IT Automation: Skills You Need to Succeed in This Growing Area

Automation is an area that’s growing in demand in the tech industry, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Incorporating automation allows organizations to reduce repetition and gain more productivity; companies can focus less on manual tasks and more on strategy and innovation. 

“Suddenly, all organizations that are interested in increasing efficiency—and there are so many of those that a majority of them are super-interested—are investing in automation,” said Andie Dovgan, chief growth officer at Creatio, a platform that automates industry workflows using customer relationship management software with no-code tools.

Scripting, creating a centralized catalog of Application Program Interfaces (APIs), and having a solid understanding of containers are some of the key skills necessary with regards to automation. Here are some other areas to focus on if you’re looking to automate key applications and business processes.

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation requires knowledge of the DevOps methodology for software development. DevOps is closely linked to automation. Clyde Seepersad, senior vice president and general manager, training and certification, at The Linux Foundation, told The Enterprisers Project (a community for CIOs and IT leaders) that these skills should also include Linux and Kubernetes.

Departments such as sales, marketing, supply chain and governance use automation, which is often closely linked with CRM. Process-intensive organizations in verticals such as finance and human resources also employ automation, according to Dovgan: “A lot of those tools are related to making sure that employees are well-connected to an organization, specifically now when we have so many remote employees or those ones that never met each other.”

Low-Code and No-Code

Low-code and no-code software development are important tools for technologists working with automation because they help them automate business workflows without heavy technical training, according to Dovgan: “We are seeing a rise of what are called no-code developers or citizen developers, people that are not necessarily technical but that are certified and trained on different no-code and citizen-development tools that can automate workflows without technical skills.”

Software developers with no-code skills can help organizations gain value from production processes quicker than with traditional tools. “Usually, we’re talking about the ability to design, UI and UX ability, to set up a data model, the ability to set up and automate workflows and the ability to set up some integrations using no-code tools,” Dovgan added.

Business Analysis

Dovgan said that business analysts can benefit from automation skills to solve business problems. He described these skills as being part of an “analysis spectrum.”

“You need to be able to understand business needs and understand what kind of problem you want to solve and [be] able to design a solution to the problem,” Dovgan said. These skills will then help technologists become an effective partner to a business.

As part of the business analysis skills required for automation, people need the capability to analyze business problems and document how automation might help with different business processes such as analyzing sales.

Automation Tools for Moving Legacy Systems

Robotic process automation (RPA), which lets people offload repetitive manual tasks using bots and management tools, is a key part of automation that technologists should learn. Businesses need people with RPA skills such as coding, business process knowledge, process mapping, change management and data analytics, according to TechTarget.

As part of the process of automating the transition of legacy systems to the cloud, tech professionals should also become familiar with Spark, Java and Python, suggested Chetan Mathur, CEO at Next Pathway, an automated cloud migration company.

Testing

Testing is a key aspect to learn in automation. Types of tests that can be automated include smoke tests, user acceptance and performance tests, Dovgan explained. Smoke tests evaluate the most important components of software to test for failures. 

“Those tests are required, depending on what type of applications or automation layers you build,” Dovgan said. “For example, if it’s a business-critical solution, obviously, it needs to go through multiple testing procedures because it’s touching some critical data and important workflows within your organization.”

Replacing manual testing with automated testing is part of a switch to an Agile methodology. In addition, using automated testing can reduce the time it takes to test software from days to hours. Consider exploring these areas if you’re looking to use automation to increase productivity and reduce repetition in your organization.