6 Steps for Bringing Your AI Project from Concept to Reality

There is often a disconnect between proof of concept testing of AI, which typically occurs in a controlled environment, and applications that occur in the real world. External forces, like variable conditions, integrations with existing workflows and actual time requirements commonly lead to a breakdown of these proof of concept solutions. In fact, one recent study by the International Institute for Analytics revealed that fewer than 10% of artificial intelligence pilot projects actually reach full-scale production. To avoid this same disappointment with your own AI projects, here are a few expert tips.

Have a plan for data collection.

In order for artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver measurable value, it must have access to quality, relevant data. Without this, the project will inevitably fail. An important point to keep in mind, also, is that the more diverse and closer to actual real-world conditions your dataset is, the greater your chances of success. Dedicate an adequate amount of time and resources to this step, as it will give your project a solid foundation.

Anticipate risks and dependencies in advance.

In order to bring your AI project to life, you must thoroughly and as accurately as possible identify the various conditions the system will encounter. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to solve for every one of them, however, there will be at least some that you can prepare to overcome in advance. Make a list of all the risks and potential issues you can foresee and then rank those risks in order of priority, focusing on the most impactful first. The earlier you can remove a potential roadblock, the smoother your project will go.

Determine your milestones and metrics for success.

One of the biggest reasons AI projects fail is because they don’t effectively solve the target problems. This can stem from misunderstandings and miscommunications, and can result in a tremendous waste of time and money. To avoid this, make sure that there is a clear and accurate definition of exactly what the goals are. Set specific milestones and metrics that you will use to measure progress. Include relevant stakeholders in this step to ensure that everyone is on the same page and nothing is ambiguous before moving forward.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

Avoid getting caught up in the trap of trying to solve problems that have already been solved. While the goal is certainly to adopt AI at an organization-wide level, that doesn’t mean every task, process or workflow is a good candidate for automation. Start instead with low-hanging fruit that can produce quick and measurable wins and focus on a solution that will allow you to use what’s already available to create a harmonious, interconnected infrastructure. Remove silos wherever possible.

Emphasize value over accuracy.

While maximum accuracy is always the goal, 100% is rarely achievable. It can be helpful to go into the project with the right focus: on delivering as much business value as possible, as opposed to attempting to achieve perfection. Understand that you will be able to tweak and make improvements along the way, so it’s ok to go from test environment to live environment, even if the solution isn’t one hundred percent perfect. If you’re not realistic in your goals and expectations, you’ll never get off the ground.

Don’t leave humans out of the loop.

Despite the incredible advancements in AI technology capabilities, some things are still better left to humans. Avoid being lulled into the idea that your workforce is suddenly expendable just because you’ve got some robots waiting in the wings. To the contrary, successful AI projects integrate a balance of human and digital workers. Besides, who better to identify areas of opportunity where intelligent automation could add value than the people who are working in the trenches day in and day out.

The last point we will leave you with is that developing and implementing an AI solution is a process. If you want to achieve long-term, sustainable success, you need to think of it more as a marathon than a sprint.

Your journey to a self-driving enterprise begins here. Claim your free 30-day trial of Ayehu today.

The Importance of Reskilling Employees for the Future of Work

The Importance of Reskilling Employees for the Future of WorkA few months ago, nobody could have imagined a rampant virus shutting down the world and bringing the global economy to its collective knees. Yet, here we are, several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and most of us still trying to adjust to this sudden and severe change to life as we know it. Organizations around the world have been forced to adapt to a new way of work, whether having to remain operational with a reduced workforce, quickly having to roll-out work-from-home strategies or some combination of both.

As the dust begins to settle, however, a new business need has begun to emerge. Business leaders everywhere are now recognizing the critical importance of being prepared and planning ahead. And one of the most effective ways to do so is to focus on reskilling employees to get them future-ready. Likewise, those individuals who find themselves unfortunately out of work due to the current crisis have the opportunity to position themselves as much more marketable and therefore more employable by learning and mastering new skills.

One of the biggest changes we are likely to see as the world returns to work is greater adoption of a hybrid workforce. That is, humans working alongside digital agents. Many organizations are expected to continue partial or possibly even entirely remote operations, especially after discovering that not only is work-from-home feasible, but it’s an incredibly efficient and cost-effective way to do business. Of course, this would not be possible without the right policies and technologies in place. That’s where reskilling comes into play.

Even before the current health crisis, innovative capabilities, like automation and artificial intelligence, were already causing a good amount of disruption to jobs and the skills human workers needed to know in order to remain employable. In fact, in 2017, McKinsey estimated that as much as 14 percent of the global workforce would either need to acquire new skills or change occupations by 2030 due to AI and automation. To put this into perspective, that’s some 375 million workers. Another recent McKinsey report revealed that 87% of executives said they were either expecting an increased skills gap in the near future or were already experiencing one.

This latest pandemic has brought this need to the forefront and made it much more urgent. Employees across almost every industry must find a way to adapt to the rapidly evolving conditions and organizations must figure out how to transition those workers into new roles and responsibilities. While the two go hand in hand, the “new normal” will ultimately be more about the role of AI and automation than it will about remote work. It will be about how business leaders across the board are able to retrain or upskill their existing workforce to prepare them for the post-pandemic reality.

To rise to this change, organizations must develop strategic talent strategies that include advancing and honing employees’ skills from a holistic standpoint. That means strengthening their digital capabilities as well as their cognitive, emotional and social skills. If there’s ever been a time for companies to commit to and invest in the education of their workers, it’s now. Focusing on this, along with investing in the right tools and technologies, will help bolster a company’s posture against future business disruptions.

Likewise, employees themselves should be taking this opportunity to further their skillsets and adapt to the changing landscape. Whether their employer is resistant to the topic of reskilling or they are one of the millions currently unemployed, individual workers would be wise to seek out available learning opportunities on their own. At a time when job security is virtually non-existent and the skills gap is widening, embracing intelligent automation will undoubtedly create opportunities for new positions in the future of work.

Whether you are an organization seeking to get ahead of the next potential crisis and strengthen your position in the marketplace of tomorrow or an ambitious individual looking to future-proof your career, Ayehu Automation Academy is a great place to start. Find out more about the academy and enroll yourself or your team today by clicking here. 

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The Secret to Creating an AI-Powered Organization (Hint: It’s Not Technology)

The Secret to Creating an AI-Powered OrganizationAsk most companies that market AI products what the key is to successful digital transformation, and chances are, the knee-jerk reaction of far too many will be “technology.” We’re certainly not going to say that technology doesn’t play a pivotal role. To the contrary, it’s essential. What we are proposing is that creating a self-driving, AI-powered organization takes much more than just cutting-edge tech. To position your business for success, here’s what else you’ll need to do.

Expand your knowledge base.

Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, if you’re not mindful, it can be remarkably easy to become stagnant and suddenly realize you’ve been left behind. Do you have to become an expert in every product, app or platform out there? Of course not. But, you do need to know just enough to be dangerous. What we mean by that expression is, you need to gain enough insight to be able to identify where and how technology will be most useful. From there, you can determine which technologies make the most sense from a logistical standpoint.

How should you expand your tech know-how? There are dozens of ways, and many of them are convenient and free. Take, for instance, the Ayehu Automation Academy. With this free online course, you can quickly comprehend and cultivate practical skills through a variety of interactive learning activities and develop a foundational understanding of automation technology.

Focus on soft-skills.

Recruiting for technology positions isn’t easy – especially when it comes to finding candidates skilled in the field of artificial intelligence. The good news is, tech skills aren’t the only qualifying factors for being successful. In fact, they’re not even in the top 5.

Think about it. If you’ve got intelligent automation to handle the grunt work (simple as well as complex), you don’t need the human equivalent to robots. You need people who are not only tech-savvy, but also possess the soft-skills that cannot be replicated by AI. Skills like empathy and creative thinking. You want right-brained individuals who can think outside the box and find new ways to extract value from the technology that’s available to them. This is true innovation.

Avoid tech overload.

With so much available tools, it can be tempting to use as many as possible. But while it’s entirely possible, and in many cases wise, to utilize a wide variety of tech tools for their various capabilities, doing so without a plan can actually harm, rather than help your organization.

For instance, if each department is using their own systems and these systems do not connect, you’ll end up with silos that work against instead of with one another. This can cause costly delays and errors. It can also overload your IT team and lead to burnout.

It’s fine to avail your company of technology, but be sure to do so in a measured, strategic manner that includes a plan for connecting everything onto one centralized dashboard. Specifically, seek out only tools that can be easily and seamlessly integrated so that you can maximize the benefits of all.

Building an AI-powered organization will become central to success in the digital age, but as with anything else, there’s a right way and a not-so-right way to go about it. Be careful not to get tunnel-vision and focus solely on technology as the solution. The ideal approach is one that marries digital with human workers and celebrates the unique and valuable capabilities of each.

Preparing for the Future with IT Process Automation

Preparing for the Future with IT Process AutomationAs organizations focus their attention on the future in an attempt to envision what that new normal will ultimately look like, IT process automation should begin to come into clearer focus than ever. Faced with the increasing challenge of managing mountains of data and maximizing uptime without bringing in additional human workers, businesses that are late to jump on the automation bandwagon will almost certainly fall behind. Organizations that prioritize the building of a digital workforce, on the other hand, have the ability to not only bridge the talent gap but also augment the skills of their existing personnel.

While some fear of AI taking over and replacing the human workforce still exists to a certain degree that fear is lessening – particularly as people begin to experience the tremendous benefits that come with working in tandem with digital coworkers. It doesn’t have to be one or another. In fact, to the contrary, while intelligent IT process automation is certain capable of carrying a significant portion of the workload, humans are still a necessary component – at least for the foreseeable future.

Part of what makes digital workers (aka IT process automation) so appealing is the ability to quickly and seamlessly build on additional capabilities. For instance, you can have the same automation platform assist human resources as well as the IT support desk simultaneously. The versatility and virtually endless workload capacity are inherently valuable on both a granular level as well as for the organization as a whole.

Increasing Demand for IT Process Automation

Despite the fact that unemployment has recently skyrocketed, the reality is, this situation is temporary. While recovering from the economic blow of the global pandemic will take time, many of those currently out of work will be hired back once things turn around. Likewise, a significant portion of the baby boomer generation is now heading toward retirement. This will inevitably bring us back to a shortage of skilled workers.

Meanwhile, organizations are under increasing pressure to keep operations going as smoothly and with as little disruption as possible. IT process automation can address these challenges, providing a safety net for short-staffed teams and a viable succession plan for when human workers begin dropping out of the workforce.

Merging Humans and Digital Workers

Those businesses with a cohesive strategy that utilizes both digital and human workers and relies on automation technologies will have the distinct advantage over those less forward-thinking. To achieve this balance, business leaders must ensure that human workers are not only aware but fully on-board with the evolution that is taking place. Remember – successful digital transformation is not about technology. It’s about business goals and strategic outcomes. Be sure the focus lies in the correct place.

Leverage IT process automation to handle the tasks, processes and workflows that will free up their human counterparts to be able to focus on more meaningful work. Begin by first automating the “low-hanging fruit,” which are smaller manual tasks that offer fast and measurable ROI. This will enable you to test, learn and optimize to achieve even more value in the future.

Keep in mind, of course, that the digital workforce requires structure and oversight, just like your human personnel. This is where the convergence of human and digital will really shine, as it opens the doors for ambitious employees to learn new skills and enhance their own value.

Over the coming years, we’ll undoubtedly see more organizations relying on IT process automation as an invaluable resource for maximizing efficiency and productivity, augmenting their workforce and ultimately strengthening their position in the marketplace.

Will you be among these front-runners? Get started with intelligent IT process automation today by launching your free 30-day trial of Ayehu.

4 Steps to Seamless Remote IT Operations

4 Steps to Seamless Remote IT OperationsWhile the world is slowly starting to focus on recovering from the Coronavirus outbreak, experts are predicting it could be months or even possibly years until we’re truly able to return to normal (or some semblance of the word). Business leaders are working tirelessly to quickly innovate in an attempt to mitigate their damages and remain as close to operational as possible.

This change has brought about the rapid adoption of remote working which, while a welcome move, introduces a variety of challenges. If you are facing this evolution in your own organization, here are four tips for navigating the transition smoothly.

Establish a strategy to monitor and manage endpoints remotely.

With some or possibly even all employees now working from home, organizations need a way to efficiently and effectively manage all of those endpoint devices. Remote monitoring is key, as it enables optimal control.

Remote endpoint management allows the IT team to seamlessly access devices and equipment so that, should any issues arise, they can be easily troubleshot for maximum uptime. Best of all, with remote endpoint management, IT techs can operate behind the scenes causing little to no disruption to the end-user. This helps to keep productivity high across the board.

Automate as many manual tasks and workflows as possible.

Running a busy IT operation is challenging enough under normal circumstances. Add in the rapid and, in many cases, unplanned-for transition to remote work and IT teams are really feeling the pressure. Even the most proficient organizations are capable of managing all of this manually. The good news is, there are a wide variety of tasks and workflows that can quickly and easily be handled by IT process automation.

Leveraging automation technology will take much of the stress and burden off your already overworked IT team. For best results, look for an automation and orchestration platform that comes with a large library of pre-built workflows and other resources for fastest time to value.

Develop and implement a backup and disaster recovery plan.

With everything else going on in the world (hello, global health and economic crisis!), the last thing your IT team needs to lose sleep over is the reliability of your organization’s backup systems. To avoid this, you need to develop and implement a sufficient strategy for business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR).

Again, IT process automation can be utilized for continuous monitoring and autonomous incident resolution, effectively meeting the backup demands of your organization while preventing downtime or data loss.

Put protections in place against cyber-attacks.

While everyone else is struggling to handle a global pandemic, the reality is, cyber-criminals are viewing this trying time as a golden opportunity to exploit unexpected and increasing vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity is one of the most critical components of establishing a successful work-from-home arrangement. Understand that attackers can and will be coming at your business from every direction, and will be doing so relentlessly.

Keeping up with these incidents manually isn’t just inefficient. It’s ineffective. To the contrary, to protect your assets, you must fight fire with fire. That is, leverage the same sophisticated technologies as those endeavoring to cause your business harm. IT process automation can help you stay a step ahead of your would-be attackers and prevent potential irreparable damage to your organization’s future.

One Final Thought…

As you work to implement these four steps, one final but highly critical thing to think about is the cohesiveness of your current IT infrastructure. If you’re operating on a number of disjointed solutions, you risk further burdening your IT team and increasing the risk of operational failure for your organization.

Ayehu NG is designed to facilitate centralized and efficient management of IT operations. It integrates seamlessly with all the most popular IT and security applications (ITSM, ITOM, NOC, SOC, AI, intelligent chatbots and messaging platforms) federating enterprise applications, streamlining automated processes.

Navigating through the turbulent waters of our current situation isn’t going to be easy, but with the right plan, tools and innovative technology, it’s possible for your business to emerge mostly unscathed when the dust ultimately settles.

Start your free 30-day trial of Auehu NG and get your remote IT operations up and running in as little as a day!

4 Tips to Improve Adoption of Self-Service Automation

4 Tips to Improve Adoption of Self-Service Automation

Many individuals (and even entire teams) mistakenly believe that self-service IT is something that threatens their livelihood. To the contrary, providing employees the control over their technology usage can make the job of IT much easier and more efficient. In other words, it’s a good thing, not something to fear and resist. So, how can you make the case for self-service intelligent automation, particularly given the current push to work-from-home due to COVID-19?

Focus on the needs of the end-user.

The first part of the process involves identifying what needs end-users face that the IT department is responsible for fulfilling. This could include everything from simple password resets to entire user setups for new employees. As these needs are identified, they should be built out into what’s known as a self-service IT portfolio. The second part of the process involves determining the actions required in order to deliver these services. This will make up the service catalog.

Standardize and assign value.

With self-service automation, it’s important to ensure that any and all services and workflows being automated are as standardized as possible. Otherwise, you could end up automating broken processes, which will not only not help but could actually harm your overall business operations. It’s also important to assign a clear price/performance to each item in your service portfolio and catalog. This provides insight into the true value of the self-service IT activities.

Sell the benefits to each group.

If you want everyone – from the end-users to the IT team – to jump on the intelligent automation bandwagon, you have to demonstrate the actual benefits each group will achieve as a result. For instance, show employees how much more quickly they can get their needs taken care of without having to rely on someone from the help desk. At the same time, show IT personnel the time and effort they’ll be saving by eliminating these routine, repetitive tasks from their workload.

Start small and work from there.

You can’t expect a huge change such as self-service IT adoption to happen overnight. The process will take time and involve researching various automation platforms to determine which one best suits the particular needs of your business and then testing that tool before rolling out a full implementation. Start by automating one small area, such as password resets, and then work from there. Your service portfolio and catalog can provide the blueprint of what areas to automate in which order.

If you’re thinking of adopting intelligent automation to create a more consumer-style, self-service IT environment for your employees, it’s important to recognize that these things take time. Following the steps listed above can make the process go much more smoothly and help achieve the buy-in and support needed from others across the organization.

Ready to try intelligent, self-service automation? Click here to start your free trial.

Preparing Your Business for the “New Normal”

So much has changed over the past few months, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to its collective knees. Businesses in just about every industry have felt the sudden and devastating effects of what such a global crisis can do, both from a human health as well as an economic standpoint. And with a projected timeframe to exit of anywhere from six to 12 months, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is still but a faint glimmer of hope.

If there’s one positive that has come from this crisis, it’s that business leaders now have a better sense of what their organization can or cannot do. They’re also beginning to understand how they can expect to move forward once the dust settles and the economy finally opens again. And while we all look forward to getting back to normal, the reality is, the workplace as we once knew it may never be the same again.

New social behavior, added restrictions, travel precautions and such are forcing decision-makers to think about how to do more with less. Less complicated, less expensive, yet at the same time agile and effective. Just what will this “new normal” look like and how can businesses prepare? Let’s take a look.

Remote/digital will become a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Oftentimes we have to be forced out of our comfort zones before we can accept and embrace change in a positive, productive way. This can easily be said for the many organizations that were abruptly thrust into the world of remote work. Suddenly, business leaders found themselves scrambling to enable work-from-home capabilities in order to keep operations going and avoid, or at least limit, disruption as much as possible.

What many have discovered during this trying period, however, is that – provided it’s supported by the right policies and technologies – not only is remote work completely feasible, but it’s also a much more attractive option for the company’s bottom line. As a result, more business processes will likely permanently transition to fully digital.

This includes industries like remote medicine, remote shopping and delivery and remote physical fitness, as well as functional areas like marketing (move to online marketing and virtual events), sales (a fully digital sales cycle – from demo and remote installation/remote POC, to remote deployment without ever physically interacting with a customer) and yes, even IT…which brings us to our next point.

IT projects will continue (they have to!), but they will require re-prioritization. With time frames being compressed due to uncertainty, IT managers will need to find ways to break projects down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Because they don’t know what type of budget they will have to work with in three to six months, they must focus on tasks that can be completed in shorter time frames – say, three months, or three to four weeks at a time. 

Automation is the key to the future of work.

The organizations that will be leaders in this “new normal” are the ones that will quickly make the needed changes to adapt to these remote work/WFH situations – and automation can play a key role in this adoption.

Specifically, automation can accelerate the transition, enabling businesses to retain knowledge even when people aren’t available. It also enables ITOps – even those that no longer operate on a single on premise infrastructure – to keep the lights on while simultaneously becoming more efficient by doing more with fewer people on-site. Likewise, IT projects can more easily be broken down into milestones with automation either augmenting or handling them entirely autonomously.

With the right automated platform, organizations will be able to accelerate out of this situation and position themselves stronger and even more effective on the other side. The good news is, this technology is easy to access and can be ramped up in less than one day. If you are a business leader or key decision-maker and you’re trying to figure out how to prepare your organization for the future of work – the “new normal” – Ayehu can become your saving grace.

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

3 Steps to Get Your Organization Intelligent-Automation-Ready

Over the past several years, intelligent automation has begun to revolutionize the workplace, facilitating digital transformation and enabling forward-thinking organizations to position themselves on the right side of the future of work. Getting to this point, however, isn’t something that happens overnight. Without the right approach, companies could easily be missing out on the tremendous advantages intelligent automation has in store. So, what’s holding other companies back?

Relatively speaking, the primary obstacle is simple. Many IT decision-makers approach implementation by attempting to merely automate existing processes. What they should be doing instead is changing their entire mindset. In order to do this, there are three key things that must be done, as follows.

Reconsider processes and workflows from start to finish.

Understand that deploying intelligent automation isn’t just a one-off project for the IT department. Rather, it should be an aggregate change that occurs across and throughout the entire enterprise. In order to implement automation at scale, buy-in is needed in every facet of the business.

Incorporating intelligent automation presents an opportunity for leaders and teams to reimagine what they’re trying to accomplish and completely redesign their workflows and processes. Only by starting from the foundation and working automation into each step of the process will the optimal level of efficiency be achieved.

We’d even go so far as to recommend building automated processes first and then working humans into the mix as needed. The actual need for human intervention – or lack thereof – will be quite surprising.

Pose the right questions, right from the beginning.

The right questions can help guide and facilitate the development of a strong, effective and long-term intelligent automation strategy. The problem is, many leaders simply don’t know what those “right questions” happen to be.

If you are among them, we suggest you start by thinking critically about which workflows and processes you currently have in place, and – more importantly – which of those processes and workflows would be best suited for artificial intelligence.

Still having trouble? Flip the switch and instead, start by asking what tasks are intelligent bots not capable of doing? This may help you more clearly pinpoint which processes still require some level of human mediation. The tasks remaining can then be shifted to automation.

It’s also pivotal to keep specific goals in mind when incorporating intelligent automation into the fold. Specifically, asking what you want this technology to help you accomplish should help you identify which pain points for which an automated solution could provide the most value.

Seek opportunities to meld the digital and human elements of your workforce.

At the end of the day, intelligent automation is most successful when it’s implemented with the goal of creating the best possible experience for everyone. Again – it’s imperative that the mindset evolve from automation being an “IT project” to something that permeates the entire organization.

This begins with culture, and changing a company’s culture starts at the top. Not only must the “powers that be” be fully committed to intelligent automation adoption, but they must proactively and consistently send the message that both humans and robots can cohesively work together in a connected ecosystem that benefits both the employee as well as the organization as a whole.

Conclusion

Successful digital transformation occurs when an organization is able to strengthen and grow by empowering its workforce to trust and depend on advanced technology. Without question, intelligent automation is poised to become the foundation of this digitized future. By rethinking how automation fits into the big picture, posing the right questions and merging the digital/human experience, you’ll dramatically improve the chances of a smooth and profitable transition.

Ready to jump in and test the waters? Get up to speed with intelligent automation within minutes by taking Ayehu for a free, 30-day test drive.

How to Future-Proof Your Business with Intelligent Automation

How to Future-Proof Your Business with Intelligent AutomationAutomation has become a staple in IT operations. Yet, despite its prevalence, many of the automated processes currently being used are antiquated. The fact is, IT infrastructures have evolved substantially over the past decade or so, and continue to do so at a rapid pace. In order to maintain a high degree of integrity, automated processes must also adapt. Adopting more intelligent automation will not only dramatically improve internal operations, but it will position your organization leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors.

What is “intelligent automation?”

Unlike conventional automation tools of the past which were capable only of executing simple, manual and easily defined processes, intelligent automation and orchestration platforms are able to undertake tasks and workflows that are far more complex. Not only is intelligent automation capable of making decisions without the need for human input, but it can also evolve and improve itself over time.

Why is intelligent automation beneficial to IT operations?

IT ops has long been tasked with the overwhelming duty of doing more with less. Today’s IT teams, however, are also being depended on to drive innovation, and at a much more rapid pace than ever before. Intelligent automation facilitates both of these things by streamlining operations and freeing up skilled staff to apply their expertise to more innovative business initiatives. Furthermore, automation is dramatically improving the delivery and integrity of information, which paints IT ops in a positive light.

What are some of the biggest challenges IT ops face today?

Among the many challenges IT operations face in the digital age is the need to increase agility while maintaining as little disruption to existing processes as possible. IT teams must continue to meet (and in many instances exceed) business demand while also looking toward the future and finding newer, better opportunities to grab onto. It’s a delicate balance between meeting the needs of today and anticipating what the needs of tomorrow will be.

Why aren’t more organizations adopting intelligent automation?

Automation in its traditional form has worked well for IT ops, mainly because it can be leveraged on an ad hoc basis, such as with custom scripts and job scheduling. These days, however, things are becoming far more complex, with many different layers of virtualization and applications stacks of varying ages, along with combinations of public and private cloud solutions, all of which must be aggregated to deliver a single, streamlined IT service. In this environment, the concept of integrating intelligent automation can seem overwhelming. The good news is, it’s not nearly as complicated as it may seem.

What’s a good way to get started with intelligent automation?

A great way to introduce intelligent automation into the mix is to start small. Identify the big wins – or those routine, manual and time consuming tasks and workflows that when automated will produce the greatest return on investment quickly. Figure out what your IT operations team is wasting precious time and resources on, and then start deploying robots to do the dirty work. Keep in mind, however, that in order for intelligent automation to truly be beneficial, it must eventually become an integral part of the entire infrastructure. It’s ok to smart small, but make sure you’re working toward the big picture.

Without question, adding intelligence to automation will facilitate far greater productivity and innovation, while simultaneously setting the bar higher in terms of speed and agility for IT operations. Organizations that successfully deploy intelligent automation will easily surpass their competitors who do not, ultimately positioning themselves at the head of the pack.

Where do you want your company to be? Get a jump on the competition and future-proof your business with intelligent automation. Experience it for yourself by taking Ayehu for a test drive today.

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4 Steps to Intelligent Process Automation Breakthrough

Intelligent process automation is rapidly transforming the global economy, delivering momentous gains to enterprises that adopt it at scale. One recent article by McKinsey revealed that some organizations have been able to automate 50 to 70 percent of their workflows, generating ROI that reaches into the triple-digits. In addition to cutting costs, intelligent process automation can also deliver precision, speed and enhanced customer experience.

In order for organizations to enjoy the full value of intelligent process automation, IT leaders must be willing to take a guiding role. Unfortunately, many IT executives find this challenging, whether due to the increased complexity of IT processes, lack of understanding and/or clarity, inconsistent or fragmented tools that hinder scaling, or the misconception that intelligent process automation cannot be adopted without major re-engineering of existing processes.

How can these challenges be overcome? And how can IT leaders succeed in their automation initiatives? The answer to these questions lies in the following four key steps along the intelligent automation journey.

Step 1: Evaluate the high-level potential value

The first step in becoming an intelligent process automation leader starts with the development of a clear business case. This involves assessing the potential high-level value of the company’s main IT activities. Some examples of what these areas of value might look like include:

Incident Response – A significant number of IT incidents are initiated through support desk requests. These typically result in tickets being created and assigned to Level 1 support agents. While these are the obvious candidates for automation, the portion of tickets that are escalated to specialized L2 and L3 agents are also ripe for the picking, thanks to the advanced technology behind intelligent process automation. And since these activities are generally well-documented, categorizing and prioritizing them by automation potential should be relatively straightforward.

Planned Activities – In addition to the one-offs and unexpected support tickets that crop up, IT is also responsible for performing a number of planned activities on a regular basis. These activities typically include things like backups, upgrades and patching. They may also involve more complex security audits. The amount of time and resources required to perform these duties can collectively add up to around 20 percent of the IT budget. Calculating this figure can help determine the potential savings intelligent process automation can deliver.

Introducing New Applications – From a business perspective, this activity is often viewed as the one that produces the most significant value. It can also account for an additional 20 to 40 percent of the time and resources put forth by IT. These activities are not exclusive of application development, either. They also include such tasks as testing and hosting. This places increasing demand on both the application team as well as the infrastructure group.

Step 2: Dig deeper to identify which specific use cases are best suited for intelligent automation.

Determining how to effectively implement intelligent process automation requires a deep dive to uncover the root causes of issues. It may also involve the untangling of complex systems and the development of an accurate picture of how to leverage automation to extract the greatest value. In other words, the process is a complicated one and requires a certain degree of commitment. Let’s take the three potential use cases above as an example.

Incident Response

Automating IR begins with identifying which incidents are the best candidates, which can be challenging. The goal should always be digging deep enough to uncover the “why” of documented incidents. Without this information, efforts are futile. Text-mining can help by automatically reading ticket descriptions and extracting the necessary insights to sort them into three categories:

  • Automatable
  • Requires machine learning
  • Highly cognitive/manual

This analysis should leave you with a prioritized list of incidents to automate and the type of automation best suited for the job.

Planned Activities

Most enterprise-grade IT departments rely on industry-standard tools to manage their infrastructures. Unfortunately, due to factors such as advanced customization, adjustments due to mergers and specific user requirements, managing these systems often requires a significant amount of manual effort, diminishing the overall value.

For instance, despite the widespread adoption of infrastructure and application monitoring tools, support teams are often unable to respond effectively to the logs being generated, either because there are too many of them or because of the many reasons why they are being generated in the first place. As a result, IT leaders are often unclear on how to approach intelligent automation implementation.

In situations such as this, machine learning technology can be “trained’ to identify the reasons behind alerts and then either recommend or autonomously make better decisions on which action to take. This eliminates much of the complexity for the IT team.

Introducing New Applications

Many IT executives fall into the trap of focusing solely on the reduction of manual labor. As a result, they fail to see and achieve the full value potential of intelligent process automation. Faster and more accurate delivery of applications requires the development and design of a new operating model, with an emphasis on DevOps and agile.

Reviewing this entire process to gain an understanding of how to make the most use of this new operating model can result in entirely new approaches to work. Intelligent process automation can facilitate some of these new ways of working. For instance, automating the testing process will enable applications teams to iterate more quickly. Likewise, developing a self-service model for things like automated server provisioning allows the operations team to become more responsive. The list goes on.

Step 3: Execute your proof of concept

In order to demonstrate the true value and validate your case for intelligent process automation, the next critical step is executing a proof of concept. A great place to start with this is incident management. Organizations that have successfully deployed intelligent process automation for incident management have been able to achieve substantial cost savings in a relatively short period of time.

Thankfully, there are many different incidents that can quickly and easily be automated to support your proof of concept, including such tasks as password resets and employee onboarding. In its most basic form, a proof of concept requires the following:

  • Collaboration with subject matter experts to identify where automation can best be applied and understand all the steps and systems involved in a particular process or workflow.
  • Careful selection of an intelligent process automation platform. Look specifically for products that can be integrated with existing systems and applications and offers pre-packaged, no-code options. (This will enable rapid adoption and time-to-value.)
  • Obtaining necessary IT and overall business approvals with regard to regulatory constraints, security guidelines and access limitations.
  • Ongoing testing and monitoring to capture results and document value

This phase is also an ideal time to consider building stronger internal intelligent automation capabilities; for example, developing a team to spearhead a future automation center of excellence (CoE). This team will ultimately become the foundation and engine that drives all IPA initiatives.

Step 4: Build intelligent automation capabilities to scale

Achieving the full benefits of intelligent process automation requires the development and nurturing of certain skills and capabilities, in addition to rolling out an entirely new company-wide culture. This is essential as successful adoption of IPA requires that automation become embedded into the very heart of the organization itself. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this, but generally speaking, companies that have been successful have done the following three things:

Build on success to expand into new areas of IT (and beyond).

Once the basic tasks and workflows have been automated, it’s time to move on to more advanced level-2 and level-3 activities. The IT team should be expanding beyond incidents to begin leveraging the AI and machine learning technologies to assist with things like analytics and decision support. The goal is to eventually roll out intelligent process automation to as many routine and complex processes as possible.

Spread the word.

With a strong foundation of capabilities and experience, IT leaders can begin to position themselves as subject matter experts for the rest of the organization. This process involves continued outreach, such as connecting with other leaders across the enterprise to advise them of the specific benefits IPA can have for them. This outreach also provides the opportunity to identify additional areas where automation might be beneficial.

Explore the advanced elements of intelligent process automation.

While the majority of organizations have thus far only focused primarily on simple process automation, the future belongs to those with an eye toward artificial intelligence and cognitive learning. These solutions are already making an impact on companies with forward-thinking leaders. The best way to break into this arena is to start working on small AI initiatives. From there, just like basic automation, you can continue to build, expand and grow.

Intelligent process automation is maturing rapidly and quickly becoming a core component of the IT landscape. IT professionals who recognize the importance and understand how to develop their automation capabilities have the potential to become respected leaders in the process – a title that will serve them well throughout their careers.

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