The software world is marching towards an era of automation where manual labor is slowly being replaced by heavily computerized jobs of the future, automatic processes, robotic power, artificial intelligence and smart software solutions. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI) A Future that Works: Automation, Employment and Productivity report, despite the fact that less than 5% of all job occupations can be entirely automated, 60% of all professions have 30% of basic workflow procedures that could be fully computerized. Believing that operations like organizing marketing campaigns, developing new software or applications, programming or code testing can be managed mechanically, developers, project managers and even CTOs are now increasingly trying to integrate more and more automation tools into their daily tasks, strategies and routines. Gartner, for instance, point out that 75% of companies will have more than 4 tech developments or software products for automation that will be implemented as part of their IT management strategies by the end of 2017. But what are the benefits of using such developments when it comes to IT business processes, marketing, IT workflow, QA and software development? And which are the best automation tools that improve these particular fields and streamline every enterprise environment?
AUTOMATED TESTING TOOLS – QUICK PROLIFERATION IN THE IT ORGANIZATION
In the software industry, the quality of code is what determines a project as a big success or a failure. From design and custom web application development process, through release, to maintenance, QA is essential part of the whole development methodology. Therefore, reviewing, testing and analyzing the product are all key processes which serve to confirm the integrity of a particular custom software development. Quite often, that becomes an activity that takes plenty of time. Time which the dynamic software industry lacks for the IT industry requires rapid solutions. To accelerate the QA assessment and analysis and eliminate as much manual steps as possible, experts integrate automated testing tools into critical processes. It will come as no surprise then that automated software testing has been considered crucial not only for big software companies but for small- and mid-sized organizations as well. Because manual testing is subject to mistakes, inaccuracies and oversights, QA testers and analysts choose to decrease this vulnerability of their tasks by relying on tools and automated tests instead. They are not only cost-efficient and time-effective solutions, but they also improve teamwork. For project management environments which use JIRA, for instance, there are testing tools that can be easily integrated with JIRA in order to bring into line the work of developers with the work of QA experts. As a result, development and testing quickly turn into an aligned process, instead of being two separate ones. Some of the best tools for automated testing include Telerik Test Studio, Selenium, TestComplete and more.
AUTOMATED DEVELOPMENT TOOLS – WRAP THE CODE IN VALUE
If you are a developer who wants to generate bigger value than repeating the same tasks manually on and on, using tools for automated development may be just the right thing for you. The role of automation technology and platforms, then, gains importance in repetitive programming tasks. For developers who work around the clock and aim to deliver products of the highest quality and functionality, responding to changes in an instant is also very important. There are unexpected shifts in the work environment which simply demands developers to act right away. Having tools that fix bugs on-demand or facilitate the manual conduct and completion of certain tasks is something of a great advantage in the dynamic world of technologies. There are plenty of benefits that come along, different from the usual saving on time, effort and expenses, when using such tools for automation. One advantage, for example, is their capability to allow for automatic repeatability and reliability when it comes to scripts. What is more, when the script is running, instructions can be performed one after another in the same exact order every single time, thus, saving plenty of time and efforts. Another advantage, just like in QA-related tasks, is that automated development tools reduce human error and provide with automatic support for software reuse. Some tools like Zoho Creator, DMS Software Reengineering Toolkit, ReSharper and HPRCARCHITECT, for instance, also push complexity back, eliminate boring and prolonged tasks. Others make room for continuous delivery or serve as source code generators, which once again, automate and simplify the work of programmers. Yet, one of the best things about automated development software is that it allows small-size teams to develop big-scale and error-free projects for the same (or even in a shorter) time than big development teams.
Perhaps one of the biggest value of using tools for automation in an IT environment is found to be nested within management-driven processes. Through automated management and workflow tools, PMs and team leaders can better take control of routine tasks. Very often, these people are responsible for the proper implementation of more than one project and several processes simultaneously. In this case, what they really need is a comprehensive platform that will let them keep an eye on each step or milestone easily and will allow them to analyze risks or find out where the bottlenecks are. Project managers are also allowed to monitor the progress of their teams, carry out follow-ups on incomplete tasks, indicate key performer indicators (KPIs) or track changes to an application. Various template-based automation tools enable them to reliably plan and organize their resources and staff availability. Increasing collaboration or maintaining a network of distributed environments is also achievable thanks to automated workflow and management frameworks like MS Project, Priority Matrix or JIRA.
BUSINESS PROCESS AUTOMATION TOOLS - INVEST IN AUTOMATED SOFTWARE TO HARVEST COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
From a business perspective, the adoption of such platforms, toolsets and software products guarantee the productivity and strategic boost which many companies demand so that they can really answer different forecasts regarding the economic growth and business impact on a global level. In the latest McKensey report which we mentioned earlier, automation will turn extremely beneficial to small-size organizations. That is to say that developing organizations will stand a real chance in the competitive IT landscape and marketplace since the early adoption of automation tools will give them the necessary loop forward. By working hand-in-hand with advanced technologies, like Metatask for example, small-sized companies will be able to simplify complex and time-consuming tasks. Another business advantage born out of the use of automation tools, is the ability to increase throughput, gather and distribute significant data seamlessly, track process performance instantly, automate individual activities, allow for multi-department maintenance and visibility and more.
AUTOMATED MARKETING TOOLS TO SPREAD EFFECTIVE CHANGES
No matter if we talk about big, medium or small software companies, there is one thing for sure. Automated marketing is a big time-saver which allows you to create the most purposeful brand image and online presence of your company. According to MarketsandMarkets, marketing automation software revenues are expected to increase from $3.65 billion in 2014 to $5.50 billion in 2019. It’s not surprising as the benefits behind automated marketing strategies become a real game-changer. The most significant ones among the include better segmentation of potential clients, regular and automatic social media posts, easier to achieve brand-awareness, better email and campaign management when having a limited budget for advertising and promotions. Moreover, with the use of automated marketing tools, marketers can maintain better inbound marketing approaches to reach to a bigger audience where they can drive demand. Some of the best tools like Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On, HubSpot allow for easier tracking and identifying of traffic and even revenues. As a result, marketing executives can gather statistics, key data and graphs that help them analyze competition, the market and the industry they operate in.
In conclusion, not all of the global leaders and companies have entirely embraced this idea of automation. Yet, in The Annual Report on IT Budgets and Tech Trends which included about 900 IT buyers, Spiceworks indicate that 30% of the survey participants are currently using IT automation technologies, whereas 19% of them are planning to. Others are focusing on trends such as mobility (41% currently using it), Internet of Things (13%), advanced security solutions (33%), SaaS (15%) and more. Witnessing this substantial growth of automation practices, we can only deduce that the role of automation tools will continue to increase in impact and importance in the years to come.