Most of us have been watching how test automation has been at the forefront of most company's test initiatives over the past 5 years. Almost every company has been doing various automation for the past few years, and some are just starting.
During this time, I worked at very large companies (40+ employees) and very small companies (less than 25 employees), and a medium sized companies (50-300).
It's been interesting to see the management teams' forming of Test teams with a mix of employees with test automation skills, and those without. In some cases, I have seen org charts where the test automation is an entirely separate team from the Test team that only tests the product manually.
In some cases, there is very little interaction between the manual and automated testers. The manual testers test the product and gives links to the test cases for the automation testers so they can go off and automate, but they dont actually run the tests themselves.
When I think about test automation, I think of it as a software product whose customer is the manual tester to assist in their coverage of product testing. The manual tester should always be the primary end user of the automated tests and be absolutely sure of:
1) All necessary test cases are executing.
2) All required test cases that must pass are indeed passing.
There should always be very close and daily interaction between testers of the product and review of test results from all testers on the team.