The Rise of the Machines

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent some  time looking at automation and technology specific to my previous roles. It’s rare that the Ops guys gets five minutes to look 6-12 months ahead. It’s abundantly clear that automation tools are rapidly developing to help my successors deliver results much more efficiently than I ever could. Think poacher turned gamekeeper, with slightly less tweed and entitlement, but a slight tinge of jealousy!

I could easily reference Moore’s Law or any number of high brow quotes from futurists or hipsters but I think automation can best summarised as;

‘It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead’  – Kyle Reese (Terminator)

As any self-respecting parent can attest, life was easier in the old days. No mobile phones, no home arcade games, playing out until dark, and Moira Stewart reading the news. Some things don’t change, you can still catch Moira on Radio 2, but everything else continues apace. I won’t bore you with anecdotes about supercomputer smart phones but I do want to touch on the fear of progress.

For every fridge that emails you when you run out of milk, there’s a business process toolset or CRM integration and abstraction layer that promises to speed up your operation and reduce your costs, be they human or otherwise. Let’s face it, it’s the little guy that is usually the first casualty of ‘system’ improvements.

It’s obvious why the fears exist. Concerns over job content and the fear of a redundant workforce is prevalent at the middle management layer and below, whilst above the line C-Suite and senior managers dream and expound about the next shiny tool that is going to change the dynamic of the business.

Things are changing around these parts

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Automation isn’t anything to fear unless you’re under the misapprehension that it’s there to replace the human processes. The reality is that it is best utilised to allow you to deploy your resource into areas that it should be, with the confidence in the underlying infrastructure being rigid, robust and resilient.

If you’re in management it’s your responsibility to explain how you’re going to improve things with automation tools and then release the shackles on our teams to go and deliver exceptional service using those tools. Show me an engineer who pushes out repeated identical configuration templates and I’ll  show you an engineer who is bored and wishes he had enough free time to troubleshoot the more complex deployments and spend the time helping customers make the most of their new toys. Boredom and constraints lead to mistakes. Not only do mistakes cost you customer service points, they push employees further away from the single minded company goals. Fences get built, defences go up and soon, nobody wants to pitch in for fear of reprisal. Communication, application and dedication is what your teams need from you. All wrapped up in honesty. Nobody likes a politician. Ask Brutus.

So let’s close this off;

‘It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, but frankly someone has to do the ugly jobs to let you go and explore the shiny things’ – JD

I’d love to hear your thoughts on where this will end, even if it’s just to poke holes in the Skynet theory!

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