Businesses are still too reliant on manual IT processes, suggests new research from Claranet

Research indicates UK IT departments spend just 12 per cent of their time on innovation

New research commissioned by managed services provider Claranet has revealed that a failure to automate IT processes and a heavy reliance on manual intervention is hindering the ability of organisations to embrace innovation. Despite a prediction by Gartner that 75 per cent of enterprises will have more than six diverse automation technologies within their IT management portfolios by 2019, almost half of organisations still have some way to go to put this into practice.

The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne and surveying 750 IT and Digital decision-makers from a range of organisations across Europe, is summarised in Claranet's new Beyond Digital Transformation research report. The findings reveal that infrastructure configuration at nearly half (48 per cent) of UK businesses remains mostly or heavily manual. At the other end of the scale, only 11 per cent said that their infrastructure is highly automated. This is having a direct impact on the amount of time IT teams spend on maintenance and administration tasks.

According to the survey responses, IT teams spend over half (53 per cent) of their time on operational projects, general maintenance, responding to user problems, and unplanned work, with just 12 per cent of their time focused on new approaches that can lead to real business improvement and innovation.

For Michel Robert, Managing Director at Claranet UK, these responses underline the scale of the work that needs to be done to improve the efficiency of the IT department, as well as the overall impact it has on the wider business:

Automation is a critical enabling technology that can give organisations the agility, speed, scalability, resilience and compliance they need to compete and succeed in the age of digital business."

Unfortunately, it appears that many UK companies are struggling to adopt automation, from both an infrastructure and application perspective. This not only makes the day-to-day activity of the IT department less efficient, but also has a negative impact on the wider business, as new initiatives that are underpinned by technology cannot be leveraged to their full potential. At the same time, this lack of automation opens up the organisation to the threat of human error, and the financial and administrative impact this can have."

In order to effectively address this low level of automation, Michel believes that businesses need to focus on making a series of organisation-wide changes to help reduce manual processes and facilitate greater efficiency. This should include taking steps to free up time for IT teams, and implementing processes to help join up various departments and responsibilities more effectively. To be a success, all of this needs steadfast support from leaders across the business.

Crucial to making automation more commonplace is a commitment by leadership to making it a reality. This means that the C-suite – whether directly involved with IT or otherwise – need to be fully aware of its benefits and work together to create and implement plans to increase the pace of automation. This includes working towards freeing IT teams of the burden of the more basic maintenance and administration tasks, and then introducing comprehensive, well-planned processes that join up everything that goes on in the IT department. Partnering with an external service provider can be an effective way of bringing these changes to fruition."

By taking an agile approach to increasing automation which includes organisation-wide support and openness to working with third-party providers, organisations can gain the means to accelerate the move to automation across both infrastructure and applications, without diverting time and resource from the IT department. If this approach is taken, addressing the automation challenge need not be a daunting task and can be addressed in a practical manner, and IT teams can begin to think more deeply about how they can drive the needs of the wider business."