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Automation and IT: Humans and machine learning working together


Guest blog by Eric J. Bruno

With automation and IT working together to take over routine tasks, IT workers can devote more time to innovation.

Don't forget, though, that adding automation to the mix doesn't mean that IT and automation work in silos. As KPMG told Network World, the co-existence between human employees and cognitive systems is creating a new class of digital labor that can enhance human skills and expertise, allowing employees to innovate constantly. Before diving into what this means to IT, let's examine the underlying concepts.

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Machine learning, AI, and cognitive systems

Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that uses data, algorithms, and known outcomes to build systems that learn and adapt without human input. Companies such as Netflix and Facebook use it extensively to improve their services. However, the results of the artificial intelligence and machine learning disciplines are merging to create what is being called cognitive computing. These systems simulate human thought, using self-learning through Big Data, natural language processing, neural networks, and so on.

How automation and IT can work together

When using cognitive systems to automate processes—even digital ones that were once thought not possible to automate—you free humans up from lower-level, sometimes tedious tasks. So instead of robots or cognitive systems replacing humans outright, they instead free humans to work on more creative, innovative, and higher-level tasks.

This has led some technology leaders to look for ways to apply cognitive computing to IT tasks, according to Network World. Automating basic IT functions can free people up to focus on innovation, instead of just keeping systems running. In fact, around 45 percent of work activities could be automated using already available technology, according to a McKinsey report from last year.

However, as mentioned earlier, none of this should happen in a silo. Using robots and AI to run IT more efficiently will require human oversight, fine tuning, and feedback loops that will help both humans and AI systems do their jobs better.

Benefits of automation in other industries

The healthcare industry is an excellent example of how automation and technology have helped to enhance innovation—despite the regulation and risks involved in the health care sector overall. For example, Big Data processing has led to advances in genomic research, clinical trials, and community health. Additionally, the automation and intelligence introduced with remote patient monitoring systems are helping doctors identify potentially critical situations without having to monitor the patients themselves.

Automation is also helping to disrupt the travel industry. Artificial intelligence systems are already helping travelers avoid the tedious planning by analyzing calendars, messages, and personal likes and dislikes to put together itineraries in advance—without human intervention. Automation technology is also helping to solve travel problems that aren't easily performed today, such as incongruous travel. AI-based travel scheduling will soon be able to coordinate the travel between multiple people in a group, so they arrive at the same location in a reasonable time frame regardless of where they're coming from.

Regardless of the activity, though, there's bound to be room for cognitive systems to replace or improve the tedious tasks humans currently need to do. This in turn will lead to greater amounts of creativity and innovation, the identification of newer products and services that need to be built, and more productivity across the board to bring them to market.



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Eric Bruno is a contributing editor to online publications and journals, with more than 20 years of experience in the information technology community. He is a highly requested writer, moderator and speaker for a variety of sites, blogs, conferences and other events on topics spanning the technology spectrum from the desktop to the data center. He has written articles, blogs, white papers, and books on software architecture and development topics for more than a decade. Mr. Bruno is also an enterprise architect, developer, and industry analyst with expertise in full lifecycle, large-scale software architecture, design, and development for companies all over the globe. His accomplishments span the Internet of Things (IoT), highly distributed system development, multi-tiered web development, real-time development, and transactional software development. See his editorial work online at

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About the Author


Tracy Siclair has worked for HPE for 20 years in various positions, all geared towards providing a better customer experience. She has a passion for thinking out-of-the-box and finding innovative ways to get the job done. While not on a computer for work, she enjoys watching her kids play sports, photography, videography, and the occasional game of billiards. Tracy resides in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado.

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