What’s New in Ayehu NG 1.8: Self-Service

Author: Guy Nadivi

The latest release of Ayehu NG has some critical and advanced new features, most notably a new and improved self-service capability, that allows end users to fulfill service requests and even remediate incidents themselves.

Self-service is becoming a huge imperative for IT. Why is that?

According to Gartner, it’s very simple.

“Business consumers are comparing their enterprise IT self-service experience with their consumer experience, driven by companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple, eBay and UPS. I&O leaders should do the same.” (emphasis mine)

Source: Gartner ID G00340706 | Published October 4, 2017 | Refreshed September 24, 2020

In other words, the bar is being set by other companies that everyone, including your organization’s users, are interacting with every day. They’re seeing how well self-service works OUTSIDE your enterprise, and it’s driving their expectations of how well self-service should work INSIDE your enterprise.

When most people think about self-service in an enterprise environment, they increasingly think about chatbots as the delivery channel. I’m talking of course about chatbots like Teams, which as everyone knows is published by Microsoft, or Slack which is increasingly being more tightly integrated with Google.

Just to be clear though, Microsoft OWNS Teams, but Google DOES NOT own Slack. At least not yet, anyways.

So these two have emerged as the primary interfaces for a lot of enterprise self-service apps over the last few years.

The reason why Teams and Slack dominate this market is pretty obviuos – daily active users. Teams has 75 million and Slack has 12 million.

These are the most recent official numbers, but they’re from earlier this year. The current number of daily active users is almost certainly much higher.

Interestingly though, despite Teams having more than 6 times as many users as Slack, Slack actually has 28% more subscribing organizations than Teams – 640 thousand compared to 500 thousand.

Again, these are the most recent official numbers, and everyone is eagerly awaiting updates from both Microsoft and Slack to get a better idea of how they’re currently splitting market share.

Despite these huge usage numbers though, it turns out that chatbots as a self-service delivery channel are not for everybody. They’re definitely not a “one size fits all” solution.

There are a few specific reasons why.

One big reason is simply that user expectations aren’t being met. The chatbot may not have the conversational sophistication users are looking for, or it’s not providing the answer a user was hoping to get.

The reason for that might be a lack of training data. Many chatbots are driven by AI and machine learning, which require lots and lots of training data in order to begin displaying some intelligence. Depending on the use case being addressed, the chatbot may not have enough training data available for it to satisfy the machine learning requirements.

Of course, a lack of training data is really just part of the broader category of a lack of resources. Chatbots are not a one-and-done type of initiative. They need to be updated, fine-tuned, and generally maintained throughout their lifespan. However, a lot of organizations don’t have the resources for that, so a chatbot may not be for them.

Finally, there’s the ever-present issue of cost. Chatbots are not necessarily cheap to deploy, especially if you want to do it right with AI and automation, and that may put it out of budget range for many organizations, especially SMB’s.

If you’re an enterprise IT decision maker, what do you do?

You know you want self-service because it reduces costs. Also, many of your users are eager for a way to avoid submitting tickets to the help desk and then wait until they’re fulfilled. This is especially true if they’re part of a younger demographic, and already expect to be able to fulfill their own requests or even remediate their own incidents.

Yet at the same time, you feel chatbots are not right for your organization.

Ayehu NG can help, by providing a chatbot alternative through its automation platform.

We do that in this newest release, v1.8, by simply adding a little more 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, and it will allow you to deflect a large amount of ticket volume from your help desk.

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

What are some use cases you can apply this dynamic self-service capability to? There are too many to list, and in addition to the universal ones, there are probably quite a few use cases unique to your organization that would make great candidates for self-service.

However, thanks to Gartner, we can categorize just about all self-service use cases into one of 5 buckets:

  • How-to: These are simply inquiries about how to accomplish, access, or operate IT resources.
  • Password reset: There are estimates that this task alone can account for as much as 40% of a help desk’s ticket volume.
  • Break/fix: If a user can’t access or operate an IT resource, give them the ability to fix it themselves.
  • Service request: These can include things like asking for a new laptop or provisioning a VM.
  • Requests for status updates: Responding to user requests for status updates on any of the above is probably one of the bigger annoyances for help desks. With self-service, a user can look that up themselves, and the help desk won’t need to be bothered.

One last thought.

Once you create a self-service channel for your end users, you often need to incentivize them to use it so it can fulfill all the lofty ROI projections that were used to justify deploying it.

The good news is, that’s relatively easy to do by simply ensuring that better outcomes are available to them via self-service as opposed to calling the help desk.

For example, let’s say a user wants to provision a VM.

Just institute a policy that if they provision it by requesting the help desk to do it, they’re only eligible to be allocated 8Gb RAM for their VM.

However, if they provision the VM via self-service, they can allocate themselves as much as 12Gb of RAM.

This is a simple, straightforward way of accelerating user adoption of self-service at your enterprise.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing for yourself how much value self-service can add to your environment, please visit our website and click here to download your very own free 30-day trial version today.

What’s new with Ayehu? Overview of Ayehu NG 1.7

Overview of Ayehu NG 1.7
Author: Guy Nadivi

This latest release of Ayehu NG has some critical and advanced new features, most notably the ability to deliver more self-service incident remediation and request fulfillment to end users via our new MS-Teams integration.

Earlier this year, we did a webinar which flashed a graphic from Statista about the number of Microsoft Teams Daily Active Users. The chart’s numbers have been updated, but it’s worth a quick revisit to get a sense of growth for MS-Teams over the last year.

In July of 2019, just a bit over a year ago, Microsoft’s worldwide user count stood at 13 million.

Then by November of last year, they had experienced a little over 50% growth and their user count stood at 20 million.

Between November last year and March 12th of this year, they gained another 12 million users for a worldwide total of 32 million. The critical date to take into account there is on your left, March 10th. That’s when Microsoft began giving away MS-Teams for free in response to the pandemic forcing many people to work from home. A very shrewd move by Microsoft marketing.

Within one week, from March 12th to March 19th, the worldwide number of daily active users for Microsoft Teams exploded from 32 million to 44 million. A mind-boggling increase of 37.5% in just 7 days! Remember, less than a year ago they only had 13 million total.

And then the floodgates burst open. As of April 2020, Microsoft reported having 75 million users worldwide! That’s a 477% growth rate from basically just a year ago, which is literally off the charts.

This graphic illustrates the importance of having connectivity with Microsoft Teams. It’s the chatbot interface of choice for so many enterprises and people around the world, and it’s clearly where the market is going.

It’s also where Ayehu is going, because we always want to be where our customers want to go.

The headline story then for v1.7 of Ayehu NG is our integration with MS-Teams, which allows you to easily provide automation services for MS-Teams users. All 75 million of them.

Ayehu’s integration is immensely useful for end-users who are in a hurry and don’t have time to wait for the Help Desk to remediate their incident or fulfill a request.

It’s great for the Help Desk as well because it redirects calls and tickets away from technicians. This in turn frees up technicians to work on more complex issues, enabling them to add greater value than just fixing L1 incidents.

The MS-Teams integration allows you to architect structured conversations with simple button choices for end users to select from. This makes it very easy for them to do a number of things that previously would have required a technician.

As always, it’s super simple to create automations like these. Just go into Ayehu NG’s Workflow Designer, and look for the MS-Teams activities. Drag and drop the ones you need right into the workflow you’re building, then configure a few parameters. No coding required!

What kinds of specific incidents and fulfillment requests would you use MS-Teams to deflect from your help desk? Here are some sample use cases our clients have told us about:

  • A user can type “I need to reset my Salesforce password”, and MS-Teams integrated with Ayehu NG v1.7 will reset the password for them.
  • A user can report that a specific server is down, and request that it be restarted. Teams and Ayehu take care of the rest.
  • A user can check on the status of a ticket in ServiceNow, or just about any ITSM platform.
  • A user can tell MS-Teams they can’t get into email, and that will trigger the same remediation process usually performed by a technician.
  • A user can ask how much space is left on their hard drive, then request that it be cleaned up, which might include automatically deleting some files, compressing some files, and moving other files somewhere else.
  • A user can also ask about possible malware and inquire if it’s a problem.

These of course, are just examples. The only real limit is your imagination, but the Ayehu integration for MS-Teams stands ready to make whatever kinds of automation you imagine come to life.

Another feature v1.7 delivers is an improvement in the NG to NG Migration function many of you started using immediately when it first debuted with v1.6.

In v1.7 this NG to NG Migration has been improved to accommodate those times when you’ve already migrated a workflow from your dev or test environment to your production environment once, and now want to do it again without duplicating the production workflow.

We accomplish this by introducing the Migration Overwrite function. During the migration process, if an existing workflow is identified by an identical name, you will now be presented with an option to overwrite the existing workflow with the incoming workflow. This will update the workflow in the destination (production) environment with the new changes. There will also be overwrite options for most entities within the workflow, such as devices, templates, error handlers, and more.

The last major new feature in v1.7 is Azure Active Directory Sync.

For organizations that don’t want to manage local users in Ayehu NG, the Azure Active Directory Users Synchronization activity can be utilized in v1.7 to sync users and groups from your company’s Azure AD tenant. 

This functionality gives any Ayehu NG user who can create workflows, as well as manage logins, the ability to sync users and groups from Active Directory into NG, and then create login users and login groups from them as appropriate.

It’s a great new tool that customers using Azure cloud will really get a lot of benefit from.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG v1.7 with these cool new features, download your very own free 30-day trial version today by clicking here.