There was a time when IT determined the computing services that business users were allowed to have and how those services would be accessed. Those days are long gone. With the advent of mobile devices and social media, the center of gravity has shifted, and users are driving IT to behave differently and deliver computing services in new ways. This phenomenon has been coined “the consumerization of IT,” and it has far-reaching effects on the IT organization, including the choices that IT makes for infrastructure and automation tools.

Consumerization of IT and Workload Automation

Where does consumerization fit in? Consumerization is more than supporting mobile devices. It’s about increasing productivity and improving service, which means focusing on people, applications and content.

Business users are much more tech savvy today and have clear expectations about their technology needs. Computers have been a part of the upcoming generation of “digital natives’” lives from an early age. Our knowledge base has changed, user expectations have changed and technology in general has changed.

Workload automation remains important to businesses, as the vast majority of business processing is still scheduled versus performed in real-time. Today, 60 to 70 percent of business processing is scheduled and runs in batches. With the advent of Big Data analytics, that percentage will most likely remain constant or even grow. As a result, there’s great value in consumerizing workload automation.

Bridging the Divide Between IT and the Business: How Workload Automation Can Help

We’ve been hearing about how IT needs to align with the business for quite some time now. It’s not just hype; the two really do need to connect. How does IT communicate and form a relationship with business users—one that allows them to join forces, creating synergy that drives the company toward greater success? Self-service applications—such as those enabling ATM transactions and online airplane reservations—are used in businesses today, but they haven’t yet been widely adopted for internal IT services.

Workload automation is a great place to start with a self-service app, as it’s about automating the everyday business processing that services business users. Take, for instance, the case of a large insurance company that implemented a workload automation self-service application for its business users. They wanted to empower the business users to perform their own ad hoc work requests, eliminating the need for help desk requests and “interrupt-driven” activities.

Yes, the self-service implementation reduced cost and improved service, but it did so in ways they didn’t foresee. The self-service capabilities were initially given to the applications teams. They were excited about the ability to execute and monitor their own work, and they saw tremendous value in their business users doing the same. What they found as they rolled out the self-service application was that the groups began working together, communicating more effectively, and understanding each other’s business needs at a deeper and more practical level. The self-service app not only improved productivity and reduced costs, it also cultivated better working relationships and improved shared business knowledge.

Another example is a utility municipality that implemented self-service apps to empower their business users to take control of their work and also bridge a service gap with an outsourcing firm. They used workload automation self-service to further automate their payroll process as well as create new services for their business users.

Without self-service, the IT team gathered the payroll data and created a report for the financial auditors to review. The report was sent to the help desk, which in turn provided it to the financial auditors. Payroll processing was on hold until the financial auditor approval was received. The auditors reviewed the report and called the help desk with their approval, and the help desk opened a service request to restart the payroll process.

By implementing self-service, the IT team creates the payroll report and automatically emails it to the financial auditor. The financial auditor reviews and approves the report. When ready, the financial auditor restarts the payroll process using self-service. This fully automated process has the added benefit of logging all activity for compliance and auditing purposes, as well as eliminating work from the help desk and IT operations.

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