It was my belief as a test lead and is still my belief. To test a product with any amount of interesting complexity you need to find good ways to reduce a reliance on manual processes. If you test manually you need automation. If you are writing a test plan you need to have a machine figure out the details. If you start writing automation you need to reduce the cost of writing automation. One way to reduce costs and start abstracting the testing problems is through model based testing. Nihit has a good introduction article to the practice you should read.
Internally we have gone so far as to write automation that abstracts Visual Studio, write a model that represents a feature, and have that model make calls to the automation. This reduces the cost of writing scripted automation. Only a few teams have started doing this and I think it has a long way to go, but I would be surprised if the use of such practices don't take off quickly.