The challenges that companies of all sizes must face today in order to survive within the context of digital transformation are enormous. One important aspect here is the further development of classical job scheduling into workload automation in order to ensure the efficiency, transparency and agility of business processes. Modular platforms are becoming increasingly important and qualified employees should today focus more on optimizing processes and business models than on the actual IT operation. These are just a few of the side effects of digital business transformation, which decisively supports central applications, processes and systems with the help of real-time automation.
Dr Purschke, automation plays a key role in digital transformation. What exactly does workload automation mean? And what is its significance?
Workload automation assumes a central role on the journey to becoming a digital enterprise of the future. With workload automation, a clear, strategic automation roadmap, and a digital agenda, companies are able to initiate the step-by-step transformation of their IT organisation – in a holistic, agile and flexible manner. Here, workload automation makes a central contribution to corporate added value and hence to one of the core tasks of digital transformation – namely increasing innovation activity, which subsequently results in new and amended IT-based business and value-added models. Workload automation enables the consistent automation of business-critical processes, systems and applications with minimum manual effort. Whether z/OS or SAP, whether CRM, Windows, Linux or Docker, whether supply chain or commissioning processes, all application workflows can be processed across all system and application environments in real time. Profound script or coding knowledge is not required, sustainably improving interaction between IT development and IT operation.
What are the origins of workload automation?
Workload automation is the further development of classical batch scheduling or job scheduling and first arose when IBM mainframe systems were introduced to modern data processing. Batch scheduling was the domain of mainframes for many years, helping to sequentially and automatically process large volumes of data. However, the requirements changed with the arrival of decentralised IT systems such as Unix, Linux, Windows, etc. Client server architectures demanded new, modern concepts and it was about seamlessly connecting time-honoured mainframe models with the client server world. We responded to this market demand by developing a universal architecture – Universal Agent – which exploits the best of both worlds and to this very day remains the only vendor-independent solution on the market. Here, interoperability is the key word, regardless of the architecture – it is our mission to prudently unite the best of both worlds in order to guarantee our customers what we call ‘best-in-class return on automation’.
Your focus is on return on automation. What is behind this?
With return on automation (RoA), we are responding to the numerous complex requirements by developing a best-practice approach based on our experience that provides support when drafting or validating a digital roadmap, while simultaneously catering to the specific objectives. We methodically examine numerous value categories – in addition to classical key business figures such as return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO), for instance, also key figures for efficiency, sustainability, reliability, agility and much more. The objective of these efforts is to comprehensively analyse the systems, processes and overall organization and to derive appropriate recommendations for actions, including the planning of measures. The result is always an increase in profitability and the sustainable securing of future savings and improvements (customer lifetime value). With our RoA mechanism, organisations are able to plan autonomously and in the long term, to identify value added and to gradually improve the degree of automation.
Who benefits the most from workload automation or return on automation – corporations or small and medium-sized companies?
Fundamentally, virtually all companies. However, looking at our customers – including Expedia, Royal Bank of Canada, HUK-Coburg, Coop Denmark, Groupon, Fanatics, ITERGO, HMM Deutschland and Deutsche E-Post, to name but a few – it is frequently larger enterprises that are focusing on workload automation. Here, we have created an attractive alternative with our cloud solution that also enables smaller businesses to utilize the full range of services. We fundamentally support all organisations, whether small or large, and frequently benefit from customer satisfaction when they recommend us to others – hence contributing to our sustainable, organic growth.
What new possibilities and opportunities does this offer these companies?
In addition to the successful implementation of their digital agendas, our clients benefit in the long term from using our solutions as a result of an increase in the degree of automation, a reduction in overall costs, faster time-to-market, improved customer satisfaction and the continual, agile improvement of all processes and procedures.
In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges that customers have to tackle when implementing automation solutions?
Digital transformation is accompanied by a paradigm shift from on-premises automation to cloud automation. Insular thinking, solutions that have been operating for decades, dependencies on software makers along with personal preferences among individual members of staff are frequently obstacles hindering this change process. In essence, it is about breaking up these structures and defining a joint, company-wide digital strategy with all stakeholders involved.
How can Stonebranch provide support here?
We view ourselves as a center of enablement, supplying fair, excellent software products, services and consulting services that transparently and comprehensibly support improvement and assist companies on their journey towards becoming self-learning organisations. Our approach is ‘help businesses to help themselves’ and – with our experience from more than 300 business-critical transformations – we have the expertise and the appropriate tools to accompany clients in the long term and in a partnership-like manner. Furthermore, we are 100 per cent focused on workload automation, something that clearly distinguishes us from our competitors.
What technological leaps do you believe will take place over the next few years when it comes to automation?
Looking at the current market figures for mainframes, proprietary systems will undoubtedly disappear in the medium term. I believe that the future will be all about open, agile and modular platforms. Technology-driven business models are on the rise, and having qualified staff focus on optimizing business models and not on IT operation in particular will become a central topic over the coming years. Whether design thinking, agile development or modular do-it- yourself (DIY) approaches, the spotlight is on the customer journey and it is all about improving these processes and procedures through workload automation.
How do you position yourself to achieve this?
We demonstrate the continual renewal process by placing innovation, experience and total customer focus in the foreground. Our customer community is constantly challenging us and we leave no stone unturned in catering to the needs and wishes of our clientele – be this in terms of knowledge sharing, support, best practices or in the form of interactive exchange. Furthermore, we are also ‘opening’ up to the requirements of the market – for instance with regard to agility and DIY by providing an open-source marketplace for add-ons, integrations and solutions.