Get ready for the bot revolution

Will bots liberate IT from mundane tasks, or will their development and upkeep only add to IT’s workload?

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For today's overworked, time-strapped IT employees, bots are more than simply apps that perform automated tasks, like delivering weather reports or taking pizza orders. Rather, they're a respite from endless help-desk calls, constant software updates and tedious server maintenance jobs.

Computerworld illustration by Richard Borge - Get Ready for the Bot Revolution [2016/single use] Richard Borge

"Eighty percent of IT's effort is focused on mundane, grunt work — ditch-digging to keep the lights on with barely 20% spent on innovation," says Frank Casale, founder of the Institute for Robotic Process Automation (IRPA). But bots promise to change all that, he says, by "taking on the bulk of the routine, dismal work that makes IT workers feel like human robots."

For example, AT&T is using bots to automate humdrum data-entry activities. And 1-800 Flowers has rolled out bots to help customers place online orders, while TV network CNN uses bots to deliver breaking news and personalized stories. By handling tasks that are either directly overseen by IT, or supported by IT resources, bots are fast becoming "magical for most IT departments," says Casale.

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