A Look Ahead: 2013's Top 3 Trends in Business and IT Process Automation

Say goodbye to cloudwashing as businesses focus on processes and demand results in 2013.

By Tijl Vuyk

The New Year will see a pivotal time for both IT and business departments as they strive to be faster, more efficient, and smarter. Companies will improve, connect, and automate repeatable processes through the cloud as never before. To accomplish this, they'll focus on process improvement, genuine cloud benefits, and targeted, packaged solutions.

Trend #1: The Cloud Goes to Work

Everyone's tired of the empty promises of "cloudwashing" -- the practice of attaching the word "cloud" to tools that don't really offer cloud benefits. As companies strive for more agile processes, they're also savvier about cloud solutions. In 2013, companies will demand that the cloud help them run a better business. They'll measure success by their bottom lines. Corporate leaders will look for cloud-based methods to run processes and automate their businesses across organizational silos -- to connect critical daily activities as never before.

We've already seen the cloud used to share information and applications without increasing infrastructure costs. In its next evolution, the cloud will go even further than just reducing overhead: it will enable organizations to manage and improve their business processes like never before. The next generation of cloud solutions will allow organizations to easily access best-practice expertise about automation itself from communities of consultants and partners who have already delivered similar automation.

One of critical barriers for organizations hoping to improve business processes has been the knowledge required in the first place about how best to automate. The cloud will eliminate that obstacle as a barrier to success. For consultants and partners, it means that any decision to start a process improvement initiative no longer has to get tangled in corporate red tape because there is no need to purchase new infrastructure or hardware. The cloud will eliminate these traditional barriers and allow true "process-as-a-service" solutions to become more mainstream. It will connect best practice experts with companies in need of expertise. In 2013, this next evolution of the cloud will provide the way for companies to engineer and manage business and IT processes better than ever.

Trend #2: Consumerization of the enterprise grows

Just as individual consumers have come to expect -- and demand -- instant gratification with "apps" for their iPods, business customers will also look to the ease and speed of packaged, cloud-based process solutions in 2013. Business and IT leaders want to go to market and find one-click, process-as-a-service packages that combine best practices with cutting edge automation technology. They want to pay for exactly what they need -- and nothing more. They want to tie their key processes together logically and effectively without added infrastructure expenses or lengthy installation periods. With packages like this, enterprises can remove all the barriers to improved business processes.

In 2013 companies will use these kinds of solutions in more of their processes. They'll save money and time by using them and be able to expand their businesses and accomplish their corporate goals with greater flexibility and control. With packaged and targeted process automation, companies can instantly implement standardized, world-class automated processes -- on everything from shipping notification, to billing and supply chain to auditing -- wherever and whenever they want.

Trend #3: Process improvement becomes a top priority for IT

Every business runs on its processes. Most successful businesses automate as many of those processes as they can for fast, consistent results. However, many of these organizations still spend considerable time on manual tasks that cross departments, business units, platforms, applications, or geographic locations. That's not smart. Disorganized, disconnected manual processes hold companies back. In 2013, organizations will start to take a hard look at these expensive, imprecise activities in earnest -- and find innovative ways to automate and improve them.

IT leaders have the combined challenge of improving their businesses while simultaneously lowering costs. To succeed, they will have to engineer their existing IT resources in a more flexible and connected way. In 2013, companies will work to connect and modernize some of their most complex activities by taking a new approach to them. They will use the cloud to subscribe to Processes-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions, automating and connecting repeated tasks they once undertook through manual effort. Even that's not enough. Smart companies will use cloud automation services, combined with real process expertise, to continually improve and emerge as leaders in their respective fields.

Final Thoughts

In 2013, companies will continue on the path towards implementing new and beneficial technologies that enable better business results. However, this year look for dramatic and decisive changes that make cloud technologies and Process-as-a-Service solutions a necessary part of any truly competitive business organization.

Tijl Vuyk founded Redwood Software in 1993 and as the chief executive officer is responsible for setting the company's vision and worldwide business strategy. Committed to helping Redwood customers realize their business goals, Tijl is guiding the company to achieve new process automation milestones by helping organizations automate what matters most.You can contact the author at ceo@redwood.com.

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