Let's create value first, we can automate it later.
“Let’s create value first, we can automate it later”. That is a very common phrase and I am sure you can relate. There is nothing wrong with creating value. But what if automation actually is the foundation for value creation?
The highest objective of every business is creating value. To create value we have to use resources. Resources are typically limited and thus our value creation ability is limited as well.
The two value creation processes
There are two types of value creation processes. Direct and indirect.
Direct value creation
Direct value creation means that we take resources and create value directly. Think of a quarryman who uses hammer and chisel. He works 8 hours a day and will see a benefit of his efforts immediately but he will do the same thing tomorrow and next year and in ten years.
Indirect value creation
Indirect value creation means that we take resources and improve ourselves first. That is like another quarryman who buys pneumatic chisels and takes his time to install compressed-air supply. He also works 8 hours a day and during his first days he is not able to produce any value for his customers. But once his setup is finished he is able to work 10 times faster than his colleague. He will repeat that process over and over again and within a short amount of time he will be able to buy a crushing plant that makes him 10000 times as productive as his colleague.
Obviously IT Automation is an indirect value creation process. If we think we can do it later because we have to do “something more important” today it is not very likely that we start at all. Tomorrow there will be another “more important” thing and we will never reach that day on which we can say “That later I thought about yesterday is right now”. We will always find something that is more important “right now”.
“Create value first and automate later” is a reflection of our inability to make a decision. It is driven by the fear that we may miss an opportunity. On the other hand we know that it is the right thing to automate. To soothe our conscience we sell it to ourselves with the objection that we can have the benefits from both approaches at the same time. That will not work.
IT Automation needs 100% commitment and 100% commitment means starting today.