doing now?

Urbancic: Yes, I think they will be very grateful. After all, a large part of our prosperity lies in the fact that things we once had to take care of manually were once automated. Many of the technologies we have seen in IT in recent years involve a lot of automation, industrialization and standardization. The whole topic of digitization is based on the fact that you want to create a scaling effect. We can't achieve this if every employee sews everything by hand.

To a person

Udo Urbancic, Vice President of GEO Technology Sales at Red Hat, studied at WU Vienna (production and project management) and at FH Technikum Wien (innovation management).

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