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Automation in flight – An analogy

Automation is an old art that applies to most human endeavours. Back in 1903, Wilbur Wright flew lying on his stomach, pushing and pulling levers in a bird-like fashion. Bird-like efforts to fly were not scalable in terms of flying distance and number of passengers. The need for automation was an early realisation in aviation; as early as 1912, Lawrence Sperry created the first automation tool to avoid pilots having to balance the plane in flight. After WW2, the expansion of large-scale commercial aviation called for more automation. The process has been so dramatic that at that time commercial planes had five crew members in the cockpit: a flight engineer, a radio operator, a navigator and two pilots. 

Beyond the buzz

As discussed in my previous blog post, A Case for Strategic Automation, whether developing as a part of a dedicated change programme or incorporating during a digital transformation, every modern company needs to have an Enterprise Automation Strategy. The main premise is that either through the addition to the Enterprise Architecture via in-built workflows in applications, or through purpose-built digital transformations, Automation will be a factor in the modern Enterprise and as such, each organisation should be prepared to make decision which will ultimately affect their people. 

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A case for strategic automation

Several years ago, I found myself working as a programme manager leading a team of developers building software using robotic process automation (RPA) on artificial intelligence (AI) as a foundation. This was my first time working with either of these technologies and took for granted the team’s grasp on automation. We were quite laissez faire with our use of RPA and most of our time was spent incorporating the solutions from our AI lab to solve our clients’ problems. As a part of my work it was imperative that our clients had an automation strategy and that our solutions were aligned with that strategy. It was then that I understood how few companies have automaton strategies, even as they are in the midst of digital transformations. I have since realised every organisation needs to have an Enterprise Automation Strategy, whether they plan on starting an automation journey or not. This series is intended as a starting point for an Enterprise Strategy. In this post we will look at why every organisation should consider automation as a part of their digital strategy. The next post will focus on a proposed Enterprise Strategy outline, then we’ll look at the strategy elements in more detail.