4 Things CIOs Should Know About Adopting Intelligent Automation

4 Things CIOs Should Know About Adopting Intelligent AutomationWe recently shared five critical reasons why every CIO should consider intelligent automation. But recognizing the value-added benefits this technology has to offer and actually taking the necessary steps to implement it at scale are two entirely different things. In order to get it right the first time and achieve rapid and sustainable return on your investment, there are certain things you should know heading into such a project. Let’s take a look.

Understand what’s most important to your organization.

In the IT realm, a lot of time is spent quieting squeaky wheels and putting out fires. As CIO, one of your most important tasks is determining whether those wheels and fires represent a potential to introduce intelligent automation.

Rather than reactively responding to complaints, proactively evaluate where and how automation could make the biggest impact, such as on productivity or customer experience, and build your deployment around those high-return areas. This will take much of the heat of your busy IT team and produce savings that can then be utilized to fund other value-added projects.

Know what intelligent automation tools are available to you.

As a key decision maker for your organization, it’s important to gain a clear understanding of the different types of automation tools that are on the market today, as well as which are mature enough to be quickly and seamlessly deployed into production. Get to know the difference between robotic process automation (RPA) and cognitive software. The former enables rules-based automation while the latter is intelligent with machine learning capability.

While both categories are beneficial, intelligent (cognitive) automation is far more advanced, providing capabilities for processing massive amounts of unstructured data, identifying patterns, understanding complex processes and predicting outcomes based on previous scenarios. Intelligent automation will evolve and improve on itself over time, something that RPA does not do. Recognizing and fully understanding these key differences is an essential part of choosing the right automation platform.

Determine how deployment will work.

If you approach automation from a singular solution, such as reducing the number of man hours a certain process requires, not only will the return you get be modest at best, but deployment will likely end up being a much longer, more arduous and more frustrating experience. Instead, shift your thinking to an end-to-end approach. Ask yourself how intelligent automation can be deployed on a larger, more holistic scale. That’s where the real value and return will lie.

Bear in mind, also, that the traditional ways IT leaders evaluate their technology budgets employ a more functional perspective. Most intelligent automation opportunities, however, are naturally end-to-end. As such, the traditional mechanisms of evaluation will not be capable of revealing and unleashing the true potential of intelligent automation.

Focus on process design and documentation.

Implementing intelligent automation involves a lot more than simply plugging technology in place of human workers. It will inevitably generate entirely new questions, particularly as they relate to process design. To achieve maximum impact, taking an intentional view of organizational business processes is strongly recommended.

Keep in mind, too, that there will be a certain degree of institutional knowledge loss as automation begins to replace humans in the day-to-day tasks and workflows. This loss of skills or knowledge may be ultimately cost you some of your workforce, which is why it’s important to have good process documentation in place beforehand.

To experience intelligent automation for yourself and begin the journey toward a more optimized, self-driving organization, request your free product demo today.

EBOOK: HOW TO MEASURE IT PROCESS AUTOMATION RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

The Truth About Self-Service Automation

The truth about self-service automationBy now you’ve probably heard of self-service automation, but you might be surprised at how often you’ve personally encountered it in your day to day life. In fact, if you’ve ever used an ATM to withdraw cash, rung up your groceries at the self-checkout line of your local supermarket, or ordered takeout online, you’ve experienced self-service automation up close and personal.

From a business perspective – especially in terms of IT – self-service automation can dramatically increase efficiency and improve productivity levels across the board. Yet, despite these benefits, many organizations are still somewhat hesitant about embracing it for themselves. Much of this is due to many common myths that are still being perpetuated. Let’s take a look at a few of these misconceptions and the real truth behind them.

Misconception: Self-service automation is too expensive.

Reality: While automation certain requires some type of investment and ongoing upkeep, the costs associated with implementing self-service automation are well offset by the savings it affords. To determine the ROI of self-service, simply calculate how much money your company is paying for IT personnel to do routine manual tasks, such as password resets. Shifting that process to the end-user would be much more cost-effective in the long run.

Misconception: Self-service automation will replace human workers.

Reality: While moving to a more self-sufficient business model certainly does change the duties and roles of IT personnel, it doesn’t necessarily negate the need for human intervention. To the contrary, by enabling the end-user to handle manual tasks, it’ll free up talented IT workers so they can continue their education and apply their skills to more important business matters.

Misconception: Self-service automation removes all control from IT.

Reality: Not every self-service policy is fully automated. In fact, if preferred, the process can be set up to incorporate human input at any point during a particular workflow if desired. For instance, certain requests can be submitted by the end-user, which can either trigger a partially automated workflow or be escalated for remote approval via SMS, email or phone. This semi-automated approach still increases efficiency without giving up control.

Misconception: Implementing self-service automation is complicated and cumbersome.

Reality: One of the biggest hurdles many IT managers must overcome when it comes to adopting self-service automation is the misconception that it’s a pain to implement. To the contrary, with the right tool, the process can be quick and painless. In fact, many companies are pleasantly surprised to learn that their automation project can be up and running in just minutes.

Are you guilty of falling for one or more of these misconceptions about self-service automation? Now that you know the truth, the time to start leveraging this powerful tool for your business is today. Click here to get started!

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

5 Cybersecurity Myths That Could Leave Your Organization Vulnerable

5 Cybersecurity Myths That Could Leave Your Organization VulnerableWhen it comes to protecting your organization from the ever-increasing, relentless onslaught of cybersecurity threats, it can be easy to wander down the wrong path. In many instances, well-intentioned but overworked and understaffed IT teams end up inadvertently placing their company at risk due to misinformation or false truths. Take a look at five of the biggest myths surrounding the topic of cybersecurity and see if you might be more vulnerable than you realize.

Myth #1 – External threats are the most dangerous.

Truth: Obviously there is a very real and very serious problem with cyber criminals today, but what many organizations fail to recognize is that internal parties are often the weakest link, whether it’s an employee who falls for a phishing email or a consultant who isn’t careful enough with network access. If you want to develop the strongest defense possible, your cybersecurity incident response plan must incorporate training, checks and balances that will keep everyone inside your company vigilant.

Myth #2 – Our patch management is sufficient enough.

Truth: You may feel your security team is at the top of their game, and they very well may be. The problem is, software and application vendors issue patches for vulnerabilities that are known. Unfortunately, there are a good number of vulnerabilities that either haven’t yet been discovered or haven’t yet been disclosed. In other words, it’s important to understand and acknowledge that despite your best efforts, you may be exposed without even realizing it. So, while patch management is certainly important, it cannot be the only component of your strategy.

Myth #3 – It’s all about prevention.

Truth: While it’s certainly critical to put the right measures in place to prevent incoming threats from being successful, it’s equally important to recognize that preventing every single attack simply isn’t possible. This is where many organizations get into trouble. They focus 100% of their efforts on monitoring and neglect the all-important step of remediation. The strongest cybersecurity incident response strategies include steps to quickly pinpoint, isolate and eradicated those attacks that manage to slip through undetected.

Myth #4 – We haven’t been compromised.

Truth: We touched on this in the previous point, but it’s so critical that it deserves its own section. The bulk of the damage that occurs due to cybersecurity incidents occurs not at the initial point of attack, but rather in the length of time it takes to realize the attack occurred. This can take days, weeks or even months. All the while, the hackers are free to wreak havoc within your network. Furthermore, in many cases, successful compromises are not even detected by the victim, but by an outside party. Being vigilant and leveraging automation technology to keep round-the-clock watch is essential.

Myth #5 – If and when we become compromised, we’ll be able to tell.

Truth: The average data breach can take up to six months before it is detected. Imagine how much damage could be done in that amount of time. That’s like giving free reign to criminals and allowing them to destroy systems, compromise applications, access and steal sensitive data and any host of other unsavory activities. Never assume that you’ll easily know when a breach occurs. Instead, operate under the assumption that you already have been and use technology to your fullest advantage to bridge the gap between human capability and the real and present dangers at hand.

Have you fallen victim to any of the above myths and misconceptions? If so, you could be inadvertently placing your organization at unnecessary risk of a serious and costly data breach. Protect your sensitive information and keep your network as safe as possible by incorporating automation technology into your cybersecurity incident response strategy. Try it free for 30 days.

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How to Bring IT Process Automation from Elementary to Exceptional

How to Bring IT Process Automation from Elementary to ExceptionalHave you already mastered IT process automation? Do you feel like, while automation has definitely made a difference in how your organization operates, there’s so much more that you’re not yet taking advantage of? If you’ve already automated most of all of the routine, manual tasks that once plagued your highly skilled IT workers, it’s time to bring your automation project to the next level. Here’s how you can do just that in just 6 simple steps.

Identify and assess current resources, processes and maturity levels.

Before you can embark on a more advanced IT process automation implementation you have to first identify your existing strengths and weaknesses. Does your current staff possess the skillset and bandwidth to be able to handle additional automation projects or will you need to seek external resources on an either temporary or permanent basis?

You’ll also need to pinpoint what specific processes and workflows you wish to envelope into the ITPA fold so that you can adequately plan accordingly.

Establish a dedicated team.

While the proposed automation projects will eventually impact not just everyone in the IT department, but also likely the entire organization, it will start with a dedicated team of experts who are handpicked and appointed to facilitate the initial project.

Begin by appointing an automation leader and then identify other key players who will contribute to the team. Obtaining support and buy-in from all directions, including executive management and front-line employees should also be a goal as ongoing cross-team and interdepartmental collaboration will be required in order for the project to be a success.

Achieve standardization wherever possible.

Successfully implementing a complex IT process automation initiative requires an environment in which there is a high degree of standardization. This is particularly important in IT infrastructures that are diverse, as the more intricate design will demand additional checks and balances to ensure that every step is executed properly and completed successfully.

Setting and maintaining standards in terms of devices and software configurations, as well as policies, documentation, approvals, etc. will facilitate smoother processes, fewer errors and a faster, more efficient processes overall. This will also reduce risk and lower costs.

Manage scope by keeping objectives focused and expectations set.

The key to a successful advanced ITPA rollout is establishing clear objectives while managing expectations. The goal is to use specific and measurable metrics to avoid the potential delays and other problems that arise when the scope is changed – that is, process steps are added, changed or removed or the overall objectives begin to evolve.

Specific and documented deliverables should be defined and agreed upon in advance and objectives should include such things as reduction in cost and workload, reduction in human dependency, enhanced/improved process integration, and overall improvement in operational efficiencies. Avoid setting unclear or overly ambitious goals or expectations that are unrealistic.

Control costs and identify quantifiable results.

Be careful not to underestimate the amount of investment that will be required in order to successfully achieve the goals of adopting advanced IT process automation. Remember that this investment will extend far beyond the simple purchase of an automation tool, especially given the increased complexity of an advanced initiative. There is also a cost associated with designing, planning and implementing the process, as well as maintaining it over time.

To account for this, all costs should be identified upfront and measured closely on an ongoing basis. To keep these costs as low as possible, the automation team should ensure that any and all basic tasks are automated first, standardize systems and processes wherever possible, carefully manage the expenses associated with implementation and proactively guard against scope changes.

Communicate value to key stakeholders.

Finally, to maintain the ongoing support of the IT process automation initiative (and any future ones), the actual ROI must be calculated and regularly communicated to the powers-that-be. This can be somewhat challenging, as much of the value of ITPA comes in the form of greater reliability, faster response times and enhanced efficiency levels – all of which can be difficult to quantify. Over time, however, the actual monetary ROI of automation can and will be measurable and reportable.

Some of the critical metrics used to measure and quantify ROI include:

  • Time to complete the task or process manually
  • Cost of labor required to complete the task or process manually
  • Costly problems associated with manual tasks or processes (such as human error or system/business downtime)
  • Costs in time and resources for ancillary activities associated with manual tasks or processes (i.e. documentation for audit compliance)

Gaining a better understanding of all the costs associated with manual workflow will allow you to specifically calculate the savings achieved through automation, which will help support ongoing and future ITPA initiatives.

Without question, adopting a more advanced degree of IT Process automation can and will help bring your organization to an entirely new level, but getting there can seem nothing short of overwhelming. By following the six steps above, you’ll be able to adequately plan, implement and achieve all of your team’s automation goals on time, on budget and without issue.

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IT Process Automation Survival Guide




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