IT Process Automation: An In-Depth Guide for 2024

IT Process Automation Growth Statistics

In today‘s digital world, IT process automation (ITPA) is essential for tech teams to deliver innovation at the pace business demands. By optimizing workflows, ITPA empowers staff to focus on high-value initiatives that drive competitive advantage.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore what IT process automation entails, key benefits, top solutions, use cases, and the growth trajectory of this critical capability.

What is IT Process Automation?

IT process automation refers to the use of software bots and scripts to standardize, optimize and automate IT workflows. By replicating or enhancing manual efforts electronically, ITPA aims to improve efficiency, accuracy, speed and compliance.

ITPA is applied to high-volume, repetitive processes like:

  • Server provisioning
  • Backup routines
  • User account management
  • Access rights provisioning
  • Compliance controls
  • Incident response
  • Change management

These tasks are codified into scripts, scheduled routines and end-to-end workflows that can run automatically, with little to no human intervention. ITPA incorporates capabilities like process mining, robotic process automation, predictive analytics and machine learning to enable continuous improvement.

With ITPA, IT teams can operate and scale rapidly to meet growing business demands. Time spent on mundane tasks is dramatically reduced, allowing tech talent to focus on innovation and strategic priorities.

How Does IT Process Automation Work?

Implementing automation involves several key steps:

1. Discover automation opportunities – Analyze system logs and workflows to uncover repetitive processes ripe for automation. Prioritize by impact and effort to automate.

2. Map processes – Document existing manual processes required to complete tasks. Identify potential improvements through automation.

3. Develop automated workflows – Configure software bots, scripts or graphical workflow designers to replicate or enhance mapped processes.

4. Integrate surrounding systems – Connect to APIs, databases, apps and services that touch processes. Orchestrate end-to-end workflows.

5. Test extensively – Validate logic and output by running automations on cloned test environments under different scenarios.

6. Deploy and monitor – Roll-out to production and continually monitor performance. Fine-tune and enhance automation over time.

With intuitive drag-and-drop design tools, ITPA can be built by citizen developers without extensive coding expertise. Pre-built automation templates for common tasks can also accelerate development.

IT Process Automation vs. RPA

IT process automation is often confused with robotic process automation (RPA), which are distinct technologies:

ITPA RPA
Automates complex IT workflows Automates repetitive business processes
Integrates with back-end systems Mimics user interface interactions
Handles dynamic decisions Follows predefined logic
Orchestrates across multiple tools Typically automates within a single app
Broad IT use cases Common for data entry and customer service

While differing in approach, leading organizations leverage both RPA and ITPA for comprehensive benefits. RPA bots handle simple digital tasks, while ITPA automates complex workflows across the technology stack.

Top IT Process Automation Solutions

Many IT management tools offer workflow automation capabilities. Here are some leading dedicated ITPA solutions:

  • VMware vRealize Automation – Automates infrastructure delivery and management.

  • ASG-Zeke – Automates workload scheduling, file transfers, job dependencies and more.

  • Stonebranch Universal Automation Center – End-to-end automation with orchestration across tools.

  • BMC Control-M – Automates application workflows, big data pipelines and cloud orchestration.

  • Tidal Automation – Cloud-based automation for IT ops, infrastructure and security workflows.

  • OpCon – Automates IT workloads like scheduling, file transfers and reporting.

  • AutomationEdge – No-code visual designer for complex multi-system workflows.

  • Resolve Systems – Automates IT event remediation and incident response processes.

Whether on-premises, cloud, or hybrid environments, these solutions can automate virtually any IT process.

5 Key Benefits of IT Process Automation

Streamlining operations through automation provides many benefits:

1. Increased Efficiency

ITPA reduces the staff time required to complete tasks by 90% or more in some cases. Intelligent prioritization and scheduling further optimizewhen processes run. Automation also standardizes processes for consistency.

Across thousands of daily transactions, these efficiency gains allow IT teams to take on more work without additional headcount. Expensive outsourcing can also be reduced.

2. Improved Service Levels

Automating repetitive tasks like password resets and common service requests frees support staff to handle higher-value work. Bots can work 24/7 to resolve routine issues and surface critical incidents to staff.

Faster resolution of incidents also improves uptime and availability. Automation both prevents outages and accelerates recovery when they occur.

3. Enhanced Security

Automating compliance controls, system patching, log reviews and threat responses enhances security. Automation provides control and consistency superior to manual efforts. Human errors and oversights are eliminated.

4. Greater Scalability

ITPA allows IT teams to dynamically scale capacity as business needs grow. Automated processes easily absorb fluctuations in workload volume without staff intervention.

Cloud-based automation also provides elastic capacity to handle seasonal or situational spikes in demand. No manual effort is needed to scale IT support up or down.

5. Strategic Focus

When repetitive tasks are automated, talented IT professionals can devote their efforts to more rewarding, high-value projects. This improves job satisfaction and supports the tech skills development critical for innovation.

IT Process Automation Use Cases

Nearly any high-volume IT process is a candidate for automation. Here are some of the most compelling use cases:

Server Provisioning – Automating server setup, configuration and application deployment accelerates environment readiness while enforcing standards.

Software Deployments – Automated, scheduled software release and patch deployments accelerate delivery of updates across the tech landscape.

User Provisioning – Automating new employee onboarding, account creation, group membership and access rights prevents security gaps.

Password Resets – Simple self-service password resets relieve IT teams of hundreds of routine service desk tickets.

Incident Response – Automated runbook execution reliably resolves system failures, outages and other incidents quickly.

Vulnerability Management – Automating scanning, patching, configuration checks and remediation actions enhances security posture.

Audit Preparation – Automated data gathering and reporting across systems generates compliance reports for SOX, HIPAA and other regulations.

Cloud Optimization – Automation scales cloud resources up or down based on demand signals to optimize spending.

SaaS Application Workflows – Automation seamlessly stitches together processes spanning multiple SaaS applications.

Nearly any IT process with defined rules and integration potential is ripe for automation. Prioritizing by impact and ease of implementation is key.

IT Process Automation in Action

Let‘s explore a common automation use case – server provisioning and deployment.

The manual steps in this workflow may include:

  • Receive server request
  • Verify specifications with team
  • Procure server
  • Rack, cable and configure server
  • Install OS, apps, dependencies
  • Test configuration
  • Hand-off to team

This typically takes several days of IT staff time with potential for human error. ITPA can reduce the timeline to minutes with no errors:

  • Automated request intake form
  • Automated validation of pre-set configuration options
  • API integration auto-procures pre-approved models
  • Automated OS image deploys pre-configured server profile
  • Automated app installs/config based on request
  • Automated testing suite validates environment
  • Email notification of completed server access

By optimizing the process, server deployment is faster, standardized and hands-free for IT staff.

IT Process Automation Platforms

Several leading IT process automation platforms exist in 2024:

VMware vRealize Automation

vRealize automates infrastructure delivery and lifecycle management for virtualized environments. It leverages policy-based governance for consistent and compliant IT services.

Stonebranch Universal Automation Center

This end-to-end IT automation and orchestration platform integrates with over 100 different applications. It offers advanced workload automation and cloud orchestration capabilities.

Tidal Automation

Tidal provides cloud-based automation ideal for distributed enterprises. It offers 450+ pre-built automations spanning IT ops, infrastructure management, security processes and more.

BMC Control-M

Control-M defines, schedules, manages and monitors IT process workflows. It automates batch processes, big data pipelines, cloud provisioning and application workloads.

OpCon

OpCon enables automation of IT processes like workload scheduling, file transfers, SLA enforcement, notifications and reporting. The solution is scalable across on-prem and cloud environments.

These represent just a sample of the many robust ITPA solutions available from both established and emerging vendors. The breadth of options makes it possible to find the ideal platform aligned to your tech stack, cost and capability needs.

Growth Trajectory of IT Process Automation

Demand for IT process automation solutions is accelerating quickly:

IT Process Automation Growth Statistics

Several macro IT trends are driving adoption:

  • Digital transformation – Cloud, mobile, IoT and apps expand the IT landscape. Automation stitches these together.

  • Technology democratization – Low-code tools empower citizen automators without coding skills.

  • Competitive pressure – Automation provides speed and agility for competitive advantage.

  • Skills gaps – Automation maximizes constrained IT talent.

  • Maturing processes – Many processes are now stable enough to automate, with predictable rules and volumes.

  • User expectations – Users expect instant digital experiences. Automation prevents outages.

45% of IT decision makers report they have implemented some form of IT process automation. And MGI Research predicts the global market for ITPA solutions will reach $57 billion by 2026 as adoption accelerates.

The Future of IT Process Automation

As ITPA delivers value today, emerging innovations will expand its possibilities:

AI and Machine Learning – Smart algorithms will enable automation to handle unstructured data flows and make predictive decisions.

Event-Driven Automation – Workflows will trigger automatically based on events detected in real-time data streams.

Tighter RPA Integration – More seamless workflows combining human, digital and bot task handoffs will emerge.

Expanded Monitoring – Automation will tap into more data sources like IoT to remediate issues proactively.

Self-Healing Infrastructure – Systems will anticipate and resolve problems automatically using AI. Human effort will focus on optimization.

Elastic Automation – Cloud-based automation will provide unlimited capacity to handle workflow surges.

IT process automation will only grow more intelligent, ubiquitous and essential in the years ahead.

Key Takeaways and Advice

Here are my top recommendations for leveraging IT process automation based on over 15 years of experience in the field:

  • Start with bite-sized automations delivering quick wins and ROI based on pain points.

  • Focus on repetitive tasks taking too much staff time – the low-hanging automation fruit.

  • Involve process owners early to map ideal workflows, not just digitize broken ones.

  • Embed automation across teams’ ways of working, don’t silo efforts.

  • Monitor automations in production and continually improve.

  • Combine RPA and ITPA for comprehensive benefits across the tech stack.

  • Explore no-code tools like Tidal Automation and AutomationEdge to empower citizen automators.

Conclusion

As digital transformation accelerates, manual processes are no longer sustainable for high-performing IT teams. Intelligent process automation presents a path to unlock productivity, improve quality and refocus talent on innovation.

With the surge of enabling tools and technologies, every IT organization can start their automation journey. Those putting in the work now to build competency will gain a long-term competitive advantage.

By exploring use cases, proving value and scaling efforts, tech leaders can drive their organization toward a new level of speed, reliability and strategic impact through automation. The future of modern IT operations is automated.