4 Ways Intelligent Technology is Transforming IT Support

The IT help desk, as it once existed, has forever changed. Driving this revolution has been the changing demands and expectations of digital customers. Simply put, intelligent technology is revolutionizing the world of IT support and service. These newer and more complex requirements of digital customers (which include employees) are causing IT teams to re-evaluate what they have to offer in terms of support and capabilities. If your organization or team is at a similar crossroads, here are four key areas on which to focus. 

IT Support Strategies

Regardless of whether your IT service desk happens to support a company of ten or a multi-location, enterprise level organization, the time to start thinking about intelligent technology is now. A great place to begin is by uncovering how employees have evolved into so-called “digital consumers” and, more significantly, how this evolution has changed the expectations they have of IT support.

To do this, evaluate the gap between your current situation and those changing expectations. In particular, look at your current channels of support. Poll employees to determine whether they feel the current channels they are using to contact IT support are sufficient and effective. Figure out what channels they might prefer. Also, examine common customer use cases and needs. Then, use this information to develop a strategy that incorporates newer, more innovative support channels (like self-service chatbots and virtual support agents).

Operating Models

How does your IT service desk engage with customers? The focus here should be more on this approach as opposed to best practices and ITSM processes. To bring your operating models in line with intelligent technology, ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • Is your approach to IT support adequately in line with your realistic business needs and expectations? For example, what is the overall goal? Cutting IT support costs? Minimizing lost time and revenue at a business level? Understand your objectives and align your strategy accordingly.
  • Do your IT support agents understand “personas” of its customers (i.e. the common characteristics and behaviors they share)? Do your operational practices accurately reflect these personas?
  • How does your IT support desk measure success? Is it primarily related to how the IT service desk has helped and/or improved customer and business operations?

Once you’ve answered these questions, use the data you’ve gathered to identify any and all disconnects between IT support status quo and the actual needs and desires of both the customer as well as the business as a whole. These gaps are where changes must be made.

IT Support Tools

Without question, the future of IT support will rely heavily on automation. In fact, intelligent technology has already made it possible for organizations to augment their human workforce by leveraging ever-improving AI capabilities. With these advanced technologies deployed in the right areas, IT support teams are able to more effectively deliver on the increasing demands of digital customers.

Whether your service desk is already leveraging virtual support agents or is planning to in the near future, it’s important to ask the right questions. In particular:

  • Are your virtual agents being used to their fullest potential?
  • Are your virtual support agents being employed at the right points during the customer journey?
  • Do end-users feel that the VSAs improve their support experience?
  • Have you established a robust and accurate knowledge-base from which the VSAs can draw?

This last point is key, as virtual IT support will only be as good as the data behind it. That being said, creating an environment that blends high-tech automation with the human touch of IT support agents will position your organization for optimal success.

IT Support Staff

The question of whether human service desk agents will be assisted, augmented and possibly even replaced by intelligent technology is no longer an “if,” but rather a “when.” Getting employees onboard with the concept of virtual support isn’t always easy, especially those L1 agents who view automation as a threat to their livelihood. But it’s essential for an organization of today to remain competitive tomorrow.

Educate your IT support team on the value and benefits that AI has to offer. Make it about them and not just the company – how AI will make their lives easier, enable them to perform more meaningful work, provide an opportunity to learn new skills and make themselves more marketable, etc.. And start investing in your current workforce. Identify champions of the cause and reskill them so they’ll be ready to face the digital future with confidence. Get them excited about the possibilities that lie ahead!

There is no longer any doubt. IT support as we know it today is changing. Only those organizations that are willing to adapt and evolve their strategies, models, technologies and people alongside those changes will make it through unscathed.

Want to experience the power of intelligent technology for your IT support team? Try Ayehu NG absolutely free for 30 full days. Click here to download your free trial.

5 Ways to Level Up Your Service Desk with Chatbots

5 Ways to Level Up Your Service Desk with Chatbots

Pull up any IT related website and you’ll undoubtedly see dozens of headlines dedicated to artificial intelligence, machine learning and chatbots. Some of what’s being published relates to the threat of job replacement. And while that’s certainly true to some degree, AI isn’t something to fear – even for those who work in IT support. To the contrary, the service desk is ripe with opportunity to leverage chatbots to benefit both the end user as well as the support team. Let’s take a look at a few ways this technology can be used in tandem with the service desk.

Human Resource Optimization

Whether it’s resource planning or the redirection of work away from the service desk, AI can be used to make smarter use out of service desk personnel. For instance, machine learning algorithms are capable of analyzing patterns to predict future workload and plan staffing needs accordingly. Routine IT support tasks, such as password resets and remote restarts, can be shifted to chatbots, essentially supplementing (not replacing) help desk workers.

Improved Decision-Making

Decision support is another powerful way AI technology can aid the help desk. From low level automation of workflows to the prediction of future trends in the IT service realm, such as the demand for new or different IT services, the sky is really the limit with how this can be applied. Predictive analytics can even be used to forecast future customer satisfaction levels based on the impact of various factors that occurred in the past.

Self-Service IT Support

There are many different use cases, including intelligent search, through which machine learning algorithms apply meaning and context and draw from previous search successes to deliver more accurate search results. Intelligent autoresponders can provide automated resolution to service tickets without the need for human intervention. And, of course, the use of chatbots to provide a more engaging IT support interface using artificial intelligence and automated solutions. This not only takes much of the heat off of busy IT professionals, but it also empowers end-users and boosts productivity.

Proactive Service Improvement

In addition to identifying and addressing common IT problems that are occurring presently, predictive analytics can also be utilized to project possible high-impact issues that may occur in the future but have not yet been realized. This enables IT support staff to take proactive measures in reducing the risks of those possible future issues, often stopping them before they occur. And thanks to the technology’s advanced learning capabilities, it can improve on its own, getting better over time.

Improved Customer Experience

Each of the four points above contribute to a better customer – or in this case, end-user – experience. From better solutions to faster, more efficient support to self-service options (including chatbots) to proactive problem resolution and more. AI will undoubtedly continue to play a critical role in IT support’s customer experience journey, improving as time goes on.

These are, of course, just a handful of the many ways the service desk can leverage AI technology. There will be many other opportunities to use chatbots in the not-so-distant future. The most important thing to note is that artificial intelligence technology is already here and those in IT support that are currently using it will remain a step ahead of the competition.

Don’t get left behind. Schedule a free product demo of Ayehu today and learn how you can leverage chatbots to bring your service desk to the next level!

How to Scale Incident Remediation with Intelligent Automation

Author: Guy Nadivi

Automation has helped many organizations weather the pandemic, and consequently become even more resilient. Now, IT departments looking for next-level results, are scaling up their automation efforts to increase those gains. Ayehu’s platform enables scalable intelligent automation by powering unattended incident remediation, an operational mode which can result in huge cost savings.

What’s driving the need for that scalability? Well, one obvious driver is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many organizations today are forced to have their staff work from home for basic safety reasons, and that’s making it difficult to perform on-site IT operations that require human involvement.

BTW – These headlines below are all recent. In fact, three of them are just from last month.

It’s not just COVID-19 that’s driving automation plans though. A bit over a year ago before the pandemic, between October 23 – November 7, 2019, Gartner conducted a survey of IT leaders and asked “What are your organization’s investment plans for the following practice areas?” You can see all the practice areas given as choices at the bottom of each column where they’re listed as the column label.

The #1 practice area where investments were expected to increase was Infrastructure and Operations (IandO) automation. 42% of organizations already had plans to start investing there before the pandemic.

That’s TWICE as much as the next closest practice area – cloud management. This sort of makes you wonder why the cloud is getting all the love these days when automation is clearly where organizations planned on spending more of their money.

There’s another driver for automation though, and that’s simply the amount of work your IT operations staff are struggling to keep up with.

Just maintaining the status quo is overwhelming them. There are simply too many incidents, requests, and projects that IT Operations is responsible for, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased their burden.

If you’ve ever sat in on our webinars then you already know we’re pretty adamant about reminding everyone that people don’t scale very well. Even the very best IT Operations workers can only do so much. At some point, and that point is pretty much right now, automation has got to do more and more of the repetitive, tedious, laborious tasks all this growth in demand for services is necessitating. Senior IT executives realize that too, and it’s unquestionably influencing their push to invest in automation.

Now that I’ve made the argument in favor of automating, let’s talk about scaling up that automation.

In our experience, one of the most common tasks organizations try to automate is active directory password resets. This is a great use case of course, because Gartner estimates that as much as 40% of all calls and tickets to your service desk are password reset requests.

But there are many more great use cases to automate.

On our website, Ayehu keeps track of the highest value automation use cases with the broadest applicability to our customers. As you can see, there are actually many great uses cases for automation that apply to just about every organization. Even this though, is just a fraction of what can be automated.

It turns out that almost everything in IT can be automated. There are not only a ton of use cases common to all organizations which can be automated, but there are virtually an infinite number of use cases that are less common and perhaps even unique just to your organization. Well guess what? The vast majority of those can probably also be automated, and it’s much less complicated than you might expect.

The big takeaway here is if you’re ready to scale up incident remediation, and other IT Operations tasks, then it’s never been easier to do so with automation.

This is why it’s starting to make sense to take an automation first approach to IT Operations. Let the software do the robotic stuff so you can scale up incident remediation, and let your staff focus on the more strategic and challenging stuff. This not only greatly improves the productivity of IT Operations, it increases staff morale, and lets them contribute a much higher level of value to the organization.

When you begin looking at IT Operations from an automation first perspective, you’ll quickly make an important realization.

Not only can you eliminate a huge burden of manual work off of IT Operations, but thanks to chatbots, you can also empower your end users to initiate and fulfill many of their own incident remediation needs and service requests without any IT Operations involvement.

This is a big deal, making chatbots a huge enabler for scaling up incident remediation with intelligent automation.

Once you create a self-service channel for your end users, you can redirect a huge volume of traffic away from IT Operations in general, and your service desk in particular.

Your value propositions here now go beyond just scaling up your incident remediation capacity.

Lowering the volume of calls and requests can also reduce costs, slash MTTR by accelerating resolution times of incidents and requests, liberate IT staff from doing tedious work which frees them up for more important tasks, and last but not least, raises customer satisfaction ratings, an increasingly critical KPI for IT Operations.

One more thing to consider. Not every organization uses chatbots, for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here. If chatbots aren’t part of your organization’s solution stack, but you still want to provide your users with self-service capabilities, then Ayehu NG can provide you with a fantastic alternative – a self-service portal.

Ayehu NG v1.8 and higher includes functionality to enable creation of self-service forms that end users can interface with to fulfill their own requests or remediate their own incidents. The self-service form is actually a natural extension of what we already do, automate routine IT tasks. Like chatbots, the self-service portal will allow you to deflect a large amount of ticket volume away from your service desk.

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

Taken together, automation, chatbots, and self-service portals will help your organization dramatically scale up its incident remediation capacity.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing for yourself how easily you can scale up your organization’s incident remediation with intelligent automation, please visit our website and download your very own free 30-day trial version today by clicking here.

Essential Use Cases to Jump Start Your IT Process Automation

At any given organization, there are always many, many manual IT processes that make great candidates for automation. From time to time though, we run across some process automation candidates that deliver noticeably higher ROI. As people started working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and more staff needed to start using ZOOM, we stumbled upon a manual process that really stood out as an excellent use case to help jump start automation at organizations.

Ayehu keeps track of the highest value automation use cases with the broadest applicability to our customers. We display those on our website where you can drill down and get more information on each one. That list is updated from time to time when we come across great new uses of Ayehu to automate toil out of a process. The use case we’ll be talking about today is one of those examples, and we think you’ll be intrigued by how it involves Ayehu NG tying together ServiceNow, ZOOM, Active Directory, and a chatbot in a very timely way.

We’re just about 6 months or so into the pandemic, so scenes like this ought to be pretty familiar to most everyone by now.

A lot of you, maybe even all of you, are working from home. Being remote and away from the office necessitated a big shift in how employees, contractors, and staff interacted with each other.

That left the door wide open for a company called ZOOM to step in and fill that interaction gap previously provided by the in-office experience. So suddenly, it seems the entire world is using ZOOM.

BTW – One way you can tell a product has really entrenched itself in the minds of consumers is when its name becomes a verb. Right?

You don’t just hail a ride-share to the coffee shop, you Uber to Starbucks.

You don’t just edit that image, you Photoshop it.

And now, we don’t just put together a web conference, we setup a Zoom call.

Now in case you’re unaware just how much Zoom usage has increased; I’d like to share a few metrics with you that might leave you stunned.

In the past, ZOOM was criticized for being a platform only small organizations used. In their financials, they report on how many customers with more than 10 employees are using their service.

A little over a year ago at the end of Q1 2019, they had 59,400 customers with more than 10 employees

One year later at the end of Q1 2020, they had 265,400. That’s a growth rate of 347%!

It’s not just smaller firms using ZOOM though. There’s a banking firm that deployed around 175,000 new ZOOM seats in Q1 and a global law firm called Baker McKenzie with over 6,000 attorneys worldwide adopted ZOOM as well.

Here’s another great visualization of ZOOM’s growth.

Back in 2013, ZOOM had just 3 million daily meeting participants.

That’s grown dramatically, and as of the end of March 2020, they now have 300 million daily meeting participants. I’m betting that number will go up when their Q2 financials are released.

Here’s the metric that made my jaw drop to the floor.

In January 2020, the number of meeting minutes ZOOM’s customers were consuming on an annualized basis was 100 Billion. That’s right 100 Billion meeting minutes.

Can you see the “bar” representing that number? No? Let’s zoom in, no pun intended.

100 Billion meeting minutes is that razor thin sliver of a yellowish vertical line that’s thinner than the grey border representing the y-axis of this bar graph. Why does 100 Billion meeting minutes look almost invisible on this bar graph?

Because just 3 months later in April 2020, ZOOM was on a run rate to consume 2 Trillion annualized meeting minutes (see previous graph). So while 100 Billion may sound like a lot, it’s a drop of water compared to the ocean that is 2 Trillion. This is a growth rate that must’ve left their DevOps team gasping for air the entire first quarter of 2020.

And what has all that growth in customers, meeting participants, and meeting minutes done? It’s led to a lot more of this.

It seems like ZOOM is everywhere and everyone is using it all the time.

That in turn has led to a problem for IT Operations in provisioning ZOOM accounts efficiently, while also documenting their distribution and assignment.

So I’d like to give you an overview of the workflow powering the use case we think is a great way to jump start your IT process automation efforts. It highlights Ayehu NG’s ability to be that single pane of glass tying together so many different pieces in your environment.

It’s going to start with an end user sending a request through Slack that they would like a ZOOM account.

The request goes directly to Ayehu, which looks up the manager that user directly reports to on Active Directory.

When the manager is identified, Ayehu passes along the user’s request to the manager, and awaits an approval or a denial.

In our use case, the manager approves the request, which BTW – is all done through email.

Ayehu then does three things:

  • It provisions an account on ZOOM
  • Sends the user an update via Slack that their request for a ZOOM account was approved
  • It also emails the user their new ZOOM credentials

Finally, Ayehu opens a ticket in ServiceNow, and documents every aspect of this request, automatically creating a complete record of everything that transpired.

That’s it. If you wanted the whole thing to run completely on auto-pilot, without requiring manager approval, you could easily configure it to do that too.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG to easily provision ZOOM accounts for your end users, download your very own free 30-day trial version today by clicking here.

How to Deploy Virtual Support Agents in 5 Steps

How to Deploy Virtual Support Agents in 5 Steps

Intelligent bot technology is disrupting almost every industry, with everyone from Verizon and Capital One to NASA jumping onboard. But while artificial intelligent is certainly not a new concept, developing and implementing virtual support agents in a practical and profitable way is still in its relative infancy. Unlike other, more established technologies, there aren’t necessarily any real standards for using bots. Thankfully, there are things we can learn from those already paving the way. Here are five real-world tips to help your company bring a VSA initiative to fruition.

Identify audience and need.

For VSAs to produce ROI, they must solve a specific problem (or set of problems) and/or deliver real, measurable improvement (such as with staff efficiency or productivity). As such, the initial phase of your virtual support agent strategy should involve identifying who you are trying to help and exactly why. The narrower you can get with this step, the better the outcome. Keep in mind you may have multiple iterations of the same engine, based on the user you are targeting.

Select a platform.

Once you have a clearer picture of your target user and target problem, the next step should involve choosing a platform through which the bots will be built and managed. This is the phase of the project that can overwhelm some decision makers. The good news is, there are platforms (like Ayehu) that are so easy to use and quick to implement that you can be up and running in mere minutes – no coding or scripting required. Even if you have a highly talented IT team, this would be the best case scenario.

Define your measure(s) of success.

One of the biggest challenges of virtual support agent (and artificial intelligence in general) is proving financial value. The easiest and most straightforward way to approach this is to determine as early as possible which metrics matter the most. What type of ROI do those in the C-suite and/or other stakeholders expect out of this initiative? Bear in mind, also, that some measures of success aren’t as easy to quantify, but are just as – if not more – important, such as end-user engagement levels.

Start fast – don’t wait for perfection.

Many people make the mistake of trying to make things perfect before rolling out their project. Instead, the focus should be on building fast and executing fast, even if that involves some degree of failure in the process. Take, for instance, NASA, which approaches each VSA initiative as a small startup with the goal of launching as quickly as possible. If you cannot iterate that fast, optimize the process as much as possible. For example, while Verizon was developing their Mix and Match bot, the consumer plan was being developed simultaneously. This made the actual rollout more seamless and successful.

Adjust and learn continuously.

A virtual support agent strategy isn’t something you set and forget. There is also the need for continuous adaptations and ongoing training to consider. Artificial intelligence is a fluid technology, which means your bots should continue to learn and improve over time. There will almost always be something to add, whether it’s a new term or a tweak in “personality” to better serve end-users. The main thing to remember is that VSA development is an ongoing process and must be treated as such if it is to be successful.

Want to give our intelligent automation a test drive and put the power of virtual support agents to work for you? Try it free for 30 days. Click here to launch your trial today.

Hired! How to Put Digital Labor to Work for Your Service Desk

How to Put Digital Labor to Work for Your Service Desk

Author: Guy Nadivi

With the proliferation of all kinds of bots the last few years, “digital labor” is a term you’re going to be hearing more and more about going forward.

Lee Coulter, who chairs the IEEE Working Group on Standards in Intelligent Process Automation says that “digital labor” is really just another term for “intelligent automation”. However, digital labor represents a paradigm shift that’s disruptive to the status quo. From what we’ve seen so far, you can expect that it will change how we work. It will change the kinds of work we do, and it will also create enormous new opportunities for cost cutting, as well as career opportunities for those who will be working with and managing digital labor.

A few years ago, an analyst at HfS Research coined the phrase “Welcome to Robotistan”, which referred to a corporate world where humans intermingled with virtual FTE’s, primarily in the form of bots that could take on the boring, repetitive tasks so many humans despise doing. With the proliferation of automation the last few years, that vision has turned into a reality, perhaps quicker than many thought it would.

Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing interest really skyrocket from organizations wanting to deploy chatbots to relieve humans of robotic-type tasks, and free them up for more important things, like for example, reshaping the digital workplace to accommodate all the people now working from home.

The worldwide chatbot market continues to experience extraordinary growth. According to Business Insider, in 2019 the market was worth a bit more than $2 ½ Billion, but they’re forecasting that by 2024 it will approach $10 Billion! That’s a compound annual growth rate of over 29% a year, which by any measure is very impressive.

Last year Salesforce.com released a major report entitled the “State of Service”. In this study they found that nearly a quarter of their respondents (23%) currently use AI chatbots and nearly another third (31%) said they plan to use them within 18 months.

That represents a projected growth rate of 136% in the use of AI chatbots from Spring of 2019 to early Autumn of 2020. Another clear indication of serious growth!

As we’ve often said at Ayehu, the biggest factor driving enterprise adoption of AI chatbots is probably service desk Cost Per Ticket.

The generally-accepted industry figure for the average cost of an L1 service desk ticket is $20. Enterprises deploying AI chatbots to enable self-help or self-service capabilities for their end users are finding that they can drive down the cost of those L1 tickets to just $4. Tell a CIO, CTO, or any senior IT Executive that there’s a way to reduce their single biggest expenditure on IT Support by 80%, and they’re likely going to be very interested in hearing more.

However, AI chatbots with automation that shift ticket requests to end-users for self-service can do much more for the Service Desk than just lower ticket volume and costs.

When AI chatbots are deployed as digital labor, service desks can also:

  • Slash MTTR by accelerating resolutions of incidents and requests
  • Liberate IT staff from doing tedious work and free them up for more important tasks
  • Raise customer satisfaction ratings, an increasingly critical KPI for IT Operations

Last year, Ayehu conducted an inquiry with a Gartner VP focused on the AI chatbot market, and he shared with us what they believe the biggest value propositions of digital labor are, based on an organization’s AI chatbot maturity level.

If your organization is interested in the technology but hasn’t deployed anything yet, in other words you’re in pre-production or your plans are still on the drawing board, then your biggest value proposition from digital labor is going to be cost reduction and deflection rates.

If your organization already has AI chatbot solutions in place, then your #1 benefit from adding automation and turning that AI chatbot into true digital labor will be increased customer satisfaction.

Regardless of whether you’re in pre-production and have yet to deploy digital labor, or have rolled out chatbots and are looking to add automation, here are some questions you should ask yourself and have answers to in order to guide your enterprise to the best possible outcomes.

What would AI chatbots mean inside of my enterprise?

How would they change business processes? How would they impact our cost structure? How would they increase our capacity?

How do I want our people to be able to work with digital labor?

This is another important question to ask in order to clearly demarcate where digital labor ends, and escalation to humans begins.

How do I want our people and digital labor to engage with customers?

This is actually important to answer whether the customers are internal or external.

There are a lot of important questions to ask your digital labor vendor as well before deploying, but here are 3 that really stand out.

What kind of scalability would an AI chatbot be capable of inside of my enterprise?

How many users can it handle? How many inquiries can it handle simultaneously? This is very important to know beforehand.

How easy is it to use?

How hard is it going to be to configure the AI chatbot for my enterprise? Do I need expensive highly-skilled programmers, or will one of my junior-level sys admins be enough?

Finally, how many other systems can I integrate my digital labor with?

The number of platforms your digital labor can connect to will dictate how much of your workload it can automate for you.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG as the automation platform that powers your digital labor efforts, download your very own free 30-day trial version today from the link below:

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