How CIOs Are Automating Work

It’s no shock that AI remains a hot topic across roles and industries. According to Stonebranch’s 2024 State of IT Automation Report, more and more organizations are actually implementing AI throughout their enterprises.

Peter Baljet, CTO of the software company, shares insights from the annual survey—which queried more than 400 IT professionals holding positions in IT operations, data operations, cloud operations, platform operations, IT service management and application development—including what information chiefs should be prioritizing.

What is the most pressing issue facing CIOs from an IT technologies and infrastructure standpoint?

Not surprisingly, it is AI. Each year, Stonebranch surveys senior IT professionals at organizations with more than 1,000 employees. The recently released 2024 survey showed that preparing for AI adoption has jumped to the top of the CIO priority list.

In the survey, 74 percent of respondents have already embraced data and machine learning pipelines to power their generative AI programs. This high adoption rate indicates enterprises are betting on the importance of AI and are taking steps to make sure the technology is integrated into the tech stacks properly.

Is AI something that is prioritized by CIOs of larger companies?

You would think so, given that the CIOs of larger companies would presumably have larger budgets and staff numbers to implement AI. That said, in laying the groundwork for AI adoption, it is medium-sized enterprises that are leading the way with more sophisticated machine learning pipeline development.

Our survey found that 86 percent of mid-sized organizations with $200 million to $499 million in revenue are using data and ML pipelines to train generative AI models, while only 64 percent of large enterprises with $500 million or more in revenue have initiatives under way.

One reason that mid-sized companies are leading is that their IT teams have more fluidity in individual roles and they also have the ability to get cross-team projects off the ground more easily.

Do these legacy replacement efforts result in team structures or workflows?

Yes, with the move to replace legacy systems, there is a change in the IT automation team structure. The majority of those surveyed have implemented a central IT automation team, which serves as an organization-wide hub for best practices, monitoring, improvement and planning. Nearly all—91 percent—of the respondents have such a team in 2024, which is a significant jump up from 77 percent in 2023.

You have outlined a dynamic, multifeatured path to AI adoption and IT automation. How should a busy CIO prioritize?

There is a lot going on but, as mentioned, the majority—82 percent—of CIOs and senior IT leaders we surveyed plan to make changes to their workload automation toolset in 2024, which will pave the way for AI, ML and other initiatives. This is exciting, and we recommend prioritizing these capabilities to future-proof IT operations:

Integration: Look for automation and orchestration solutions that ensure seamless integration across cloud, on-premises and hybrid systems.

Self-Service: Seek out solutions that are designed with access controls and intuitive user experiences. Focus on empowering both technical and non-technical users by extending automation capabilities to common end user tools, including ITSM, chat communication and DevOps.

Centralized Management: Remove silos of automation by consolidating point tools. Look to centralize and orchestrate automated processes to drive best practices, governance and system-wide observability.

Scalability: Opt for automation platforms that help you balance agility and scalability without accruing technical debt.

GenAI Strategy: Develop a roadmap to integrate generative AI into your automation program and seek out automation platforms that align with your vision and future needs.

The underlying theme is clear: agility, foresight and the intelligent harnessing of automation are now required to thrive in an ever-competitive landscape, and with the prioritization of the capabilities listed above, IT teams should be well-positioned for success.

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than two decades of experience writing about corporate, financial and industry-specific issues. She is based in Running Springs, Calif.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

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