How a chief automation officer can enable your digital transformation

How a chief automation officer can enable your digital transformation
Chris is responsible for Automic’s worldwide marketing. Prior to joining Automic, he served as chief marketing officer for cloud collaboration vendor Huddle, and data integration leader Informatica. He has more than 20 years of experience leading international teams at enterprise companies including SDL,, VERITAS and Oracle.


We are all aware a successful digital transformation at pace means the difference between future success and failure. Just look at the likes of Blockbuster, who failed to adapt to the way the consumption of movies was changing, and quickly slipped into oblivion.

While we can’t control which new technology will be the next major disruptor, we can empower the boardroom to react quickly and exploit disruption before competitors. For this reason, there is growing belief that a Chief Automation Officer (CAO) is a necessary addition.

Global digital business demands global orchestration of key technologies. A recent PMG study revealed the lack of a holistic approach as the biggest obstacle to a successful automation strategy – 59% agreed that ad hoc automation leads to incompatibility. Your business needs not only to unite disparate automation in silos, but also to coordinate automation strategies between multiple offices worldwide.

How can you align IT to the business when automation, the very technology that allows IT to enable business decisions, is not properly represented in the boardroom? Are you sick of waiting for business automation decisions taking too long to be approved and funded? A CAO can view automation globally and make sure it plays a central part in boardroom discussions. In this way automation can form a part of the strategy itself, not just a means to deliver it.

If you have technology centers spread across the globe you’ll know how important global collaboration is to the progress of the company as a whole. There is comparatively little business value if for instance, a continuous delivery pipeline is perfected in your Vietnam office, but is not leveraged in Vienna. There may be specialists on certain elements of Release Automation distributed around the world that could be invited to produce one global strategy that is then rolled out simultaneously worldwide.

The CAO could drive this kind of forward-thinking orchestration. While Automation Architects look inwards at their own IT departments, taking care of the granular details of automation strategies, a Chief Automation Officer is needed to look outward and forward. The position is necessary to drive rapid digital transformation, as the ability to orchestrated global automation strategy is controls IT’s ability to empower business strategy at the speed of thought.

Automation is vital to a company’s ability to redirect capital from the day-to-day to the business of tomorrow. It enables IT to switch from reactive fire-fighting to proactive business enablement and a successful digital transformation.

The good news is that automation is developing at the pace of the complexity it seeks to simplify. Disruption that could be daunting is being simplified and surmountable with automated solutions and plug-ins and that put users ahead of their competition. Extracting business value from the Internet of Things, for example, would not be possible without automation strategies in place to process and analyse the big data it produces.

Although automation frees funds to fuel innovation, it is built on metronomic consistency. Automation is essentially a series of repeatable, well-defined loops. The CAO would be responsible for using the same workflows wherever possible throughout the enterprise, which makes processes compliant and auditable. Apart from being consistent, there is no point in wasting time and resources by tackling the same problem twice.

By analysing how automation is employed throughout the company, the CAO can optimise human resource allocation to not only remove bottlenecks, but more importantly, improve productivity across the workforce. This is exactly the role of automation in companies like Facebook.

Although the CAO would be the final decision maker and automation strategist, it is their responsibility to seek inspiration for inspiration and to drive workforce productivity. An Irish electricity supplier unearthed 270 ideas by asking staff to suggest processes that could be automated. Without this communication between management and departmental specialists, these suggestions would have remained private. The CAO is a high-level coordinator with the remit to dive deeper when required.

Automation is an empowerment of business, a catalyst for innovation and a driver of knowledge worker productivity. Without the visibility and overarching control a CAO provides, your automation strategy lacks the elasticity needed to manipulate disruption to provide business value. Make sure your company does not become the next Blockbuster.

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