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4 Cybersecurity Trends to Plan for in 2019

It’s that time of year again – a time to reflect on the past while also looking toward, and planning for, the future. As it has been in years past, the topic of cybersecurity will remain at the forefront for business and IT leaders in 2019 and beyond. As attackers continue to become savvier and their assaults more sophisticated, the methods used to defend against them must also continue to evolve. Let’s take a look at four trends that are likely to become the focus of the security industry over the new year.

AI will play a bigger role on both sides of the fence.

As the volume and range of security threats continue to increase, it’s become abundantly clear that the best and only suitable defense will be artificial intelligence. This is especially true since, historically, cyber criminals have access to the same or sometimes even better tools as the security folks. The only truly effective way to combat cyber-attacks in 2019 will be to leverage AI-based security solutions. In other words, organizations must be prepared to fight fire with fire if they are to keep sensitive data safe.

Biometrics will become more widely adopted.

The Face ID feature of Apple’s iPhone X has made facial recognition relatively mainstream. Given the fact that passwords continue to be one of the most vulnerable areas of a business, we can expect to see biometrics become more widely adopted as a safer, more secure alternative. One brand leading the pack is MasterCard who will begin requiring biometric identification of all of its users beginning in April 2019.

Spear phishing will become even more targeted.

Cyber criminals understand that the more information they have about a potential victim, the more effectively they can design spear phishing campaigns. Some attackers are already developing newer and more disturbing ways to enact their plans, including hacking into a victim’s email system, lurking and learning. They will then use what they learn to create incredibly realistic messages that appear to be from a trusted source. Security personnel must remain especially vigilant to protect against these sophisticated and costly attacks over the coming months.

Advanced cybersecurity training may become a requirement for the C-suite.

The training surrounding cybersecurity will continue to advance and mature. As such, certifications may no longer be sufficient for a security professional to progress in his or her career – at least not at the upper management or C-suite level. This is supported by the growing number of degree programs that are devoted to cybersecurity. The companies of tomorrow looking to hire CSOs and CISOs will likely require some type of higher education as it relates to infosec.

What about you? Do you have any bold predictions about what the future has in store for cybersecurity? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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5 Ways Machine Learning is Transforming the Business World

Today’s forward-thinking organizations are leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to automate the decision making process. In fact, corporate investment in AI is predicted to reach $100 billion by the year 2025. As a result of this rapid digital transformation, many changes are underway in the workplace. In particular, there are a number of ways that machine learning is already making an impact for companies in every industry. Here are a few to consider.

Personalizing the customer experience.

One of the most exciting benefits machine learning can have for businesses is the fact that it can help improve the customer experience while also lowering costs. Through things like deep data mining, natural language processing and continuous learning algorithms, customers can receive highly personalized support with little to no human intervention. And people are warming to the idea. In fact, 44% of US consumers say they actually prefer chatbots to human agents.

Improving loyalty and retention.

With machine learning, companies can do a deep dive into customer behavior to identify those who are at a higher risk of churning. This enables organizations to develop and implement next steps designed to target and retain those high-risk customers. The more proactive a company is in this area, the more profitable it will be over time.

Enhancing the hiring process.

When asked about the most difficult part of their job, corporate recruiters and hiring managers almost unanimously list the task of shortlisting qualified candidates for job openings. With dozens and sometimes even hundreds of applicants, sifting through and narrowing down the options can be a monumental task. Machine learning is fundamentally changing the way this process is handled by letting software do the dirty work, quickly identifying and shortlisting those candidates that are the best fit.

Detecting fraud.

Did you know that the average organization loses up to 5% of their total revenue each year due to fraud? Machine learning algorithms can be used to track data and apply pattern recognition to identify anomalies. This can help risk management detect fraudulent transactions in real-time so they can be prevented. This type of “algorithmic security” can also be applied to cybersecurity, leveraging AI to quickly and accurately pinpoint threats so they can be addressed before they are able to do damage.

Streamlining IT operations.

Another way AI and machine learning are revolutionizing how organizations operate is through intelligent automation. Powered by machine learning algorithms, agentless automation and orchestration platforms become force multipliers, driving efficiency and helping enterprises save time on manual and repetitive tasks, accelerate mean time to resolution, and maintain greater control over IT infrastructure.

Want to see machine learning in action? Schedule a free product demo today!

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The New Wave of Hybrid AI in the Automation Era – Insights from the Experts

Over the past few years, Gartner has made some pretty bold predictions surrounding artificial intelligence and automation technology. These include such projections as the generation of $2.9 trillion in business value, the recovery of 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity and the creation of some 2.3million new jobs. All of this is expected to take place over the next couple of years, if not sooner.

Whatever you believe about AI, one thing’s for sure – it’s not going away any time soon.In fact, all signs indicate that the not-so-distant future will look a lot different from what we are used to today, with machines performing not only the physical work of humans, but also the thinking, planning, strategizing and decision-making as well.

At Ayehu, we’re always trying to stay a step ahead of the curve in terms of technology and its capabilities. Such was the purpose of our recent panel discussion entitled The New Wave of Hybrid AI in the Automation Era, during which we sat down with several AI and automation thought leaders, including:

We asked these experts to take a look back at some of the emerging trends observed and experienced in 2018 and offer a glimpse into the future. We also asked each of our esteemed panelists to go out on a limb and make a bold prediction for 2019.

Here’s a little taste of what we uncovered.

Evolution in IT Operations

One of the first topics touched upon by our own Brian Boeggeman centered on the creation of automation centers of excellence (COE) and the automation engineers that are driving adoption and proliferation of automation within the enterprise.

“We saw a trend taking place this year where there’s a lot of focus put on the creation on these centers of excellence to really drive automation,” said Brian. “Automation is clearly seen as a business imperative and a clear necessity in order to orient the next phase of enterprise operations, where efficiencies can be uncovered and realized across the business.”

He continued, “Those automation engineers effectively become the change agents within the organizations to drive that cultural change within the enterprise. As we engage with many of our customers, we’re continuing to see that as a high focus for them actually making investments to build out these COEs to push across the entire organization and enterprise as a whole.”

Brian also talked about the acceleration and creation of new services through automation and AI, pointing out that automation has emerged as a key strategy to achieve the delicate balance between innovation and operational excellence.

Download the on-demand recording to learn how to unleash new capabilities of human capital as well as what trend Brian believes will forever change the service levels and operating capabilities of organizations.

How AI and ML are Impacting the Adoption of Automation in the Enterprise  

Next, we turned the floor over to Manish Kothari, who has been involved with artificial intelligence and machine learning since the 70s. Manish opened his statement by pointing how critical data is to extracting the full value of AI.

“I think we’re starting to see a very big transformation take place across all sectors from agriculture, to consumer, and especially in IT where the need is arguably one of the highest,” Manish commented.

He went on to say: “If you are at the IT infrastructure side, you are, actually for one of the first times, really in a position to become an enabler rather an impediment to innovation.”

Manish also shared his insight on what enterprise managers who have never dealt with AI should know before deploying it and how he envisions the roles of managers changing once AI begins to get a foothold.

Find out everything that Manish had to say here.

Top Reasons Organizations Should Automate IT Operations

The next topic on the agenda was turned over to Andrew Brill of Change Healthcare, who was asked to share his thoughts on the top reasons for automating ITOps.

He was quick to point out that while the initial reasons typically revolve around cost savings and efficiency, some really exciting things can begin to happen,particularly in terms of an organization’s ability to remain compliant and consistent in its operating practices. Automation essentially becomes a force multiplier, saving users time and skyrocketing productivity and facilitating innovation.

“When we transform our staff who were doing the more robotic functions and eliminate that from their daily work, it allows them to start thinking about how we advance the organization, how we build better engineered solutions, how we work with partners that add the most value,” Andrew points out.

“Their brains are more actively working on the things that solve business problems as opposed to the functional tasks and work that perhaps we’ve had them do over the past ten years.”

Check out the playback to hear more and learn what Andrew believes are the biggest benefits of automation.

The Impact of AI on Digital Transformation

The discussion then turned to Ross Tisnovsky of McKinsey who was asked what kind of impact he believed technologies such as intelligent automation and AI having on IT digital transformation efforts in the enterprise.

In his response, Ross shared how he approaches the adoption of new technology. In particular, he highlighted the main things that users want from IT which, in his opinion, include:

  • A workspace for collaboration and enhanced productivity
  • Improved decision-making
  • Support for business innovation
  • High efficiency at a minimal cost

According to Ross, the solution to these needs requires a hybrid of AI, automation and human decision making.

“Automation works on both sides of the picture and so does the artificial intelligence. In other words, it’s likely to become part of anything we do on the business side today.”

Watch the on-demand discussion to discover the Ross’ most intriguing thoughts on hybrid AI from his real-world experience.

Key Insights and Future Outlook

During the final portion of the panel discussion, the experts weighed in on such points as:

  • The role of humans in automation adoption
  • Biggest challenges to automating IT operations
  • Skills needed to automate effectively
  • Critical KPIs/success metrics to focus on at different stages of the IT digital transformation journey
  • What enterprise IT leadership should be doing right now to start preparing for the changes to come
  • Bold predictions for AI in 2019 (and beyond)

Don’t miss out on what was certainly one of the timeliest and most informative panel discussions we’ve ever had the pleasure of hosting. Tune in to the full recording today!

Watch the full recorded panel discussion

Using Intelligent Automation to Cut Costs and Skyrocket Service

Using Intelligent Automation to Cut Costs and Skyrocket ServiceFor several decades now, IT automation has been developed,refined and continuously improved to help streamline operations and take on the manual, repetitive tasks that nobody wants to complete. It’s becoming more widely accepted that most of these work duties can be handled by software. Beyond these simple, basic tasks, however, enterprises across the globe are now leveraging artificial intelligence to do even more. It’s called intelligent automation and it’s helping organizations of every shape, size and industry cut costs, improve service and remain a step ahead of the competition.

Intelligent automation is being leveraged as a solution to many common issues large businesses face, particularly those in the financial sector. One such area where intelligent automation is proving to be significantly beneficial is in meeting compliance requirements. Big banks,telecom companies, insurance firms and other businesses that deal with a high number of transactions, especially those that are sensitive in nature, are under increasing pressures to remain compliant. Relying on human workers to achieve this is not only expensive, but also more prone to costly error.

Another critical area where intelligent automation is having a positive impact is in the very volume of data itself. These days,there is so much information flowing into an organizations, from inquiries and transactions to authentications and a whole host of other business processes that businesses are finding it challenging to keep up. With smart technology,much of this data can be gathered, analyzed, sorted and prioritized without the need for human intervention, saving the organization time, money and a ton of aggravation.

Think Smarter, Not Bigger

In reality, even larger enterprises rarely have the luxury of increasing staff levels to the degree that is required to keep up with the rising demands being placed on them. Not only does this equate to increased costs, but it also opens the door to increased risk as well. C-suite executives, board members and other key decision makers are often too focused on other critical business initiatives to worry about growing the IT department.

The good news is, today’s intelligent automation software provides the opportunity to develop into a more efficient, highly productive,error-free environment without the need to beef up personnel. It’s providing organizations a way to work smarter instead of bigger while also lowering risks and keeping costs at a minimum. Unlike the rudimentary technology of just a few decades ago, today’s automation solutions are fully capable of analyzing,learning and responding to a mountain of data in real-time.

In reality, with the right strategy and intelligent automation technology, a business can successfully transition up to 90% of all IT functions from human to machine. This includes everything from repetitive, labor-intensive activities to complex workflows. IT automation is also playing a key role in helping companies establish and maintain a much more effective defense against cyber-attacks, providing the added protection of round-the-clock detection, analysis and response.

How Does Intelligent Automation Work?

Once an intelligent automation solution is adopted and implemented, the IT department determines which tasks are to be automated. Essentially, the software is “taught” what to do, when to do it and how each function should be carried out. Beyond the basics, like robotic process automation, intelligent automation is designed to deal with situational data and use that information to perform appropriate contextual functions. The software essentially uses relevant knowledge to decide on how to proceed in much the same way humans do.

Furthermore, intelligent automation also creates complete documentation of the entire decision-making and execution process, providing the ability for IT personnel to view, track, analyze and evaluate the automated process, both during as well as after the fact. This documentation contains all of the necessary details, including the relevant background and contextual information that was used in the decision-making process. Best of all, this information is stored and can be easily accessed in one centralized location.

The Benefits are Astounding

By adopting intelligent automation, organizations are able to achieve significant cost savings while also improving overall operation and service levels at the same time. When the majority of IT service management functions are shifted from human to machine, skilled personnel can focus on more important business initiatives. This promotes an IT environment that is much more efficient, agile, flexible and compliant, all of which can be translated to improved quality and satisfaction. The more complex the IT system, the greater the benefit automation can provide.

Is your organization taking advantage of these and the many other benefits that intelligent automation can offer? Get started today by downloading your free 30 day trial.

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How to Successfully Implement a Chatbot Strategy in 5 Steps

Chatbot 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 chatbots 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 chatbot strategy to fruition.

Identify audience and need.

For bots 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 chatbot 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 chatbots (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 chatbot 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 chatbot 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 chatbot 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? Try it free for 30 days. Click here to launch your trial today.

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The Human Element of AI Implementation

The benefits of artificial intelligence for business are widely acknowledged and understood. So, why are so many organizations still holding back when it comes to adoption? While it may seem logical to blame technical issues for the holdup, in reality what’s standing in the way is far more likely to be human in nature, whether it’s uncooperative employees, confusion over what AI means, unrealistic expectations of executives or something else. The key to navigating these roadblocks is addressing this human element.

Coming Down to Earth

Surprisingly, one of the biggest misconceptions people have about artificial intelligence is that it can solve any problem the business is experiencing. Have an issue? Just throw some intelligent automation at it. But the truth is, as amazing as the technology is, AI simply cannot fix everything. It’s essential that this message is clearly communicated and sufficiently understood. To set more realistic expectations, begin with a specific business objective and then determine holistically how you’re going to align everything to accomplish that goal.

Network to Gain Buy-In

If the human issue you’re struggling to overcome is resistance, networking can do wonders (and no, we’re not talking about computer networking). Once you’ve identified a good problem to solve, work on developing a few proof of concepts and then begin socializing with those throughout the organization. This can raise the level of awareness and help people gain a clearer understanding of what AI is, how it works and what it can help them accomplish. Identifying early adopters and internal champions is also important. These individuals can help explain artificial intelligence in a language that others understand.

Combat Fear of Change

Innovative tech solutions – especially as they relate to automation – are typically marketed on the premise that they’ll streamline efficiency and cut costs. But from an end-user’s perspective, AI can feel like a looming threat ready to inch them out of a job. Will intelligent automation eliminate some jobs? Of course. But that doesn’t mean those human resources can’t still be retained through more strategic allocation. If fear of change is hindering adoption of AI, repurpose your message to present it as a solution that will make their lives better, whether that be reducing their day-to-day drudgery or giving them an opportunity to focus their talents on more meaningful work.

Ultimately, the best strategy for successful AI implementation is to align your systems, process and people. Without the latter part of the equation, you simply will not achieve complete success. By recognizing and addressing the human element, adoption should be smooth sailing.

If you’re interested in starting small and experiencing the quick and measurable wins of intelligent automation, good news! We’re now offering a free 30-day trial of Ayehu. Give our fully functional platform a test drive today!

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Are you budgeting for intelligent automation? Here’s why you should be.

If you’re under the impression that IT processes are not all that important to your business, perhaps it’s better to look at it from another angle. How much do you believe downtime can and will cost your company? Last check put that number at around $9,000 per minute.

That’s right. Per minute.

So, yes, ensuring that IT runs smoothly and avoiding potential outages is absolutely critical. Intelligent automation is the key to achieving this goal. Here’s why (and five reasons you need to start budgeting for it ASAP).

Optimize Billable Time

How much time does your IT team spend monitoring to ensure that jobs are completed? How about manual scripting? Likewise, how much time is wasted by the end-user waiting for the help desk to process tickets? All of that time adds up and it’s costing your company big time. Intelligent automation can shift the manual labor from human to machine, streamlining operations and freeing up talented individuals to be able to apply their skills to more important tasks and projects.

Reduce Redundancies

When processes are handled manually, there are inevitably going to be a number of situations in which there are too many hands in the pot. This can lead to costly redundancies. Intelligent automation can help reduce the amount of times different employees have to “touch” the same machine or file, which is essential in maintaining a cost-effective operation. With automation in place, businesses can ensure that every touch serves a valid purpose.

Better Communication & Accountability

Breakdowns in communication occur everywhere – including inner and inter-departmentally. As a result, it can be easy to lose track of who is responsible for what, which leads to mistakes and miscues that could prove costly. Automated reporting, alerting and notification ensures that everyone stays on the same page. The right intelligent automation platform can also provide a central dashboard, facilitating greater ownership and enhanced visibility into any and all processes. This keeps management fully aware of what’s happening so no balls get dropped.

Improve Service Levels

Given today’s ever-increasing need for instant, quality service and amidst the growing competition in the IT services field, providers are having to find newer and more efficient ways to operate. Only those companies that are agile will be capable of competing on a global scale. By investing in intelligent automation, tasks, processes and workflows are performed faster and free of errors. Employees are happier and more productive and customers (internal and external) are more satisfied because they’re consistently receiving exceptional service.

Boost Response Time

When something malfunctions, the fallout from a delay in response time can be quite impactful – not to mention the time IT personnel must waste trying to identify and correct the problem. Today’s technology enables businesses to work smarter by implementing IT process automation as the watchdog capable of pinpointing issues as they occur (sometimes even before they happen). Whether it’s a machine, system, application or entire network that’s in question, a quality intelligent process automation platform can expedite response time to reduce or eliminate costly downtime.

As more capital is being invested into the ongoing development of technology as it relates to artificial intelligence, it’s becoming abundantly clear that automation is here to stay. More importantly, intelligent automation has the potential to help businesses of every size and industry streamline operations, maximize efficiency, improve response time and deliver better service overall.

Are you ready to experience what intelligent automation can do for your company? Start your journey today by downloading your free, fully functional trial of Ayehu’s automation and orchestration platform, powered by AI. Click here to get started today!

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The 5 Step Strategy for Optimizing HR with Intelligent Automation

Artificial intelligence has made our lives infinitely easier. Smart home devices can turn lights on and off and adjust the thermostat without us having to get off the couch. Cars automatically hit the brakes to avoid crashes and are capable of parking themselves. But intelligent automation isn’t just something that can benefit our personal lives. The ability to automate time-laden, manual tasks and business processes increases employee productivity and frees skilled personnel to focus on more high-value work. One area that can gain tremendous value from intelligent automation is HR. Here’s how.

Identify processes and workflows that could (and should) be automated.

While human resources is, indeed, a prime candidate for intelligent automation, not every process will be appropriate. It’s imperative that business leaders are careful not to try and automate too much, otherwise they risk losing momentum and failing to reap the true benefits of AI technology. This is why the first step in optimizing HR should always involve a careful analysis of processes and workflows to determine which could be made more efficient through intelligent automation.

Map out a strategy.

Again, in order for intelligent automation to be effective, there must be order to its adoption. Prior to implementation, a plan should be mapped out – preferably one that involves a strategic combination of artificial intelligence and human skills. Create a roadmap that covers everything from the initial introduction of AI to the desired end result. Bear in mind that some processes may be better redesigned from scratch as opposed to trying to modify them.

Keep the lines of communication open and ever-flowing.

Like it or not, people naturally fear change. With intelligent automation, this is compounded by the concern over robots taking over human jobs. Yet, in order to successfully roll out automation, you simply must have buy-in from everyone involved. The best way to accomplish this is to quell your staff’s fear through open, honest and ongoing communication. Be sure to drive home the benefits that automation will provide to them (less drudgery, more opportunity to perform engaging, meaningful work, the chance to learn new marketable skills, etc.). Remind them that automation ultimately drives the demand for soft skills, such as creative problem solving and collaboration.

Make sure the C-suite is also onboard.

In addition to constant communication and transparency with employees, it’s equally critical that executives and key decision-makers are also onboard with intelligent automation. Sure, a detailed and measurable implementation strategy is essential, but enacting organizational change takes more than simply carrying out a set of ordered steps. Change management starts at the top and trickles downward. As such, senior leadership must be visible and vocal in its participation and support.

Teach employees the skills they need for success.

We’ve become quite comfortable with automation in our personal lives, but that comfort level doesn’t necessarily translate to the workplace. Don’t just assume your employees possess the skills they need to leverage intelligent automation. For instance, your HR team likely already has the soft skills they need to do their jobs effectively, but they may need guidance in understanding how to interact with automation technology. Be proactive in educating them.

While there are certainly areas of the human resources function that a human touch is still needed, such as discussing sensitive matters with employees, the vast majority of today’s HR processes can easily be automated. In order to do this, however, HR professionals must be willing to adapt and evolve. The five steps listed above should help in this regard.

Want to experience intelligent automation for yourself? Request an interactive demo or better yet, click here to try the full product, free for 30 days!

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How IT Service Management Can Be Transformed With Intelligent Chatbots

In today’s digital landscape, organizations are facing increasing demands to do more with less, keeping expenditure at a minimum and efficient output at a maximum. In response, more and more enterprises are turning to artificial intelligence to bridge the gap. In fact, a recent report by Oracle revealed that 80% of brands either already use or plan to implement AI — specifically chatbot technology — to better serve customers by the year 2020.

But what about internal customers? Couldn’t they, too, benefit from chatbots? The fact is that the IT help desk has become an indispensable component of business success. With increasing pressures to cut costs and a growing demand to drive efficiency, however, IT technicians and administrators often find themselves struggling to keep their heads above water. As a result, delays and bottlenecks impact end-user productivity, and IT talent is wasted.

I believe that intelligent chatbots have the potential to revolutionize the way the service desk is run, transforming inefficient, manual-laden workflows into a streamlined, self-driving operation.

What Are Chatbots?

Chatbots are essentially computer programs that are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to facilitate automated, digital conversations with people. If you’ve ever used the online chat feature of a website, it’s highly likely that you were interacting with a bot – and chances are, your issue was resolved entirely without the need for any human intervention.

Intelligent chatbots are capable of understanding language, both written as well as spoken, and contextually interpreting that information to a significant degree in order to produce an appropriate response. In addition to pre-programmed data, intelligent bots also have the ability to extract data from various sources, such as wikis, best practices and user guides to help end users resolve issues quickly without having to open help desk tickets.

The Role Of Chatbots In IT Service Management (ITSM)

Some experts estimate that anywhere from 30% to 50% of all Level 1 help desk support functions are repetitive in nature (password resets, anyone?). Not only are these tasks time consuming and monotonous, but they are also quite costly from a human resource perspective.

Paying skilled IT personnel to perform laborious elemental work day in and day out isn’t just a waste of money. It’s a waste of talent. And when the work isn’t meaningful, the risk of employee turnover also goes up.

Meanwhile, from an end-user perspective, sending help desk tickets and waiting for responses impedes productivity. So, not only are IT agents bogged down by tedious requests, but the entire workforce can potentially be impacted.

A Better End-User Experience

Introducing chatbots into the IT service management process enables organizations to shift the regular and repetitive tasks and workflows away from human agents and toward AI-powered software. Intelligent bots are capable of answering simple user inquiries, troubleshooting issues and providing self-service remediation options. When an end user has a problem that they need IT’s assistance to solve, they can get their answer or resolution via a quick chat using a conversational electronic interface — just as customers do when using a live chat.

As a result, end users no longer have to wait for resolution. In fact, in many cases, employees can be empowered to use self-service options to resolve issues entirely on their own.

Cutting Costs

Simply requests like password resets are time-consuming and costly. Consider the time it takes for the end user to get locked out, open a ticket to the help desk and wait, as well as the time it takes the IT agent to manually process the request. Surely there are better ways for talented IT professionals to spend their time and energy.

Shifting simple but essential tasks like this from human to chatbot can save tremendously, both in time and in end-user productivity levels. And this is just one example. Take into account the aforementioned 30% to 50% of other repetitive Level 1 help desk functions, and you’ve got something you can really take to the bank.

Finally, though equally as important, introducing intelligent chatbots into the service desk system can take much of the pressure off of IT personnel. Enter artificial intelligence and machine learning, which, according to Gartner, Inc., will free up to 30% of support capacity for IT service desksby the year 2019. Rather than wasting time and energy on mundane, tiresome tasks, IT workers can use their creativity and cognitive abilities to perform work that interests and challenges them.

Getting Started With AI And Chatbots

If your organization decides to invest in chatbots, maximize your investment by looking for quick wins that solve specific ITSM issues, or tasks that can be automatically performed by a bot. These are typically relatively easy to automate but will produce a fast and measurable return on investment.

A good place to start is with a simple IT service desk chatbot that can create and assign tickets, escalate tickets to real agents, assist end users with questions and provide important updates on critical incident IT and security.

Intelligent bots can take that a step further. In my experience, here are a few good places to start:

• Ticket handling: Categorization, prioritization and assignment of tickets.

• Level 0 support: Leveraging artificial intelligence to provide 24/7, self-service support.

• AIOps: Use of advanced analytics technologies to proactively detect, diagnose and address problems.

• Decision support: Utilization of the predictive capabilities of machine learning algorithms to make better, more data-driven decisions.

Simply put, intelligent bots have the potential to supercharge the IT help desk, skyrocketing the productivity of both the support agents and the end users. This ultimately results in greater efficiency, lower operational costs, improved retention and the opportunity to innovate at a much faster rate. And in today’s digital age, this is what will separate the success stories from the failures.

This article was originally published in Forbes Technology Council. To see the original publication, click here.

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Have you fallen for these 3 common AI misconceptions?

Artificial intelligence has been around for decades, though it just recently became a hot topic in the business world. During this time, many individuals have confused AI with automation, sometimes going as far as using the two terms interchangeably. The reality is, while the general concept may be similar, the two are distinctly different. Furthermore, this confusion has led to a number of other myths and misconceptions. We’d like to clarify a few things, beginning with the difference between AI and automation.

IT process automation involves programming technology to perform routine, manual tasks based on a prescribed set of instructions. Artificial intelligence takes this concept several steps further by using intelligent machines which are capable of displaying human behavior, thought and decision processes. Where automation is essentially set in stone (unless manually modified), an AI machine increases its own intelligence and can adapt its actions automatically, based on information it receives.

From a business perspective, artificial intelligence has the power to help organizations make more informed decisions. It can extract valuable information from mountains of data, analyze and organize it in a logical manner and essentially close the gap between insight and action. Given its complexity, however, AI is still often viewed in a negative light. To change this, we’d like to dispel three of the most common misconceptions as follows.

Artificial intelligence is a distant dream.

Many people believe that AI is a technology that won’t be readily available and practically applied until many years into the future. The truth is, widespread adoption of AI, both in our professional and personal lives, is much closer to becoming a reality than you may think. In fact, given that so many organizations across all industries and around the world are already employing automation to some degree, the idea that AI could be worked into the mix isn’t all that far-fetched.

Artificial intelligence isn’t really going to make that much of an impact.

The idea that AI is somehow inapplicable in the business world stems largely from the technologies complexity. People tend to discount things they have difficulty understanding. The reality is that AI is not only practical for business use, but it’s incredibly beneficial. The machine learning component of AI means that computers will have the ability to learn without the need for programming. It also has the capability of mining and analyzing big data to extract valuable insights which can then be put into action to achieve better results. These are things every organization can benefit from.

Artificial intelligence is going to eliminate the need for human workers.

While it’s certainly true that AI will make human workers redundant to some degree (think routine, repetitive tasks like reporting and data entry), this technology will not fully replace humans. This is particularly true in certain fields that require high-touch interactions, like HR, health care and consulting.

Likewise, while intelligent automation will streamline and optimize operations for many organizations, it cannot and will not replace the need for the development and nurturing of customer relationships. AI can, however, leverage data to provide human workers with the insight they need to deliver better, more personalized service.

And because implementing and managing new technology will always require some degree of human input, new roles and responsibilities will naturally evolve, which means that for many, AI will present great opportunities.

Like it or not, AI isn’t going anywhere. In fact, 61% of businesses are already implementing artificial intelligence to some degree. By addressing and overcoming the biggest misconceptions about AI, companies can harness the power of intelligent automation to streamline operations and provide competitive advantage.

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