Question

Why would companies invest in decision automation?

Answer

Businesses may invest in decision automation for any number of reasons. However, there are some overarching fundamental principles that illustrate the benefits of decision automation systems.

One big reason why decision support is needed has to do with the rise of big data. As storage media got smaller and less expensive, companies began to experience the “big data revolution” — much more data was gathered, and much more was analyzed. With the vast quantities of big data now floating around, it becomes either difficult or impossible to manage it without automation — in a sense, human decision makers, in the face of big data, have become insufficient.

In another sense, decision automation is a reasonable extension of a labor-saving philosophy that generally seeks efficiency by making processes easier to implement. It simply makes sense that as decision automation tools become available, they get applied to complex systems.

One excellent example is in the handling of virtualized IT systems. Many of these systems use virtual — not logical — hardware components, for example, virtual machines or VMs. These VMs require resource allocation from the architecture: allocation of elements like CPU, memory and storage.

Here’s where decision automation comes in: an automation system will automatically distribute CPU and memory as needed. These systems, in the virtualization world, can schedule or add CPU to a VM, or commission and decommission VMs, and do all sorts of things with resources that a human decision maker, in past years, may have done by hand.

It’s also important to note that decision automation can happen on a spectrum: earlier and more primitive tools were often known as “decision support” tools, because unlike automation tools, they only assisted human decision makers, rather than rendering them effectively obsolete. There are shades of gray in the middle, so that an automation system can be described by the extent to which it automates.

Specifically, a particular decision automation system can deliver all sorts of benefits for a business, from decreasing costs in various cost centers, to making digital labor easier at various staff levels. In cybersecurity and elsewhere, decision automation can make efforts more effective, using tools like behavior analysis algorithms, machine learning components, and heuristic tools. Another benefit of decision automation software is consistency: because the decisions are being taken out of the hands of humans, they become completely universal, where unlike a human, a computer is always going to make the same decision based on the inputs that are presented.

Related Terms

Justin Stoltzfus
Contributor

Justin Stoltzfus is an independent blogger and business consultant assisting a range of businesses in developing media solutions for new campaigns and ongoing operations. He is a graduate of James Madison University.Stoltzfus spent several years as a staffer at the Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster, Penn., before the merger of the city’s two daily newspapers in 2007. He also reported for the twin weekly newspapers in the area, the Ephrata Review and the Lititz Record.More recently, he has cultivated connections with various companies as an independent consultant, writer and trainer, collecting bylines in print and Web publications, and establishing a reputation…