The Role of Chief Automation Officer in Digital Transformation

Today’s savvy business leaders recognize the need to adapt to changing technology or risk being left behind. And while we may not be able to control what that technology will be or which direction it will take us, we can take advantage by responding quickly and making the necessary adaptations before our competitors. That’s why the role of Chief Automation Officer is becoming much more necessary.

A recent study by PMG revealed that the biggest obstacle to successful adoption of automation was the lack of a holistic approach. In fact, 59 percent of respondents agreed that automation implemented on an ad hoc basis leads to incompatibility and subsequent inefficiency. Most organizations today require not only a unification of silos but also the ability to align automation strategies between different physical locations, some of which may be situated half a world away.

How can one expect to effectively align IT functions with the business as a whole when automation – the very technology that’s designed to enable better business decisions – is not adequately represented in the C-Suite? A CAO brings valuable perspective with the ability to see automation from a global viewpoint. As a result, automation becomes a critical component of the overall strategy rather than just a means to deliver it.

Organizations with multiple technology centers located worldwide recognize the importance of globaThe Role of Chief Automation Officer in Digital Transformationl collaboration to the forward progress of the company. There is little overall business value if you’ve achieved continuous process improvement in just one office but not the others. You may have certain specialists deployed across the globe who are highly skilled at managing automation technology, but if there’s no central strategy and one leader, their abilities cannot be maximized.

The CAO’s purpose is to drive this type of simultaneous widespread orchestration. While automation specialists focus on their specific IT departments, managing the day to day operations, the Chief Automation Officer spends his or her time looking outward and forward. This role is absolutely essential to achieving rapid, sustainable transformation, as the ability to orchestrate automation on a global scale and unify strategies is what ultimately enables businesses to adapt at the speed of thought.

Automation is critical to an organization’s ability to reallocate capital from today’s business operations to the needs of tomorrow. It allows IT to shift from reactively putting out fires to taking a more proactive approach, which is necessary for successful digital transformation.

The good news is automation is evolving at relatively the same pace as the complexity it is designed to simplify. Disruption that would otherwise be overwhelming is now becoming entirely feasible thanks to automation and orchestration solutions that provide a competitive edge. Deriving business value from the IoT, for instance, is made possible by automation strategies that process and analyze the data being procured. Automation essentially frees up funds that can then be used to fuel innovation.

The CAO is responsible for taking optimized workflows and applying them wherever feasible throughout the entire organization. This creates more compliant and easily auditable processes. And because this approach eliminates repetition and duplication of work, the entire operation can run more consistently and efficiently. Furthermore, by evaluating how automation is utilized throughout the company, the CAO is also able to optimize the allocation of human resources, removing bottlenecks and improving productivity across the enterprise.

Another area where the CAO can be highly beneficial to the company is in his or her ability to seek inspiration from the rest of the workforce. One company was able to uncover nearly 300 innovative ideas simply by asking employees to suggest processes to automate. In the absence of this communication between upper management and frontline workers, these suggestions, and the positive changes they brought about, would have remained private.

In conclusion, automation remains a catalyst for change, driver of innovation and procurer of productivity. With the overarching visibility and control a CAO provides, automation strategies will have the flexibility and scope needed to stimulate disruption and achieve digital transformation.

Want to see the power of automation and orchestration powered by machine learning in action? Click here to request a product demo.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

5 Cybersecurity Mistakes That Could Be Placing Your Company in Danger

5 Cybersecurity Mistakes That Could Be Placing Your Company in DangerWhen it comes to keeping your organization and all the data you maintain secure from potential breaches, you may believe you know the basics. You may even think you’ve got it all together, with all the right strategies, tools and technologies in place to ensure maximum protection. But there are a few mistakes that many companies make without even realizing they’re doing so. And the consequences of those errors could be incredibly costly, both financially and reputation-wise. If you or your cybersecurity team are committing any of the following blunders, your business could be at risk.

Being overconfident.

Some IT leaders make the egregious mistake of believing that cybersecurity isn’t really that much to be concerned about. For instance, some think that because they’re a small business, cyber criminals aren’t interested in the information they possess. Others, such as end-users, believe that their IT team will handle everything. The fact is, cybersecurity is something companies of every size and all employees absolutely must account for. Otherwise, your firm will become a sitting target.

Neglecting the power of email.

Many companies invest tons of money, time and resources into protecting their network and infrastructure, yet somehow forget to secure email communications. The fact is, email remains one of the most effective tools used by cyber criminals to gain access to the sensitive data they’re after and if you’re not using the right kind of protection – namely two-step verification and encryption – you’re placing your company at risk. It’s equally important to educate all users about how to spot phishing and other social engineering attempts.

Inadequate password policies.

Weak passwords are a hacker’s dream come true. Despite this fact, it’s alarming how many people still use passwords like ‘12345’ or ‘admin’. Not only do people use these easy-to-guess passwords, but they often reuse them on multiple systems, making it simple for a cyber-criminal to gain access to any number of systems and applications. This is a huge problem for companies that must be addressed through the development and implementation of strong password policies.

Thinking anti-virus is enough.

Many otherwise savvy individuals make the costly error of believing that anti-virus software is enough to keep their sensitive data secure. The fact is, today’s hackers are becoming more sophisticated and persistent by the day, which means they’re identifying newer vulnerabilities to exploit – vulnerabilities that cannot be detected with traditional malware prevention methods. To truly be safe, the use of automated cybersecurity incident response powered by machine learning is strongly recommended.

Not backing up data.

The fact is, even the strongest cybersecurity strategy can be infiltrated by a dedicated enough hacker. It’s no longer a question of IF you’ll be attacked, but rather WHEN. As such, engaging in regular data backup activities can ensure that should your infrastructure be compromised, you can get back up and running quickly and with minimal impact. For instance, when your data is backed up, a ransomware attack can be neutralized since there will be no need to pay the fee in order to regain access to files. Instead, the infected files can be isolated and eradicated and data restored from your backup.

These five cybersecurity mistakes are surprisingly common. Thankfully, correcting them isn’t impossible. If you recognize any of the above occurring within your organization, the time to take action is now. Start by implementing the right policies, educating employees and investing in the right technology to keep your information as secure as possible.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

Is your IT department wasting time and money? Here’s the solution.

Is your IT department wasting time and money?It seems as though the concept of doing more with less came around rather recently. In reality, however, managing a lot of tasks on a budget is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a priority for businesses across just about every industry for decades now. When the economy took a nose-dive several years ago and companies had no choice but to lay off large chunks of their workforce, there was no other option than to figure out a way to get the work done with whatever skeleton crew was left.

Yet, to this very day, countless businesses are still chasing their tails, being bogged down with manual work that can (and should be) handled through IT automation. Right now, as you are reading this article, IT departments in all corners of the globe are busy writing scripts and going through workflows, step by painful step. Meanwhile, their productivity is suffering, as is the bottom line of their organizations as a whole.

So, what’s the solution? Could it really be as simple as choosing an IT automation platform? The answers to these questions lies in the reality of what your IT department looks like at the moment. Are your team members spending hours upon hours fielding incoming alerts and processing workflows that require little to no actual “skill”? What could your department accomplish if the majority of your workers weren’t tied to their desks going through the drudgery of doing things by hand all day?

While the ultimate goal would be to develop an IT automation strategy that is sophisticated enough to streamline all of your operations, what you can do right now is take that first step. It doesn’t have to involve a year’s worth of research and testing to find the perfect solution to all your IT woes. Yes – that’s the overarching objective, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated to start. The first, and most important step, is choosing to make a change – even if it’s just automating one small task.

Your challenge for the week is to observe those who work in IT and identify one or two basic tasks that are being performed manually (more than twice per day). When you see these things, ask yourself why they are being handled this way. Calculate the costs associated with the time it takes your worker to complete. Let’s say the employee in question makes $30 per hour. If it takes 3 hours a day to complete one manual task, you’re dishing out nearly $100 for something that IT automation could do in seconds.

By identifying key areas that are costing your business precious time and money, you can then look for an IT automation solution that can improve those processes. Start small, then work your way up. Once you’ve successfully automated those first few activities, expand your horizons to bigger, more complex processes. Before you know it, your business will be operating much more efficiently. As a bonus, your skilled IT professionals will be freed up to focus on more critical business projects.

Not quite sure where to begin? Check out 10 time-consuming IT tasks you should be automating below and then click here to request a free demo and get started on the path to a leaner, more productive organization.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

If you want continual service improvement, you need IT automation…

Want Continual Process Improvement? You Need IT AutomationA successful business cannot thrive in today’s world unless it focuses on ongoing improvement in every area of its operation. Stagnation is, in effect, the backward motion of progress. This is where the concept of continual service improvement (CSI) comes into play. As the business grows and changes, CSI is applied to produce both small and large changes across every facet, from service to operational efficiency to business continuity. Yet true CSI cannot be accomplished, at least in terms of technology, without IT automation.

What is Continual Service Improvement?

In simplest of terms, continual service improvement examines past successes and failures to identify areas within a business that need to be changed, adapted and improved in order to make the organization as a whole more successful. In particular, the goal of the CSI process is to continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of IT processes and services.

What Areas can CSI be Applied?

The question should actually be what areas of your business could use improvement? The answer should inevitably be every area. However, CSI is typically a concept that is specifically aimed toward improving IT efficiency. An audit should be performed to identify those areas that are most in need of change, and then individual programs and projects can be defined, developed and prioritized based on the organization’s overall strategic objectives. In other words, CSI can effectively influence every phase of the business process, but is typically implemented in IT and in order of importance.

How Does Automation Fit In?

Once the areas in need of improvement are identified and prioritized, IT automation can then be applied to streamline them. With the right platform, everything from basic manual tasks to complex workflows can be shifted from human to machine, eliminating errors, dramatically improving efficiency and productivity and creating a more lean, effective operation overall.

IT automation can be applied to any task-based process, such as incident management, problem management or change management. It can also be applied to non-IT processes, such as project management or any custom application, essentially broadening the spectrum and extending CSI across the entire organization.

As we get closer to the end of the year, the focus on continual service improvement will only increase. This is due in part to more and more businesses beginning to understand the benefits of embracing this concept, and realizing its affects across their entire organization. It’s also due to the fact that automation is delivering innovative ways to help businesses implement the CSI process with ease and efficiency, making it easy to incorporate the concept into the everyday operations and, in essence, the very culture of the business.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change.” Let automation be the catalyst to the change your business needs for future success. Experience the next generation of IT automation for yourself by requesting a live demo.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

How AI Can Bring Your Cybersecurity to the Next Level

How AI Can Bring Your Cybersecurity to the Next LevelArtificial intelligence and machine learning are starting become buzzwords in just about every industry. Cybersecurity is no exception. In fact, even governments across the globe are jumping on the bandwagon in an effort to enhance the security of their sensitive data. Yet, despite the growing adoption, many of security agents are struggling with misconceptions and confusions surrounding the different types of solutions available on the market today. If you are among them, here’s what you need to know about how AI is disrupting the information and network security realm.

The first point to consider is the difference between traditional automation and intelligent automation powered by machine learning. While both function toward the same end-goal of streamlining and automating manual cybersecurity tasks, such as incident detection and remediation, intelligent automation takes things a step further by augmenting human intelligence, which is both costly and unscalable. Most importantly, this is done without sacrificing reliability and quality of the processes being automated.

The real difference comes into play in the area of decision making – something all cybersecurity leaders are responsible for. With traditional automation, lots of data is gathered and can be turned into reports which can then be used to help human agents forecast and plan for the future. With machine learning, that data is analyzed by artificial intelligence at a rate far faster than any human could possibly compute. The result is more accurate, precise and valuable information for making better business decisions. When you can leverage data more effectively, you can better protect your organization moving forward.

Expanding on this, automation powered by AI is capable of quickly detecting and identifying entirely new classes of threats. Over time, these agentless systems continuously learn, adapt and improve, becoming even more effective at detecting incidents, analyzing attacker behaviors and even managing more obscure threat events. At the same time, deep learning algorithms sift through mountains of data in real-time to uncover and provide valuable insights into threats and enable rapid, highly effective improvements to cybersecurity remediation processes.

The long-term goal of AI powered automation is to achieve even greater flexibility and enhanced thinking capacity that is as close to the human mind as possible. The result will be a genius system that is faster, more consistent and far more effective at maximizing cybersecurity than human agents ever could be. Such a platform, just like the human cognition its designed to mimic, will be capable of adapting and learning new tasks and processes, arriving at its own conclusions and making its own intelligent decisions.

What could your organization achieve with this level of cybersecurity protection? Believe it or not, this is not a far off goal or figment of the future. Automation powered by machine learning is here now, and you can see it in action today by clicking here.

Bring your company’s protection to the next level with the next generation of IT automation.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

MSSPs: Why IT Automation is the Secret Sauce for Success

MSSPs: Why IT Automation is the Secret Sauce for SuccessWhen the topic of security automation comes up, it’s typically in the context of enterprise Security Operations Centers (SOC). The fact is, there’s another group that can benefit tremendously from IT automation and that’s Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP). MSSPs face many similar challenges that traditional SOCs encounter, such as huge volumes of data, case management, reporting and, of course, staffing shortages. In fact, for MSSPs, these problems are often compounded.

Unlike SOCs, MSSP analysts support multiple clients simultaneously; oftentimes each with their own individual security platforms and runbooks. As a result, analysts often receive numerous alerts from a multitude of tools that must be resolved according to each client’s service level agreement. Not only can this be confusing, which can significantly increase the likelihood of errors, but it can easily lead to alert fatigue, frustration and burnout.

Keeping up with security alerts is challenging even for smaller organizations. For MSSPs monitoring 30, 50, 100 or more individual clients, the complexity becomes monumental.  Likewise, the combination of multiple endpoints, different network configurations and application security platforms, coupled with managing their own threat intelligence and analytics, the issue becomes even further complicated. All of this can make resolving incidents in a timely manner incredibly difficult, even for the most agile, capable team. For these reasons, many MSSPs are now turning to IT automation as a solution.

When it comes to operating a successful MSSP, the ability to standardize is absolutely essential. Additionally, with multiple players entering the field, the competition is becoming much more intense. Continuous innovation is the key to survival. Operational standardization enables MSSPs to become more innovative by streamlining and automating the high-volume, repetitive manual tasks that bog down operations teams.

With IT automation, MSSP analysts can dramatically improve efficiency and therefore support more customers and handle more use cases. In fact, shifting from human to intelligent machine may even facilitate smaller teams to compete with larger competitors. In other words, IT automation allows MSSPs to do more with less. From a business perspective, this means greater profitability across the board. Additionally, having automated processes can help in terms of attracting and retaining top talent.

Simply put, the automation of MSSP activities benefits everyone. Security analysts can take on more clients at a lower operating cost while delivering a higher level of service. As a result, clients are more secure and satisfied. Meanwhile, operations teams enjoy the ability to apply their high-level skills to more fulfilling tasks and projects, thereby improving staff morale and performance. With IT automation, everyone wins.

Ayehu provides intelligent machine learning driven decision support via suggestions to optimize MSSP workflows, speeding up operations and reducing workload. Want to see it in action? Request a demo today!

5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation

MSPs: Your Continued Profitability Depends on THIS…

MSPs: Your Continued Profitability Depends on THIS...Anyone who understands the role of a managed service provider (MSP) understands the importance of doing more with less. It’s really all about scale and common sense. The more efficient and effective your performance, the more success you’ll achieve. The problem is, achieving a high level of scalability isn’t always possible when budget is involved, because for many organizations, hiring additional staff simply isn’t feasible. The solution? IT automation, and leveraging it to win the race and become the head of the pack.

MSP experts agree that when it comes to stiff competition and budgetary restrictions, the best and only solution is to invest in automation. This is the case even with enterprises that do not struggle with cash flow issues. Even if you can afford to hire additional staff, doing so will inevitably impact your bottom line. If you take a step back and allow technology to do the heavy lifting for you, on the other hand, you’ve got scalability without the added expenditure of beefing up personnel.

The ability to outsource and even relocate operation centers to other areas of the world may provide a slight advantage in terms of overall cost, but it won’t necessarily level the economic playing field. The ultimate goal of every MSP is to deliver as many quality services as possible while utilizing the fewest number of employees…hence, doing more with less. Tapping into foreign markets and moving your IT department will not achieve this. Only automation will.

That said, it’s also critically important that key decision makers do their due diligence when choosing an IT automation product to work with. Those who have been most successful in this battle of the fittest have provided some insight into what to be careful of during the selection process. Most importantly, keep the concept of scalability in mind. Make sure you choose a product that will be able to bridge the past with the future, integrating with legacy systems while also adapting with your changing business needs as they occur. Flexibility is key.

It’s also extremely important that the IT automation platform you choose be robust. Remember, you’re going to be relying on this system to handle not just simple, repetitive tasks but also things that are critical to the success of your entire organization, such as incident management and advanced workflow performance.  Do your homework and make sure the product you ultimately select is comprehensive enough to handle anything your business may need.

As we move forward, there’s no question that IT automation will become the central part of any successful MSPs strategy, and only those organizations that embrace and act on this will continue to remain competitive. Don’t get left in the dust! Get your MSP on track to a competitive and lucrative future by investing in automation.

Schedule your free live demo today to see it in action!

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s

How Machine Learning is Set to Revolutionize Data Centers

How Machine Learning is Set to Revolutionize Data CentersArtificial intelligence is disrupting and transforming nearly every industry, with simple tasks to complex workflows being shifted from human to machine. The IT realm is no exception, with machine learning algorithms being leveraged to help data centers improve efficiency, productivity and overall performance. Even tech powerhouse Google is using its own DeepMind technology to manage the consumption of power at its server farms, resulting in a 40 percent reduction of electricity usage.

AI and machine learning technology presents a tremendous opportunity for IT operations teams to automate and streamline critical functions, manage infrastructure and react swiftly and effectively to problems without the need for human intervention. Many well-known, global enterprises are now turning to automation to do everything from previewing incidents and working on operations parameters to overseeing the process of pinpointing and addressing root causes. Automation powered by AI is particularly valuable to the data center because it’s scalable and helps to ensure maximum operability.

One problem data centers of all sizes and in all industries face on a daily basis is the increasing number of events that are occurring. Many are experiencing millions upon millions each day. There is simply no human team that can handle that kind of volume. The answer is automation, but it goes beyond that. At this volume, relying on alerts and escalations won’t cut it. Data center leaders need intuitive machines that can make decisions about how events should be addressed.

What’s more, as data centers achieve scales and speeds well beyond what we’re accustomed to currently, it’s going to reach a point where graphs and reports of alerts aren’t going to be useful to humans. They simply won’t be capable of interpreting them with enough speed and efficiency to maintain the 100% availability they’re striving to deliver. IT leaders will need AI-based automation to be able to analyze and take the appropriate action as needed.

Lastly, automation and orchestration tools that are powered by machine learning will enable data center leaders to effectively predict when problems with the infrastructure may potentially arise. By leveraging available data, future issues can be forecast and circumvented proactively, further reducing the risk of downtime and improving service levels across the board. All of this is made possible through the use of intelligent automation.

See it in action with a live demo today and start preparing your data center for a brighter, more profitable future!

5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation

Benefits of Automating Active Directory Group Changes

Most organizations manage access control to resources based on Active Directory group membership.   That is, they establish AD groups that correspond to a job function or set of related tasks (i.e. Finance, DB Admins, Recruiting, etc.).  Then they point as many resources as possible, such as applications and infrastructure, to AD for authorization of access:  “If member of ‘DB Admins’ then permit access to Oracle database admin console”  or “If member of ‘HR’ then permit access to Workday HR application admin interface”.

This is a much more scalable approach than trying to define access “locally” on each resource.  It’s also far easier to audit.

The downside of this approach is that AD group membership accuracy becomes critical, because everything depends on it.  Put a person in the wrong group, or forget to remove him when he leaves, and you can have real risks as well as serious audit findings if the mistakes are exposed.

Most companies still handle AD membership changes manually. A ticket is opened to add or remove someone from AD group(s), and then Security or AD Operations makes the changes in AD and closes the ticket. This creates two problems: delays waiting for the manual process, and the possibility of the admins making a mistake (or possibly never even doing the update at all).

One organization recently experienced these problems twice and the second time it led to an audit finding – all because a person was put into the wrong AD group, granting them access they should not have had.  In fact, the problem was actually discovered during an audit that included a random check of AD group membership accuracy.

Automation can clearly help with this problem. If you automate the translation of the ticket to actual AD changes, not only do you speed things up, but you also avoid costly mistakes. You’ll also maintain a solid audit trail of changes independent of AD administration.

Ayehu is well positioned to deliver this automation, particularly because of our seamless integrations with AD and ServiceNow (just to name a few). You can view a comprehensive list of all available integrations here.

If your team is ready to give up the daily grind and associated risk that comes along with Active Directory management, automation is the ideal solution. See it in action here or contact us at 1-800-652-5601 to start automating today!

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Which IT Jobs Will Survive Automation?

Which IT Jobs Will Survive Automation?Automation brings a host of benefits to businesses, including improved efficiency, elimination of errors, reduced costs and enhanced productivity (just to name a few). As this technology is finding its way into more and more industries, however, it has brought with it a growing concern that human workers will inevitably become obsolete. We’ve touched on this many times in the past, sharing our vision that while automation will, indeed, make some jobs redundant, it will simultaneously create opportunities.

But where will those opportunities lie? And which roles are most likely to remain once the dust settles? In the absence of a crystal ball, projections are being made about which IT jobs will survive (and possibly even thrive) in the wake of the automation age. Let’s take a look at a few of the careers that experts believe will be future-proof.

  • Product developers
  • Data scientists/analysts/visualizers
  • AI/robotics leads
  • Information security analysts
  • Mobile engineers
  • Gamification designers
  • QA analysts
  • Network Engineers
  • Research and development
  • IoT managers

How to stay relevant….

So, what if you’re not particularly skilled in any of these areas? What if you work in IT, but your role involves many of the tasks and workflows that are quickly being shifted to automation? Will you find yourself without a job in the not-so-distant future? That will ultimately depend on the steps you take to remain relevant.

There are plenty of options for those whose roles are being made redundant. For instance, you could take this as an opportunity to increase your skillset and learn what’s necessary to manage the automation being implemented. Many organizations are already investing in upskilling programs to keep their engaged, skilled and motivated mid-skilled employees onboard. Or, you could take things a step further, building on your foundation of basic IT knowledge and pursuing additional education to transition into one of the above careers.

For lower-skilled individuals, such as those in entry-level IT positions, there will be other opportunities in various industries to apply the on-the-job knowledge already gained and remain employed. For instance, experience in IT process can be leveraged for roles like data experts, quality analysts, logistics or even technical writing. Many industries, such as banking, transportation and health care and, of course, startups are always looking for qualified individuals who are capable of adapting and applying their IT skills to help them achieve their business objectives.

In short, while automation will definitely change the current IT landscape as we know it today, with the right attitude along with a willingness to adapt and learn, even those whose livelihood seems threatened by the adoption of intelligent technology can make it through unscathed.

Want to learn more about how automation and orchestration is revolutionizing the way businesses operate? Watch it in action with a live demo. Click here to take Ayehu for a test drive today!

IT Process Automation Survival Guide