4 Steps for Selling Intelligent Process Automation to the Masses

Seasoned leaders know that, when beginning any significant project, there are two different paths that can be taken. Path number one offers the shortest route from point A to point B. This is to simply force-feed the project to everyone, essential saying, “We’re doing this and that’s that.” The second path, on the other, may be a little less direct and take a lot longer. On this journey, time is taken to explain the strategy and the reasoning behind it. In other words, saying, “Here’s what we’re doing and why.”

Which of these paths do you think will yield better results? If you chose the second path, chances are you’ve experienced both options before and know firsthand that getting people onboard with change is almost always the wiser choice. Few industries are as familiar with the correlation between major change and feelings of fear, skepticism, resistance and other challenges as leaders in the IT realm. Implementing intelligent process automation is no different.

What’s the best way to overcome the many uncertainties and misconceptions that could delay or derail your automation project? Let’s take a look.

Appeal to their self-interest.

Most people won’t get fully behind a project unless and until they know how it will directly impact their lives – essentially, they want to know what’s in it for them. Self-preservation is human nature. Appealing to this natural instinct can help make your argument much more persuasive. Instead of simply announcing that you will be introducing intelligent process automation into the mix, show them how that change will benefit them.

Will automating a particular workflow finally put an end to those middle-of-the-night phone calls? Will it allow some employees to eliminate low-skill, manual tasks from their workload, freeing them up to focus on more strategic and meaningful work? Will learning how to work alongside artificial intelligence enable ambitious team members to develop new marketable skills that they can use to further their career?

Figure out what’s in it for each of the individuals or teams you are presenting to, as well as how intelligent automation will ultimate benefit customers and the company as a whole, and then communicate that to the masses. Paint a picture of what’s currently causing issues and then demonstrate how automation can help. By the way – the same concept applies when making the case outside of the IT department, to non-technical stakeholders, for example. Just go easy on the jargon.

Connect your proposal to specific business goals.

A big part of making a strong and support-worthy case for anything, really, involves getting people to understand that you’re not simply chasing trends. In other words, you’re not just automating for the sake of automating. If people sense that’s the case, they’re going to lose confidence and likely provide even greater resistance – especially those who are directly impacted, such as the IT team.

The case for intelligent process automation must be driven by a specific business demand, whether it’s reducing expenses, improving service levels, gaining competitive advantage, etc. Unless it’s a core competency of the organization, no automation endeavor should be a means unto itself.

If you want people to back your plan, you need to align it with specific business goals and then clearly and accurately convey those connections. Lay out these goals and explain, step-by-step, how automation will help the company achieve those goals.

Break down your plan into manageable milestones.

One major reason why many automation projects fail is because they are simply overwhelming undertakings. Even if your goal is to automate everything (or close enough), attempting to do so in one fell swoop is simply not realistic nor is it a sustainable strategy.

You’ll make a much stronger, longer-lasting argument when you develop a plan that breaks down your project into smaller, more manageable increments. This also allows for more flexibility to be able to adapt and iterate as needed along the way. At Ayehu, we almost always recommend starting with tasks and workflows that offer the quickest and most measurable wins. This will enable you to continuously prove value and gain ongoing support as you begin to proliferate automation further throughout the organization.

Identify smaller areas where automation will have the biggest immediate effect and then work your way outward from there. Remember, as they say, the proof is ultimately in the pudding. Once you’ve got those smaller wins under your belt, you’ll be in a much better position to sell the big-picture benefits as well.

Sing your own praises.

Well, not necessarily your praises, but those of your automation project. If you’ve followed the steps above, you should begin to generate ROI relatively quickly. It’s in your best interest to promote those positive results early and often. There is no case more convincing than one that features real-world, definitive and measurable results.

This step is especially important for instances where skepticism still abounds. People can resist change and choose to doubt anticipated benefits of intelligence process automation all they want, but this becomes markedly more difficult when they can see and experience those benefits firsthand.

Not only will continuously promoting positive results quiet the critics, but it will also lay the groundwork for automating even more tasks and workflows in the future, which will ultimately lead to becoming a self-driving organization.

Get started on your journey to successful adoption of intelligent process automation today by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

Want to Innovate? Automate.

The key to innovation lies in the ability to quickly identify and resolve frictions. Easier said than done? Not necessarily – provided you have the right tools in your corner. That’s where the power of AI, machine learning and intelligent automation come into play. By leveraging these technologies, organizations will be better prepared to pinpoint roadblocks and pivot accordingly to unlock new opportunities.  The Process In order to identify issues in workflows, there needs to be a process put in place, and that process must involve mapping out the complete journey of that workflow from start to finish. Hidden within this flow of events is where you’ll find those gaps and imperfections. And chances are, the more detailed the workflow, the greater the number of frictions you will encounter. That being said, the more frictions you find, the greater the opportunities to innovate by solving those issues and streamlining those workflows. Upping the Ante The whole process of laying out a workflow and identifying problems is nothing new. In fact, it’s been employed by top organizations around the world for eons. The problem is, because this process has historically relied on human effort, it’s naturally prone to errors and oversights. Here’s where technology has become a real game-changer.  Not only does AI and automation dramatically speed up the process of monitoring workflows and identifying issues, thereby streamlining processes, but because it’s capable of providing users with improved access to knowledge, it’s empowering users to self-serve. The result is a powerful synergy between human and machine which is enabling enterprises to truly up the ante in virtually every area of operation. Automation = Innovation Thanks to rapid advances, not only are we able to use automation technology to explore and identify frictions, but artificial intelligence and machine learning can also present new and expanding solutions to those issues. This capability is becoming one of the most powerful tools for decision-makers, who no longer have to rely on fallible human suggestions, but can instead choose from recommendations derived from real, quantifiable data.   In fact, unlike human analysts, AI is capable of sifting through mountains upon mountains of raw data and then convert that data into invaluable insights and actions. With intelligent automation, we are able to gain a new understanding of what’s happening in both the physical as well as the digital arena, as well as the context in which these things are occurring. With these insights, we can then take action, whether it be by informing, alerting or closing the loop. If, in the past, we considered the question, “How can we solve problem A for person B,” intelligent automation changes the game by asking, “How can we automate this process and make it more intelligent?” As such, the solutions we’ll develop will ultimately take us beyond the human user to learn what’s standing in our way, predict and plan next steps and incorporate automated actions whenever and wherever it makes sense. By leveraging the power of intelligent automation, we are essentially shifting responsibilities from human to machine.  Putting Ideas into Action It’s easy to write about how AI and intelligent automation has become a game-changer in terms of innovation, but how can organizations actually put this into action? There are two critical questions to ask: •	Given your available data and existing assets, which behaviors, activities, processes or environments could be made more intelligent through automation? •	What, if any, gaps exist within those physical assets and data? Which devices, tools, applications and analytics capabilities could be added into the mix to capture data more effectively and further the goal of automating? When you incorporate intelligence and automation into your processes and operations, you’ll be able to expand your portfolio of ideas and identify newer and better opportunities as a result. And that’s where true innovation can be found.  Ready to get started? Download your free 30-day trial of Ayehu and put the power of AI and intelligent automation to work for you.

The key to innovation lies in the ability to quickly identify and resolve frictions. Easier said than done? Not necessarily – provided you have the right tools in your corner. That’s where the power of AI, machine learning and intelligent automation come into play. By leveraging these technologies, organizations will be better prepared to pinpoint roadblocks and pivot accordingly to unlock new opportunities.

The Process

In order to identify issues in workflows, there needs to be a process put in place, and that process must involve mapping out the complete journey of that workflow from start to finish. Hidden within this flow of events is where you’ll find those gaps and imperfections. And chances are, the more detailed the workflow, the greater the number of frictions you will encounter. That being said, the more frictions you find, the greater the opportunities to innovate by solving those issues and streamlining those workflows.

Upping the Ante

The whole process of laying out a workflow and identifying problems is nothing new. In fact, it’s been employed by top organizations around the world for eons. The problem is, because this process has historically relied on human effort, it’s naturally prone to errors and oversights. Here’s where technology has become a real game-changer.

Not only does AI and automation dramatically speed up the process of monitoring workflows and identifying issues, thereby streamlining processes, but because it’s capable of providing users with improved access to knowledge, it’s empowering users to self-serve. The result is a powerful synergy between human and machine which is enabling enterprises to truly up the ante in virtually every area of operation.

Automation = Innovation

Thanks to rapid advances, not only are we able to use automation technology to explore and identify frictions, but artificial intelligence and machine learning can also present new and expanding solutions to those issues. This capability is becoming one of the most powerful tools for decision-makers, who no longer have to rely on fallible human suggestions, but can instead choose from recommendations derived from real, quantifiable data.  

In fact, unlike human analysts, AI is capable of sifting through mountains upon mountains of raw data and then convert that data into invaluable insights and actions. With intelligent automation, we are able to gain a new understanding of what’s happening in both the physical as well as the digital arena, as well as the context in which these things are occurring. With these insights, we can then take action, whether it be by informing, alerting or closing the loop.

If, in the past, we considered the question, “How can we solve problem A for person B,” intelligent automation changes the game by asking, “How can we automate this process and make it more intelligent?” As such, the solutions we’ll develop will ultimately take us beyond the human user to learn what’s standing in our way, predict and plan next steps and incorporate automated actions whenever and wherever it makes sense. By leveraging the power of intelligent automation, we are essentially shifting responsibilities from human to machine.

Putting Ideas into Action

It’s easy to write about how AI and intelligent automation has become a game-changer in terms of innovation, but how can organizations actually put this into action? There are two critical questions to ask:

  • Given your available data and existing assets, which behaviors, activities, processes or environments could be made more intelligent through automation?
  • What, if any, gaps exist within those physical assets and data? Which devices, tools, applications and analytics capabilities could be added into the mix to capture data more effectively and further the goal of automating?

When you incorporate intelligence and automation into your processes and operations, you’ll be able to expand your portfolio of ideas and identify newer and better opportunities as a result. And that’s where true innovation can be found.

Ready to get started? Download your free 30-day trial of Ayehu and put the power of AI and intelligent automation to work for you.

7 Steps to Creating an Automation Center of Excellence

The Center of Excellence (CoE) for Automation has become a very hot topic these days, moving from distributed organizations that each own several tools and scripting to one vertical center that provides automation solutions across the enterprise.

In response to this growing demand, Ayehu has established an Automation Academy that will help enterprises to transition and build their own CoE, training people to become Automation Specialists / Engineers. This will allow organizations to better prepare for the future (when machines will do almost everything) and help drive efficiencies via automation with a stronger emphasis on innovation.

Building your own CoE for Automation isn’t necessarily as complicated as you may think. In fact, it can be accomplished by implementing just a few strategic steps. Here’s how.

Step 1: Evaluate and Adopt Automation

The first step in the process of establishing a CoE for Automation is to gain adequate understanding of the various challenges, opportunities and benefits of automation. During this process, project management teams may choose to identify certain “quick wins” that can be automated fast and result in immediate return on investment.

Step 2: Define, Document and Set Up the CoE

Having gained a strong understanding of the challenges surrounding adoption of automation as well as the tremendous, quantifiable opportunities it presents, the next step is actually establishing your Center of Excellence for Automation. This involves selecting the appropriate core team members as well as evangelists who will assist in spreading awareness and advocate for the benefits of automation.

Keep in mind that the ideal core team for a CoE demonstrates a broad spectrum of skill sets. For instance, you’ll need someone who can assess the impact and document the processes, someone who can handle the implementation and integration process and someone else who can monitor and test the automation.

Step 3: Establish Systems and Infrastructure

Your CoE for Automation will only be as effective as the technological foundation upon which it is built. Making wise choices upfront about the systems and infrastructure you establish will set the stage for rapid growth and also help to prevent potential issues from occurring down the road. Invest in enterprise-class automation and architecture that includes robust features. Create and document best practices with a focus on automated processes that are consistent, efficient, accurate and auditable.

Step 4: Train, Educate and Reskill

While automation will inevitably eliminate some jobs, there are opportunities to train and reskill people for new, next generation roles, such as Automation Engineers. Reskilling and redeploying back to work will ultimately create higher value for the organization, its clients and for the employees themselves. Look for training options that are specific to CoE development, like Ayehu Automation Academy.

Step 5: Sustain and Scale

Once your CoE is officially established, the next phase should involve aligning the automation strategy with the strategic objectives of the organization. This typically involves scaling the approach to make it broader. For instance, while the initial goal of automation might have been to reduce costs, the scope should eventually evolve to include such larger goals as creating stronger customer loyalty or driving greater agility.

The entire CoE needs to work on firming a matured process so it can become agile enough to respond to demand and maximize efficiency. This process should have a definition of how the organization should approach the CoE, how the CoE should evaluate and prioritize these requests, how it should develop its internal design to production processes, etc.

Finally, the core CoE team should specifically include analysts who can continuously identify automation opportunities, translate business needs to IT processes, determine potential ROI and create the logic steps necessary for the automation engineers to build and implement the processes. Remember – a CoE isn’t stagnant. It’s something that must change, evolve and improve as time goes by.

Step 6: Incorporate Automation into the Culture of the Enterprise

Ultimately, automation should become a complement of continuous process improvement for the entire organization. The last step of building a CoE for Automation involves changing the overall business mindset to embrace the opportunity automation presents to change and improve how it operates.

Creating the CoE without making a cultural change in the organization simply will not work. The organization (the people) must change their behavior and think about automation as opportunity to live better, to focus on more important things and be freed up for innovation. Embracing automation will allow the CoE to become relevant to an organization that wants to change and automate as much as possible.

Keep in mind that this phase can take a good deal of time to complete. You’ll know you’ve achieved success once automation becomes embedded in every department and function throughout the enterprise.

Step 7: Market the CoE

Once the CoE for Automation is successfully established and the necessary cultural shift has been set in motion, it’s time to start promoting the CoE to outside to end clients. Any client-facing employee should be prepared to sell the innovation and success stories of automation. This will create demand generation and fulfillment and help the organization achieve maximum competitive advantage.

This is clearly a high-level overview of the CoE process, but it should at least provide a framework upon which to build. If you’re considering making a move in this direction, we encourage you to take advantage of our resources and expertise by allowing us to assist you with developing and establishing your Center of Excellence.

Why go it alone when you can rely on a team of experts who can help you every step of the way? To learn more or get started, contact Ayehu today.

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3 Ways Intelligent Automation Can Save Your Legacy Systems

There are few things an IT executive dreads more than having to replace an outdated legacy system. You know…those ancient programs that hold some of (if not all of) the organization’s critical, “can’t survive without it” data. The reality for many companies is that these legacy systems remain the foundation from which all business processes function. Unfortunately, as these systems become increasingly challenging to manage and are no longer capable of meeting the changing demands of customers, they become a much bigger concern. Thankfully, with intelligent automation, replacing them entirely is no longer the only option.

Depending on the overall scale of an organization’s legacy systems, replacing outdated technology with newer, better systems can take months or sometimes even years. Add to this the increasing pressure to ensure a seamless and error-free data migration. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, customers and employees alike must be able to access the systems they need just as they normally would even while the replacement is occurring. One IT executive in the banking industry likened the replacement of legacy systems to “changing the engine on a Boeing 747 while still in flight.” In other words, it’s incredibly difficult and a monumental task to say the least.

In the past, replacing entire legacy systems could be avoided (along with the astronomical costs associated with such a feat) by offshoring or outsourcing. Unfortunately, this is not always feasible, especially for companies that have a significant number of users. Intelligent automation provides the ideal solution to legacy problems, regardless of business size or industry. Here’s why.

Intelligent Automation is FAST

Let’s say a competitor of yours has come out with a new and improved feature to serve customers that your legacy systems unfortunately do not have the capacity to support. Rather than scramble to find a solution and waste valuable time in the interim, intelligent automation can help bridge the gap, either temporarily or as a long-term solution. Considering the fact that the legacy replacement process typically takes years to complete, automation powered by AI provides a much faster solution, allowing your company to remain competitive at all times.

Intelligent Automation is SECURE and SCALABLE

One of the biggest downsides to outsourcing is the loss of control and subsequent increased data security risk associated with giving up that control. Because intelligent automation is an in-house solution, all of your sensitive data remains in the full possession of your IT department. This makes it an inherently more secure option. Additionally, unlike offshoring, with intelligent automation you can easily scale up or down at a moment’s notice based on need.

Intelligent Automation is AFFORDABLE

The reality is, many organizations have been built upon old systems that date back to the 70s and 80s. For many, these ancient relics are simply too expensive to replace. Intelligent automation provides an affordable alternative, allowing businesses with any budget to break the chains that once bound them to their outdated systems. This opens up the doors to virtually limitless possibilities.

Obviously there are certain limits to how much intelligent automation can revitalize legacy systems. For instance, this type of technology cannot actually alter outdated systems. It can, however, serve as an interim solution unless and until a full replacement becomes necessary. For many organizations – particularly those that do not have the means or resources to completely dismantle and replace their existing infrastructure, intelligent automation is well worth considering.

Experience it for yourself with a live product demo.

4 Steps for Winning the Battle for AI Talent

A recent survey revealed that 42% of employers admit they are concerned that they won’t be able to access the talent they need to run their businesses. This worry is compounded for those in IT, a sector notorious for its ongoing staffing shortage. And with the rise of artificial intelligence technology, the demand for top-tier AI talent is far outweighing the supply. The good news is, with the right approach, even smaller organizations can compete for today’s most sought-after candidates.

Create a Purpose Statement

Employee engagement has dipped to a measly 34% in recent years. One way to boost morale is to provide employees with a sense of purpose. Simply put, today’s top AI talent doesn’t want to spend the majority of their time crunching numbers or working on projects that don’t challenge and empower them. They want meaningful work. You can address this desire by developing a compelling AI purpose statement. Ideally, your statement should highlight the unique and exciting opportunities that await candidates.

Focus on “Citizens”

We’re not talking about citizens of a particular locale, but rather the emerging role of citizen data scientists. Unlike data scientists, who focus on wrangling and cleansing data, Gartner defines these individuals as “power users” who are capable of performing both simple as well as moderately sophisticated analytical tasks that would have previously required more expertise. Forward-thinking organizations are already focusing their attention on citizen AI talent as a means to bridge the gap between AI specialists and the rest of the enterprise.

Tap into Universities

Thankfully there has been a recent shift in how much emphasis colleges and universities are placing on equipping students with applicable, employment-ready skills. This includes prepping those studying AI for entering the workplace. A great way to get ahead of the game in terms of recruiting this up-and-coming AI talent is to forge strong relationships with educational institutions, in particular, with academic departments that specialize in artificial intelligence and other related functions.

Reskill / Upskill Existing Staff

It’s been proven time and again that it’s far more cost-effective to retain existing staff than it is to recruit externally. Organizations may be sitting on a gold mine of available AI talent without even realizing it. For instance, the right training can help IT professionals comprehend and cultivate practical skills and gain the fundamental understanding they need to develop into marketable AI talent in the future.

According to a recent Ernst & Young poll, 56% of senior AI professionals said they believed the lack of qualified AI professionals was the single biggest barrier to AI implementation across business operations. You can win this war for AI talent by implementing the four strategies above and implementing the right tools. Experience the Next Generation of intelligent automation and orchestration with your free 30 day trial of Ayehu. Click here to claim yours.

Automation-Driven Employee Onboarding – From Days to Seconds

Author: Guy Nadivi

It’s really true. Automation-driven employee onboarding can reduce the time that process takes from days to seconds. Actually, in some cases, we’ve heard that at some organizations, onboarding is measured in weeks, not just days.

I was at a VMworld conference in San Francisco a few years ago, and struck up a conversation with someone visiting our booth who said that prior to automating their employee onboarding process, it took them 2 weeks to get new hires fully integrated into their company!

When you calculate the cost of the people involved in onboarding that new hire, as well as the productivity time that new hire lost by not being fully onboarded faster, you quickly realize how expensive this process can be. The phrase “time is money” really applies to the onboarding process, which is why automating it frequently turns out to be such a big win for organizations.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, more commonly referred to as SHRM, the average cost of onboarding an employee is $4,129. Of course, this is an average figure taken from a broad cross-section of companies and industries. Your mileage may vary. Maybe it’s lower. Or maybe it’s higher. MUCH higher.

That $4,129 figure is taken from a 2016 report published by SHRM, and was the most recent number we could find about the cost of onboarding from an independent, reputable source. One thing you can be almost 100% certain of though is that now, towards the end of 2019, that number has likely gone up even higher. How high is hard to say, but there’s no reason to believe that the cost of onboarding employees has gotten any cheaper the last 3 years.

If you’d like to calculate what the cost of onboarding an employee is for your organization, I encourage you to Google “employee onboarding calculator“, and you’ll find numerous websites that can help you determine what your cost is.

There’s probably a pretty good chance that no two organizations have identical onboarding processes. Everyone’s is just a little bit different. Or perhaps A LOT different.

Despite that, there are some aspects to onboarding that are probably universal across most, if not all organizations.

  • First off, onboarding is typically laborious. Many different things need to be done in order to successfully onboard a new hire, and often times these things are primarily manual processes.
  • Onboarding often touches many different things across multiple departments – HR, IT, Facilities Management, etc. The more things your onboarding process touches, the more things that can go wrong, especially if they’re done manually where the potential for human error is always lurking in the background. That’s just a basic application of Murphy’s Law.
  • The process of onboarding can be very time consuming, particularly when some or even all of it is manual. This is true not just for the new hire being onboarded, but also for the people involved in the new hire’s onboarding.

And what are these laborious, error-prone, time-consuming processes I’m referring to? Here’s a list of some, but by no means all, of the tasks involved in many typical onboardings:

  1. Order new employee’s IT equipment
  2. Create new employee’s Active Directory account and  email
  3. Add new employee to calendar and  mailing lists
  4. Create new employee’s logins for primary systems they’ll use
  5. Provision new employee’s virtual machine(s)
  6. Email new employee all new hire documents from HR, including I-9 and W-4 tax forms
  7. Order new employee’s business cards
  8. Submit request for new employee’s office key and/or ID badge
  9. Create new employee’s IP phone (using API calls to Cisco Unified Comm. Manager, for example)

Guess what? In general, all of these tasks can be automated, saving a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of mistakes.

Doing so has some surprising benefits for an organization.

According to SHRM, 69% of employees who experienced great onboarding were still with the company after 3 years!

Now think back to the average cost of an onboarding, and ask yourself – how long would a new hire need to stay at my organization in order for us to break even on them? Hopefully it’s become a little clearer why the better the onboarding experience for your new hires, the more positive financial impact it can have on your organization.

That’s particularly true when it comes to onboarding executives and other high-pay employees.

According to a Harvard Business Review that polled global executives worldwide about their onboarding experience, nearly one third (32%) said their onboarding experience was POOR.

Why does that matter?

It matters because the cost to an organization of replacing a failed executive as a percentage of his or her salary is 213%, according to the Center for American Progress.

If your organization is hiring a highly-paid employee, you really want to make sure that it’s not only the right person, but someone who’s going to stick around long enough to justify the investment in hiring them. Otherwise, it might be much more expensive to lose them.

Now specifically with regards to automating your employee onboarding, here are probably the top 3 benefits:

  1. You’re going to save time, and when it comes to onboarding, the savings often will not be measured in hours but in days or weeks! BTW – I recently learned from Lee Coulter, the Chair of the IEEE Working Group on Standards in Intelligent Process Automation, that a better way to describe time saved by automation is “Hours Returned to the Business”. I think that’s very applicable to automating the onboarding process.
  2. You’re going to save money, that’s not only a result of saving time, but a product of longer retention for new hires.
  3. Finally, you’re going to reduce errors. The more things you do manually, the more opportunities you have for errors. Plain and simple.

Collectively, all these benefits contribute to a KPI that’s become increasingly important to how your department is graded, and in many cases compensated, at least bonus-wise.

I’m talking of course about customer satisfaction ratings. At a lot of organizations, this has become the central metric, or at the very least an extremely important one, for rating performance.

Automating the onboarding process will undoubtedly improve your customer satisfaction ratings.

Here’s something else to consider.

For many organizations out there these days, a good chunk of their new hires are younger employees. I’m talking about the millennial generation, of course, but also early members of the next demographic wave, often referred to as Gen Z.

You probably know that these generations have been raised on Facebook and mobile apps, and generally prefer interfacing with technology rather than people. We know that empirically because we see it for ourselves just about anywhere we look.

A 23-year old young lady in my own family told me that she and her friends consider books to be weird. Books apparently are weird because why would you read something written on processed dead trees when you could just use a smartphone and pull it down from the cloud?

So automating the onboarding process for this demographic is likely to be a bigger factor than you might realize in retention of younger employees. If their first impression as new hires at your organization is that you’re having them do things manually, you’re likely to persuade them that your organization may not be the kind of digitally transformed, progressive environment they want to be working at for 8+ hours a day.

Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that if everything discussed up till now applies to onboarding, then it also applies to offboarding, which is basically the same process in reverse.

This is especially true in the case of layoffs when you have a large volume of people who all basically have to be offboarded simultaneously. That’s a recipe for chaos when done manually, but a routine garden-variety process when it’s automated.

Automating the offboarding process also ensures you’ll have properly documented audit logs for compliance and internal review.

Both the onboarding and offboarding processes tend to be low-hanging fruit at most organizations, when it comes to automating procedures that yield big benefits quickly.

Get fast return on your intelligent automation in these 5 areas.

Get fast return on your intelligent automation in these 5 areas.

Without question, intelligent automation has made a significant and permanent impact on the tech world. This technology has essentially provided IT professionals with the ability finally accomplish what they’ve been challenged with for decades: maximizing performance while minimizing costs. Now, routine time-consuming tasks as well as complex workflows can be streamlined and handled almost exclusively without the need for human input. In short, automation has changed the face of IT for the better.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at five specific areas where intelligent automation can produce the greatest benefit and fastest return, both for your IT department and your enterprise as a whole.

IT Organization – The old way of doing business involved individual silos and separate departments. In today’s digital age, the most successful organizations are the ones that are able to harness technology to break down these barriers and bridge the gap between departments and functions, effectively promoting collaboration and fostering innovation. Intelligent automation can provide the tools necessary to achieve this type of organization.

IT Infrastructure – In order for a business to function cohesively across all departments, there need to be streamlined and standardized procedures and technologies in place. This includes best practices, virtualization, cloud computing and more. When this type of environment is created, intelligent automation can then provide the opportunity for your tech team to leverage their expertise and improve skill levels for the maximum benefit of the department and the company in its entirety.

IT Support – Support that is enhanced with intelligent automation can ensure roll-out, implementation and adoption of best practices. It can also improve processes, such as migrations, ensure more effective enforcement of compliance requirements and ultimately boost service levels across the board.

IT Operations – With more pressure being placed on IT professionals to not only manage their specified workflows, but also possess an in-depth understanding of overarching business practices, these workers must find a way to become better-equipped to meet these demands. Intelligent automation can help by allowing operations the optimal allocation of resources so that personnel can focus on furthering their education and expertise.

General Routine/Repetitive Tasks – Those every day, repetitive manual tasks that your IT department is buried under are inevitably costing your business money. Workflow and self-service automation options can alleviate this concern by taking the burden off the IT team. Not only can this vastly improve efficiency and productivity, but it can also cut costs in the long run.

With demands on IT professionals increasing at a rapid rate, the need for enhanced technological solutions has never been greater. Intelligent automation can help your organization meet these evolving needs so you can remain competitive and achieve ongoing success, both now and well into the future.

Curious to find out how your company could benefit from intelligent automation? Check out the top 10 automated processes below and get started with a free product demo today.

The Secret to Surviving the Tech-Led Revolution

The Secret to Surviving the Tech-Led Revolution

Automation has been at the forefront of the digital revolution for decades, primarily because it maximizes efficiency, reduces costs and accelerates service levels. But the cloud, mobile and other innovative technologies – coupled with an ever-growing volume of raw data – have led to dramatically more complex IT environments.

According to ESG’s IT Spending Intentions Survey from 2018, 68% of those surveyed said their IT infrastructures are significantly more complex than they were just two years ago. Furthermore, 39% of respondents listed automated IT operations as a critical component of survival in today’s digital age.

In response to this increasing complexity, organizations are beginning to make the shift toward the next generation of automation – from basic to intelligent. This new level of automation involves technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence to orchestrate workflows across a multitude of tools, systems and processes.

In fact, with the right platform, it is now possible to fully automate L2 and L3 tasks – functions which have traditionally required the use of human judgment. Now, those insights lie within the data itself and can be extracted, interpreted and leveraged autonomously by AI.

Embracing intelligent process automation is also enabling enterprises to lay the foundation for AIOps, a focus area that experts predict will boom over the next five years or so.

AI and ML: Augmenting IT Operations

AIOps is helping IT teams manage the increasing challenges created by data and digital disruption, leveraging intelligent process automation and orchestration to gain competitive advantage. Thanks to the powerful processing capabilities of artificial intelligence, IT can sort through mind-boggling amounts of data points to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

The role of humans in this increasingly tech-driven environment is still present, though it too is evolving. Rather than relying on error-prone employees to handle the bulk of the processing work, human cognition and advanced skillsets are being used to define that proverbial needle.

In response to this, more organizations are focusing their efforts on reskilling and upskilling their existing staff to bring them up to speed on ML and AI technologies.

Making the Switch to Autonomous Operations

Autonomous operations (AO) utilizes advanced AI to deliver unassisted responses to IT incidents across the entire infrastructure. Thanks to the self-learning capabilities of ML algorithms, AO is able to continuously improve its ability to identify patterns and carry out the appropriate actions.

Again, human workers are still needed in an AO-driven environment, but in the role of supervisor as opposed to operator. Yet as the software continues to evolve and improve, and as errors consistently decrease over time, full autonomy and a zero-touch IT operations environment will one day become a very real possibility.

The Role of Data

The key to success with intelligent automation is accurate data, as this enables users to write more impactful rules. There is little to no value in static data. These days, it’s all about dynamic information which comes from things like descriptive metadata as well as relational and behavioral data.

In order to harness this dynamic data and gain adequate insights from it, organizations need to develop software-defined IT environments. Intelligent process automation is about the ability to not only proactively identify anomalies, but to also remediate those issues automatically without causing any business disruption.

The Right Way to Automate Intelligently

In today’s competitive landscape, automation is no longer an option but a necessity. That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to leverage this game-changing technology. Start by weighing the time, effort, complexity and frequency of a given task and then benchmarking these factors against the cost of transitioning that task to intelligent process automation. From there, create a prioritized list. This will help you maximize ROI and harness the full potential of intelligent IT operations.

Not sure where to start? Why not give intelligent process automation a test drive free for 30 full days? Click here to launch your Ayehu trial today.

5 Ways Intelligent Automation is Shaping the Future of Work

5 Ways Intelligent Automation is Shaping the Future of Work

In terms of disruptive technology, intelligent automation has gained tremendous ground. In fact, according to Statista, more than half of today’s business leaders say they expect to implement automation in the coming years. And for good reason. While technologies like traditional workload automation, cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) reduce costs and provide the flexibility to perform routine tasks and workflows, artificial intelligence (AI) brings these benefits to a whole new level with the capability of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence.

Intelligent automation software enables businesses to perform much more diverse and complex activities without the need for human intervention. Furthermore, thanks to machine learning algorithms, this type of platform is capable of learning and improving entirely on its own based on data from past experience. Artificial intelligence can also provide valuable insight and decision support for management. But how does all of this translate into actual, tangible return on investment? Let’s take a look.

Drastically Saving Time and Money

When a good portion of business processes are shifted from human to machine, the operation runs far more efficiently. Work is performed faster and more accurately, which equates to greater productivity and higher service levels. Fewer man hours results in tremendous savings for the organization. (In one recent case study, one global enterprise slashed man hours by 1,500 in less than a year simply by adopting intelligent automation. That reduction resulted in an overall savings of nearly $500k.)

Distinct Edge Over the Competition

Staying a step ahead of the competition is the key to success – especially in today’s global marketplace. Every company is chasing digital transformation and hoping to claim their spot at the head of the pack in their respective industry. The use of intelligent automation can facilitate this transformation, not only be streamlining processes, but by empowering human workers.

When the mundane tasks and workflows no longer require human input, employees are able to apply their skills, time and effort toward more important business initiatives. The freedom to be creative breeds innovation which can provide the competitive advantage companies are striving for.

Agility and Scalability

The ebb and flow of business has long been a challenge for organizational leaders. Scaling up as needed based on sudden changes in market demand is not only difficult, but it’s also quite costly. Conversely, in situations when finances are lean, such as during economic recessions, the ability to maintain an expected level of production on a limited budget is incredibly problematic.

The deployment of intelligent automation resolves both of these issues by enabling businesses to scale up or down at a moment’s notice. Seasonal or other business influxes can be met seamlessly thanks to the ability of software robots to take on some of the workload. And when it comes time to tighten the belt, automation can help skeleton crews operate as if they were fully staffed. Every business leader understands the importance of agility like this.

Maximizing Uptime

Another way intelligent process automation can deliver tangible benefits to a company is through improved system operability. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Due to variations in how businesses operate, experts estimate that on the low end, downtime can cost as much as $140k per hour, while at the high end, can run upwards of $540k per hour.

Regardless of which end of the spectrum a business happens to fall on, system outages can be, without question, downright disastrous. Enter intelligent automation and suddenly there’s an army of robots monitoring the infrastructure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Furthermore, artificial intelligence is capable of identifying threats that could take days, weeks or longer for humans to spot. When incidents can be pinpointed quickly and the platform itself is capable of addressing and remediating those issues, downtime can be dramatically reduced and, in many cases, prevented altogether.

Data-Driven Decision Support

Because intelligent automation is powered by AI and machine learning, it is inherently capable of analyzing massive amounts of data and extracting value. Furthermore, AI-powered automation can then turn that data into actionable insights that can be utilized by business leaders to make better decisions.

Incorporating advanced business automation technology into the mix enables the analysis of overall organizational performance. With these intelligent analytics, business leaders can more effectively identify and implement the right approaches to achieve improved performance over the long-term.

Could your organization benefit from any of the above? If so, adopting intelligent automation should be on your list of priorities for the coming year. Get a jump start by taking Ayehu for a test drive today.

How AI Can Reduce Service Desk Ticket Costs from $20 to $4 [Webinar Recap]

Author: Guy Nadivi

It’s the End of the IT Service Desk as We Know it (and We Feel Fine)

If you’ve been paying attention the last few years, you know Digital Transformation is a concept that’s sweeping through many organizations, and fundamentally changing how they operate and deliver value to customers.

There’s some very cool, but still somewhat emerging technologies underpinning this disruption, and you’re no doubt familiar with them. Things such as:

  • Data Science
  • Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence

But in the last couple years, the emerging technology that seems to have garnered the most mindshare faster than any of them is chatbots. That’s right! Chatbots are the coolest kids on the digital transformation block, because they assimilate many of the benefits from data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence into a form that can be used today, and deliver value to your organization and customers right now. As a result, chatbots have emerged as perhaps the most familiar digital transformation experience for end users.

BTW – There isn’t any consensus yet on a single definition of “Digital Transformation”. One thing just about everyone can agree upon though is that shifting more of the laborious, repetitive tasks that people shouldn’t be doing in the first place over to chatbots is a good idea. This becomes especially true when you look at some numbers.

A the 2017 HDI show, Jeff Rumburg, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of MetricNet, an IT research and  advisory practice, delivered a presentation on the results of his research into the costs of different service desk access and communication channels. He discovered some amazing disparities.

Jeff found that incidents requiring Vendor Support cost on average a whopping $599 per incident.

If you needed to get IT Support involved (that’s level 3 support), the average cost was $104 per incident.

Desktop Support (level 2) was cheaper, but still relatively expensive at $69 per incident.

Incidents going through the Service Desk, your level 1 support tier, cost $20 per incident. Since level 1 tickets comprise by far the highest volume at most service desks, that’s a logical place to start applying chatbots.

If you can push out incident resolution for level 1 tickets to your end users, enabling them to initiate and remediate their own incidents with chatbots, the cost of support drops down to a very economical $4 per incident. Yeah, wow!

At this point, some more skeptical people in IT might be asking – are chatbots a passing fad or are they here to stay? Let’s look at the objective data on that, and see what direction the numbers point to.

Earlier this year, Salesforce.com released a major report entitled the “State of Service”. Nearly a quarter of their respondents (23%) said they currently use AI chatbots and nearly another third (31%) said they plan to use them within 18 months.

That represents a projected growth rate of 136% in the use of AI chatbots over the next year and a half. By any definition, that’s a viral trajectory.

Spiceworks published a report not long called “AI Chatbots and Intelligent Assistants in the Workplace”.

One question their survey asked was about utilization of intelligent assistants and chatbots by department. Guess which department uses chatbots more than any other? That’s right – IT.

Another question in that Spiceworks survey specifically asked IT professionals if they agree or strongly agree with a number of different statements. The statement IT professionals overwhelmingly agreed with more than any other was that AI will automate mundane tasks and enable more time to focus on strategic IT initiatives.

Those IT professionals Spiceworks surveyed were right. One of the biggest benefits of chatbots is that they automate many of the robotic, laborious tasks that humans shouldn’t be doing anyway. That frees up those IT professionals to work on more strategic and far more valuable IT initiatives. Which in turn makes those professionals more valuable to their organizations.

Why is offloading that tedious work from IT staff so important? Because Gartner has shown that the biggest budget item for IT Service Desks is personnel. Between 2012 and 2016, the average percentage of a service desk’s budget allocated to labor ranged from 84% – 88%. With digital transformations driving up the demand for IT support, there’s simply no way an organization can hire their way out of this situation, even if they wanted to.

The reality is that quality service desk personnel simply cost too much, and no matter how good those personnel are, they can only keep up with so much volume. At some point the laws of physics reassert themselves, reminding everyone that people simply don’t scale very well. Chatbots though, have infinite scalability.

That limited human capacity to scale, combined with the increased volume of requests for service desk support, is degrading end user experiences.

A 2016 Harvard Business Review Webinar titled “How to Fix Customer Service” revealed that:

  • 81% of consumers say it takes too long to reach a support agent.
  • 43% of customers try to self-serve before calling a contact center.

What that tells you is that waiting for human support has gotten so insufferable, end users are increasingly willing to remediate their own issues. All they need is for IT to enable a channel for them to do that.

What kinds of requests are keeping IT service desks so busy?

Well if you’ve attended any of our previous webinars you might’ve heard us cite a well-quoted statistic from Gartner that as much as 40% of an IT service desk’s call volume is nothing but password resets. 40%!

Another big drain on your service desk? Requests for ticket status updates. Those can comprise as much as 10% of a service desk’s call volume, and we’re citing ourselves (Ayehu) as the source on that.

How do we know? Well, Ayehu knows because our clients tell us which workflows have the biggest impact on reducing call volume to their service desks.

Therefore, if you can use a chatbot to automate just these two processes – password resets and ticket status updates – you could cut call volume to your service desk in half! That’s huge, and it will go a long way towards reducing your service desk ticket costs dramatically.

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