The race to automate: How AI-powered automation unlocks value

BrandPost By CIO Middle East, in association with IBM
Sep 27, 2021
Technology Industry

In this webinar, in collaboration with IBM, experts discuss how AI-powered automation is an excellent place to start a transformation strategy, as it can return productivity gains quickly before the enterprise undertakes a wider AI strategy.

ibm article med
Credit: Getty

Automation transforms work by reducing the necessity for human involvement in workflow and tasks, making business processes more efficient. AI can accelerate innovation by analysing complex datasets to produce actionable insights. AI-powered automation combines task and process automation with intelligent analysis to accelerate innovation and digital transformation.

IT leaders view the automation of business or IT processes as the primary driver of product development and revenue growth, according to IDG’s 2021 State of the CIO study.

A vast majority of AI and automation leaders expect to outperform their competitors in revenue growth. In addition, automation and AI are expected to release $134 billion in labour value in 2022, according to Forrester. The best way to capture some of that value is by unifying the two technologies across your enterprise, using machine learning and AI to help collect and analyse operational data and optimise your processes.

Whether you want to automate complex operations that span your entire organisation, such as procure-to-pay, or automate repetitive tasks, IBM AI-powered automation can help you reduce your manual processes by 80%. But digital transformation is not just about automating basic manual processes.

IBM looks to build a comprehensive AI-powered automation suite

“Automation, within IBM, is not only about business-process automation, it’s also IT automation, integration — all of that is part of the automation story,” explains Mohamed Naceur Trabelsi, IBM Business Automation Leader, MEA.

Automation is a journey, says Trabelsi. Initially, Business Automation meant automating individual tasks. “Now it’s about taking it to the next level,” he says, which means going beyond task automation and driving initiatives that make companies more resilient and adaptable. The way to do that is through AI, Trabelsi says.

“When we work with organisations we look at two different types of work — lower and higher-value work,” Trabelsi says. Lower-value work consists of repetitive tasks such as data input for report creation, while higher-value work involves overarching issues and concerns for the enterprise. “What we try to do is infuse AI almost in every step of the automation journey,” applying AI-powered automation to all types of work.

The coronavirus pandemic has not only increased the business of cloud providers, but it has also accelerated the development of the services they offer. More and more production and business workflows can be automated, and for less money, and technology giants such as IBM are stepping on the accelerator to be the ones to offer more and better options.

Business automation is critical to drive digital transformation and as with any transformation project, it is not without risk for the CIO. BCG research shows that only 30% of transformations succeed in achieving their objectives.

Hence for enterprises, the key to the success of any transformation project is showing value quickly. This earns the buy-in of stakeholders and allows the CIO to accelerate from a small initial deployment to larger and broader transformation goals.

Instana APM takes a role in IBM’s automation story

IBM’s fourth purchase of 2020 was the acquisition of Instana, a company dedicated to application performance monitoring (APM).

Headquartered in Chicago with a development centre in Germany, Instana software enables companies to manage the performance of complex and modern cloud-native applications regardless of where they reside: mobile devices, public and private clouds, and even on-premises (including IBM Z systems and through Kubernetes).

It provides the IT staff of organisations with information that indicates how to prevent and better remedy technological problems that can damage the business or reduce customer satisfaction, such as slow response times, services that do not work or fall in the infrastructure. This allows administrators to focus on more valuable work, instead of manually monitoring these aspects.

“After the 2020 acquisition of Instana, IBM integrated Instana’s market-leading observability platform for cloud-native applications,” says Mehmet Cem Olcay, IBM Instana Brand Manager, MEA. “Instana has a simple goal — to make life easier for DevOps teams to deliver faster and with less effort. Instana automates most of the manual work necessary to set up and configure, like installing and configuring the different infrastructures, application monitoring, agents. It makes them all automated.”

For example, one of our clients in South Africa used to take days to do root cause analysis but now with Instana, everything is automated, from the deployment of the agent, Olcay says. “It creates all dependencies for you, allowing you to pinpoint problems right away.”

WDG Automation and myInvenio advance AI-infused automation capabilities for enterprises

Also, earlier this IBM announced the acquisition of the Italian company myInvenio, which is specialised in process mining. The Italian company will strengthen the IBM Cloud Pack for Business Automation platform. MyInvenio joins within the IBM automation suite another company acquisition, that of Brazilian company WDG Automation, announced last year, which specializes in RPA.

“Both of these are now offered in one bundle offering which is called IBM Cloud Pack for Business Automation” adds Naceur.

Turbonomic offers cloud development company powered by AI and machine learning

Big Blue also opened its chequebook for Turbonomic, an AI-based network performance and application management provider. This was the company’s 11th hybrid cloud and AI acquisition since Arvind Krishna became CEO of IBM in 2020. “Hybrid cloud and AI are the two dominant forces driving change for our clients and they must have the focus of the whole company,” he said then.

Turbonomic’s Application Resource Management (ARM) and Network Performance Management (NPM) tools assess and manage the performance of everything from applications and containers to virtualisation.

AI-powered decision making helps with automation

“IBM has been busy creating a one stop shop for AI-powered automation, with Turbonomic IBM I believe will be able to offer even more powerful capabilities in that space,” says Alec Kemp, Turbonomic Field CTO, EMEA & APA. “We’re driving contextual understanding and most crucially automatable trustworthy actions to keep your applications performing well as the load changes and the picture changes in your environment. Decisions are created by Turbonomic automatically and are driven by application demand and we call this ARM or application resource management.”

It has never been more challenging to assure applications deliver exceptional customer experiences that drive positive business results and beat the competition. Application architecture and design must be well executed, and the underlying infrastructure must be resourced to support the real-time demands of the application. The combination of Instana and Turbonomic provides higher levels of observability and trusted actions to continuously optimize and assure application performance.