IT automation: what it is and 6 examples that highlight why it’s critical

Your IT department is the backbone of your organization. Your team supports lines of businesses’ systems, provides new hires with the equipment and applications they need to be successful, answers various questions and requests from colleagues on a daily basis—and much more.

To manage each and every one of these responsibilities effectively, your IT team needs to work quickly and smartly. How can it do that? By turning to automation.

Your IT department is the backbone of your organization. Your team supports lines of businesses’ systems, provides new hires with the equipment and applications they need to be successful, answers various questions and requests from colleagues on a daily basis—and much more.
IT automation is the use of triggers and actions to streamline IT processes end-to-end.

We’ll walk you through 6 ways that your IT department can automate its processes, best practices to consider when doing so, and the tools you can choose from. But let’s begin by reviewing what IT automation is.

What is IT automation?

IT automation is the use of triggers and actions to streamline IT processes end-to-end. Using incident management as an example, a trigger can be when an employee files a ticket, while an action can include assigning that ticket to the appropriate employee.

Why is IT automation important?

It delivers a variety of benefits to IT and to the broader organization, but here are 3 benefits that stand out:

1. It enables IT to provide colleagues with the apps they need on their first day.

Your new hires are eager to make a strong first impression.

IT automation allows them to hit the ground running by providing them with access to the ones they need, along with the right permission levels, on day 1.

This scalable workflow not only helps employees be productive right from the start, but it also shapes their early perception of your organization—as it shows that you’re well organized and committed to their success.

2. It helps IT perform incident management more effectively.

When colleagues file tickets, you need to have a streamlined way of:

  • Assigning them to the right employee

  • Prioritizing each based on business needs

  • Tracking their status—from creation to fulfillment

IT automation allows you to do each of the above, helping agents identify what they need to work on, manage their workload, and resolve their tickets—all without leaving their business communications platform (e.g. Slack). All the while, it provides the rest of the organization with an easy way to submit tickets and it offers transparency, as a colleague can easily check the status of any ticket they submit.

Over the long run, this IT automation allows your organization to reduce its mean time to repair and improve its customer experience.

3. It allows IT to off-board employees securely.

When employees leave your organization, the last thing you want them to do is take valuable information with them. IT automation can prevent this from happening by automatically deprovisioning their access to your applications the moment they leave the company.

In addition, when employees tell their manager that they’re leaving, you can automatically create a ticket that requests that they return their equipment by a certain date. IT and the employee’s manager can track the status of the ticket and make sure it’s resolved by the end of the employee’s last day.

How IT automation will affect companies

In addition to the value it offers today, this type of automation will undoubtedly impact how the broader workforce operates tomorrow.

Here are just some of the long-term effects it’s likely to have:

1. Employees will become increasingly self-reliant.

With employees able to use the applications they need, get their questions or requests addressed quickly with the help of a bot, and check the status of their tickets on their own, they’ll rely less and less on IT.

This should come as welcome news for IT, as it means that the function can focus more of its time on business-critical, strategic tasks.

2. Employees will have higher expectations for their employer.

Your new hires will soon expect that they get access to their apps right from the get-go; your employees will expect that they can get their day-to-day questions and concerns addressed without human involvement; and your employees will expect that their tickets get resolved quickly.

In other words, IT automation plays an essential role in meeting your employees’ needs and wants.

3. Customer experiences will improve.

With engineers working faster and smarter in resolving any issues, customers are set to receive improved product experiences consistently.

Examples of IT automation

Let’s further explore why this type of automation is critical by breaking down a few use cases.

1. Help anyone request access to applications independently

Here’s how this automation can work:

1. An employee goes into a communications platform (in this case, Slack) and requests access to a specific application.

2. Workbot (our enterprise platform bot) instantly creates a ticket in ServiceNow that reflects this request.

3. IT then receives the request in a Slack channel. They can choose to accept or reject the request within Slack.

4. The requester is then notified within Slack on their status.

How effective is this automation? One of our clients, a financial services company with more than 9,000 employees, uses this exact automation. It’s allowed them to provision over 60,000 requests per year with no manual effort. This has reduced the time it takes them to provision employees by 20%, and it’s allowed them to save over 30,000 hours of manual work per year!

2. Offboard employees securely

Now that many of us work from home, your team is tasked with securely offboarding any colleague who leaves. This process invites several potential threats.

To help address them, you can leverage the following automation.

Let’s break it down:

1. You monitor Workday for termination events.

2. Once a termination event is detected, ServiceNow automatically creates deprovisioning tickets. The employee is removed from various groups in Active Directory

3. SentinelOne deactivates the employee’s access to their laptop.

This process allows your team to control the employee’s devices at the end of their last day, effectively minimizing any of the negative consequences highlighted.

3. Answer employees’ questions quickly and in a way that’s scalable

Your team can’t afford to spend time on simple, repetitive tasks, like resetting colleagues’ passwords or answering the same set of questions.

That’s where an IT helpdesk can help.

Leveraging existing information from places like Guru and Confluence, your IT helpdesk (powered by an enterprise chatbot) can instantly answer anyone’s question in a platform like Slack. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown on how it can work:

1. An employee asks a question to Knowledge Bot (a customized version of WorkBot) in Slack.

2. Knowledge Bot uses natural language processing to understand the question, and then searches through information from your existing knowledge base to identify the answer (this is all done in real time).

3. If Knowledge Bot finds the answer, it automatically serves it to the requestor. If it doesn’t, or if the employee says the answer doesn’t help, the bot files a ticket in ServiceNow, prompting your team to respond to the requestor.

What type of impact can this automation have at your organization? The same financial services company referenced earlier also uses this automation to answer the 120,000 help desk requests that come in every year via Slack. This saves their IT team an immeasurable amount of time, and it allows them to focus on more high-value work.

4. Escalate issues with the click of a button

In many cases, incidents can’t be resolved by the team they’re initially assigned to.

To account for this, and to allow the appropriate stakeholders to become aware of and begin working on the issue, you can build an escalation workflow that leverages an IT service desk chatbot.

Here’s how it can work: