Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “A is for Automation”
Automation is nothing new and the instinct to automate things has been around for a long time. There are lots of automated things in our lives that we now take for granted that at one time were not. The level of automation today does however seem to have a different set of goals. By this I mean the ability to fully automate something so no manual intervention is needed and the automation can think for itself. The future of systems auto detecting and joining themselves together presenting a tick list of the things that can be automated automatically is not that far away.
A house heating system is a good example of this. Starting with a very manual based system of stoking up the boiler to gas powered central heating controlled to come on by means of a thermostat or mechanical clock interface, to now where you can simply control your heating from a mobile device. Systems can learn your habits and settings to ensure the environment you live in stays at the right temperature for your needs.
Automation is available in many forms and tools that we can either purchase a solution to add, complement or replace an existing one, or create our own. As the world moves towards the “World as Code”- the manual tasks of today should be the automated tasks of tomorrow, achieved using tools that interface with systems using API’s and commands that join them together to carry out tasks, with the ability to control everything by means of code. We have more control over what we can automate, starting with the repetitive tasks before moving onto more complex tasks.
The LEF’s Lewis Richards has discusses “How Will Automation Change Us and Businesses?” in one of his latest videos and using tools such as IFTTT or Zapier to start your journey to automation. IFTTT has over 430 service API’s that you can link into.
Using these tools you can create simple automation linking services together with API’s and a user interface to set certain conditions, such as “Automating leaving a geolocation area“. API’s are a growing area within services and applications with more being made available to allow better integration and automation. Normally 3rd party applications take advantage of these API’s to provide additional services on top and compliment existing platforms. With the growth of the “Citizen Developer”, a user who can create simple code to perform functions, these API’s are now being used in a wider context to automate things. Anyone can become a Citizen Developer and start to code and interact, join systems together.
You have probably been doing this already with tools such as Excel, Access and Word. If you want to start discovering automation start with tools such as: