3 Ways to Fine-Tune Your AI for Continuous Process Improvement

3 Ways to Fine-Tune Your AI for Continuous Process Improvement

Getting up and running with artificial intelligence in your organization can be an exciting and even liberating experience. Suddenly, your infrastructure has more unity. Productivity and efficiency are through the roof. Errors have all but been eliminated. Profitability is skyrocketing. But then, over time, things start to level out. Suddenly, the numbers aren’t as impressive. Problems have been slowly but surely ticking back upward.

What gives? You and your team worked so hard to adopt and deploy AI across the organization. You were hailed heroes by your fellow business leaders. Yet, now, it seems complacency has set in. What’s more, as is the case for many organizations, a lack of ownership and collaboration between teams has begun to erode the progress that was previously being made.

The truth is, AI, just like any other major technology initiatives, is something that is fluid. Digital transformation doesn’t just occur one day and stop. It requires ongoing evolution, which means that, in order to continue to get the most out of artificial intelligence and automation capabilities, you must routinely prune and fine-tune your efforts.

Not sure where to begin? Here are three ways to ensure the time, talent and other resources you’ve invested into AI will remain relevant and profitable.

Develop a collaborative team.

In order for AI to be universally beneficial, different teams and departments must work together toward shared goals. But that doesn’t mean people will naturally step up to the plate. In many organizations, it’s necessary to establish a designated team with the purpose of collaborating on and contributing to the development of policies and procedures that will deliver continuous improvement of AI initiatives. In particular, there should be representatives from key groups, including IT, data science and the end users.

Keep your cycle active.

One area where many organizations fall short when it comes to successful implementation of artificial intelligence is their machine learning cycle. We’ve said it time and time again, but it bears repeating that AI is only as good as the data that’s driving it. The fact is, the logic and data you used to set up your initial AI project may no longer be relevant. The best way to ensure consistent accuracy between your algorithms and the areas in which they are applied is to keep your cycle active and pivot whenever and wherever it’s deemed necessary.

Employ retirement policies.

We’ve all heard the expression, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” The opposite could be said for AI initiatives. In order to remain agile and competitive, you must be willing to scrap the things that are no longer delivering value. Otherwise, you will be wasting resources that could be better used elsewhere. Develop and implement policies that include routine audits and strategies for next-steps, whether it be modifying to improve or retiring wasteful workflows altogether.

In a successful AI deployment, there are a lot of moving parts. The last thing you want is for any of those parts to become stagnant. To avoid this, you must continuously work to not only keep things running smoothly, but also optimize your strategy over time. Doing so will enable you to maximize the benefits of artificial intelligence and keep you a step ahead, both in terms of internal operations as well as with your competition.

cio guide to operational efficiency

5 Things the Aviation Industry Can Teach Business Leaders about Being Successful with Automation

It’s not uncommon for business leaders to borrow phrases from the aviation industry when discussing their job duties. “Take charge of the cockpit,” “navigate through turbulence,” and “ensure a safe landing,” are just a few that come to mind. All of these things can also be applied within the context of digital transformation. Specifically, if you’re planning an automation initiative, here are five key things you can learn from a pilot’s point of view.

Be Prepared

In aviation, proper preparation is critical. Prior to each flight, the pilot must meticulously work through a pre-flight checklist. Is it tedious? Certainly. But it’s absolutely necessary to ensure a safe and successful journey. Similarly, business leaders must prepare well in order for their automation project to be “ready for takeoff.” In particular, they must do the legwork to develop a deep understanding of the processes and workflows they wish to improve before attempting to automate them.

Map the Journey

If a pilot were to take flight without knowing where they were heading and how best to get there, the results could be catastrophic. Likewise, it’s essential to adequately map out the specific path you intend to take for automation within your organization. This involves not only determining the processes you want to automate, but also prioritizing them to achieve quick, measurable wins. This will allow you to lay the foundation for more widespread adoption of automation in the future.

Become an Expert

A person cannot simply hop into the cockpit of a plane and fly. Being a successful pilot requires learning, practice and continuous improvement. From a business perspective, automation should never be a temporary solution. It should be fluid and evolutionary. It should focus not only on achieving the desired results as they exist currently, but also with an eye toward achieving ongoing growth and improvement. It should never just be a “set it and forget it” type of project.

Use Your Tools

The beauty of modern aircrafts is that they are loaded with advanced technology designed to assist pilots and make their jobs infinitely easier. The same can be said for the right automation platform. IT teams can and should leverage technology to help guide and support their efforts. For instance, artificial intelligence can be deployed to identify potential problems so they can be remediated right away, before they have the chance to wreak havoc. Meanwhile, machine learning and predictive analytics can be used to help business leaders make better, more data-driven decisions.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Just as every pilot will face turbulence at some point, even the most successful automation initiatives will experience a few bumps in the road. How you navigate those turbulent times will make or break the outcome. Like pilots – wise business leaders know that drawing from their past experiences will help them better handle future uncertainties. The pressure to get everything perfect the first time will be great, but acknowledging, preparing for and learning from the snags that will inevitably occur along the way.

While experience in the cockpit can teach business leaders a lot about success, winning the race for automation doesn’t require a pilot’s license. By following the five key lessons above, you should be able to coast your way to a perfect landing.

Want to see what automation can do for your organization? Download your trial of Ayehu NG today and experience the full power of intelligent automation free for 30 full days.

Looking for Quick Wins with Your Automation Project? Focus on These 5 Key Areas.

Without question, intelligent process 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: optimizing performance and maximizing uptime 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, intelligent process automation has changed the face of IT for the better.

Just getting started and eager to see some results? Let’s take a closer look at five specific areas where intelligent process automation can produce the greatest benefit and fastest return, both for your IT department and your enterprise as a whole.

IT Unification – The old way of doing business involved individual silos and separate departments. In the digital age, the most successful organizations are the ones that are able to harness technology to break down these barriers and bridge inter-departmental gaps, effectively promoting collaboration and fostering innovation. Intelligent process automation can provide the tools necessary to achieve this type of universal organization.

IT Infrastructure – In order for a business to function cohesively across all departments, there need to be a set of 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 process 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 process automation can ensure fast and incident-free 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 IT 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 process 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.

cio guide to operational efficiency

4 Tips to Supercharge Your Business Processes

If you’ve been in business for a decent amount of time, you already know how important it is to have processes in place. In the absence of these processes, operations become chaotic, inefficiency reigns and progress is stymied.

That being said, simply creating and implementing business processes isn’t always enough. In fact, there may be significant room for improvement in a variety of areas. If you haven’t visited your processes in some time or you’re already aware they could use some polishing, here are a few expert tips.

Begin with what’s most critical.

A lot can be gained from most any business process, but some will inevitably prove more immediately beneficial than others. If you are want to maximize their effectiveness and achieve some early, quantitative wins, focus your efforts first on:

  • Processes with highest potential ROI
  • Processes that recur most often
  • Processes that frequently encounter issues

The goal is to hone in on the workflows where you can generate results quickly while also making the most impactful improvements.

Develop a checklist.

You don’t have to dig into the minutiae of the process. Instead, focus on the key steps in the workflow, developing a sequential list of tasks which demonstrate how the process is supposed to flow. If the process is electronic, consider recording it as it’s being carried out. The resulting video can then be used to create the checklist of steps or events.

Start optimizing.

Once you’ve mapped out each business process, it’s time to start finding areas where improvements can and should be made. Are there any redundancies that could be eliminated to speed things up? Are there bottlenecks along the way that impede progress and should be addressed?

Go over the documented workflows with appropriate team members to get their feedback and input. The more you involve other people in the practice of evaluating and optimizing your business workflows, the more buy-in and support you’ll gain.

Automate whenever and wherever possible.

Last, but certainly not least, automation can improve efficiency exponentially while also reducing human error. By introducing intelligent automation into your business processes, you’ll ensure a smooth, sequential flow of events and reduce (and often eliminate) the need for human intervention in the process.

Let’s say the business workflow you’re currently focusing on is password resets. It may seem simple, but in some organizations, this task alone can consume up to 40% of IT support’s daily workload. What if, instead of manually carrying out each painstaking step of phone authentication, execution of reset, confirmation, and documenting the call closure, you automated the entire process? Not only would password resets be carried out much more quickly, improving end-user satisfaction, but your IT would be freed up to focus their valuable skills on other, more important business initiatives.

Having business processes is important, but often even those processes can be improved and optimized for better results. By following the four simple steps above and leveraging the power of intelligent automation to your advantage, you can supercharge your processes and reap the many rewards that will come as a result.

Get started today with a free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG and be up and running with intelligent automation in less than an hour!

Building Your Automation Journey with 90-Day Outcomes

10 Steps Towards Operational Efficiency, Sustainably and Resiliency

As the world begins the slow transition into the “new normal,” organizations are facing the monumental challenge of rapid transformation. With so much uncertainty, ITOPs no longer has the luxury of taking its time in planning and carrying out long-term projects, what used to take several months, now happens overnight. Today’s IT leaders must find a way to compress and accelerate their efforts in order to achieve ROI as quickly as possible – and all while navigating relatively uncharted waters in the process.

Thankfully, rolling out automation in the post-COVID world doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s how your team can do so in 10 easy-to-implement, 90-day increments and be fully productive before you know it.

Step 1 – Identify Candidates

To begin, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Likewise, automating the wrong processes can completely derail your project. Start by analyzing your data sources, namely your ITSM records. The goal is to identify where you are currently spending the most time and money.

This analysis of your current policies and procedures should help you pinpoint which tasks, workflows and processes would produce the quickest wins if automated. Good candidates for automation include, but are not limited to, tasks that:

  • Have a high volume of tickets
    • Are repetitive with little variance
    • Require little or no human intervention
    • Are time consuming

Step 2 – Select Quick Wins

The previous step should have resulted in a shortlist of various tasks and workflows that, if automated, are likely to generate the fastest ROI. You want to be able to demonstrate to stakeholders the value of automation and get them onboard with widespread rollout. Showing them quantitative value as quickly as possible is key. To achieve this, prioritize your candidates so that your desired outcomes align with the ability to produce fast and measurable results. 

Step 3 – Document

The next 90-day phase should involve developing detailed documentation and flow charts, beginning with existing processes. Specifically, you should focus on identifying any and all manual steps that can and should be transitioned to automation.

It’s critically important during this phase that you remain cognizant of the fact that some existing processes may need to be fundamentally changed in order to take advantage of automation. Take a step back and examine each process thoroughly to determine whether it could benefit from redesign, either in part or in its entirety. Then, set to work re-imagining and reworking it accordingly.

Step 4 – Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Once you’ve generated a few quick wins from some low-hanging fruit, it’s time to dig deeper and start defining your longer-term objectives. How will you ultimately measure success? Try to stick with the SMART acronym as you develop your KPIs and potential outcomes:

  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few common hard ROI examples to get you started:

  • Reduce total number of tickets
  • Reduce # of tickets that require human interventions
  • Reduce # of tickets that are escalated from L1/L2
  • Shorten MTTR

In addition, you may want to include a few “soft” metrics as well, such as improved user satisfaction.

Step 5 – Design Workflow

Moving into phase five, it’s time to begin designing your automated workflows. At this point in the process, it’s important to remember that it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Heavy lifting is also not required here. Instead, lean on established technology and pre-built templates. For example, Ayehu features a massive library of pre-designed, existing workflows based on best practices developed from over 250 successful deployments. It’s also entirely codeless. All you need to do is match these up with the “quick wins” you identified in steps two and three and you’ll be ready to begin implementation.

Step 6 – Implement and Test

It’s time to start putting all of your hard work and planning into action, albeit in a safe, lower-risk environment. Using the pre-built templates you’ve matched with your automation initiatives, modify them as needed to suit your organization’s specific needs and goals. (Note: Ayehu’s visual designer can dramatically shorten time-to-value in this phase.)

Once your templates are customized and ready to be run, begin launching test workflows in a staging environment. This will allow you to identify and address any issues prior to live rollout, enabling you to avoid potentially costly problems down the road and increasing your likelihood of success.

Step 7 – Start a Pilot

You want your final rollout to be as close to perfection as possible, so you’ll need to do a great deal of testing before you officially launch. Working with a live pilot program & initial users first will enable you to continue identifying areas of concern and correcting them before deployment to the masses.

Ayehu can help with this as well by enabling you to easily move workflows from staging to production using our workflow migration feature. Conduct a pilot in a small scale production environment, measure your results and then modify workflows as needed based on the real-world feedback received.

Step 8 – Move to Production

When you’ve worked out all (or most of) the kinks and you’re confident that your automation project is working as planned and producing the desired results, it’s time to put your proverbial money where your mouth is and expand your usage into full production. This phase is often challenging to move into because, let’s be honest: it’s scary to take that leap. As a result, many IT teams end up in ‘pilot purgatory.’

Know that if you’ve done all the previous steps correctly, you should be ready to confidently move forward. It can be helpful during this phase to use the “bottom-line-value backward” approach, rather than focusing on technology. Make sure quantifiable metrics are collected, stored and adequately tracked.

Step 9 – Measure Results

For an automation project to achieve sustainable success, results must be measured and iterations performed on an ongoing basis. Once you’re officially in full production, you’ll need to continuously verify that you’re on the right track. Evaluate your results and compare them against the KPIs you defined in step four. As you identify procedures that are no longer adding value, be swift and decisive about eliminating them. (Note: if you are using Ayehu, your management dashboard can serve as a reporting aid, making this process much more efficient and effective.)

Step 10 – Promote Outcome

The final phase in the process, and the key to sustaining continuous improvement, is to obtain executive buy-in. Utilize all of the quantifiable data you’ve gathered over the previous nine steps, compile it and report it to the “powers that be.” Remember to use established KPIs and each one’s subsequent ROI to provide compelling proof of success. This will enable you to gain the approval you’ll need to expand and broaden your automation reach, which will bring you full circle back to phase one again.

Automation doesn’t have to be some distant goal on the horizon. By breaking down a multi-year project into a series of smaller, more achievable steps, you’ll be at the finish line before you know it. More importantly, you’ll already have a number of victories and best practices under your belt by the time you arrive.

Start today by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

5 Things That will Derail an IT Automation Project

The process of implementing something new will almost always involve making a few mistakes, veering in the wrong direction and eventually figuring out a way to correct those missteps and prevent those risks in the future. Adopting IT automation is no exception. If you aren’t careful, the mistakes you make can become embedded into your business processes. As a result, these errors will occur at scale and ultimately become much more difficult to control and correct.

On the other hand, when you proactively detect errors and take the steps to address and correct them right away, you’ll have much more success with the technology. That said, here are five common pitfalls that can wreak havoc on your IT automation project so you’ll know what to watch for and avoid.

Lack of clear and accurate understanding.

Simply put, you cannot adequately solve a problem that you don’t fully understand. The same concept can be applied to IT automation initiatives. If you don’t completely understand what problem you are actually trying to solve, the risk of errors goes up exponentially.

To avoid this, begin with a hypothesis statement. Define the problem that you are trying to resolve and determine which models you plan on using to address that issue. This is critical, because if it’s not done correctly from the start, things can go wrong very quickly.

Poor data quality.

The old adage, “garbage in, garbage out” can easily be applied to IT automation projects, especially those that involve machine learning and AI. If the quality of the data you are supplying isn’t up to par, the outcome will inevitably suffer. In fact, poor data quality is one of the top concerns of data managers, as it can impact analytics and ultimately influence business decisions in the wrong direction.

The result of these poor decisions can negatively affect performance and make it difficult to garner support for future initiatives. Exploratory data analysis (EDA) can help you proactively identify data quality issues so you can prevent problems before they occur.

Absence of specific purpose.

Another common contributor to IT automation failure is implementation without a clear purpose. In order for automation to generate positive ROI, it must be applied properly – not simply because it’s the trendy thing to do. In fact, using AI and automation when it’s not the best solution to a problem can actually cause more harm than good.

In addition to addressing the wrong problem, doing so can involve wasted time and resources, both of which come at a cost. To avoid this, identify the precise problem and desired outcome to determine whether IT automation truly is the appropriate solution. 

Insufficient resources.

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of resources required to implement IT automation properly, in particular as it relates to infrastructure. Without adequate processing power, successfully implementing automated solutions in a timely manner can be difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, without the resources in place to allow for its deployment and use, what’s the point?

To address the expense and complexity of deploying a scalable infrastructure, leveraging a cloud service that can be provisioned on-demand may be the better option. Those wishing to keep things in-house should look for a lightweight, plug-and-play solution that doesn’t require coding and can be deployed across both on-premises as well as private cloud platforms.

Poor planning and lack of governance.

It’s not unusual for an IT automation project to start off with tremendous enthusiasm only to lose momentum and ultimately end up grinding to a halt. When this happens, poor planning and lack of governance is most often to blame. For those projects that don’t cease, a lack of guidelines and limits can result in an exorbitant expenditure of resources without the beneficial end results. 

To keep things moving in the right direction, IT automation initiatives must be continuously monitored. In the event that progress begins to wane, it can be wise to take a break and reevaluate the effort. Keeping people engaged in the process is the key.

IT automation can be a tremendous asset to an organization, but only if it’s planned, implemented and managed properly. By avoiding the five common pitfalls listed above, you can place your company in a much better position and improve your chances of long-term, sustainable success.

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