Red Hat: Enterprise IT automation being undermined by a reluctant workforce

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Workforce reluctance and talent shortages are creating significant barriers for organizations seeking to automate IT operations, according to new research. 

A survey from Red Hat found that nearly one-third (29%) of IT leaders believe their teams do not have the relevant skills to implement automation. 

“People barriers”, the survey revealed, were often highlighted as a key stumbling block for firms embarking on projects to achieve enterprise-wide IT automation.

A key issue highlighted by leaders centered specifically on workforce hesitancy, with 92% of IT managers believing their teams are - or will be - reluctant to change. 

There are a variety of factors behind this reluctance, according to Red Hat. Nearly half (45%) of survey respondents said they “don’t have the time” to implement automation. 

40% also said they feel overwhelmed by the prospect of implementing sweeping changes to IT operations and that projects are “over-complicated or too technical”. 

Respondents said organizations should place a stronger focus on outlining the benefits of change at the beginning of a transformation project to alleviate workforce hesitancy. 

31% believe providing teams with relevant educational resources and training will ensure staff have the “skills to manage change”. 

Similarly, 29% revealed that involving teams in projects and considering feedback will deliver better outcomes as staff feel like they have a voice in the situation. 

“Enterprises today are asking where they can find the right people, how they can upskill them and how they can motivate wider teams to embrace change,” said Richard Henshall, director of product management for Ansible at Red Hat. 

“Automation should be a collaborative and agile movement; people need to be enabled and motivated from the start and continuously engaged.”

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Organizations that are slow to implement automation within IT operations could face long-term challenges with regard to adoption of emerging technologies, Red Hat warned. 

One-third of UK-based IT leaders whose organization has not achieved enterprise-wise automation believe that they won’t be able to adopt new technologies such as generative AI

With businesses globally focusing heavily on the use of generative AI tools to augment and streamline operations, there is a serious risk many could fall behind competitors if they fail to automate key aspects of their IT estate. 

UK companies outpace their European rivals

Despite lingering concerns over skills shortages and workforce hesitancy, Red Hat’s study revealed that UK organizations are performing well with regard to enterprise IT automation

UK firms were shown to be outpacing European counterparts, with more than one-quarter (27%) of large UK businesses having fully achieved enterprise-wide IT automation. 

The majority of respondents to Red Hat’s survey said they currently have an IT automation strategy in place. Nearly one-third (29%) said they are “already on the path” to automating IT operations while 25% revealed they have a strategy, but are still in the process of launching projects. 

Compared to European firms, the study found that IT automation among UK businesses is maturing at a faster pace. 

Only 18% of organizations in Germany have achieved enterprise-wide IT automation while only 12% have done so in France. 

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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