Automation has long been identified as a fast track to reduced operational expenditure and improvements in business efficiency, but emerging technology has broadened that scope by a considerable margin.
Software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) technology are currently changing the way that businesses and communications service providers (CSPs) provision new services and applications using a combination of on-premise equipment and cloud hosting, for example.
And elsewhere greater use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is also driving more automation into a range of vertical industries and applications, including finance and retail.
Computers are now so powerful that many repetitive tasks can be learned through data analysis which leads to informed decisions being automatically made and responsive actions subsequently formulated using software functions – all in real, or close to, real time.
That’s not to say that humans will become redundant and technological unemployment the norm. Far from it – automating the mundane will provide staff with the breathing space to give more thought to process optimisation and innovation, which can ultimately aid business expansion through new product and service provision.
In many cases that automation will also lead to improved productivity. Call centre transactions could be significantly sped up as an agent manages six calls instead of one in the same time frame, using automated chat bots and machine learning to lead the customer to a point in the conversation where a human needs to step in, for example.
And while security applications, like threat hunting computers, can do a lot of the legwork by monitoring multiple network and device endpoints and collating large data sets detailing traffic patterns, it can take a human to spot anomalies and tell-tale signs of suspicious behaviour that logical machine analysis may overlook.
In a world where malware and cyber-attacks continue to proliferate, freeing up scarce security expertise to develop new ways of thwarting hackers and preventing data loss can only be a good thing.