InsightsIT Automation: A Powerful Tool with Potential Risks

The digital transformation sweeping across enterprises makes IT automation the backbone of many core processes. While a key benefit is eliminating human error, automation can introduce new risks that can be more significant.

The Double-Edged Sword of Automation

A recent Sheer Analytics and Insights report highlights the growing adoption of IT automation. As companies automate operations, they grapple with maximizing their benefits while minimizing risks. The inherent complexity of large IT environments necessitates robust visibility and control over potential problems.

VMware defines IT automation as using software and systems to replace repetitive tasks and reduce manual intervention. This approach accelerates IT infrastructure and application delivery by automating processes previously requiring human input. Software tools automate specific actions within a business process, eliminating the need for manual execution. The result is a promise of error-free, repeatable processes with minimal human resource involvement, leading to efficient, fast, and accurate operations at reduced costs.

However, as core enterprise processes become automated, technical failures and glitches become a concern. While offering effectiveness similar to other forms of AI, these solutions may introduce new risks for businesses, including increased regulatory scrutiny. Furthermore, automation tools and technologies can disrupt the delivery of crucial business services, leading to operational disruptions and costly downtime. Careful consideration of these potential pitfalls is essential.

Potential Risks of IT Automation

  • Data Paradoxes: Automating processes can create barriers to accessing high-quality, reliable data across the company. This can lead to the formation of data silos, where data becomes isolated within specific departments, hindering collaboration and informed decision-making. These silos can also lead to inefficiencies in data handling and outdated operational methods, ultimately impacting productivity and brand reputation. Additionally, reliance on inadequately skilled resources when implementing automation can increase the risk of vendor lock-in and governance issues. Finally, well-designed automation may lead to an inability to scale effectively, creating significant risks.
  • Increased Complacency: Automation can lead to complacency within IT teams. Reduced emphasis on underlying process steps due to automation can mask potential risks. Over-dependence on automation can also lead to skill atrophy in IT teams, hindering their ability to troubleshoot manually when necessary. Additionally, zero-touch cloud operations, a form of automation with minimal human intervention, can create a false sense of security, potentially leading to situations where real human intervention is critical. To mitigate these risks, IT teams must understand automated processes and conduct regular reviews to identify and address potential problems.
  • Rising Cybersecurity Threats: Automated systems can be vulnerable to cyberattacks if attackers exploit weaknesses. Cybercriminals constantly seek new ways to exploit vulnerabilities, and IT automation projects may present new opportunities. Automation can also exacerbate the damage caused by a successful cyberattack, allowing the attack to spread faster before it is identified and contained. New cybersecurity risks, such as model extraction or deliberate data poisoning by malicious actors, also need to be considered. The most significant cybersecurity risk involves potentially violating data privacy laws during model development. A lack of transparency surrounding the operation of these systems can also increase the possibility of errors or bias being introduced.
  • Unclear Governance Processes: While automation offers flexibility and autonomy, a clear governance structure is essential to maintain order within automated processes. A well-defined governance structure can help the effectiveness of automation projects. Furthermore, as regulations and standards around automation continue to evolve, a lack of governance can make it difficult for teams to comply. A strong governance structure with clearly defined stakeholder roles and responsibilities is crucial for mitigating these risks.


Automation is a vital tool in the digital transformation era, enabling IT teams to operate with greater speed and security in virtualized networks and cloud environments. It is essential in situations requiring rapid and complex provisioning of resources. However, the benefits of automation come with potential risks that require careful consideration and mitigation strategies. By reflecting on the IT automation strategy and deployment process, organizations can avoid these pitfalls and leverage automation to its full potential. Ultimately, the success of IT automation hinges on the team responsible for its implementation.

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