What Is File Transfer Automation?

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X = Y

This equation represents a rapidly approaching reality. If X is “the time spent on current tasks at work by humans” and Y is the time spent on current tasks at work by machines, they could be equal by 2025, according to the World Economics Forum.

If it sounds far-fetched to you, you’re not alone.

But the truth is that so much in our lives is already automated without us even realizing it. Automated emails from salespeople remind us that our software-as-a-service (SaaS) trials are coming to an end. Businesses automatically process and pay invoices. Chat bots provide first-level customer support.

File transfers can also be automated to improve efficiency and keep businesses agile. For example, a retailer may use automated file transfers between its headquarters and retail locations to understand inventory levels and measure sales. Without reliable automated file transfers, the retailer is operating blind and is less likely to make the right business decisions.

What Is File Transfer Automation?

File transfer automation happens when a system transfers files on a schedule between two endpoints. The system can be configured to pick up or avoid picking up certain file types with file name filters. It can also do other file processing tasks, including renaming, compression/decompression and encryption/decryption.

File transfer automation can be achieved in three ways:

  1. Scripts
  2. An IT team member writes scripts to automate file transfers between two endpoints.

    There are many disadvantages to using scripts, including:

    • Difficult to Maintain — If the employee who wrote the scripts leaves the company, the team might not understand how they work or how to maintain them.
    • Time-Consuming to Troubleshoot — The IT team has no dashboards that record user activity and file delivery. To troubleshoot, they have to check logs and dig through code. In the meantime, business decisions must be made without the most up-to-date information.
    • No Email or Text Alerts — Without alerts, the IT team is less likely to discover and fix issues. Meanwhile, critical information is not being shared, which hurts the company’s and its partners’ agility.
  3. Homegrown solution
  4. An IT team may decide to build and maintain its own file transfer solution. As the company’s IT infrastructure changes, the solution can become difficult or even impossible to support.

  5. Managed file transfer (MFT) solution
  6. With an MFT solution, IT employees can quickly configure and manage automated file transfer workflows without coding.

    An MFT solution automates file transfers and automatically:

    1. Performs file processing tasks
    2. Purges, keeps or archives files (depending on the retention policy)
    3. Alerts administrators about file delivery issues

How Does File Transfer Automation Work?

For this explanation, I’ll describe how Thru, our cloud MFT solution, automates file transfers.

system checks client and server endpoints for files

1. The system checks client and server endpoints for files.

When you set Thru up, you can set a schedule for the system to check endpoints for files. You can also add file name filters to pick up or avoid picking up certain file types.

file lands in the source endpoint

2. The file lands in the source endpoint.

This step can happen in two ways:

  1. A person manually drags and drops a file in.
  2. Files are automatically generated and dropped into the source endpoint by another application or software.
Thru picks the file up

3. Thru picks the file up.

It doesn’t matter whether the source endpoint is a client or server — Thru can pick up files from either because it can act as a client or as a server.

Thru processes the file and drops it off at the target endpoint

4. Thru processes the file and drops it off at the target endpoint.

Thru records whether the file was successfully delivered

5. Thru records whether the file was successfully delivered.

If delivery is successful the first time, Thru purges, keeps or archives the file according to the retention policy. If the file can’t be delivered, Thru retries delivery and automatically alerts administrators to the issue.

How Valuable Is Your Team’s Work?

The debate about automation has shifted from whether machines can automate manual tasks to what tasks they can’t automate.

Your IT team has talents that can’t be replicated or coded. And they want to do innovative, meaningful work. By automating file transfers, you give them more time and energy to do that work.
Yes, X will eventually equal Y, but I think your IT team’s productivity and fulfillment should enter the equation, too.

Visit our file transfer automation page for more information about how Thru can help.

 

1 https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020/digest
2 https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-48908346
3 https://www.netsuite.com/portal/resource/articles/business-strategy/business-automation-examples.shtml

 

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