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IT leaders driving operational efficiencies, as demands are expected to increase

24th July 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Customer relationship management software company Salesforce's ‘State of IT 2023’ report shows that 88% of South African information technology (IT) leaders are increasingly focusing on driving operational efficiencies, amid an expected 78% increase in demand for IT services over the next 18 months.

The ongoing digital transformations are sapping IT capacity, with 67% of South African IT organisations having trouble keeping up with demands from the business, the report found.

Further, only 35% of South African IT organisations can support all application (app) development requests they receive and to scale up their capacity 69% have adopted low-code or no-code tools, while 57% use app composability as teams seek to scale up app development.

Additionally, 83% of IT leaders in South Africa say the role of AI in their organisations is well-defined, with this figure poised to grow, as 87% believe that generative artificial intelligence (AI), specifically, will soon have a prominent role in their organisations.

While AI use-cases are diverse, organisations globally are currently most likely to put it to work in customer service settings, such as chatbots, the Salesforce report noted.

Further, a recent survey of customer service professionals found adoption of AI had risen by 88% between 2020 and 2022, and 78% of IT leaders say the role of AI in their organisation is well-defined.

Generative AI has recently become mainstream and IT leaders and their cross-functional partners have identified how generative AI can drive productivity, efficiency and innovation. Eighty-six of IT leaders believe generative AI will have a prominent role at their organisation in the near future.

However, despite being largely enthusiastic, IT leaders have reservations about generative AI, with 64% concerned about the ethics of generative AI and 62% about its impacts on their careers, highlighted Salesforce chief ethical and humane use officer Paula Goldman.

Meanwhile, automation is a focus in the pursuit of efficiency and organisations are increasingly focused on maximising the value of resources they have while driving positive business outcomes.

Workflow and process automation are proving to be indispensable tools in this pursuit of efficient growth, and are helping employees to focus more on strategic innovation and less on repetitive tasks. Eighty-seven per cent of IT leaders expect more investment in automation at their organisations over the next 18 months.

Some workflows and processes are more automated than others, and the current state of automation leaves room for improvement, particularly for human resources workflows, Salesforce said in the report.

Additionally, automation’s return on investment is broad. IT departments that pursue automation initiatives report several benefits, led by increased operational efficiency and employee productivity.

IT departments using automation also report an average of 1.9 hours saved per week per employee.

"Yet automation benefits go beyond the four walls of the enterprise itself, with customer satisfaction also seeing boosts. In fact, customer service is among the departments with the greatest automation benefits, behind only IT and operations," the company said.

However, while automation is invaluable in today’s business climate, it has pitfalls. IT departments report an array of challenges to consider when determining how, where and to what extent to embed automation. Security concerns along the automation journey are top of mind.

"Without proper precautions, bad actors could take advantage of particular weaknesses as human visibility into processes declines. Technical debt in the form of incompatible systems and inadequate budget and team capacity are also barriers, as is identifying the right solution in an increasingly saturated vendor landscape."

Only 42% of IT leaders are completely satisfied with the state of their organisation’s process automation, Salesforce noted in its report.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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