Writer: OLUWAFIROPO TOBI OGUNDARE, Territory Sales Lead for Red Hat Mauritius & West Africa
Automation is on everyone’s minds. Following in global footsteps, Nigerian enterprises are seeing the value of deploying new technologies across their IT infrastructure.
Gartner predicts that in 2023, 40% of all enterprise workloads will be deployed in cloud infrastructure and platform services, up from 20% in 2020.
As IT takes on a prominent role in the operations of any business, automation platforms can help streamline activities and improve productivity levels, consistency, and overall business performance.
But, when it comes to automation, if you put garbage in, you get garbage out. The technology holds incredible potential for Nigerian organisations if applied to IT infrastructure, but it requires a measured and strategic approach. One that unlocks maximum value and transforms infrastructure based on the size, needs, and expectations of the enterprise.
Infrastructure automation at base level
The automation trend comes as enterprise IT systems and infrastructure grow in size and complexity. IT spending in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) region is predicted to reach $99.9 billion in 2023, thanks to a year-on-year growth rate of 4.3%. This implies organisations in the region need to strengthen their digital resiliency and better position themselves for new market environments.
Enterprises don’t just need to invest in solutions that can transform them into digital-first organisations. They need solutions that allow them to scale quickly and efficiently, and that will help them fulfil daily responsibilities and complete workflow processes.
Essentially, infrastructure automation aims to reduce the amount of human input necessary to deliver information and technology services. Several IT infrastructure processes can be automated, including configuration and system maintenance that enables organisations to manage infrastructure without having to increase the size of their teams.
Automation platforms available to organisations come with all the tools needed to implement enterprise-wide automation, including playbooks, visual dashboards, event-driven solutions, and analytics. These are the fundamental building blocks of infrastructure automation and what enterprises need to get started.
The benefits and challenges
By automating IT tasks – system configuration, software deployments, and workflow orchestration – Nigerian enterprises can unlock several benefits.
For one, automation can help reduce costs. Enterprises save money by operating more efficiently, making fewer errors, and not having to increase the size of their IT departments. It is also a win for productivity. Teams no longer have to worry about manual tasks, meaning they can focus on more important business development projects, and retain availability in the event of downtime or any unforeseen incidents. Automation offers improved governance. Regardless of administrative oversight or input on any particular day, automated tasks adhere to stipulated corporate governance and data compliance rules.
On the flip side, automating IT tasks can be a challenge, especially when organisations try to expedite or rush the deployment process. IT teams may feel pressured to integrate new and legacy systems without accounting for complexity or interoperability. Taking a step back, organisations may be willing to cede too much control of their operations to software. This can result in increased expenditure, lack of clarity when it comes to long-term business goals, and teams feeling overloaded. Organisations must have a clear idea of what they want to achieve with the latest IT technologies, and that starts with devising a strategy.
Setting realistic goals
A good rule of thumb when devising your automation strategy is to let mechanical, repetitive work guide your priorities. In other words, automate tasks that frustrate team members or draw their attention away from more important ones. The approach to automation should align with the greater business goals and include outcomes that demonstrate value for individuals and teams, separate from the financial value for the organisation.
From there, organisations can take several steps to promote effective, enterprise-wide automation adoption. They include:
- Deploying a unified platform that works consistently across teams, processes, and IT environments. A user-friendly platform ensures easy adoption and eliminates the need for extensive training.
- Creating a cross-organisational automation team. Sharing best practices and experiences across the enterprise helps make adoption more seamless.
- Sharing automation content. By sharing content via a centralised repository, enterprises can increase consistency and efficiency between departments.
- Integrating domain-specific tools into your automation platform means there’s no need for teams to stop using the tools they already have.
- Tracking automation metrics. Key performance indicators (KPIs) help you track your automation journey.
- Applying clear standards and systems of governance. This includes defining guidelines for assets and their use, standardising testing, review, and release processes, and maintaining access controls for security purposes.
Above all else, enterprises need to manage expectations and set realistic goals. Automation may be a leading business priority, but it is only as effective as its deployment and strategy.
Nigerian enterprises should not underestimate the work that goes into automating their IT infrastructure. But, with the help of platform vendors and a well-conceived strategy, they can leverage the power of automation to generate authentic and uncompromised value for their business.