In my day-to-day role, I like to think of Automation as less time doing and more time thinking. If I find myself performing the same task(s) or job(s) repeatedly to get to an outcome, removing as much of the grunt work as possible so I have more time with the solution and what it means is my priority. I don't know if it's efficiency or laziness that drives this, but I do know that it is damn useful!!\n\nIf you use Excel macros (you likely do if you work for this company even if you don't know it), then bingo-bango you are using automation! Congratulations, you didn't have to do anything! What is happening is you are performing a small action which runs a macro (a set of predefined instructions) which goes off and does many things for you. Without this, you would have to manually perform all of those tasks yourself (I wrote that whilst sobbing a little). Excel is very useful, but performing tens, hundreds or even thousands of commands each time you need a result would cause even the most patient person to curl up into the foetal position under their desk.\n\nExcel isn't open source, nor is it geared to easily interfacing with other applications. Also, have you ever tried using VBA (Excel macro language)? It's something I'd use to torture other people, especially compared to to the likes of Python, C#, Scala (not FORTRAN though, I hate that language with every fiber of my being). What if I wanted to define a set of tasks run on my machine that performed actions and published the results clearly, in a central location for your team, that interfaced with many different sources and was accessed via a web-browser? Sounds rather expensive doesn't it? It isn't expensive at all!! Just use a Continuous Integration tool:\n\nJenkins CI\n\nConcourse CI\n\nCircle CI\n\nGears turning together to bring about a desired result\n\nThese are a mixture of free and paid tools, has an open license and is used by many established companies across the globe such as Dell (as in your company laptop), eBay, Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix and Salesforce. They can be easily deployed on your own machine, a network, cloud infrastructure (like our Azure cloud) and even Docker. They enable you to define a build pipeline using commands on your system, including running applications, scripts, to generate your results. Also, because they run system commands, they can be made to easily interface with other applications and services. Once all the tasks have run, you can configure tasks to publish the results centrally for your team to see and to have an auditable trail. If access is a concern, some can support login credentials. If data needs to be encrypted, it supports TLS (green lock in your browser) and can be backed by encrypted drives.\n\nSo what on earth could this power be used for?\n\nAutomation of published company reports\n\nAutomatically run regression tests on items (such as models) as they change\n\nAutomatically check company financials against Key Performance Indicators as they change\n\n(You know) Automate your software development pipeline (what it is designed for...)\n\nGraphs and charts produced through automation saving us lots of time and effort\n\nContinuous Integration tools abstract away laborious tasks which can consume your day, getting you to the answer that you seek quickly. This then gives you more time to ponder like a Philosopher as you spend less time worrying about that inconsistent value in the spreadsheet (seriously, where do those come from). I fully understand that certain tasks require us to interact, and am not trying to replace said tasks. However, tasks like copying and pasting values from one multiple services to a central document, transforming this data, running a pivot table, transposing the data, writing calculations as Excel functions etc each time that data changes just to get to the result that you actually want, I argue shouldn't be done by a person. This is slow, makes us unresponsive to fast moving change and is significantly prone to hard-to-predict human errors. How about we automate and centralise these kind of activities so that we spend more time dealing with answers that may actually change multiple times a day/hour/minute/second? Just a thought.\n\nTake care and all the best, Si.