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Leveraging AI to Level-Up Your CIO Career

Leveraging AI to Level-Up Your CIO Career

If you look up “stressful career choice,” the role of CIO would probably be at the top of the list. Not only is there the task of overseeing current day-to-day IT activities, but today’s IT executives are also facing mounting pressures to consistently identify and deploy cutting-edge, game-changing innovations. It’s enough to drive even the strongest of individuals over the brink. Thankfully, there’s one technology that could easily become the secret weapon for sustainable career success. That technology is AI. Here’s how to get started.

Recognize the key difference that AI brings to the table.

The first thing that needs to happen in order for a CIO to take full advantage of what AI can do for them is to take on the right perspective. Specifically, unlike a survey or file-sharing tool, AI isn’t simply a tactical technology. Instead, it’s strategic – particularly in that it’s capable of not only enhancing the current way a business operates, but it’s also capable of paving the way for new revenue streams.

Provided it’s fed an adequate amount of data that is both relevant and of high quality, AI can provide targeted predictions and support complex business decisions that can shape the direction a company moves in.

It’s also important not to fall into the trap of viewing AI as solely a solution for everything that’s going wrong in an organization. Rather, this technology can and should also be used to identify vulnerabilities that may have otherwise gone undetected. AI is capable of sifting through massive amounts of data, prioritizing it and even exposing unknown biases that might have caused issues down the road.

These important disparities are not mere nuances. If leveraged properly, they can become key differentiators, both for the company as well as the CIO’s career.

Start small, win quickly.

With so much pressure weighing on their shoulders, it can be incredibly tempting for an ambitious CIO to attempt AI adoption on a grand scale. Go big or go home, right? Not necessarily – at least not as it relates to being successful with artificial intelligence.

Because the technologies that drive AI are constantly evolving, it’s best to focus primarily on experimenting and learning. This enables a more close alignment with the underlying business needs that are being addressed. It also allows greater control over the scope and results of the AI initiative.

The most effective way to get started with AI is to target opportunities that are the most ripe for optimization. Because these are likely to be smaller initiatives, they are also more likely to quickly produce measurable results.

These initial projects will have the best chance of succeeding if you:

  • Experiment on smaller issues with the potential to produce higher ROI
  • Start with existing workflow templates rather than building your own model (i.e. resist the urge to “reinvent the wheel”)
  • Use data that is of the highest quality and relevant
  • Incorporate AI into existing business processes where disruption will be minimal
  • Maximize productivity by automating highly repetitive and well-defined decisions

Bottom line is this: quick wins will help build confidence and gain traction for larger initiatives that have greater impact and visibility.

Think like a CEO.

As mentioned, artificial intelligence is a strategic technology. Therefore, to get the most out of it, there must be strategic thinking. The path to widespread permeation of AI is paved with many challenges. Taking more of a CEO-like approach to these initiatives can help CIOs become more proactive in recognizing and addressing evolving priorities, misaligned strategies, and the obstacles that stand in the way of true and effective collaboration.

Furthermore, because the goal will inevitably be to deploy AI across the entire organization, developing a deeper understanding of all business departments (like a CEO would have) is critical. Working with each business segment to identify those smaller issues that represent the highest and fastest return will make enterprise-wide adoption of AI much easier to achieve. 

A great way to start is to approach each LOB and pose a simple question, like “If we can do X, then we can accomplish Y.” In other words, for the sales department, this question might look something like, “If we can score leads better, we can make our sales team more efficient.” In customer service, it might be, “If we can automate commonly asked question, we can improve customer response rate and optimize our support staff.”

With this information in hand, the CIO can then determine how AI can be applied as a solution to as many of these scenarios as possible and then begin tackling them one by one, ultimately delivering value across the entire organization.

Accept that the time is now.

The tech industry is notorious for tossing out buzzwords and fly-by-night concepts that gain instant notoriety but then never really seem to go anywhere. AI is not one of these terms or concepts. In fact, it’s become abundantly clear that artificial intelligence will soon become an integral part of global business operations in every field and industry.

Don’t be the last one to jump on the bandwagon. Find out what AI is capable of doing for your organization and your career by starting your free 30-day trial of Ayehu today.

5 Mid-Year Artificial Intelligence Trends to Watch For

We’ve officially reached the mid-way point of 2020, and what a year it’s been so far! Between political turmoil and the worldwide health pandemic, the economy has seen its share of ups and (way) downs. One thing that has remained constant through all the uncertainty is technology – in particular, artificial intelligence. In fact, AI has quickly emerged as a versatile and viable solution to almost all of the problems businesses are facing currently. Let’s take a look at what our experts believe will take place in the AI sector over the next six months.

An increase in availability and accuracy of data will make AI even more useful.

We don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but we simply cannot state it enough: artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it is fed. Because of this, many organizations that have tried to adopt AI in the past have failed, primarily due to a lack of relevant and accurate data. As technology continues to improve at a lightning pace, however, more and more quality data is becoming available. In particular, today’s technology is now capable of simulating real-world scenarios, which reduces risk and cuts costs, resulting in AI that is even more powerful, accurate and ultimately more valuable.

Collaboration between human and digital workers will continue to increase.

Let’s face it. Artificial intelligence is here to stay. And as we’ve learned over the past decade or so, it’s not here to displace human workers, but rather make their jobs and their lives easier. This trend will continue as we wrap up 2020 and move into 2021. As people get comfortable with the idea of working alongside intelligent bots, more processes and workflows will be transitioned from human to machine, skyrocketing productivity and enabling organizations to maximize the human skills that AI isn’t quite capable of just yet. For many, this will require learning new skills, so prepare accordingly.

AI will play a more prominent role in cybersecurity.

They say the best defense is a good offense, and this is certainly true in the area of cybersecurity. The fact is, cybercriminals are leveraging the most up-to-date technology to carry out their nefarious plots. The most effective way to combat these criminals and ward off their attacks is to utilize the same advanced technology against them – essentially, fight fire with fire. AI-powered intelligent automation will increasingly be used to autonomously and continuously monitor systems and infrastructures, identifying areas of concern and raising alarm before breaches occur and preventing sensitive data from becoming compromised.  

Interactions with AI will become more mainstream and far less detectible.

In recent years, despite tremendous advancements in technologies like natural language processing (NLP), interactions with robots vs. human agents were relatively easy to spot. With NLP algorithms becoming increasingly capable of understanding context, distinguishing between humans and machines will become much more challenging. And even though recent numbers indicate that the majority of people prefer to receive support from humans than robots, as technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, there’s a very good chance that will change. In fact, there’s a good chance that over the next several months, we’ll begin engaging with intelligent bots without even realizing it.  

Remote work and augmented workforces will become part of the norm.

Over the past several months, thanks to a global health crisis, many organizations around the world were forced to make sudden changes to their workforce. One of the biggest shifts was toward a remote work environment. Technologies like AI and intelligent automation have made this transition much more feasible for many. However, as the dust begins to settle, business leaders are discovering that, with the right technology and approach, these types of arrangements are not only possible, but are actually more favorable for the long term. As such, many will continue operating either partially or entirely remotely, leveraging artificial intelligence to augment and balance their workforce.

Are you behind the curve when it comes to AI, machine learning and intelligent automation? Get up-to-speed and in the game quickly by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG today. Click here to get started!

5 Common AI Pitfalls that Trick Unsuspecting CIOs

If there’s one thing CIOs are good at, it’s ignoring the hype and extracting the value out of technology. Except, however, when it comes to artificial intelligence. Whether it’s all the pomp and circumstance that clouds their reason or the lofty promises that tend to distract them, for some reason, a surprising number of IT leaders seem to fall into similar traps. It can be a costly lesson filled with delays and missteps. To avoid heading down this path in your organization, here are five risks to watch for.

Forgetting the importance of data.

We’ve said it time and time again, but an artificial intelligence solution is only as good as the data it has to work with. It’s sort of like having a Lamborghini and using subpar fuel. If you haven’t given adequate attention to ensuring that your AI platform is being fed data that is both accurate as well as relevant, then you will not realize much of any return on your investment (and you’ll probably end up holding the bag for it at the end of the day). A good strategy is to first identify which datasets are needed for each desired outcome and then building from there.

Being too quick to choose a solution.

A lot of CIOs get so amped up over the promises of what AI can deliver to their organization that they fail to perform due diligence when selecting a platform. Not only are solutions different in quality and potential benefits, but vendors themselves can vary widely on the spectrum of trustworthy vs. fly-by-night operations. Don’t fall for lofty promises. They may be legit, but it’s up to you to verify that by asking to see tangible results before signing on the dotted line.

Solving for the wrong problems.

Just because an AI solution works, doesn’t mean it’s delivering value. Ultimately, the goal isn’t to simply deploy artificial intelligence technology for the sake of doing so, but to generate actual return on your investment. To do this, you must define realistic, achievable objectives and outcomes that can be effectively tracked and measured. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a fancy automation tool that does nothing more than cost you money.

Being lured by bells and whistles.

There are some pretty amazing artificial intelligence solutions out there. Unfortunately, many of them are so complicated, they’re actually not worth the investment to begin with. In fact, when a system is too complex, not only does it become detrimental, but it can lead to ancillary problems, like a lack of experienced personnel to manage the technology. Again, the goal is to deliver value, not get the fanciest tool on the market. Instead, you want a solution that’s advanced but also intuitive and as easy to use as possible.

Equating price with worth.

The fanciest tool on the market may have far more features than your organization even needs. And, as mentioned, the more bells and whistles, the more complicated and challenging it will be to deploy. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a hefty price tag means you’re getting the best possible solution. To the contrary, the platform that most closely matches your business needs may not only save you money upfront, but may also be more valuable in the long run as well.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to bring your organization to the next level. But only if it’s implemented the right way. If you’re just starting out on your AI journey, be cognizant of the above pitfalls so you can avoid them for yourself. If you’ve already fallen into one or more of these traps, the good news is, it’s never too late to right the ship.

Ayehu NG lets you harness the power of AI in minutes with a code-less, drag and drop visual designer and over 200 ready-to-use workflow templates. Schedule a live demo or get started today with our free 30-day trial.

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.

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 Virtual Agents Can Help Businesses Thrive in the Face of Uncertainty

As the world is currently in the throes of battling the latest global health crisis known as COVID-19, the way organizations conduct business has changed suddenly, and perhaps permanently. Businesses across just about every industry and sector are facing two primary challenges: significant spikes in demand for IT support and the need to prepare for an economic recession that now seems imminent.

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI), also known as chatbots or virtual agents, can address both of these challenges, allowing businesses to maximize availability while simultaneously reducing costs.

Sustained and Enhanced Service Levels

With a tremendous uptick in remote working and all the risks and issues that go along with it, IT teams are being inundated with an increasing volume of support requests. Couple this skyrocketing demand with a decreased number of capable and available employees, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Virtual agents, powered by intelligent automation, can assist in a number of ways, including:

  • Delivering instant, automated answers to commonly asked questions
  • Enabling users to report problems and request assistance
  • Sending outbound notifications and updates about things like site closures, changes in service hours, or travel restrictions
  • Ability to scale on-demand to meet unexpected spikes in support needs

Virtual agents help not only to prevent lapses or delays in service, but because they are available 24/7/365, they have the potential to actual improve service levels – something that would otherwise be impossible in a crisis situation.

Augment Existing Workforce

In situations like the one the world is currently dealing with, there will inevitably be a dip in employee performance and availability. Team members may need to take time off due to illness, request changes in their shifts and, of course, transition to remote working.

Virtual agents can help organizations navigate these changes in circumstances by providing an extra level of support when human agents are not available. Furthermore, intelligent chatbots can be programmed to handle everything from helping employees set up their at-home workstations to assisting with onboarding – all without the need for any human intervention.

Optimizing Resources and Reducing Costs

With an impending economic downturn on the horizon, organizations are under increasing pressure to mitigate damages as much as possible. The ultimate goal is to keep operations running at a minimal cost – all without sacrificing service and performance. Not an easy feat by any stretch of the word.

For a tiny fraction of the average cost of a human agent, virtual agents can enable organizations to restructure their workforce, either eliminating non-essential roles or reallocating their resources so that skilled IT agents can focus on more complex or revenue-generating activities.

Over the coming months, businesses will also be looking for ways to save on things like on premise software, hardware and equipment, opting instead for software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that are much more budget-friendly. Cloud-based intelligent automation platforms can help organizations reduce development costs, boost productivity and innovate rapidly.

In business, and in life, there will inevitably be times when we are faced with circumstances beyond our control, whether it’s the current health pandemic or something else. These situations can profoundly impact an organization’s ability to remain functional. Thankfully, technology like AI-powered virtual agents can help soften that blow, providing the ability to not only survive, but even thrive in the face of uncertainty.  

Put the power of virtual agents to work for your organization and strengthen your posture against whatever may come your way by launching your free trial of Ayehu today.

COVID-19 and Remote Working – 5 Essential Factors for Companies to Consider

A month ago, the economy was rolling along. Enter COVID-19 and suddenly everything seems to be grinding to a halt, with organizations scrambling to stay afloat and avoid disruption as much as possible. One primary way this is being accomplished is by enabling employees to work remotely. That being said, many companies were not adequately prepared to roll out work-from-home policies and, as such, are now trying to address the complex challenges that come with navigating unchartered territory. Here’s what business leaders should consider to make the transition safer, smoother and more seamless.

Identify and prioritize which processes will be impacted most.

Certain processes will be easier than others to transition from onsite to remote. The first step should involve evaluating how all of your organizational processes work, paying specific attention to the following:

  • Processes that are most mission-critical
  • Processes that mandate physical presence and/or are most challenging to carry out remotely
  • Processes that may be difficult to move online, such as paper-based processes
  • Any existing lockdowns or access limitations on systems, programs or applications

By gathering this data, you can more effectively develop process flow maps and – more importantly – prepare and plan for those processes which will have the highest impact on your organization’s business continuity.

Determine what logistical provisions must be made from a hardware perspective.

What equipment will your employees need in order to carry out their day-to-day duties from home? These provisions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Strong internet access
  • Telephones
  • Computers
  • Scanners/printers/shredders
  • Security keys/authentication devices

It’s essential that access to necessary equipment be assessed and addressed as quickly as possible. Equally as important is accounting for data protection so you can proactively manage risk and prevent potential security breaches.

And, of course, you need to determine what impact all of this will have on your IT team’s ability to provide support to remote workers. (Here’s where technology can help – more on that below.)

Figure out who should have access to which information.

A big part of ensuring secure business continuity is determining who should have access to information and exactly what that information entails. This step can become more challenging in a remote work scenario because people working from home will inevitably share their space with others. For instance, some remote workers may need to utilize equipment that is shared with other family members. It’s important to identify the potential risks and determine whether additional protections, limitations, equipment or training would be warranted.

Utilize advanced technology to your fullest advantage.

A lot goes into facilitating remote work, and given the current situation – where the entire staff of an organization (including IT) may be required to stay home – leveraging the technology that’s available to us has never been more important. Whether it’s video conferencing to keep meetings on schedule virtually or setting up and provisioning VPNs for all remote workers.

In these instances, artificial intelligence can be a real game-changer. For example, intelligent chatbots can be deployed to enable self-service IT support and automated workflows can be used to free up IT so they can focus on more critical business needs. If there’s ever been a time to consider implementing these technologies, it’s now.

Develop a strategy for managing remote workers.

The last piece of the puzzle is the people aspect. Many leaders find it difficult to manage employees and teams who are not situated in close proximity. Getting comfortable with the idea of remote work may take time. To fast track things and improve the odds of a smooth and uneventful transition, consider the following best practices:

  • Create a communication strategy
  • Define, set and reinforce expectations
  • Be accessible and check in regularly
  • Focus on outcomes rather than activity
  • Arm employees with the tools and technology they need to be successful

Making the move to remote work has been put on the fast track for many organizations. Thankfully, with the right approach and proper strategizing, it doesn’t have to be a painful or disruptive transition. In fact, you may just find this new way of working to be a viable long-term solution for your business.

Get started today by downloading your free trial of Ayehu NG and empower your IT team (and your entire workforce) to be productive from anywhere.