When it Comes to AI, Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When it Comes to AI, Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Adopting artificial intelligence for your organization can be an intriguing prospect – especially when you start forecasting all the many benefits doing so will afford. But as exciting as it may be, it’s imperative that you not get ahead of yourself. By moving too quickly – that is, before you fully understand the implications of AI – you could easily end up with a costly mess on your hands. Instead, you should focus on gaining knowledge of and becoming familiar with AI. This will ultimately enable you to develop and implement a thoughtful strategy that will deliver consistent, sustainable value.

So, where is a good place to begin? Which projects should you apply your attention, efforts and investments toward? This initial phase will take some time and careful planning, but the payoff for being prudent will be well worth it in the long run. Start by brainstorming a handful of projects. Then, for each of these projects, spend some time doing your due diligence, both business and technical, to map out the potential impacts. This practice will help you identify the most lucrative areas to which you should commit your resources.

If you are feeling pressure from the “powers that be” to generate proof of concept more quickly than taking the above approach will allow, specify a few workflows and projects into which AI and intelligent automation can be rapidly integrated. Specifically, dedicate a portion of your resources to smaller initiatives that have the potential to make a substantial impact. By automating this “low hanging fruit,” you can generate some quick wins and provide quantifiable evidence of value. Once you’ve satiated the interested stakeholders, you can then turn your attention back to the larger-scale, longer-term projects.

The goal with AI should be to develop and establish a solid foundation upon which to build and grow over time. By starting smaller and working steadily toward the bigger picture down the road, you’ll lay the groundwork and gain the momentum you need to harness the power artificial intelligence and use it to propel your organization ahead of the competition.

Ready to get started with AI but not sure where to begin. Download your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG and access our library of 200+ ready-to-use, codeless workflow templates. Be up and running with intelligent automation in literally minutes!

4 Steps to Master Intelligent Process Automation

Intelligent process automation is transforming the global economy, delivering momentous gains to enterprises that adopt it at scale. One article by McKinsey revealed that some organizations have been able to automate 50 to 70 percent of their workflows, generating ROI that reaches into the triple-digits. In addition to cutting costs, intelligent process automation can also deliver precision, speed and enhanced customer experience.

In order for organizations to enjoy the full value of intelligent automation, IT leaders must be willing to take a guiding role. Unfortunately, many IT executives find this challenging, whether due to the increased complexity of IT processes, lack of understanding and/or clarity, inconsistent or fragmented tools that hinder scaling, or the misconception that intelligent process automation cannot be adopted without major re-engineering of existing processes.

How can these challenges be overcome? And how can IT leaders succeed in their automation initiatives? The answer to these questions lies in the following four key steps along the intelligent process automation journey.

Step 1: Evaluate the high-level potential value

The first step in becoming an intelligent process automation leader starts with the development of a clear business case. This involves assessing the potential high-level value of the company’s main IT activities. Some examples of what these areas of value might look like include:

Incident Response – A significant number of IT incidents are initiated through support desk requests. These typically result in tickets being created and assigned to Level 1 support agents. While these are the obvious candidates for automation, the portion of tickets that are escalated to specialized L2 and L3 agents are also ripe for the picking, thanks to the advanced technology behind intelligent process automation. And since these activities are generally well-documented, categorizing and prioritizing them by automation potential should be relatively straightforward.

Planned Activities – In addition to the one-offs and unexpected support tickets that crop up, IT is also responsible for performing a number of planned activities on a regular basis. These activities typically include things like backups, upgrades and patching. They may also involve more complex security audits. The amount of time and resources required to perform these duties can collectively add up to around 20 percent of the IT budget. Calculating this figure can help determine the potential savings intelligent process automation can deliver.

Introducing New Applications – From a business perspective, this activity is often viewed as the one that produces the most significant value. It can also account for an additional 20 to 40 percent of the time and resources put forth by IT. These activities are not exclusive of application development, either. They also include such tasks as testing and hosting. This places increasing demand on both the application team as well as the infrastructure group.

Step 2: Dig deeper to identify which specific use cases are best suited for intelligent automation.

Determining how to effectively implement intelligent process automation requires a deep dive to uncover the root causes of issues. It may also involve the untangling of complex systems and the development of an accurate picture of how to leverage automation to extract the greatest value. In other words, the process is a complicated one and requires a certain degree of commitment. Let’s take the three potential use cases above as an example.

Incident Response

Automating IR begins with identifying which incidents are the best candidates, which can be challenging. The goal should always be digging deep enough to uncover the “why” of documented incidents. Without this information, efforts are futile. Text-mining can help by automatically reading ticket descriptions and extracting the necessary insights to sort them into three categories:

  • Automatable
  • Requires machine learning
  • Highly cognitive/manual

This analysis should leave you with a prioritized list of incidents to automate and the type of automation best suited for the job.

Planned Activities

Most enterprise-grade IT departments rely on industry-standard tools to manage their infrastructures. Unfortunately, due to factors such as advanced customization, adjustments due to mergers and specific user requirements, managing these systems often requires a significant amount of manual effort, diminishing the overall value.

For instance, despite the widespread adoption of infrastructure and application monitoring tools, support teams are often unable to respond effectively to the logs being generated, either because there are too many of them or because of the many reasons why they are being generated in the first place. As a result, IT leaders are often unclear on how to approach intelligent process automation implementation.

In situations such as this, machine learning technology can be “trained’ to identify the reasons behind alerts and then either recommend or autonomously make better decisions on which action to take. This eliminates much of the complexity for the IT team.

Introducing New Applications

Many IT executives fall into the trap of focusing solely on the reduction of manual labor. As a result, they fail to see and achieve the full value potential of intelligent process automation. Faster and more accurate delivery of applications requires the development and design of a new operating model, with an emphasis on DevOps and agile.

Reviewing this entire process to gain an understanding of how to make the most use of this new operating model can result in entirely new approaches to work. Intelligent process automation can facilitate some of these new ways of working. For instance, automating the testing process will enable applications teams to iterate more quickly. Likewise, developing a self-service model for things like automated server provisioning allows the operations team to become more responsive. The list goes on.

Step 3: Execute your proof of concept

In order to demonstrate the true value and validate your case for intelligent automation, the next critical step is executing a proof of concept. A great place to start with this is incident management. Organizations that have successfully deployed intelligent process automation for incident management have been able to achieve substantial cost savings in a relatively short period of time.

Thankfully, there are many different incidents that can quickly and easily be automated to support your proof of concept, including such tasks as password resets and employee onboarding. In its most basic form, a proof of concept requires the following:

  • Collaboration with subject matter experts to identify where automation can best be applied and understand all the steps and systems involved in a particular process or workflow.
  • Careful selection of an intelligent automation platform. Look specifically for products that can be integrated with existing systems and applications and offers pre-packaged, no-code options. (This will enable rapid adoption and time-to-value.)
  • Obtaining necessary IT and overall business approvals with regard to regulatory constraints, security guidelines and access limitations.
  • Ongoing testing and monitoring to capture results and document value

This phase is also an ideal time to consider building stronger internal intelligent automation capabilities; for example, developing a team to spearhead a future automation center of excellence (CoE). This team will ultimately become the foundation and engine that drives all IPA initiatives.

Step 4: Build intelligent automation capabilities to scale

Achieving the full benefits of intelligent automation requires the development and nurturing of certain skills and capabilities, in addition to rolling out an entirely new company-wide culture. This is essential as successful adoption of IPA requires that automation become embedded into the very heart of the organization itself. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this, but generally speaking, companies that have been successful have done the following three things:

Build on success to expand into new areas of IT (and beyond).

Once the basic tasks and workflows have been automated, it’s time to move on to more advanced level-2 and level-3 activities. The IT team should be expanding beyond incidents to begin leveraging the AI and machine learning technologies to assist with things like analytics and decision support. The goal is to eventually roll out intelligent process automation to as many routine and complex processes as possible.

Spread the word.

With a strong foundation of capabilities and experience, IT leaders can begin to position themselves as subject matter experts for the rest of the organization. This process involves continued outreach, such as connecting with other leaders across the enterprise to advise them of the specific benefits IPA can have for them. This outreach also provides the opportunity to identify additional areas where automation might be beneficial.

Explore the advanced elements of intelligent automation.

While the majority of organizations have thus far only focused primarily on simple process automation, the future belongs to those with an eye toward artificial intelligence and cognitive learning. These solutions are already making an impact on companies with forward-thinking leaders. The best way to break into this arena is to start working on small AI initiatives. From there, just like basic automation, you can continue to build, expand and grow.

Intelligent process automation is maturing rapidly and quickly becoming a core component of the IT landscape. IT professionals who recognize the importance and understand how to develop their automation capabilities have the potential to become respected leaders in the process – a title that will serve them well throughout their careers.

cio guide to operational efficiency

Automate AWS Tasks in Minutes with Ayehu NG

Whether you use Amazon Web Services for your development and test environment or for your production environment, one of the most common challenges many AWS users face is a frustrating lack of automation. This is where Ayehu can be a game-changer.

Powered by machine learning algorithms, Ayehu’s best-in-class intelligent IT automation and orchestration platform acts as a force multiplier, driving efficiency through a simple and powerful, web 3.0 interface. As an agentless platform, Ayehu is easily deployed, allowing you to rapidly automate tasks and processes, including interoperability across disparate solutions and systems, all in one, unified platform.

Ayehu can now be fully integrated with Amazon Web Services. Organizations working with AWS as their virtualization infrastructure can leverage this seamless integration to optimize the time and resources of the IT department and foster a much more productive, efficient environment.

The AWS integration supports adding out-of-the-box activities for working with instances, images, snapshots and other resources. This allows users to extend and enhance their AWS environment through the advanced automation of workflows.

With Ayehu NG, users can automate a broad spectrum of AWS tasks, such as:

  • Creating and/or resize an AWS EC2 instance
  • Create new images based on existing images
  • Create and restore snapshots
  • Verify image definitions based on best practices
  • Halt development and test instances during non-working hours
  • Provide automated response to AWS alerts
  • Receive instant notification of shortage in resources
  • Achieve automated termination of instances that are past their due date
  • Much more…

Ayehu NG’s automated and accelerated evaluation process via AWS Marketplace facilitates rapid time-to-value for customers seeking to automate their IT tasks in an AWS and hybrid environment. You can see the Ayehu NG AWS integration in action here

Best of all, Ayehu NG is now available free for 30 days via the AWS Marketplace. As an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) that runs in the cloud, the trial version is completely self-contained, including a built-in license, so it is simple and quick to install and configure. You can be up and running, fully integrated and automating AWS tasks and workflows in mere minutes!

Save time on manual and repetitive tasks, accelerate mean time to resolution by 90%, and maintain greater control over IT infrastructure. Start your free trial of Ayehu NG today!

The Impact of AIOps on the Future of Work

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past several months, it’s that flexibility and the ability to adapt are the key to success. With the sudden and rather unexpected shift to remote work, many organizations have quickly discovered the need for a new approach to IT management. AI for IT operations (AIOps) has the potential to become the golden ticket for improving efficiency and creating a collaborative, supportive and secure environment for distributed workforces.

Bigger companies who have opted to spread their workforces across multiple satellite locations stand to benefit greatly from AIOps. In fact, with intelligent tooling, organizations with 50, 75 or even 100 remote offices are capable of operating cohesively. As the number of offices scales up, AIOps becomes even more critical. One area where it is of particular value is in automated remediation. Ideally, the goal is to have technology do the heavy lifting, with the ability to pinpoint when and where something has gone awry and preemptively correct it.

From a productivity standpoint, AIOps helps, both in terms of IT management, as well as helping remote employees stay on top of monitoring activity and environmental changes. With machine learning and artificial intelligence at the helm, human effort is reduced tremendously. Given the recent – and likely permanent – shift to satellite and remote operations, it’s becoming abundantly clear that AIOps is the approach of the future.

This isn’t to say AIOps is infallible. There is still a margin of error to account for. This is good news for humans, as this is where creating a hybrid approach that has people and robots working together comes into play. Where AIOps can really standout is in its capability of identifying subtle transient issues that might not otherwise trigger a ticket or catch the attention of the support desk.

A good example of this would be changes in latency that only occur for mere seconds. Independently, these subtle problems may otherwise go undetected, or may not seem significant enough to warrant attention. But, when viewed collectively as a trend, AIOps could potentially identify the changes as something that could eventually cause more significant and widespread issues.

Another area where AIOps can help is by prequalifying remote employees for the applications they run and the quality of their network connection. Workloads can then be automatically shifted and optimally distributed based on these pre-qualifiers. Furthermore, AIOps technology can limit event volumes, predict future outages, and leverage intelligent automation to reduce downtime and alleviate staff workload.

The most exciting part of all of this is that, for all intents and purposes, AIOps is still really only in its infancy. For those wishing to jump on the AIOps bandwagon, there’s still plenty of room. And we’ve got a quick and easy way for you to get started. Simply click here to launch a free, 30-day trial of Ayehu NG and start putting the power of AIOps to work for your organization.

What’s New in Ayehu NG 1.8: Self-Service

Author: Guy Nadivi

The latest release of Ayehu NG has some critical and advanced new features, most notably a new and improved self-service capability, that allows end users to fulfill service requests and even remediate incidents themselves.

Self-service is becoming a huge imperative for IT. Why is that?

According to Gartner, it’s very simple.

“Business consumers are comparing their enterprise IT self-service experience with their consumer experience, driven by companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple, eBay and UPS. I&O leaders should do the same.” (emphasis mine)

Source: Gartner ID G00340706 | Published October 4, 2017 | Refreshed September 24, 2020

In other words, the bar is being set by other companies that everyone, including your organization’s users, are interacting with every day. They’re seeing how well self-service works OUTSIDE your enterprise, and it’s driving their expectations of how well self-service should work INSIDE your enterprise.

When most people think about self-service in an enterprise environment, they increasingly think about chatbots as the delivery channel. I’m talking of course about chatbots like Teams, which as everyone knows is published by Microsoft, or Slack which is increasingly being more tightly integrated with Google.

Just to be clear though, Microsoft OWNS Teams, but Google DOES NOT own Slack. At least not yet, anyways.

So these two have emerged as the primary interfaces for a lot of enterprise self-service apps over the last few years.

The reason why Teams and Slack dominate this market is pretty obviuos – daily active users. Teams has 75 million and Slack has 12 million.

These are the most recent official numbers, but they’re from earlier this year. The current number of daily active users is almost certainly much higher.

Interestingly though, despite Teams having more than 6 times as many users as Slack, Slack actually has 28% more subscribing organizations than Teams – 640 thousand compared to 500 thousand.

Again, these are the most recent official numbers, and everyone is eagerly awaiting updates from both Microsoft and Slack to get a better idea of how they’re currently splitting market share.

Despite these huge usage numbers though, it turns out that chatbots as a self-service delivery channel are not for everybody. They’re definitely not a “one size fits all” solution.

There are a few specific reasons why.

One big reason is simply that user expectations aren’t being met. The chatbot may not have the conversational sophistication users are looking for, or it’s not providing the answer a user was hoping to get.

The reason for that might be a lack of training data. Many chatbots are driven by AI and machine learning, which require lots and lots of training data in order to begin displaying some intelligence. Depending on the use case being addressed, the chatbot may not have enough training data available for it to satisfy the machine learning requirements.

Of course, a lack of training data is really just part of the broader category of a lack of resources. Chatbots are not a one-and-done type of initiative. They need to be updated, fine-tuned, and generally maintained throughout their lifespan. However, a lot of organizations don’t have the resources for that, so a chatbot may not be for them.

Finally, there’s the ever-present issue of cost. Chatbots are not necessarily cheap to deploy, especially if you want to do it right with AI and automation, and that may put it out of budget range for many organizations, especially SMB’s.

If you’re an enterprise IT decision maker, what do you do?

You know you want self-service because it reduces costs. Also, many of your users are eager for a way to avoid submitting tickets to the help desk and then wait until they’re fulfilled. This is especially true if they’re part of a younger demographic, and already expect to be able to fulfill their own requests or even remediate their own incidents.

Yet at the same time, you feel chatbots are not right for your organization.

Ayehu NG can help, by providing a chatbot alternative through its automation platform.

We do that in this newest release, v1.8, by simply adding a little more functionality to enable creation of self-service forms that end users can interface with to fulfill their own requests or remediate their own incidents. The self-service form is actually a natural extension of what we already do, automate routine IT tasks, and it will allow you to deflect a large amount of ticket volume from your help desk.

In fact, when deployed, we’ve seen self-service significantly increase first contact resolution rates by as much as 65%!

What are some use cases you can apply this dynamic self-service capability to? There are too many to list, and in addition to the universal ones, there are probably quite a few use cases unique to your organization that would make great candidates for self-service.

However, thanks to Gartner, we can categorize just about all self-service use cases into one of 5 buckets:

  • How-to: These are simply inquiries about how to accomplish, access, or operate IT resources.
  • Password reset: There are estimates that this task alone can account for as much as 40% of a help desk’s ticket volume.
  • Break/fix: If a user can’t access or operate an IT resource, give them the ability to fix it themselves.
  • Service request: These can include things like asking for a new laptop or provisioning a VM.
  • Requests for status updates: Responding to user requests for status updates on any of the above is probably one of the bigger annoyances for help desks. With self-service, a user can look that up themselves, and the help desk won’t need to be bothered.

One last thought.

Once you create a self-service channel for your end users, you often need to incentivize them to use it so it can fulfill all the lofty ROI projections that were used to justify deploying it.

The good news is, that’s relatively easy to do by simply ensuring that better outcomes are available to them via self-service as opposed to calling the help desk.

For example, let’s say a user wants to provision a VM.

Just institute a policy that if they provision it by requesting the help desk to do it, they’re only eligible to be allocated 8Gb RAM for their VM.

However, if they provision the VM via self-service, they can allocate themselves as much as 12Gb of RAM.

This is a simple, straightforward way of accelerating user adoption of self-service at your enterprise.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing for yourself how much value self-service can add to your environment, please visit our website and click here to download your very own free 30-day trial version today.

Tired of Turnover? 7 Tips to Keep Your IT Team Intact

7 Tips to Keep Your IT Team Intact

In the IT realm, attracting top talent is only half the battle. It’s keeping them that’s the real challenge. And with an average employee tenure of only about 3 years, it’s a serious concern for many organizations across the globe. Add in the complex, fast paced and highly stressful role of IT and you’ve got quite the conundrum. So, what’s the secret? How can you keep your talented employees on for the long haul? Here are 7 tips to point you in the right direction.

Challenge them. The last thing you want is for your IT personnel to become bored and stagnant in their current positions. Avoid this by investing in ongoing training, setting up mentoring programs, and offering opportunities to master new skills and technologies. The more you keep your IT employees engaged and involved, the less likely they’ll be to look elsewhere.

Cross-train and rotate. Being stuck on the same project day in and day out can lead to fatigue and frustration. Consider rotating employees onto various IT projects so that they don’t feel trapped. This will provide exposure to and the opportunity to learn about new skills and also open up the door to be able to approach long-term projects from differing perspectives – all of which can benefit your organization.

Arm them with what they need. These days, keeping up with the onslaught of incoming IT requests is nothing short of exhausting. Don’t leave your tech team out to dry by making them handle this monumental task manually. Arm them with the technology they need to do their jobs better, faster, more efficiently and more effectively, such as intelligent process automation.

Allow and encourage them to vent. Without question, the job of keeping an entire organization safe from the potentially devastating financial and reputational damage a successful cyber breach can have is incredibly stressful. Additionally, IT personal often feel tense due to the amount of classified and confidential information they are entrusted with. Provide an opportunity and a secure avenue for these employees to vent their feelings.

Mandate time off. Everybody needs a little down time, but given the fast-paced and highly stressful field of IT, these employees could probably use some time off more than anyone else in your organization. This is where technology can help. By automating a good portion of tasks and leveraging the cloud to embrace more flexibility, your team can take the much needed time off they deserve without the company feeling any negative impact.

Use realistic metrics to measure success. One of the biggest reasons IT professionals find themselves dissatisfied at work is because they feel they aren’t being adequately recognized. This is often due to a lack of clear and specific metrics for success. Management should set realistic expectations, communicate openly and routinely measure progress. Good work should be rewarded and areas of potential improvement identified and addressed in a positive, productive way.

Empower them. If your employees feel that their only option is to come in every day and put in 10-12 hours of labor, they’re not going to develop any kind of connection or loyalty to your organization. On the other hand, if they know that the work they do plays a direct role in the “big picture” and that their achievements are tied into the company’s overall success, they’ll be much more plugged in, which means they’re more likely to stay on for the long haul. Empower them by inviting ideas and encouraging autonomy.

Are you doing enough to keep your IT team satisfied, engaged and plugged in? If not, you could be facing higher turnover, which can negatively impact your company’s bottom line and also leave you more vulnerable. By implementing the above tips, you’ll create a more positive work environment that fosters longevity. Happy employees will work harder to ensure that your organization remains strong, secure and successful.

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