In the media

Taking the lead on IT automation

By Joe Fitzgerald

Harvard Business Review

22 February 2022

PA’s Lee Howells, digital expert, is quoted in a Harvard Business Review report on IT automation. 

The report draws on a study which highlight the importance of IT automation which was one thought of exclusively as simple tools to help businesses streamline tasks, but is in fact now being seen as a strategic initiative and long-term IT strategy. 

The report explains that IT leaders may be missing opportunities to promote IT automation. Lee says that the irony is that the enthusiasm for IT leaders to become bigger evangelists of IT automation is precisely what may of those IT leaders were hired to do. 

He goes on to say: “Over the past two to five years, IT leaders have become technology evangelists, because they have seen the need for their organizations to progress their IT capabilities. They probably won the role because of these forward-looking attitudes, especially at the current epoch, where there are so many capabilities available. The pandemic has pushed us forward in digital capability; it has provided a demonstration of what can be done up to the board level, which holds the funds.” 

Sometimes, IT automation can be seen as a daunting task and barriers to enterprise-wide adoption can vary between organisations. The report states that respondents said that the lack of IT automation skills/talent is a challenge. 

Lee says that access to talent is easier than it was in the past: “Many people are getting cloud certifications independently for their own personal enjoyment and progression,” he says. “They are becoming more IT automation savvy as a matter of course. University students are learning about IT automation as a matter of course, so the talent pool is growing and growing.” 

The report goes on to say that the success of IT automation often rests on IT leaders helping the workforce optimise business outcomes and remove tasks that workers find tedious. 

Lee explains: “If there’s one thing IT leaders should do, it’s provide clear, simple, consistent, regular communication of the strategy for IT automation. IT leaders constantly have to let their people know what’s happening and why it’s happening, because if employees don’t know why change is happening, they feel things are going negatively for them and they resist.” 

In particular, Lee recommends town halls, so IT leaders can get face-to-face with their staffs as they evangelise the need for IT automation. “When you have that interaction, you can look in people’s eyes and see if they’re encouraged or fearful,” he says. Lee goes on to say: “You can augment that with newsletters, emails, and Slack channels. You need to do it consistently.” 

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