IT teams are getting more out of their data centers thanks to infrastructure automation. That’s transforming IT spending and staffing priorities, according to Computer Economics’ annual IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks study for 2017/2018.

The study found that capital expenditure and hiring spend is flat, while business applications and network infrastructure top the list of IT spending. Respondents to the study also reported that IT departments are now more efficient, with cost-per-user at a new low.

Fewer respondents felt that IT budgets were inadequate, partly because infrastructure automation gives them the ability to deploy new IT capabilities faster and more cost effectively.

Automation has also led to changing priorities in IT staffing. Demand for lower level IT skills is dropping. In contrast, demand for staff with skills in business analysis, data analytics, IT security and project management is growing.

Respond to Changing Demands

This change in priorities is important because IT needs to adjust and respond to new demands linked to the digital transformation of business. Commentators feel that traditional infrastructure automation is not enough; automation needs to include operations, development and business functions. Digital business requires digital business automation to support development such as self-service, real-time tracking and other customer-facing processes.

Digital transformation increases the expectations of IT, which now has to support continuous delivery, access anywhere at any time on multiple devices, and the management of vast amounts of data. Digital transformation requires a transformation of IT to optimize performance and meet business expectations. That makes IT partners in digital transformation.

Automation Improves IT Performance

Automation is key because IT teams have to deal with diverse infrastructures and disparate data while accelerating application delivery with quality and scalabilty. IT teams can use automation to improve the performance of the many different infrastructure environments they have to manage in the cloud and in traditional data centers.

Automation is an important step in creating a single platform across the various environments so that data can flow across systems and be accessible in real time. That improves response times and helps meet business demands for greater agility. It also helps to reduce risk of errors because workflows follow a predictable, repeatable series of steps.

That enables processes to flow efficiently with minimal risk of human error, a view reflected by a Forrester Research study that put the main drivers for automation as efficiency (78 percent), cost reduction (58 percent) and risk mitigation (40 percent).

Take a Positive Role in Digital Transformation

With automation taking care of routine operations and supporting innovative processes, IT can take a more positive and collaborative role in digital transformation.

It can help build stronger relationships with business and reduce or eliminate the risk of shadow IT by meeting and shaping business expectations. Automation can improve the user experience by ensuring fast, reliable service delivery. And, it can help IT demonstrate value to the business by responding to and enabling strategic business initiatives.

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