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How Slackbots and Ayehu Add Automation to BMC Helix Remedyforce

Author: Guy Nadivi

BMC Helix Remedyforce is a version of the BMC Remedy platform popular among organizations already using Salesforce.com, making it easy to deploy rapidly for IT organizations who value being nimble.

Since that’s a growing segment of the market, and given the surge of interest in chatbots, BMC and Ayehu have partnered to showcase how to add Slackbots and automation to the Helix Remedyforce platform.

BMC Helix Remedyforce provides a robust IT Service Management platform for running an IT organization and supporting the business. It takes a modern customer-focused perspective, and adds in very intuitive self-service capabilities that empowers non-IT staff to request services and solve problems on their own. BMC Helix Remedyforce is comprised of numerous modules, including:

  • Self-Service
  • Service Catalog
  • Knowledge Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Dashboards
  • Reporting and Analytics
  • Incident and Problem Management
  • Configuration Management
  • Asset Management
  • Agentless Discovery
  • Client Management
  • Multi-Cloud Data Center Discovery
  • Change and Release Management
  • Mobile Apps for IT and Business
  • Collaboration via Chatter and Chat
  • IT Best Practices and Smart Practices

Together, all this functionality allows BMC Helix Remedyforce to offer a unique value proposition of a short time to value, with light effort, yet still yielding a powerful delivery.

If your organization uses a cloud computing platform like BMC Helix Remedyforce, then being very lean and very responsive is most likely a priority. But there’s a way to take that leanness and responsiveness one level higher to help your organization become a self-driving enterprise through the addition of Slackbots and automation from Ayehu.

At Ayehu, we often talk about the self-driving enterprise, which is our guiding vision that influences every aspect of our automation platform.

What is a self-driving enterprise and how do we define it? Very simply – becoming a self-driving enterprise means becoming less reliant on people, and leveraging intelligent automation to handle more of the robotic kinds of tasks humans really shouldn’t be doing anyways.

Ayehu’s platform comes with numerous features an enterprise needs to become self-driving:

  • SaaS-Ready Multi-Tenancy
  • Agentless architecture
  • Codeless interface
  • And overall it’s very easy to use

It also has two features which really extend automation’s ability to help enterprises become self-driving, and thus less reliant on people:

  • AI and Machine Learning
  • Slackbots, which are an extension of AI and Machine Learning that provide end users with an almost human-like channel as an alternative to calling the help desk everytime they have an incident or a request.

Slackbots of course, are part of the overall chatbot market, which is big and getting bigger. Lest anyone think chatbots are a fad, according to Business Insider, in 2019 the market was worth a bit more than $2 ½ Billion. In 2024 they’re forecasting it will approach $10 Billion!

That’s a compound annual growth rate of over 29% a year. Very impressive growth!

I think we can safely say that chatbots are here to stay.

Gartner published a report about the chatbot market (“Market Guide for Conversational Platforms: July 30, 2019 – ID G00367775), which calculated that “31% of enterprise CIOs have already deployed conversational platforms.”

That number “represents a 48% year-over-year growth in interest.”

This is a strong leading indicator that the market is ready, if not eager, for conversational AI in the form of things like Slackbots.

One big reason enterprises are so eager for conversational AI and Slackbots is the impact they’re having on one of IT’s biggest KPI’s – Cost Per Ticket.

There’s a general industry figure published by Jeff Rumburg of MetricNet, an IT research and advisory practice, that a service desk’s average cost per L1 ticket is $20.

However, if you turn any given service request into a self-help or self-service function with chatbots, you can drive that cost down by 80% to just $4 per L1 ticket. 80%!

If you’re a CIO, CTO, or any senior IT Executive, and someone tells you that there’s a way to reduce your single biggest expenditure on IT Support by 80%, without reducing service effectiveness (in fact, possibly speeding it up), you’re probably going to want to hear more.

Enterprises are looking at chatbots as a way to divert calls or tickets or work away from the Service Desk, meaning people, and re-routing that load to chatbots, meaning software.

BTW – It’s not just because of bottom line costs and reducing calls and/or ticket volume to the service desk.

There are other value propositions for enterprise IT executives deploying chatbots:

  • Slashing MTTR by accelerating resolutions of incidents and requests
  • Liberating staff from doing tedious work so they’re freed up for more important tasks
  • And last but not least, raising customer satisfaction ratings, an increasingly critical KPI for IT

Today, there’s another big reason to start using chatbots – the Coronavirus COVID-19.

The Coronavirus pandemic is creating a new reality for everyone, and that’s led to widespread adoption of numerous precautions:

  • Washing one’s hands more frequently
  • Not shaking each other’s hands
  • Wearing protective facemasks

Perhaps the most relevant precaution being adopted, from an IT perspective, is the sudden surge in employees and contractors working remotely.

Numerous governments and health officials are imploring organizations to let their employees work from home, wherever possible, as a way of minimizing community transmission of the Coronavirus.

This has created a new reality for those workers, because now that they’re working from home, they can’t just walk over to the help desk cubicle to make a casual request. They might not be able to do it by phone either because the help desk staff is also working from home, and they’re pretty busy right now at most organizations just keeping the lights on.

Wherever remote workers may be though, they can always submit their service requests through a chatbot, and they can do it from both a web or mobile interface 24×7.

The great news about that is that there’s really no training required for someone to start using a chatbot or Slackbot, especially if it’s on their smartphone, an interface they’re already familiar with.

Slackbots can play an increasingly important role in a self-driving enterprise, allowing users to converse with the bot naturally (so to speak), and in their own language. The bot can understand the request, or if not, request clarification. Once it has the information it needs, the bot simply goes out and executes the request. It’s just that straightforward.

In addition to BMC Helix Remedyforce, there are many other systems you can quickly plug into Ayehu, which then acts as an integration hub across just about every platform in your environment.  This allows your users to initiate automated tasks via chatbot for every system you integrate with Ayehu. Best of all, almost every system Ayehu connects to can be seamlessly integrated without writing a single line of code.

If your organization aspires to be a self-driving enterprise, Ayehu automation + BMC Helix Remedyforce + Slack chatbots can provide a powerful combination which add value to such IT functions as:

  • Incident resolution
  • Alert-driven notification
  • Cross-IT change management
  • Service request management
  • Configuration management and infrastructure provisioning

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG v1.6 with all its cool new features, download your very own free 30-day trial.

https://info.ayehu.com/download-free-30-day-trial-ng

5 Ways IT Automation Can Help Your Organization Survive the Coronavirus

5 Ways Automation Can Help Your Organization Survive the Coronavirus

With the number of people infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) nearing a hundred thousand worldwide and the death toll steadily rising, there’s no question that we’ve got a pandemic situation on our hands. In the face of fear and uncertainty, more and more organizations are curbing corporate travel and turning to remote work arrangements in order to minimize impact and prevent potential business disruption.

The importance of preparing for what is quickly developing into a world health crisis simply cannot be understated. And with these sudden and substantial changes that are occurring in the workplace as a result, there are additional challenges to consider. In particular, there are the logistics of facilitating remote work (provisioning more VPNs, providing remote access to files, etc.), which means more work for the IT team – effectively pulling them away from their normal daily duties.

Addressing these serious and impactful concerns – and quickly – has become a top priority for business leaders across every industry. The good news is, it starts with the right technology. In light of this, we’ve pulled together the top 5 use cases every organization should be prepared to automate and how to pull it off as seamlessly as possible:

VPN Access

With so many employees now getting the green light to work from home, the demand for VPN is going up substantially. Subsequently, VPN access issues for both employees and contractors are also on the rise, such as resetting, opening, closing, VPN certificate updates etc. This places a tremendous burden on IT personnel, many of whom are already overworked and lacking appropriate staff and/or resources. By automating this workflow, remote workers can be up and running quickly without adding to the IT team’s already overloaded schedule.

Permissions and Password Related Issues

The requests for systems permissions and password resets don’t go away just because employees aren’t working in the office. In fact, with remote access, these issues tend to increase in frequency, which means the IT team should expect an uptick in these types of tickets. Unfortunately, as any IT support agent knows all too well, requests like these are time consuming, pulling skilled workers away from other, more important tasks. Again, this is where automation can have a tremendous impact, providing self-service options for end-users and alleviating the pressure on IT.

Extend More Resources

One of the biggest IT challenges with a remote workforce is resource management. Manually monitoring and allocating resources is not the best use of your IT team’s time. With IT process automation, however, resource provisioning requests that would otherwise bog down the service desk can be turned into automated workflows, including those that end-users trigger on their own with just a few simple mouse clicks. This results in a much more satisfactory experience for both the end-user as well as the busy IT team.

Day-to-Day Server and App Maintenance

Just because the office is empty doesn’t mean IT isn’t still responsible for meeting their day-to-day expectations. Things like service restarts, app pool rotation, log cleanup, disk space, memory and CPU utilization, etc. must all still be completed in order to prevent, or at least minimize, business disruption. With automation, you can set up workflows that are either scheduled or automatically triggered via an event. Best of all, this can even be done when IT agents are working remotely as well.

On-boarding / Off-boarding

The spread of the Coronavirus may be most ill-timed for incoming or exiting employees, but life goes on, regardless of whether these team members are in the office or working from home. The problem is, onboarding and off-boarding employees is a time consuming process, and as we’ve already established, IT has enough on their plate as it is. Thankfully, the entire onboarding and/or off-boarding workflow can be automatically initiated and completed quickly, eliminating delays and ensuring a more optimized allocation of resources.

Additional pandemic preparedness tips for IT teams:

  • Evaluate the IT supply chain to determine preparedness
  • Implement remote data center management solutions
  • Review and/or implement remote work policies, especially issues regarding BYOD, company-issued equipment, prioritized access and Internet bandwidth capacity
  • If possible, leverage the cloud to mitigate risk
  • Investigate and utilize alternative communications channels (voice, chat, etc.)
  • Leverage web-based video conferencing
  • Decide which business operations requiring heavy resource usage must continue, and which can be postponed
  • Delay/reschedule non-essential IT ops activities
  • Stagger hours of operation and staffing allocation to ease bandwidth demand
  • Reorient IT budget and projects accordingly

Unfortunately, this latest catastrophic health crisis serves as a sobering reminder of just how vulnerable businesses can be to external circumstances. By leveraging the latest technology, like intelligent IT process automation, organizations can keep employees safe and minimize potential impact. And since enabling remote work has been shown to improve productivity, reduce employee turnover and slash operating expenses, companies implementing these policies may find they come out even stronger on the other side.

Ready to strengthen your position and arm yourself for battle against this and future pandemic situations? Start your free 30 day trial of Ayehu NG today!

Join our Webinar – How Slackbots & Ayehu Add Automation to BMC Helix Remedyforce – Wednesday March 18, 2020

How AI is Revolutionizing the IT Support Role

Over the past several decades, the role of IT support has evolved from basic plug-and-play transactions to handling much more complex tasks and workflows. Unfortunately, the pace of technological change and demand for faster, more accurate and more seamless service has also evolved – in many cases, beyond what human agents are capable of. Furthermore, support teams are being hindered by antiquated processes and technology silos, preventing them from realizing their true value.

That’s why more and more organizations are turning to emerging capabilities, like machine learning and artificial intelligence, to help supplement and enhance the IT support role. AI tools, like intelligent chatbots and virtual support agents, have already proven highly effective in facilitating greater efficiency and superior end-user service.

IT Support’s Greatest Challenges

To truly recognize the impact AI can have, it’s important to understand just what today’s IT support agents are up against. Research has shown that L1 and L2 IT support personnel waste hundreds or even thousands of man hours each year simply due to time-consuming manual labor and inefficient infrastructures. Often times, agents find themselves having to switch between multiple systems and platforms just to accomplish a simple end-user support request.

Another major hurdle modern IT support teams face today is a lack of adequate access to data. Or, perhaps we should clarify this to lack of access to quality, usable data. Agents (and their managers) need access to insights like this in order to analyze and improve performance. Unfortunately, these insights are not always readily available in many organizations, crippling the support desk and ultimately impacting service levels.

When these issues occur, either individually or compounded, not only does the end-user become frustrated, but so do the IT support desk agents. And if they’re feeling unhappy, overworked and unfulfilled, they’re far more likely to churn, leaving organizations with the burden and cost of recruiting and training. It’s a never-ending cycle.

How AI Can Help

How AI is Revolutionizing the IT Support Role

To answer the call of these costly and frustrating challenges, organizations across the globe are turning to AI technologies. In particular, they are leveraging the power of intelligent chatbots to handle lower-level support needs. Imagine how much more valuable your skilled IT workers could be if they weren’t wasting half their day resetting passwords or restarting systems. Not only do virtual support agents resolve issues faster and improve customer satisfaction, but they free up the IT team to focus their efforts and skills on more value-added business initiatives. This is good for everyone involved.

Artificial intelligence can also assist with building out additional content resources, helping higher level agents resolve issues faster and providing invaluable insight to management to facilitate data-driven decision-making. Machine learning algorithms can automatically and continuously analyze past cases to provide real-time guidance for best next steps as well as identify and make suggestions on areas of potential improvement. It’s like having a consulting firm working on your behalf, 24/7/365, only without the hefty price tag.

When IT support agents have access to the most up-to-date tools and innovative capabilities like AI, they’re jobs will be made infinitely easier. Trained workers will be able to apply their skills to more meaningful work, end-users will receive faster and better service, while at the same time, organizations will realize improved satisfaction levels, higher productivity and efficiency, and lower costs overall. That’s what we call a win-win-win!

Want to experience this kind of breakthrough for your IT support team? It’s as easy as downloading Ayehu NG. Click here to try it free for 30 days and put the power of AI to work in your organization.

Slash MTTR with Intelligent Automation for AIOps

Author: Guy Nadivi

There seems to be confusion in the marketplace about the term “AIOps” as far as what it means exactly, but there’s much less confusion about what it can do – Improve IT’s customer satisfaction scores by reducing noise, lowering call volume to the service desk, and slashing MTTR.

These are the types of benefits every IT organization is demanding, and the good news is they’re attainable right now.

Ayehu has partnered with Edge Technologies to show you a vision of what that looks like, and give you a glimpse at the promise that AIOps can bring to your IT organization.

Many of you have worked for years in the IT Operations and Systems Management space. Some of you may recall that in the mid-‘90s, Enterprise Systems Management and Business Service Management (or BSM for short) emerged as new disciplines that would bring together distributed systems and mainframes into a single pane of glass to solve problems. As you may know, Gartner killed off the BSM category in 2016 because vendors failed to deliver on these promised benefits.

In many large enterprises, the picture today still remains the same. Does this scene look familiar to you?

The CIO is still asking “why has customer experience dropped for our core service?.  The IT Ops Manager is unsure what the cause might be as everything looks good thanks to fantastic ”monitoring”.  And the SRE can’t make sense of any of the screens because he/she is suffering from information overload and isn’t sure where to look. No wonder MTTR is high!

Even with today’s AIOps vendors, and a market where new ones seem to be entering the space every week, the promise of universal views into your operations remains elusive.  Nevertheless, it’s still a highly sought-after goal.

So the question is, what is preventing progress towards that goal?

Today, we still continue seeing knowledge and visibility silos across the enterprise from business units, support, operations, and engineering functions all the way through to 3rd-party service providers.

This is one of the main challenges to overcome if AIOps is going to succeed. Internal politics, tool proliferation, and un-integrated workflows continue contributing to the slow adoption of AIOps.

Sound familiar?

The promise of a “single pane of glass” never materialized leaving teams to use point products with limited integration and different data formats. The result?  A huge and costly inventory of tools to manage and operate leading to more frustration.

It’s widely accepted across the industry that most monitoring dashboards today fail to provide required operational views that business needs.

AIOps aims to fully automate IT Operations workflows, but the reality today is that enterprises still struggle with tool sprawl resulting in the “swivel chair” effect. Your triage and remediation workflows are still very much reactive in nature, but the goal is to prevent incidents from happening in the first place as much as possible, right?

Also, in our experience over the years, the tools used today are more than likely to be replaced at some point, so the best approach is to have a vendor agnostic data visualization and integration solution for your dashboarding needs. The tools supplying the dashboard data feeds will come and go.  Replacing them is a simple configuration change in Edge.

In order to break the knowledge and visibility silo challenges and create intelligent operations dashboards for increased AIOps adoption, think of the process in three parts:

Part 1:   Integrate all required data sources ranging from customer experience and your enterprise IT domains to give business and service health views by role. For example, executive, manager, and analyst views.

Part 2:   Integrate your existing event management, monitoring, and IT service management tools at the data and web layers to maximize your existing tool investments, skills, and standard operating procedures to become more proactive than ever before.

Part 3:   Integrate your process automation tools (such as Ayehu) to create convenient and frictionless workflows that can be executed in either attended or unattended mode.

Now that we better understand the problems and obstacles in the way of making progress, let’s walk through the process of creating ideal intelligent operations dashboards for your AIOps initiatives by uniquely combining your data and tools into role-based views of your business and services.

When we think about digital transformation and the outcomes businesses are looking for, one of the goals CIOs have longed to achieve is ensuring that business and enterprise IT are completely aligned. This has been a goal for as long as most of us can remember!

To reflect that in our intelligent operations dashboards, let’s start from the top-level (see graphic below),which is a set of first-level business, customer, and end-user experience (EUE) dashboards that appeal to all levels of the organization.

The second level is a triage dashboard, designed to allow teams to quickly identify whether the server, network or application layer is the source of an outage or service health issue.

The third level is a dependency-mapping dashboard that links application, network, and server infrastructure together in topology views to understand the business impact.

The fourth level is individualized dashboards specifically designed for teams and dedicated roles — application, infrastructure, and network monitoring dashboards.This level of dashboard is where SMEs can directly access your existing best-in-class tools using Edge’s unique web UI proxying capability.

The fifth level gives you access to your raw data including logs, events, packet traces, and call stack traces for example —so that detailed analysis can be performed in context to the issue being investigated.

By combining your data sources and tools into universal views using a single platform like Edge, you can provide appropriate dashboards to your executives, management, and SMEs that provide them access to the content they need and tasks they need to perform to be successful in their daily jobs.

By combining business and related service health metrics along with the power of integration with your data and tools, you can rapidly identify root cause, fix the problem for good, and slash your key performance indicators such as MTTR. Many Edge customers report having happier customers, greater alignment between business and IT, eradication of visibility silos, and overall better decision making and outcomes from their deployment.

Not least of all, their most valuable assets (people) are more successful in meeting their goals and performing their job tasks.

Now let’s talk a bit about automation.

Digital Transformation is a buzzword you hear a lot about these days.  It doesn’t have one standard definition but can basically be understood to mean the collection of technology, process, and even cultural disruptions an organization adopts to maximize its competitiveness in the 4th industrial revolution.

Those technology disruptions can include things like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, chatbots, and of course automation.

The process disruptions include things like Agile or Six Sigma, and a cultural disruption might be something like repositioning the organization’s focus to be better aligned with the customer journey.

For IT departments, digital transformation ultimately boils down to optimizing and accelerating delivery of computing services, regardless of whether the customer is external or internal.

When it comes to incident monitoring, one thing an IT department can do as part of its digital transformation, is to consolidate the visualization of all their various monitoring tools into a single pane of glass, as Edge Technologies enables.  A unified dashboard providing a 360° view of operations, can also provide an extraordinary opportunity to not only centralize incident monitoring but also to automate incident remediation.  That represents a big step forward in the digital transformation of data centers, and a perfect example of how 1 plus 1 can sometimes equal 3.

A recent paper published by Gartner (ID G00390283 – October 9, 2019) advised its readers that an ideal performance monitoring dashboard framework must aim to “Provide for the rapid triage and remediation of performance issues…”.

No argument there. Ayehu and Edge Technologies agree that combining automation with performance monitoring is central to an ideal dashboard framework.  But perhaps the most important word to emphasize in Gartner’s recommendation is “rapid”.

Unfortunately, “rapid” is not an adjective that the vast majority of service desks can use to describe their MTTR today.

MetricNet, the IT consulting firm that publishes benchmarks, performance metrics, and scorecards for a variety of IT-related activities, claims that the average incident MTTR is 8.40 business hours.  If you’re an end user in an organization who just submitted a ticket to the help desk, you do NOT want to hear that it will take an average of 8.40 business hours to remediate your issue.  On the contrary, you want to know that your IT department is doing everything it can to expedite a resolution for your incident, before it starts hampering your personal productivity.

When it comes to MTTR, your mileage may vary of course, depending on your IT organization’s ticket backlog, user population density, and complexity of tickets handled.

Regardless though, one universal factor that’s slowing down almost all IT organizations is the ever-increasing user demand for IT services, which often leads to growing system complexity in your environment to accommodate that growth, and ultimately results in ever increasing pressure on your staff to keep up. 

However, people don’t scale very well.  Even the very best data center workers can only do so much.  At some point, and that point is pretty much right now, automation has got to do more and more of the repetitive, tedious, laborious tasks all this growth in demand for services and increased system complexity is creating.

That’s why consolidating visualization of all your monitoring tools into a single pane of glass and incorporating automated incident remediation into that dashboard, can give your IT department the critical boost it needs to overcome the lack of human scalability.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG v1.6 with all its cool new features, download your very own free 30-day trial version from the link below:

https://info.ayehu.com/download-free-30-day-trial-ng

3 New Roles AI Will Create for Humans

What if we were to tell you that robots are not coming to steal your job, but instead, they’re coming to give you a promotion? Would that change your perception of artificial intelligence? Probably. Thankfully, in most cases anyway, it’s the truth. While AI will, inevitably, make some roles obsolete, it will simultaneously be creating newer and even more lucrative opportunities for humans. In fact, we’ve pinpointed at least three distinct job categories intelligent automation will open the door for. Let’s explore each of these below.

Trainers

Artificial intelligence is just that – artificial. Yes, it is capable of improving autonomously, but someone still has to be there to tell the program what to do and ensure that everything is moving along as it should be.

For example, before you can tell your virtual assistant Amazon Alexa that you want her to call your spouse, you first have to “teach” her who your spouse is and what phone number should be used. Once AI tools and platforms have the basic understanding of what’s expected of them, they can then continue to self-learn, but just like any student, they need to be taught those basics first.

Evangelists

Like it or not, artificial intelligence isn’t going anywhere. In fact, according to Gartner, 70% of organizations will assist their employees’ productivity by integrating AI in the workplace by as early as next year.

Yet, despite this looming proliferation, not everyone is quite comfortable with the concept of AI. Fear of the unknown is still a very real problem for many organizations. That’s where AI evangelists come in. These are human experts whose role, at least in part, is to explain computer behavior to others.

Having champions of intelligent automation will enable the enterprise to overcome fear and resistance, clearing the pathway to successful digital transformation.

Managers

As smart as AI is, it’s not necessarily something you can simply set and forget. To the contrary, human oversight is still very much needed to ensure that systems are working properly, securely and responsibly.

The fact is, while chatbots have the capability of learning and communicating, they lack many of the characteristics that are innate to humans. One need only look back to the Microsoft Tweetbot debacle of a few years ago to understand this.

In March of 2016, the computer mega-giant introduced its interactive chatbot named Tay to the world of Twitter, with the goal of engaging 18-24 year olds with the concept of machine learning. The chatbot was taught to interact with other users like a real human through reading and processing actual tweets.

Unfortunately, within hours, savvy Twitter users had transformed the formerly innocent bot into something vile and offensive. Simply put, AI has the potential to run amok without adequate human oversight.

How Humans Can Prepare

Within these three categories there will be numerous positions and opportunities for human workers to future-proof their careers. The best place to start is through education. Learning new skills and gaining a fundamental understanding of intelligent automation technology can make you an invaluable asset and catapult your career possibilities.

Ayehu’s Automation Academy is designed to provide individuals of every level with the up-to-the-minute knowledge, experience and tools necessary to develop and expand their automation knowledge. Best of all, it’s available completely free of charge. Develop your skills today to become a trainer, evangelist or manager of tomorrow. Enroll for free today!

How AI Can Reduce Service Desk Ticket Costs from $20 to $4 [Webinar Recap]

Author: Guy Nadivi

It’s the End of the IT Service Desk as We Know it (and We Feel Fine)

If you’ve been paying attention the last few years, you know Digital Transformation is a concept that’s sweeping through many organizations, and fundamentally changing how they operate and deliver value to customers.

There’s some very cool, but still somewhat emerging technologies underpinning this disruption, and you’re no doubt familiar with them. Things such as:

  • Data Science
  • Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence

But in the last couple years, the emerging technology that seems to have garnered the most mindshare faster than any of them is chatbots. That’s right! Chatbots are the coolest kids on the digital transformation block, because they assimilate many of the benefits from data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence into a form that can be used today, and deliver value to your organization and customers right now. As a result, chatbots have emerged as perhaps the most familiar digital transformation experience for end users.

BTW – There isn’t any consensus yet on a single definition of “Digital Transformation”. One thing just about everyone can agree upon though is that shifting more of the laborious, repetitive tasks that people shouldn’t be doing in the first place over to chatbots is a good idea. This becomes especially true when you look at some numbers.

A the 2017 HDI show, Jeff Rumburg, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of MetricNet, an IT research and  advisory practice, delivered a presentation on the results of his research into the costs of different service desk access and communication channels. He discovered some amazing disparities.

Jeff found that incidents requiring Vendor Support cost on average a whopping $599 per incident.

If you needed to get IT Support involved (that’s level 3 support), the average cost was $104 per incident.

Desktop Support (level 2) was cheaper, but still relatively expensive at $69 per incident.

Incidents going through the Service Desk, your level 1 support tier, cost $20 per incident. Since level 1 tickets comprise by far the highest volume at most service desks, that’s a logical place to start applying chatbots.

If you can push out incident resolution for level 1 tickets to your end users, enabling them to initiate and remediate their own incidents with chatbots, the cost of support drops down to a very economical $4 per incident. Yeah, wow!

At this point, some more skeptical people in IT might be asking – are chatbots a passing fad or are they here to stay? Let’s look at the objective data on that, and see what direction the numbers point to.

Earlier this year, Salesforce.com released a major report entitled the “State of Service”. Nearly a quarter of their respondents (23%) said they currently use AI chatbots and nearly another third (31%) said they plan to use them within 18 months.

That represents a projected growth rate of 136% in the use of AI chatbots over the next year and a half. By any definition, that’s a viral trajectory.

Spiceworks published a report not long called “AI Chatbots and Intelligent Assistants in the Workplace”.

One question their survey asked was about utilization of intelligent assistants and chatbots by department. Guess which department uses chatbots more than any other? That’s right – IT.

Another question in that Spiceworks survey specifically asked IT professionals if they agree or strongly agree with a number of different statements. The statement IT professionals overwhelmingly agreed with more than any other was that AI will automate mundane tasks and enable more time to focus on strategic IT initiatives.

Those IT professionals Spiceworks surveyed were right. One of the biggest benefits of chatbots is that they automate many of the robotic, laborious tasks that humans shouldn’t be doing anyway. That frees up those IT professionals to work on more strategic and far more valuable IT initiatives. Which in turn makes those professionals more valuable to their organizations.

Why is offloading that tedious work from IT staff so important? Because Gartner has shown that the biggest budget item for IT Service Desks is personnel. Between 2012 and 2016, the average percentage of a service desk’s budget allocated to labor ranged from 84% – 88%. With digital transformations driving up the demand for IT support, there’s simply no way an organization can hire their way out of this situation, even if they wanted to.

The reality is that quality service desk personnel simply cost too much, and no matter how good those personnel are, they can only keep up with so much volume. At some point the laws of physics reassert themselves, reminding everyone that people simply don’t scale very well. Chatbots though, have infinite scalability.

That limited human capacity to scale, combined with the increased volume of requests for service desk support, is degrading end user experiences.

A 2016 Harvard Business Review Webinar titled “How to Fix Customer Service” revealed that:

  • 81% of consumers say it takes too long to reach a support agent.
  • 43% of customers try to self-serve before calling a contact center.

What that tells you is that waiting for human support has gotten so insufferable, end users are increasingly willing to remediate their own issues. All they need is for IT to enable a channel for them to do that.

What kinds of requests are keeping IT service desks so busy?

Well if you’ve attended any of our previous webinars you might’ve heard us cite a well-quoted statistic from Gartner that as much as 40% of an IT service desk’s call volume is nothing but password resets. 40%!

Another big drain on your service desk? Requests for ticket status updates. Those can comprise as much as 10% of a service desk’s call volume, and we’re citing ourselves (Ayehu) as the source on that.

How do we know? Well, Ayehu knows because our clients tell us which workflows have the biggest impact on reducing call volume to their service desks.

Therefore, if you can use a chatbot to automate just these two processes – password resets and ticket status updates – you could cut call volume to your service desk in half! That’s huge, and it will go a long way towards reducing your service desk ticket costs dramatically.

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5 Mistakes to Avoid with Self-Service Automation

Self-service automation is becoming more of the norm rather than the exception. In fact, a recent survey by SDI found that 61% of businesses were focusing on some type of self-service initiative (up from 47% in 2015). And it’s not only for making your customers’ lives easier. Many organizations are realizing the benefits of providing self-service options to employees to eliminate the need for many of the common issues plaguing the help desk, such as password resets and system refreshes. If you’re thinking about jumping on the bandwagon, here are a few common mistakes you should actively avoid.

Inadequate Communication – If you want your employees to adopt and embrace self-service technology, you have to ensure that they understand its many benefits. This is particularly important for your IT team, some of whom may feel uneasy or even threatened by the thought of automated technology handling some of their tasks. Gain acceptance and buy-in by communicating how self-service options will actually make the lives and jobs of everyone easier and more efficient.

Lack of Knowledge – What types of activities can you – and more importantly – should you be transitioning over to self-service? Many otherwise savvy IT decision makers rush into self-service implementation before they truly have a good understanding of what tasks are most beneficial to automate. Take time to learn about what your IT team is bogged down by and also what areas the end-user might not only benefit from, but actually appreciate the ability to handle things on their own.

Not Choosing a Tool Carefully – Not all self-service automation platforms are created equal and if you don’t carefully and thoroughly do your homework, you could end up with a less-than-ideal result. Not only does implementing a faulty tool mean more headaches for your IT department, but the frustration of everyone who has to use it will ultimately lead to disengagement, resistance and/or complete lack of adoption. Make sure the platform you choose is robust, user-friendly and versatile enough to handle both full and semi-automation needs.

Setting and Forgetting It – Like anything else in technology, self-service automation isn’t something that you can simply put in place and never think about again. Not only is it important to keep up to date from a tech standpoint, but it’s equally important to ensure that the system you have in place remains as effective as possible. Conducting regular audits of both the IT department and the end-users can help you determine whether new tasks could be automated or if existing ones could use some tweaking.

Forgetting the Intangibles – Last but not least, maintaining an environment in which self-service automation is embraced and celebrated involves regular assessment and selling of the many benefits this technology provides. When calculating ROI, don’t forget to also consider the intangible ways self-service is good for your organization, particularly how it allows IT to improve its meaningful contribution to the organization. That is a value that can and should be recognized across the board.

What could self-service automation do for your company? Why not find out today by starting your free 30 day trial of Ayehu. No obligation, just enhanced efficiency and better overall operations. Get your free trial now by clicking here!

3 Ways Virtual Assistants are Transforming the Service Desk

A few years ago, the chatbot phenomenon swept the consumer world. Today, people are becoming more and more at ease using conversational AI and virtual assistants to do everything from set their doctor appointments to planning travel. Yet, despite this consumer-driven craze, one area that seems to have been left largely in the dark is the IT help desk. Surprisingly (and frustratingly) enough, for many organizations, even something as basic as requesting more storage and resetting your password still requires opening and waiting for a ticket to be serviced.

The truth is, what once began as an innovative service to help employees has somehow evolved into more of a costly distraction. Budget-conscious executives have come to view the IT service desk, not as a core component of the business, but as an expensive necessity. As such, the help desk has long been the target of cost-cutting reductions. Yet, despite these efforts, one recent report indicates that the expenses surrounding service desks are actually on the rise. Today, a typical help desk is massively overloaded and majorly underfunded.

Enter the virtual assistant. Unlike the many other “solutions” CIOs tried in the past, chatbot technology has the potential to dramatically disrupt and ultimately transform the modern service desk in a way that is both positive and sustainable. This will happen in three distinct ways, as follows.

Automating the humdrum.

According to Gartner, password resets account for 40% of all service desk requests. In this way, help desk support agents can feel like mere robots, repeatedly responding to the same requests over and over (and over) again. Why not transition these mundane, repetitive tasks to actual robots? AI-driven virtual assistants can handle everything from simple tasks to complex workflows. This frees up human agents to focus on higher-level initiatives.

The best part? Chatbots are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They work weekends and holidays and they don’t require overtime. This means not only can you offer round-the-clock support, but scaling to higher volumes will not require an increase in headcount. The tremendous value this promises has led many large, global enterprises to begin deploying virtual assistants.

Removing the human from intuitive tasks.

Under normal circumstances, a typical service order can take more than a full business day to resolve. This process generally includes several interactions between support analysts and often requires escalation to subject matter experts. Next generation chatbot technology is now capable of using historical interactions – such as voice transcripts, prior transactions and other preexisting data – to learn, engage, suggest and recommend resolutions. Even complex troubleshooting can be handled almost, if not entirely by virtual assistants.

Revamping the user experience.

The IT industry has spent a fortune in an attempt to improve employee self-service. Yesterday’s setup was centered on the creation and maintenance of an institutional knowledge base where users could log in and search for answers to their questions in lieu of opening a help desk ticket. The results of these queries were often mixed. Today, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence technology, a user can type, text or even speak their question and a virtual assistant can engage in a meaningful exchange to resolve the issue.

Despite getting off to a markedly slow start, large enterprises around the globe are beginning to recognize the value that conversational AI brings to the table. As such, we are seeing a rapidly growing number of organizations “hiring” virtual assistants to help transform their service desks into the highly effective, cost-efficient and innovative business benefits they’ve always dreamed of being.

Get started with virtual assistant technology and see how it can revolutionize your help desk by downloading your free 30 day trial of Ayehu today.

Want Big Improvements in ITSM? Start Small.

Have you ever faced a challenge so big that you didn’t know where to begin, so you simply did nothing? It’s happened to the best of us, and it happens far too often in the world of ITSM. In many cases, IT decision makers know improvements must be made, but the looming costs and risks have them circling their wagons, afraid to take that leap and get started. If you are in this situation currently, the solution is simple: get back to basics. Rather than taking on huge, risky and expensive ITSM projects, start where you are and take it one step at a time. By starting small, you’ll eventually achieve the big change you seek.

As an example, let’s take a larger ITSM organization that provides support service to external clients across the globe. An operation like this has a ton of service desks, some of which support multiple customers, others are dedicated to individual customers and still others are designated for internal users. Some service desks provide only logging and dispatch while others also offer level 1 support. Across all of these service desks, there are a wide variety of tools and technologies being employed.

In this scenario, the vast majority of communication with customers, for all the service desks, takes place via telephone. Decision-makers within the organization recognize the need for more efficient communication channels (i.e. self-service portals and chatbots). The problem is, in a company that large, the costs of implementation would be tremendous. IT leaders have actually already identified a tool capable of supporting such a complex environment, but because they lack confidence and adequate justification that the project would run smoothly and produce ROI, they can’t nail down funding.

Believe it or not, the solution to this monster of a dilemma is actually quite obvious. Rather than attempting to roll out chat for their entire user base – a significant and costly undertaking – all they really need to do is begin where they are and implement in several smaller steps.

For instance, IT could introduce an easy-to-use, out-of-the-box chatbot platform and designate a small group of users to begin using this tool when they need IT support. IT would then closely monitor the process to identify any issues – either on the service desk or end user side – and work to resolve those issues before scaling up. Over time, the IT team will have:

  • Pinpointed and addressed many issues as they relate to chat-based interactions with the service desk
  • Identified which types of requests are best suited for chat and which are better handled via other channels
  • Figured out how to best encourage users to transition from telephone support to chat
  • Gathered and analyzed data regarding the volume of requests each agent can manage using chat
  • Determined exactly how much time and money could be saved if scaled to the entire organization

Rolling out chatbot support this way is far less risky, and by starting with a tool that is easy to use and doesn’t require coding and/or a ton of training, the overall cost of implementation also remains low. As the project is slowly scaled up, the IT team will have all the information they need to determine whether full implementation would be a cost-effective investment with quantifiable proof to back them up. They’ll also already know what needs to be done in order to ensure success as the project expands.

The good news is, starting small is easy when you have the right tool in your corner. Ayehu is specifically designed to provide rapid time-to-adoption and enhanced simplicity to even the most complex ITSM projects. Don’t believe us? Try it free for 30 days and experience it for yourself. You have nothing to lose!

5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation