Eliminate Human Errors (Without Eliminating the Humans)

Eliminate Human Errors (Without Eliminating the Humans)

There’s a humorous old dictum in the IT industry that “To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.” When you combine the two, however – human error PLUS computers – then you can achieve catastrophic disruptions of truly epic proportion, like the massive AWS outage suffered by Amazon in early 2017.

The Uptime Institute estimates that human error lies behind about 70 percent of the problems plaguing data centers today. Seventy percent. Think about that. In 70 percent of cases, all it took to bring today’s most powerful high-tech to its knees was just one person making an honest mistake.

A mistyped keyboard stroke here. An erroneous mouse click there. We’ve all done it. Who among us hasn’t absent-mindedly pressed “Reply All” to an email meant for one person, then realized with horror that the errant message went organization-wide?

The people working in data centers are no different from you and me. They’re human and therefore vulnerable (if not more prone) to those same kinds of errors, especially given the number of systems they have to interface with, the profusion of processes they’re responsible for and the sheer monotony of their workload. Together these dynamics congeal into a brain-fog of tedium which can easily cause one to lose focus and make mistakes.

Where data center operators do primarily differ from us is that they often run the same mission critical jobs over and over, performing their tasks flawlessly hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of consecutive times. At some point though, that perfect streak comes to an end. It always does, because humans are fallible, and not even the best data center operators are 100 percent perfect 100 percent of the time.

In fact, when you think about it, it’s a wonder the rate of outages due to human error isn’t even higher than it is.

If you’re in upper management, the probability of downtime caused by human error should worry you.  Not just because of the resulting damage and its consequential costs, but because of the repercussions that inevitably follow the outage. After the shock and anger subside, the finger pointing begins, thanks to impeccable 20/20 hindsight. Once the blame game starts, it usually doesn’t end until reputations are ruined and secure jobs are lost. Many promising corporate careers were terminated by preventable disasters like these.

So what’s upper management to do about the potential for IT failures in their data center caused by human error?

Optimizing existing procedures or building in procedural circuit breakers to prevent wider damage are strategies that ultimately ignore the root cause of the issue – the fact that humans performing repetitive and often laborious manual processes inevitably commit errors. Therefore, the key to drastically reducing the potential for human error-caused outages is to eliminate the potential for human error in the first place by automating the part that humans do.

It’s the exact same logic behind the push for self-driving automobiles.

Various studies have pegged human error as the cause of anywhere between 90-95 percent of all traffic accidents. According to McKinsey, widespread use of autonomous vehicles could “eliminate 90 percent of all auto accidents in the United States, prevent up to $190 billion in damages and health-costs annually and save thousands of lives.”

The irreducible conclusion many are realizing is that eliminating the potential for human errors also eliminates big problems and the big costs associated with them. The most practical and cost-effective way of eliminating human errors is with automation.

In the NOCs and SOCs where headline-making outages occur, this revelation may initially be met with concern and even resistance. After all, your data center operators have spent many years honing their skill sets and developing their expertise in order to run the mission critical systems your organization relies upon. They may not take kindly to the notion that much of what they’ve done all these years can now be done more accurately with software.

In due time however, these same operators will realize that they stand to benefit from automation as much as anyone. Automation frees up data center personnel from tedious, repetitive, mind-numbing processes (that many of them secretly despise) so they can focus on more strategic and challenging work that will allow them to make better use of their skills and expertise. This realignment will also likely improve their level of job satisfaction since they’ll be contributing to the organization at a higher level.  As one of our customers once put it, “If they spend less time staring at blinking lights then they can spend more time on higher value projects.” Happier employees means lower costly turnover.

Furthermore, combining automation with the knowledge and skills of your best operators will make them far more productive and vastly more effective. In other words, automation is a force multiplier for your data centers, as well as being a highly effective risk mitigation tool.

When contemplating automation, upper management should consider one more factor – the competition. Many of your competitors have already embraced automation as a risk mitigation strategy to eliminate human error-caused service disruptions. As they automate more and more of their operations, they not only become less prone to outages, but their businesses also become more efficient and much more scalable, potentially leaving your organization at a competitive disadvantage.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and give automation a try, here’s a high-level view of how we recommend you begin:

  • Identify the critical processes most vulnerable to human error, and those which would be most costly to the organization should an operator make a mistake leading to a disruption.
  • Document these processes, paying particular attention to the parts involving potential for human error.
  • Automate these processes using an enterprise-strength orchestration tool which has a proven track record in mission critical environments (like Ayehu).

Why let costly errors rob your organization of efficiency, employee retention and competitive advantage? Check out automation in action and see how it can become a force multiplier for your enterprise by launching your demo today.

 

Guy NadiviAbout the Author: Guy Nadivi is the Sr. Director of Customer Success for Ayehu, and the first employee hired by the company in North America. Having previously served in numerous roles for Ayehu, Guy now leads the customer success initiative, which has emerged as a leading customer success program among all automation vendors. Previously, Guy founded three technical consulting firms, one of which was acquired by a publicly traded NASDAQ company. He has authored numerous articles of both a business and technical nature, for Forbes, The Jerusalem Post, Lotus Notes Advisor, and others.  Guy received a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Northridge.

 

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

4 Important Factors to Consider When Comparing IT Process Automation Solutions

4 Important Factors to Consider When Comparing IT Process Automation SolutionsBy now, surely you’ve heard about IT process automation and its many benefits, not the least of which include reduced costs, increased operational efficiency, reduction of errors and subsequent mitigated risks. But recognizing the value of ITPA is really only the first step in the process. The next, and perhaps the most critical, action you must take is determining which automation tool will be the best fit for your needs. If you’re knee-deep in the evaluation process or are just starting out, here are 4 important things to keep in mind.

Straightforward Implementation –Getting a new automation solution off the ground and fully functioning doesn’t have to be a huge headache, nor should it be. That’s why it’s important to pick a product that will be straightforward and easy to implement. What kind of training does the developer offer? Can the software be integrated with existing programs and applications, and if so, how quickly and seamlessly? How much support is available during and after implementation?

Ease of Use – The ideal IT process automation solution should offer robust features and complex functionality, but ultimately be easy and quick to implement. Otherwise, it can be incredibly challenging to drive adoption. The purpose of ITPA is to make the lives of your workers easier, not more difficult, so make sure one of the key areas you evaluate is the product’s UI. If possible, speak with other customers about their experience using the tool before making your final decision.

Extent of Automation Capabilities – You may have the intention of starting out slow with automation, but in reality, if the product you select is truly worth the investment, it should support much more than just the basics. If it doesn’t, chances are you will ultimately outgrow it and face the hassle of selecting and adopting a new ITPA product in the not-so-distant future. In addition to automating routine IT tasks, a quality enterprise automation solution will also be capable of streamlining complex processes and workflows.

Ability to Integrate – In a perfect world, every organization would operate under one centralized system for every business function. Unfortunately, this is rarely – if ever – the case. In reality, most businesses rely on a myriad of different programs, systems and applications, particularly in the IT department. In order to truly benefit from IT process automation, the tool you choose should be fully integratable with your legacy systems. The ultimate goal is to leverage ITPA for removing silos and creating a more cohesive and functional infrastructure, but it starts with the right product.

In today’s digital age, the question for most organizations is no longer whether automation should be adopted, but rather when and how to do so most effectively. By knowing what key areas to measure when evaluating an ITPA product, decision makers can feel much more confident that the solution they choose will suit their needs and provide maximum benefit.

Want to see intelligent automation in action? Click here to claim your free product demo and experience for yourself our powerful, feature-rich and easy-to-use automation platform.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

How Uber Could Have Prevented Their Latest Cybersecurity Breach

How Uber Could Have Prevented Their Latest Cybersecurity BreachIn case you missed it, ride sharing company Uber has recently come under fire due to the circumstances surrounding a data breach that occurred in late 2016, but that the company didn’t publicly report until just last month (nearly an entire year later). The hackers behind the breach were able to access the personal information of 57 million users, including names, email addresses, phone numbers. Also stolen were 600,000 driver’s license numbers of Uber drivers. With yet another high profile brand making headlines, it’s time to ask once again, could a stronger cybersecurity strategy prevented this fiasco?

What happened?

According to Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, two hackers broke into the company’s GitHub account, a third-party, cloud-based service that many companies use to store code. It was on this site that the hackers located the username and password they needed to access user data, which was stored on an Amazon server. Sadly, experts are saying the attack was not sophisticated, which means it could have been prevented had the company been more vigilant with its cybersecurity practices.

Where they went wrong

The breach itself isn’t what’s got Uber in hot water right now, although users and regulatory agencies are rightfully outraged. What’s most upsetting is that, rather than alerting users that their information had been compromised and notifying authorities of the breach (as is required by law), Uber instead handed over a $100,000 ransom to the hackers. According to Uber representatives, they were assured and therefore believed that in exchange for that payment, the data was destroyed.

The problem is, by failing to report the breach, not only were users placed in a precarious situation, having their personal information unknowingly in the hands of criminals, but the company also failed to act lawfully and in compliance with regulations. As a result, it’s likely that Uber will face consequences, both at the state and federal level.

Furthermore, when businesses choose to pay hackers what they demand, it only perpetuates the problem of cybercrime and encourages others to follow suit. Similar cybersecurity events occurred recently to well-known brands Netflix and HBO, however, neither of those organizations paid the ransom demanded.

A better solution

The bottom line is, what happened to Uber could easily happen to any business. And paying the ransom – even if it did result in the data being destroyed – didn’t address the actual problem, which is poor cybersecurity planning. Keeping usernames and passwords located on an easy-to-access platform like GitHub was mistake number one.

The second mistake Uber made was not having the right technology in place. For instance, had they employed automated incident response, they would have been alerted of the breach immediately and quite possibly could have avoided having to pay the ransom in the first place. And, thirdly, of course, was the company’s failure to notify appropriate parties. For that, they will likely pay much more than the original ransom amount and reputationally, the company may never quite recover.

Uber’s latest PR nightmare should serve as a reminder to business owners, board members and IT leaders across the globe. The question is no longer whether your company will get hacked, but rather when. Being prepared, leveraging technology and adhering to all state and federal regulations can help your business weather the storm and emerge unscathed on the other side.

Want to see exactly how automation powered by AI can help guard your business against hackers? Click here to take Ayehu for a test drive!

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

The Case for IT Process Automation in Financial Services

Without question, the financial services industry has experienced tremendous change over the past decade or so. Between ever-changing regulatory challenges to evolving technology to increased competition and more, staying afloat in this field certainly isn’t easy. IT process automation is helping many institutions meet these challenges head on and emerge even more successful on the other side.

First, it’s important to clarify that despite its name, adopting ITPA isn’t technically about unleashing an army of actual robots to perform the rote work of humans. In reality, IT process automation involves software applications which are designed to handle everything from simple, routine tasks to complex workflows. Furthermore, ITPA that incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning has the capability of adapting and improving over time.

Simply put, ITPA is revolutionizing the way that banks, lending institutions and insurers carry out their business practices. In fact, this technology is ideal for the financial services industry because of the staunch regulations and high volume of transactions being performed on a daily basis. From an accounting perspective, for instance, ITPA can be applied to everything from recording journal entries to performing account reconciliation. ITPA can even be used to manage invoices, audit expense reports and process payments.

The Case for Robotic Process Automation in Financial ServicesPerhaps the area where IT process automation is most beneficial to financial institutions is in the way of regulatory compliance and risk management. Employing an intelligent automation platform, a financial firm can utilize advanced technology to automatically evaluate account openings and review disclosures to ensure that employees remain compliant at all times. ITPA software can run continuous reviews and reconciliations to identify anomalies and alert management of potential problems.

In terms of risk management, ITPA can help spot and verify even the most subtle of changes in exposure as well as determine the cause for such movement. Automation can also be used to assess credit limits and identify the cause when those limits are breached. Intelligent ITPA combined with AI and machine learning can take these things a step further by leveraging data to provide recommendations for which course of action should be taken in order to limit risk and remain compliant.

One of the reasons ITPA is such a valuable tool in the financial industry is because it is capable of undertaking tasks at an incredibly high rate of speed while also performing those tasks uniformly and without error. This is why it’s widely accepted, both by financial firms as well as regulatory agencies. It is not, however, meant to replace human workers altogether. To the contrary, ITPA is designed to augment the skills of human employees, making their jobs easier and freeing them up to focus on those tasks that cannot be automated.

And lastly, despite being in an industry that is perpetually dealing with change, the one thing that seems to always remain constant is the need to reduce operating costs while maximizing efficiency. IT process automation is fundamentally designed to help firms achieve these goals by enabling the standardization and centralization of a broad spectrum of business processes. At the same time, ITPA increases controls and facilitates consistency in execution. And because automation eliminates much of the tedious, manual tasks, staff can apply their talent to more high-value and meaningful work, which means higher retention rate. In other words, everyone wins.

Given all of these value-added benefits, it’s no surprise that leading financial institutions are already leveraging the power of ITPA to help streamline operations and provide competitive advantage. If you are in the financial industry and would like to see for yourself just how automation can improve your firm’s overall performance, we encourage you to take Ayehu for a test drive today.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Ayehu Listed as a 2017 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Company for Second Consecutive Year

deloitte fast 50Ayehu, provider of an intelligent automation and orchestration platform powered by AI, today announced that it has been named as one of Israel’s fastest growing companies on the 2017 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 List for the second consecutive year.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program recognizes the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Israel, known as “start-up nation,” based on percentage of revenue growth over the last four years (2013-2016).  With ongoing momentum in North America, Asia and Europe, Ayehu recorded a growth rate of nearly 260% during the four-year period.

“We are honored to be included again in the Deloitte Fast 50,” said Gabby Nizri, CEO of Ayehu.  “Automation powered by artificial intelligence is shaping the future of enterprises. We built our platform for the digital era so that it will help IT and Security Operations make the leap forward. 2018 is on tap to be an excellent year as more and more enterprises are embracing the benefits of this innovation.”

Ayehu acts as a force multiplier, driving efficiency through a simple and powerful IT automation and orchestration platform powered by AI. The next generation platform is SaaS-ready for hybrid deployments and is powered by machine learning driven decision support, for fully enhanced and optimized automated workflows. IT and security operations can fully automate and mimic the response of experienced IT or security operators and analysts, including complex tasks across multiple, disparate systems, executing thousands of well-defined instructions without any programming required, helping to resolve virtually any alert, incident or crisis.

“The Deloitte Israel Fast 50 ranks companies based on their sustained revenue growth over four years. Being one of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Israel is a great indication on what’s ahead for Ayehu,” said Shally Tshuva, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Leader at Deloitte Israel.

The list of the Deloitte Israel 2017 Technology Fast 50 can be viewed online at:
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/il/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/fast50/Deloitte_Fast50_2017_Dirog_biz.pdf

The Truth About Self-Service Automation

The truth about self-service automationBy now you’ve probably heard of self-service automation, but you might be surprised at how often you’ve personally encountered it in your day to day life. In fact, if you’ve ever used an ATM to withdraw cash, rung up your groceries at the self-checkout line of your local supermarket, or ordered takeout online, you’ve experienced self-service automation up close and personal.

From a business perspective – especially in terms of IT – self-service automation can dramatically increase efficiency and improve productivity levels across the board. Yet, despite these benefits, many organizations are still somewhat hesitant about embracing it for themselves. Much of this is due to many common myths that are still being perpetuated. Let’s take a look at a few of these misconceptions and the real truth behind them.

Misconception: Self-service automation is too expensive.

Reality: While automation certain requires some type of investment and ongoing upkeep, the costs associated with implementing self-service automation are well offset by the savings it affords. To determine the ROI of self-service, simply calculate how much money your company is paying for IT personnel to do routine manual tasks, such as password resets. Shifting that process to the end-user would be much more cost-effective in the long run.

Misconception: Self-service automation will replace human workers.

Reality: While moving to a more self-sufficient business model certainly does change the duties and roles of IT personnel, it doesn’t necessarily negate the need for human intervention. To the contrary, by enabling the end-user to handle manual tasks, it’ll free up talented IT workers so they can continue their education and apply their skills to more important business matters.

Misconception: Self-service automation removes all control from IT.

Reality: Not every self-service policy is fully automated. In fact, if preferred, the process can be set up to incorporate human input at any point during a particular workflow if desired. For instance, certain requests can be submitted by the end-user, which can either trigger a partially automated workflow or be escalated for remote approval via SMS, email or phone. This semi-automated approach still increases efficiency without giving up control.

Misconception: Implementing self-service automation is complicated and cumbersome.

Reality: One of the biggest hurdles many IT managers must overcome when it comes to adopting self-service automation is the misconception that it’s a pain to implement. To the contrary, with the right tool, the process can be quick and painless. In fact, many companies are pleasantly surprised to learn that their automation project can be up and running in just minutes.

Are you guilty of falling for one or more of these misconceptions about self-service automation? Now that you know the truth, the time to start leveraging this powerful tool for your business is today. Click here to get started!

IT Process Automation Survival Guide