With network automation correlating highly to achieving business agility, CIOs and other top IT executives may be struggling with how to get their organizations to pick up the pace.\nJuniper Network\u2019s 2019 State of Network Automation Report (SoNAR) provides some keen insights into the top issues that hold back organizations, as well as IT decision makers, from making progress toward greater automation.\nOverall, the top organizational challenge survey respondents face in developing their automation practice is an overwhelming number of technology choices, according to more than half of all respondents. Not surprisingly, those most overwhelmed (59%) have little or no experience in automating parts of their networks. But it\u2019s also true of 50% of those that have automation in production mode across all places in their networks, and 53% who have automation in production across parts of their networks. Other key challenges include budget, of course, and older networking equipment that is difficult to automate.\nOnly one group\u2014evaluators who have automation up and running in lab or test environments\u2014views lack of budget or financial barriers as a greater challenge.\nA daunting task\nThe challenge is probably not a big surprise to those involved in network automation decision making. As Heavy Reading Senior Analyst James Crawshaw points out in a white paper, \u201cNetwork automation is not a single technology, but rather a \u2018Swiss army knife\u2019 of protocols, tools, methodologies and processes.\u201c\nCrawshaw also observes that as new technologies such as AI and machine learning bring new opportunities for innovation, business outcomes can be advanced by a strategic transformation in business models, internal processes, and organizational culture.\nClearly CIOs face a daunting task in finding the right skills\u2014internally or externally, via service providers\u2014to rise to the challenge. Technology innovation will continue apace, even as organizations demand more from their IT teams, so the prospect of creating a comprehensive automation solution from a plethora of tools and components and vendors might indeed seem overwhelming.\nReaching out for help\nDecision-makers are going to have to balance build-vs-buy options and decide how best to leverage their internal skillsets with those of external partners who have specialists dedicated to the task and can call upon experiences helping other organizations improve their automation capabilities.\nThey can also take advantage of community knowledge, drawing on the experiences and expertise of other organizations that are going through the same journey and are perhaps further ahead of the curve. NRE Labs is a community-centered initiative that aims to bring the skills of automation within reach of everyone. Lessons and documentation, freely available, can expose your staff at all levels to the tools, skills, and processes that will help your organization \u201cconsume\u201d automation more readily.\nTake a look at the NRE Labs lesson catalog to find out how you might begin to plug the skills gap and make the task of network automation less overwhelming. And for more insights into how other organizations are dealing or struggling with this issue, download the 2019 State of Network Automation Report at Juniper.net\/sonar.