Cloud Automation: Is it time to adapt or die?

Last week our Technical Director, Steve Todd, took part in a UKFast webinar on the core drivers for cloud automation adoption and how it could benefit business of all sizes.

It certainly was a lively debate, looking at the efficiencies that automating key business processes could drive and the perceived pitfalls of handing control over to the computers. But before we go into that, let’s get some fresh clarity on what cloud automation actually is.

Cloud Automation in a Nutshell

According to UKFast, UK cloud adoption reached 88% in 2017, yet we find that many businesses are not harnessing the potential of cloud automation. Perhaps this is in part because there is a lack of education around the topic, which is seen as the domain of techies and Hollywood scriptwriters.

In its simplest form, cloud automation is a catch-all term for the processes and tools that a business uses to create its infrastructure and reduce manual input into setting up and managing cloud computing workloads, as well as day-to-day business processes that can be taken over by computers.

For example, here at Mashbo we’ve used cloud automation to transform the way we set up our servers, previously a laborious manual task. Now we use Ansible to prescribe how we set up our servers - this is known as Infrastructure as Code (IoC). Its scripts do it the same way, every time with minimal human input and it’s scalable depending on what we are working on. The benefit? Freeing up time so the team can work on more enjoyable and profitable activities!

What’s driving the adoption of cloud automation?

The panel was unanimous in the fact that increased performance, greater efficiencies and business growth were the core drivers for the adoption of cloud automation, but what is it that is holding businesses back?

In our experience there is an initial cost to setting up robust automated processes that can make some businesses nervous. But the benefits of these processes are very quickly quantifiable in terms of time saved and what that means financially for a business, as employees are able to focus on income-generating tasks, rather than the grunt work.

Another barrier is trust. The fact is we humans are just not quite ready to let go of the control. We can’t quite believe that, when it comes to basic business automation processes, the computers will get it right and consistent every time.

Were we are building automated platforms, we find the manual checks we are putting in place are for the humans, not the computers.

Trust is something that will of course come over time, as the technology develops and evolves through machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Once that is in place, businesses will come to understand where the human input is required and will add value.

Our client and business investment partner, PropertyCloud – a product that completely automates the student lettings process – is already gaining this understanding. It is investing time freed up by automation in business growth and improving its customer service, excellence in this area is something that it difficult for computers to replicate.

Adapt or die

After the webinar, the team at Mashbo discussed how cloud automation would dramatically change the landscape of human labour over the next 30 years and we realised that we’re probably the last generation that will live without the fear of being replaced by robots – but that’s a discussion for another time.

For the time being at least (as Tesla’s most recent foray into production line automation proves) human input remains vital. The machines need to draw on our experiences and they rely on our provision of good quality data to get tasks right.

They’re great at the start of a sales funnel, answering early questions via chatbots, but they can’t necessarily build that client-supplier relationship that retains work.

But that doesn’t mean that businesses should ignore automation until it has developed to that point.

As Steve succinctly rounded off the UKFast webinar, for the next 10 – 15 years the computers will still need people, but the adoption of cloud automation will be a key factor in those businesses that survive and those that don’t.

Adapt or die – what is your business planning to do? Why not contact us to discuss how cloud automation could help future proof your business?

Steve was joined on the webinar by Founder of outbound marketing agency, Authentic, Una Cotterell, MD of e-commerce consultancy, Xune and Dr Chris Folkerd, the webinar host and Director of Enterprise Technology at UKFast.

Watch the full webinar here.

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