that some programming skill is necessary for effective automated testing. System administrator skills help a lot too.
Notice that my test-launcher code doesn't care that my UI tests are written in Selenium. It doesn't matter that my test data is in a wiki. It doesn't even matter that my test launcher is written in Ruby--it could as well have been a shell script (although Ruby has a lot of features that make this kind of scripting convenient.) All that is trivial. What matters is that I can use a program to run multiple tests in different environments simultaneously.
Knowing about computer environments and being able to do a modest bit of programming enables us to achieve the final step of making software: You make it fast.