What do you think of when you think of automation? There was a time when automation was associated with manufacturing assembly lines and not much else. Luckily, we’ve gotten well past assembly lines, and automation today plays a critical role within an optimized IT environment.
In fact, automation is increasingly one of the cornerstones of an optimized federal IT environment. If you’re a federal IT pro, you may be asking, “Will automation make my job easier?” The answer is a resounding “yes,” as automation can not only save time and money, it can dramatically enhance overall agency performance on multiple levels.
Let’s start with automating network configurations, which can help federal and government IT pros more effectively:
- Meet compliance requirements
- Implement configuration changes quickly and efficiently
- Reduce downtime caused by failed devices
- Save time and increase productivity
And that’s just what you can achieve by automating network configurations. Consider automating workflows, which can have a dramatic effect on freeing up federal IT pros’ valuable time. You can even automate mobile-device-initiated tasks, if your agency allows this type of interaction.
These examples are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to automation. Automation has far greater possibilities beyond ordinary IT tasks; federal IT programmers can automate back-office human resource tasks, procurement tasks, financial tasks, and they can even use artificial intelligence (AI) to add context to collected data that can then be used to further automate nearly any task—from threat response to addressing citizen inquiries.
In fact, AI will likely be the foundation of a slew of additional automation possibilities. Take cybersecurity as an example. AI can help federal IT security pros far more effectively understand the severity of potential threats and remediate them through automated responses.
More Automation = Changing Job Skills
As you might imagine, implementing automation throughout an agency—for a range of processes—will require a different skillset than is required in nonautomated environments. Specifically, traditional federal IT roles will require more “soft skills”—like the ability to write and communicate effectively in addition to problem solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills.
In fact, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) earlier this year released what it calls a Reskilling Toolkit to help agencies more successfully shift staff capabilities to accommodate automation, AI, and other forward-looking technologies.
“As technology like robotic process automation and artificial intelligence are introduced into the workplace, employees require new skills that include technical knowledge blended with social or people skills,” said Margaret Weichert, acting OPM director, in a memo to agency leadership. “Agency leaders, managers, human resources professionals, and employees can work together to prepare the workforce for new types of jobs and skills that will be needed as automation rapidly changes the way we work.”
With more automation, coupled with AI, federal IT pros are transitioning from service managers to service brokers. Because spending time provisioning more storage or answering end-user service requests will soon be automated (if they’re not already), these folks will instead be identifying data interactions, designing policies, and implementing new technologies that will require a breadth and depth of understanding well beyond simple coding or IT management.
The Bottom Line
Change is good. That said, it’s important to understand the impact change will have on your environment and shift accordingly. Yes, automation can provide huge benefits for federal IT pros. It can also change the dynamic of the workforce. These aspects are both positive—you simply need to be prepared.