The Human Element of AI Implementation

The benefits of artificial intelligence for business are widely acknowledged and understood. So, why are so many organizations still holding back when it comes to adoption? While it may seem logical to blame technical issues for the holdup, in reality what’s standing in the way is far more likely to be human in nature, whether it’s uncooperative employees, confusion over what AI means, unrealistic expectations of executives or something else. The key to navigating these roadblocks is addressing this human element.

Coming Down to Earth

Surprisingly, one of the biggest misconceptions people have about artificial intelligence is that it can solve any problem the business is experiencing. Have an issue? Just throw some intelligent automation at it. But the truth is, as amazing as the technology is, AI simply cannot fix everything. It’s essential that this message is clearly communicated and sufficiently understood. To set more realistic expectations, begin with a specific business objective and then determine holistically how you’re going to align everything to accomplish that goal.

Network to Gain Buy-In

If the human issue you’re struggling to overcome is resistance, networking can do wonders (and no, we’re not talking about computer networking). Once you’ve identified a good problem to solve, work on developing a few proof of concepts and then begin socializing with those throughout the organization. This can raise the level of awareness and help people gain a clearer understanding of what AI is, how it works and what it can help them accomplish. Identifying early adopters and internal champions is also important. These individuals can help explain artificial intelligence in a language that others understand.

Combat Fear of Change

Innovative tech solutions – especially as they relate to automation – are typically marketed on the premise that they’ll streamline efficiency and cut costs. But from an end-user’s perspective, AI can feel like a looming threat ready to inch them out of a job. Will intelligent automation eliminate some jobs? Of course. But that doesn’t mean those human resources can’t still be retained through more strategic allocation. If fear of change is hindering adoption of AI, repurpose your message to present it as a solution that will make their lives better, whether that be reducing their day-to-day drudgery or giving them an opportunity to focus their talents on more meaningful work.

Ultimately, the best strategy for successful AI implementation is to align your systems, process and people. Without the latter part of the equation, you simply will not achieve complete success. By recognizing and addressing the human element, adoption should be smooth sailing.

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The 5 Step Strategy for Optimizing HR with Intelligent Automation

Artificial intelligence has made our lives infinitely easier. Smart home devices can turn lights on and off and adjust the thermostat without us having to get off the couch. Cars automatically hit the brakes to avoid crashes and are capable of parking themselves. But intelligent automation isn’t just something that can benefit our personal lives. The ability to automate time-laden, manual tasks and business processes increases employee productivity and frees skilled personnel to focus on more high-value work. One area that can gain tremendous value from intelligent automation is HR. Here’s how.

Identify processes and workflows that could (and should) be automated.

While human resources is, indeed, a prime candidate for intelligent automation, not every process will be appropriate. It’s imperative that business leaders are careful not to try and automate too much, otherwise they risk losing momentum and failing to reap the true benefits of AI technology. This is why the first step in optimizing HR should always involve a careful analysis of processes and workflows to determine which could be made more efficient through intelligent automation.

Map out a strategy.

Again, in order for intelligent automation to be effective, there must be order to its adoption. Prior to implementation, a plan should be mapped out – preferably one that involves a strategic combination of artificial intelligence and human skills. Create a roadmap that covers everything from the initial introduction of AI to the desired end result. Bear in mind that some processes may be better redesigned from scratch as opposed to trying to modify them.

Keep the lines of communication open and ever-flowing.

Like it or not, people naturally fear change. With intelligent automation, this is compounded by the concern over robots taking over human jobs. Yet, in order to successfully roll out automation, you simply must have buy-in from everyone involved. The best way to accomplish this is to quell your staff’s fear through open, honest and ongoing communication. Be sure to drive home the benefits that automation will provide to them (less drudgery, more opportunity to perform engaging, meaningful work, the chance to learn new marketable skills, etc.). Remind them that automation ultimately drives the demand for soft skills, such as creative problem solving and collaboration.

Make sure the C-suite is also onboard.

In addition to constant communication and transparency with employees, it’s equally critical that executives and key decision-makers are also onboard with intelligent automation. Sure, a detailed and measurable implementation strategy is essential, but enacting organizational change takes more than simply carrying out a set of ordered steps. Change management starts at the top and trickles downward. As such, senior leadership must be visible and vocal in its participation and support.

Teach employees the skills they need for success.

We’ve become quite comfortable with automation in our personal lives, but that comfort level doesn’t necessarily translate to the workplace. Don’t just assume your employees possess the skills they need to leverage intelligent automation. For instance, your HR team likely already has the soft skills they need to do their jobs effectively, but they may need guidance in understanding how to interact with automation technology. Be proactive in educating them.

While there are certainly areas of the human resources function that a human touch is still needed, such as discussing sensitive matters with employees, the vast majority of today’s HR processes can easily be automated. In order to do this, however, HR professionals must be willing to adapt and evolve. The five steps listed above should help in this regard.

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Adopting Intelligent Automation: Managing Resistance to Change

Intelligent automation offers a variety of benefits to organizations, including improved efficiency, enhanced productivity, greater accuracy and output and an overall cost savings. For companies that have yet to employ this technology, however, the biggest hurdle to overcome in doing so is often resistance from employees. For some, this contention comes from fear of becoming obsolete, while others simply don’t like change. Whatever the reason, having the right strategy in place can help make adopting automation a smooth, painless and positive experience for everyone.

Change Management is About People

On the surface, managing change while implementing a technological advancement such as intelligent automation may seem to be all about the systems and processes being automated. In reality, however, change management is about understanding the fears, needs and desires of your company’s most valuable asset: your people. By addressing the human side of change, you can overcome the roadblocks and obstacles in your way and effectively change the outlook of even the strongest opposition.

Generally speaking, people tend to fall into 3 distinct
categories when it comes to adopting something new:

  • Those who vehemently oppose the proposed change
  • Those who are tentative about change
  • Those who are change champions

When planning your intelligent automation project, your strategy should incorporate the appropriate actions to address those individuals who fall into the first two categories. The ultimate goal is to change how your employees view the new technology being rolled out so that the process becomes a positive initiative that is driven forward by support rather than bogged down by resistance. That said, here are some proven best practices for effectively managing change in the workplace.

Conduct a readiness assessment. This can be done a number of ways, from holding focus groups to conducting a survey amongst all users. The purpose of a needs assessment is to identify the risks, benefits and potential obstacles that you may encounter when rolling out your intelligent automation initiative. It can also be helpful in determining areas of greatest resistance as well as the reasons behind the contention. Remember the old adage, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.

Sell the benefits. People aren’t going to jump on your intelligent automation bandwagon unless and until you’ve convinced them that it’s worth their while. They want to know what’s in it for them. Address this by identifying, documenting, communicating and reiterating the specific benefits that adopting automation will have for each individual and team.

Make communication a priority. One of the biggest reasons people resist change is because they don’t understand what is being done or why it’s happening. This lack of knowledge naturally breeds fear, which can derail your intelligent automation initiative. To avoid this, keep the lines of communication open and make sure everyone knows not just what the big picture is, but also their important role in contributing to that big picture goal.

Lead by example. Leadership at every level and in every department should be on-board with adoption of intelligent automation. Excitement and positivity can be very powerful tools in effecting change across an organization. Make sure you have complete buy-in from all executives prior to launch and that they understand the importance of solidarity across the board.

Identify and leverage change champions. These are the individuals who are most excited about the adoption of intelligent automation and the many benefits it will provide. By identifying these key employees, you can begin to leverage them to influence their peers who may be feeling a bit less enthusiastic about the proposed change. These individuals can help bridge the gap between front-line employees and management and become a voice for those directly impacted by change.

Intelligent automation can dramatically improve your organization’s overall performance, but rolling out such an initiative can rarely be achieved without some type of resistance. By taking a proactive approach and developing and implementing an effective change management strategy, the experience will be much more positive for everyone involved.

Nervous about how your intelligent automation project will be received by your employees? Ayehu is designed for fast and seamless implementation, so you can focus your efforts on what’s most important: investing in the happiness of your employees. Experience it for yourself by clicking here.

 

 

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Can too much automation hinder the cloud?

For obvious reasons, you’ll rarely hear us indicate that there could ever be too much automation. To the contrary, the more an organization embraces and employs intelligent automation technology, the more streamlined, efficient, cost-effective and productive the entire organization can be. What we will say, however, is that implementing too many such automation tools can, in fact, have the opposite effect on operations, specifically for those companies using cloud technology. Instead of trying to mishmash everything together, enterprises should focus on choosing and implementing a more comprehensive solution.

Cloud technology has virtually revolutionized the way businesses operate. When leveraged properly, this type of environment should make everyone happier and more productive, from the CEO to the front-line end-users and everyone in between. The problem is, many companies approach cloud intelligent automation entirely wrong. Traditionally, IT personnel had to think in terms of compliance, availability, latency and how those things interacted together.

With the dynamics of cloud, however, IT now has to shift its focus on how to leverage all of those services to other business units. This shift has dramatically increased the complexity of the management process and while intelligent automation is ultimately designed to aid in this area, teams often muddy the waters and hinder progress by over-specifying and hyper-focusing. Instead of the cohesive infrastructure that’s desired, this creates a more fragmented, siloed and subsequently inefficient environment.

The key lies in choosing a comprehensive IT automation and orchestration platform that can handle the complex and changing dynamics of IT and beyond. Given the dizzying number of vendors in the cloud management platform space, this task can be nothing short of overwhelming. Many fall into the trap of selecting multiple tools from different service providers while others succumb to the alarming number of acquisitions and changes that so many cloud vendors experience. What they end up with are several tools that are ultimately working against, rather than with, one another.

To avoid this, IT professionals should take the necessary time and apply careful consideration to the selection process. Rather than picking several different automation tools, decision makers should focus on weighing their options and making a more mindful investment. Of course, they must also be careful that they not end up with a platform that is not sufficient for their needs, or one that has way more bells and whistles (and subsequent costs) than what they require. The goal is to find a happy medium with a comprehensive solution that is most closely aligned with the specific needs, pain points and overall objectives of the organization.

In reality, there may always be a need for more than one single automation tool, particularly in the dynamic cloud environment. In fact, if Gartner’s prediction was on target, 75% of large enterprises already have more than four diverse automation technologies within their management portfolio. As a general rule of thumb, however, the fewer tools you implement, the better, so bear this in mind during the evaluation and selection process.

Another key thing to consider is avoiding the common mistake of approaching intelligent automation from an opportunistic perspective, rather than one that is systematic in nature. Because opportunistic decisions are based on individual needs and pain points, they ultimately facilitate the siloed environment of traditional IT where each department or team employs a different automation tool to meet their unique needs. As a result, too many tools lead to loss of control and marked inefficiency.

On the other hand, systematic intelligent automation covers the big picture, taking into account the needs, visions and goals of the entire organization, rather than each individual team or department. Consequently, automation tools are more strategically assessed and selected with the overarching purpose of bridging interdepartmental gaps and creating more streamlined operations across all systems, programs and applications.

If you’ve fallen into this trap and fear that your organization is employing too many unnecessary or redundant tools, the time to take action and turn things around is now. We recommend taking a step back, carefully assessing your current state and finding an intelligent automation solution that will allow you to trim down and run a much more efficient, effective cloud environment.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Ayehu has been designed and developed with this purpose in mind, schedule a free product demo today to get started today!

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Using Intelligent Automation to Facilitate Business Continuity

Many people associate business continuity with catastrophes such as floods, hurricanes or terrorist attacks. But while these disasters can certainly disrupt business, there are plenty of other types of seemingly minor events that can have just as devastating an impact. These things may include anything from employee or application errors to delays in responding changes. In fact, according to Gartner, an average of 80% of mission-critical application service downtime is directly caused by people or process failures. Intelligent automation can help organizations prepare for and avoid these situations.

Driving Factors

Today’s mainframe is a critical and deeply integrated component of the overall IT infrastructure. Not only must it interoperate with a growing number of other resources as part of a complex, multi-tiered architecture, but it must also meet the demand for 24/7 operability. The days of scheduled maintenance windows have all but disappeared, forcing IT teams to perform these necessary tasks – such as upgrading, fixing bugs and adding new applications – while the system is still up and running.

Further complicating matters, the Internet has exposed the mainframe to outside users that number into the thousands or even millions. As a critical component of an organization’s business processes, the mainframe must also facilitate transactions with external systems outside of the enterprise, such as those in distribution and supply chains.

As a result of this complexity, the potential for errant code and human error is multiplied tenfold. Complexity also makes it challenging for operations to quickly and accurate respond to changing conditions in the IT environment. All of this can lead to performance degradation and network downtime.

Traditional Methods No Longer Cut It

IT component and data protection methods of the past – like backup, recovery and mirroring – are no longer sufficient for ensuring business continuity. Take, for instance, the case of a critical database becoming contaminated due to an erroneous application entry. Traditional recovery methods would only back up the contaminated data, further perpetuating the problem.

Furthermore, manual system-management is no longer a viable business practice. Complexity has grown to a point that even the most skilled IT professionals are not capable of handling. This opens the door to even greater risk of human error. Manual procedures can also slow reaction times, which can lead to issues with performance. Lastly, manual processes are incredibly difficult to audit, making them a compliance risk as well.

Intelligent Automation to the Rescue

To fortify business continuity, organizations must augment their manual system-management processes and their existing disaster recovery methods with protection that is more comprehensive. That’s where intelligent automation comes into play. An IA platform uses software to automatically perform IT service management workflows. And because it is powered by artificial intelligence, these platforms can even make decisions independent of human input based on business policy and impact.

Intelligent automation presents a number of valuable benefits, particularly in terms of facilitating business continuity. First, it overcomes the complexity of the IT infrastructure and ensures that ITSM functions are carried out in a consistent and timely fashion based on specified best practices. As a result, the risk of error is dramatically reduced and a fully auditable trail is created to ensure regulatory compliance.

Additional benefits of intelligent automation include, but are not limited to:

  • Fewer failed IT infrastructure changes
  • Reliable service quality even through changing conditions
  • Detection and elimination of contaminated data
  • Preservation of skills of mainframe personnel
  • Ensuring a more speedy and successful recovery from disasters

Is your organization adequately prepared to handle potential downtime? Intelligent automation can strengthen and improve your business continuity strategy, lowering the chances of an incident and limiting the damages from those events that do occur.

Getting started with IA is as easy as clicking here. Don’t take chances. Protect your organization today!

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Adopting Intelligent Automation? Here’s What NOT to Do.

Perhaps you’ve heard enough buzz about it that you’re finally convinced of its benefits. Maybe you’ve experienced it for yourself and you’re eager to leverage such a powerful tool for your own organization. Whatever the reason implementing intelligent automation is a wise choice. Yet many find themselves dealing with additional, unexpected headaches and having to put out fires when something inevitably goes wrong. To help you avoid ending up in this type of situation, here are three common mistakes to be leery of.

Don’t be short-sighted.

While it’s advisable to start small when automating, this shouldn’t necessarily be how you approach the overall project. To the contrary, achieving the maximum benefits of intelligent automation involves looking at how it will ultimately impact the big picture, or your organization’s entire infrastructure. That means even if your first order of business is to automate a single task or simple workflow, everything from how you choose the right platform to defining the scope of the project to testing and more should all be handled with the idea of making automation a central part of your business.

Don’t think only about the present.

Certainly automation is designed to make life easier for your IT personnel right off the bat. But while this technology does provide instant benefits, there is so much more that it can do over the long haul. Viewing intelligent automation as a long-term investment that will benefit your organization well into the future is especially important when calculating ROI and attempting to sell the pros of automation to key decision makers. If you’re not quite sure how to accurately measure ROI for your automation project, this resource should help.

Don’t choose a product that’s not flexible.

Remember, if you’re going to focus on implementing intelligent automation for the long-term you’re going to need a platform that is flexible enough to integrate with other systems, apps and platforms. Be aware of this when evaluating various vendors and understand ahead of time what existing systems you’ll need the product to work with. This can help you narrow your selection while also ensuring that you don’t end up with an intelligent automation platform that is inflexible and not customizable, ultimately leaving you with little room for growth.

Rolling out intelligent automation for your organization can help you streamline operations and provide a more efficient, error-free environment. That is, provided you don’t make any of the above mistakes. Knowing ahead of time what to avoid can ensure a smoother, more successful rollout and implementation for everyone involved.

Are you considering intelligent automation for your business, but not sure where to begin? Take Ayehu for a test drive today to experience it for yourself.

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Want to attract and retain top IT security talent? Here’s how.

As any IT leader will acknowledge, attracting top talent is only half the battle. It’s keeping them on 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 security and you’ve got quite the conundrum. So, what’s the secret? How can you do things differently so that your company remains as safe as possible from cyber-attacks while your talented employees stay on for the long haul? Here are 7 tips to point you in the right direction.

Keep them challenged. The last thing you want is for your IT security 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 learn about and master new strategies and technologies. The more you keep your IT security employees engaged and involved, the less likely they’ll be to look elsewhere.

Rotate project time. Being stuck on the same project day in and day out can lead to fatigue and frustration. Consider rotating employees onto various IT security projects so that they don’t feel stuck. 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 – both of which can benefit your organization.

Give them the tools they need. These days, keeping up with the onslaught of cyber-attacks is nothing short of exhausting. Don’t leave your IT security personnel 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 automated incident response.

Provide a safe place to vent. Without question, the job of keeping an entire organization safe from the potentially devastating financial and reputational damage a successful breach can have is incredibly stressful. Additionally, IT security 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.

Encourage time off. Everybody needs a little down time, but given the fast-paced and highly stressful field of IT security, 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 security 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 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 8-10 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 security personnel 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 to dangerous cyber-attacks. 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.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response