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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.