Gartner’s IT Automation Predictions for 2020

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Gartner expects digital transformations to take twice as long and cost twice as much as projected over the next year. We’d like to know why.

Each year Gartner, Inc. publishes a series of predictions and technology trends to guide business and IT leaders through the following year. These predictions are sometimes novel (block-chain will fight deep fakes), sometimes routine (multi-cloud will become more common), but always insightful.

So to help IT automation professionals plan for the coming year, we’ve gone through Gartner’s research and pulled out the predictions most relevant to the IT automation market.

A few interesting points stick out:

  1. Digital transformations are predicted to run over budget and behind schedule
  2. Hyperautomation is reintroduced as a top technology paired with AI/ML
  3. Gartner debuts a new term, hybrid digital infrastructure management (HDIM)

Now, before diving into what exactly Gartner expects for IT automation in 2020, there’s some quick context to cover.

IT Automation Predictions for 2020

  • By 2021, over 75% of midsize and large organizations will have adopted a multicloud and/or hybrid IT strategy.
  • By 2022, public cloud services will be essential for 90% of business innovation.
  • By 2023, 75% of all databases will be on a cloud platform, reducing the DBMS vendor landscape and increasing complexity for data governance and integration.
  • Through 2023, computational resources used in AI will increase 5x from 2018, making AI the top category of workloads driving infrastructure decisions.
  • By 2023, at least 35% of midsize to large enterprises will leverage a hybrid cloud-to-edge computing deployment model for at least one IoT project.
  • By 2022, more than 50% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud, up from less than 10% in 2019.
  • By 2024, at least 50% of enterprise applications in production will be IoT-enabled.
  • By 2024, 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives.
  • By 2023, there will be a 30% increase in the use of RPA for front-office functions (sales and customer experience).

The overall trend is continued growth in IT environments. As more data is collected, data management practices will improve and more resources will be needed to process the data that trains AI. As a result, artificial intelligence will place more pressure on the organization’s workload management capabilities, pushing organizations to more advanced automated systems and workload management solutions.

With the consistent growth of online services, these workloads will continue to move into public and private clouds, following the path that databases are taking from on-premises to multi/hybrid-cloud environments. But big data and workloads won’t just be in the cloud —the internet of things (IoT) is going to complicate things. Data and computational resources will move towards the edge and the pace of this distribution will accelerate as IoT matures.

Meanwhile, organizations will use multiple low-code application platforms (LCAP) and will have expanding use cases for robotic process automation, adding decentralized scripts, apps, and bots throughout an already-complicated digital ecosystem.

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Digital Transformation Projects are Over Budget and Behind Schedule

  • Through 2021, digital transformation initiatives will take large traditional enterprises on average twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated.

Large organizations are running innovative pilots and proofs-of-concept, eager to transform their businesses. However, they’re finding the next step difficult to take because scaling these innovations requires changes to the core business.

“Business model changes, as a result of a strategic decision to expand or add to the core value proposition, is the key to transforming the business to a digital business.”

(Gartner’s Top Strategic Predictions for 2020 and Beyond)

Business leaders are reluctant to make sweeping changes to the business model in part because the trends and technologies that drive markets are quickly evolving.

“In many past technology-driven initiatives (e.g., ERP conversion, M&A system consolidation, and on-premises to cloud), the end destination was clear and well understood. Transforming to digital business is different.”

Unlike past initiatives, digital transformation doesn’t have a definite end goal. Therefor, businesses need a new approach: digital transformation shouldn’t be treated as a project with concrete time-lines and budget, but rather as a product that requires continuous development.

The shift to digital business requires constant change. As new technologies and market trends evolve, so too must the organization, its processes and operations.

The analysts who co-wrote Gartner’s Top Strategic Predictions for 2020 recommend that organizations improve “visibility, insight and understanding” of operations while untangling complex dependencies between systems, resources, and platforms.

Hyperautomation Brings Intelligent Automation to Business Processes

  • By 2023, 40% of I&O teams will use AI-augmented automation in large enterprises, resulting in higher IT productivity with greater agility and scalability.
  • By 2023, AI-enabled automation in data management will reduce the need for IT specialists by 20%.
  • By 2025, more than 90% of enterprises will have an automation architect, up from less than 20% today.
  • By 2024, organizations will lower operational costs by 30% by combining hyperautomation technologies with redesigned operational processes.

Automation technologies continue to be applied when most convenient, with IT teams automating manual, repetitive tasks in order to save time, lower costs, and reduce human error.

But this low-hanging fruit approach often results in piece-meal automation, with IT considering each task or workflow separately, and then automating with a collection of automation tools, schedulers, and custom scripts. This approach is defined by complexity and is insufficient for the challenges ahead.

Over the next few years, Gartner expects the scope of automation platforms to evolve from “discrete tasks and transactions based on static and rigid rules” to automating knowledge work and decision making. This will require a new automation strategy that focuses on optimizing digital processes from IT infrastructure through customer-facing applications.

Again from Gartner’s Top Trends:

“Hyperautomation is an unavoidable market state in which organizations must rapidly identify and automate all possible business processes. Hyperautomation refers not only to the breadth of the palette of tools, but also to all the steps of automation itself (discover, analyze, design, automate, measure, monitor, reassess).” 

Hyperautomation takes into account the full life-cycle of an automated process, bringing integration, DevOps, monitoring, and management together under one tent. This enables the automation of end-to-end workflows that manage complex dependencies across diverse platforms. Plus, it gives IT professionals a single dashboard through which they can monitor and manage diverse environments.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and intelligent process automation will be defining characteristics of this emerging field. Automation software powered by machine learning will make it easier for IT to reduce human interventions, for example, by automating provisioning and configuration management for virtual and cloud resources.

Of course, new management strategies will be necessary in order to orchestrate complex automation environments. This includes having an automation architect, leveraging AI and machine learning, and implementing a hybrid digital infrastructure management (HDIM) platform.

Hybrid Digital Infrastructure Management (HDIM) for the Automated Enterprise

  • By 2022, 20% of enterprises will use hybrid digital infrastructure management (HDIM) tools to optimize workload placement across on-premises, cloud and edge environments.

Hybrid digital infrastructure management (HDIM) is a new term coined by Gartner a few months earlier.

The gist of HDIM is simple. As IT systems become more complex, IT teams will need platforms that enable them to centrally manage resources, processes, and workloads across diverse, distributed environments.

The volume of IT assets will continue to swell as digital democratization brings new classes of tools to an increasingly digital workforce. Without a unified, holistic approach to managing these diverse tool sets, organizations will lose the competitive advantages of being a digital business. Orchestration is key.

HDIM platforms allow IT professionals to monitor and manage a variety of environments from a single platform. Multi-cloud or hybrid, on-premises or on the edge, IT professionals can manage infrastructure automation, IT processes, IT services,  business process automation, and much more through a single HDIM platform.

Talk about streamlining operations management.

“The number of disparate infrastructure tools required to manage workloads in many locations limits the ability to conduct discovery, performance monitoring, optimization and dependency mapping, and to obtain key insights. I&O leaders need a cohesive management for the technology assets supporting business workloads.”

The world of IT operations/IT infrastructure has long been on the front lines of digital transformation. Over the next several years, IT professionals will need to develop capable, dynamic automation environments that allow for data and systems to be managed from a single location. Data and workloads will need to be orchestrated across cloud, on-premises, and edge-based resources. Insights and analyses into these workloads, resources, and environments will be critical. Machine learning and artificial intelligence must optimize workloads in real-time.

There’s a lot of work to be done this year. But it appears that IT professionals will be compensated handsomely for driving digital transformation. According to Gartner, “By 2022, I&O staff with automation skills will command up to a 40% salary premium, versus less than 10% in 2019.”

Here’s to a year of automation and peace-of-mind.

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Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation Without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.

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