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The 4 Secrets to Effective Digital Transformation

Often times, when it comes to solving a business problem or achieving a certain organizational goal, it makes more sense to begin with the end in mind. That is to say, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish and what the journey to that objective is all about before you begin investing time, money and resources into new strategies and technologies. This is a particularly effective way to approach digital transformation.

Despite the overwhelming trend pushing businesses toward digital change, many have tried and ultimately failed, simply because they didn’t start the process with a clear understanding of what digital transformation truly is. When decision makers start with a tech-first mentality, they end up missing the point of what this transformation is actually about. To help you avoid going down the wrong path in your own digital journey, consider the following best practices.

Don’t lose the human element.

So many business leaders focus so much on putting all the latest and greatest tools, technologies and applications in place that they forget about the most important element – humans. Simply put, a digital strategy cannot be successful without a people strategy to support and carry it out. Look closely at the organizations that have made great strides in achieving digital transformation – like Pitney Bose and GE – and you’ll find that what they have in common is a staff of people who are curious, passionate and motivated to affect positive change.

Be customer-centric.

Being people-minded doesn’t only apply to employees, either. It’s equally important that you take into consideration the evolving behaviors and preferences of your customers if your goal is to drive digital transformation. The companies that have gotten it right have done so with an outside-in mentality, focusing first on the customer journey to identify things that are broken or missing, and then taking the necessary steps to fix those things from a digital standpoint. After all, if you’re not keeping your customers satisfied, what’s the point?

Make collaboration a priority.

While digital transformation may start with IT, it’s not a singular effort. To the contrary, for transformation to truly occur, it has to permeate the entire organization. Still, you will most likely begin smaller to start the process going. Undoubtedly, mistakes will be made, and from those mistakes, best practices will be discovered and defined. For optimal results, these trail blazing teams should play a pivotal role in helping to roll out change to the rest of the company through documenting, sharing and ongoing collaboration.  

Be unapologetic.

Let’s be honest. Change is hard. It’s scary. It can be uncomfortable. And as a result, it will almost always be met with some degree of resistance. If you want to forge ahead with digital transformation, you have to accept this fact, and then ignore the naysayers. Focus instead on the small group of innovators and early adopters. They will become the champions, influencers and drivers of change that you need to break through, overcome objections and achieve your end goals. Above all, be unapologetic. When you are doing what’s right for your employees, your customers and ultimately your business, everything will eventually fall into place.

Once you’ve got all these things in place – the people, the approach, the perspective and the attitude – you’ll be ready to take the next step toward successful digital transformation. And we’ll be ready to help you with that by placing the power of AI and machine learning in the palm of your hand. Check it out with an interactive demo or experience it firsthand with a free, 30-day trial of Ayehu.

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Pursuing Digital Transformation in 2019? Here’s how to do so securely.

There’s a lot of talk about the topic of change management, and with so many of today’s forward-thinking companies going through digital transformation, mergers and acquisitions and any number of other updates, upgrades and changes, it’s for good reason. Keeping everything running as smoothly as possible is essential to a business’ ability to emerge on the other side stronger and even more successful. One such area of significant importance is IT security. If your organization is currently or will soon be navigating major changes, here are some specific tips to ensure that your critical data remains safe during the process.

Make it a top priority.

Regardless of what type of reorg you’re going through, the subject of cyber security incident response should be at the top of the list, and remain there throughout the entire process. Designate at least one individual (or preferably an entire team) whose sole purpose is maintaining maximum security at all times. If it’s placed on the back burner, your company will become vulnerable to impending risk and very likely to become a victim of a breach.

Plan ahead.

For situations, such as mergers and acquisition, determining whether there are any concerns with the other company’s cyber security incident response ahead of time is crucial, yet often overlooked even by top management and key decision makers. According to a 2014 survey from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, an incredible 78% of respondents said cyber security was not carefully analyzed prior to an acquisition. Don’t make this same mistake.

Take advantage of technology.

Don’t leave the heavy burden of manually managing IT security on the shoulders of your technicians. Even under the best of circumstances, this task is monumental and impossible for humans to handle alone. Add in organizational change and you’ve got an entirely new and incredibly more challenging cyber security landscape to navigate. Use technology, such as automated incident response, to ease this burden and improve the chances of an uneventful transition.

Be aware of new targets.

A company going through major reorganization can be an attractive target for cyber criminals. In fact, even the very information surrounding the internal changes – such merger data and documents – may become a point of increased risk. The person or team charged with IT security should remain acutely aware of this information at all times and carefully monitor who has access and whether that access is legitimate. Otherwise, trade secrets and other confidential info could end up in the wrong hands.

Train and communicate.

It’s been said plenty of times, but it’s worth iterating again: cyber security incident response is everyone’s job – not just IT. Every employee should be trained on how to protect sensitive data and spot potential security concerns so they can be addressed immediately. Senior executives must also be involved in the cyber security discussion. When everyone takes some level of ownership, the risk to the organization as a whole can drop significantly.

Account for more exposure.

Organizational change often requires the addition of a number of external parties, such as lawyers, consultants, bankers and contractors. These additional people will ultimately mean greater exposure of sensitive data. This must be expected and adequately accounted for well in advance to ensure that all information remains as secure as possible throughout the entire transition. Again, the person or persons in charge of IT security should make managing access to information a top priority.

Is your company planning on rolling out some big changes in the near future? Is there a merger or acquisition on the horizon? Whether it’s adopting a new company-wide software product, making changes to corporate culture or partnering with another firm, the changes that will take place within can potentially leave you exposed to greater risk of a security breach. By taking the above steps and solidifying your cyber security incident response plan in advance, your company will be in a much better position to navigate the upcoming challenges and come out on the other side as a success story.

If you could use some upgrades, particularly in the technology you use for IT security and incident management, you can get started today by downloading a free 30 day trial of Ayehu.

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Reskilling Your IT Team for Digital Transformation

The number of job openings for data scientists is steadily on the rise, with IBM predicting a 93% growth rate in data science skills, followed by 56% predicted growth for machine learning skills. Without question, artificial intelligence experts, machine learning developers and data scientists are in high demand, and as that demand rises, the number of qualified candidates to fill open roles will dwindle.

In fact, according to the 2018 State of the CIO report, 36% of respondents cited difficulty filling roles for business intelligence and data analytics. AI roles also made the top 10. Rather than hiring new employees, many organizations are instead looking to reskill existing staff to prepare them for the roles needed to achieve digital transformation.

Let’s take a look at how some companies across various industries are preparing their existing personnel for the AI era of tomorrow.

Back to School

There is no shortage of formal training programs available at higher education institutions across the globe where those interested in gaining expertise in the way of AI, machine learning and data science can pursue their professional development. The most advanced training typically takes anywhere between a year to a year and a half to complete. It also requires basic programming skills and a solid understanding of programming. There are also a variety of online courses and programs to consider.

Forward thinking companies looking to transform their existing workforce can offer tuition reimbursement and flexible work schedules in order to encourage employees to go back to school. The promise of a newer, better role at a higher pay grade can also be great incentive.

Formal In-House Training

Another way organizations are getting existing employees prepared for digital transformation is to create in-house training centers. These will often include test environments in which trainees can experiment with AI and other disruptive technologies. As employees learn and skills are mastered, the training can then be extended to other teams and departments, including the C-suite.

For those companies that don’t have the capacity to create learning centers, availing themselves of vendor-provided training can be the next best thing. For instance, Ayehu offers a free Customer Success Program as well as free Webinars each month aimed at accelerated training of various AI and machine learning applications.

Peer-to-Peer, On-the-Job Training

As companies begin to build up a pipeline of skilled internal talent, they can then begin investing in peer-to-peer mentoring opportunities to further spread knowledge and education. For instance, a department might attend a starter course to familiarize themselves with the concepts of AI, machine learning, etc. and then transition to a mentoring strategy thereafter.

This approach begins by incrementally exposing employees to smaller areas where the use of disruptive technologies can have a large-scale impact. Once comfortable, they can then move toward improving workflows and tackling other, more complex projects – all under the supervision of experience mentors. Many business leaders utilizing this approach feel that it’s much more effective and that employees learn, absorb and build upon critical skills much faster than they would in a traditional classroom setting.

Keeping Pace with Change

The challenge of reskilling to facilitate digital transformation is that technology is evolving at an incredible rate. Keeping pace with the rate of innovation is the key to success. That means developing and fostering new skills on an ongoing basis.

To address this, some organizations invest in regular educational sessions and AI-related training held either ad hoc or at specified intervals. Access to routinely updated educational resources, like online tutorials, onsite training and industry/sector conferences is another option. The thing to remember is that, given the rapid rate of change, you simply cannot overeducate your employees.

With a staffing shortage that’s growing by the day, business leaders must compensate by reskilling existing employees. Otherwise, they risk losing ground in the race to digital transformation.

Give your team a solid foundation by investing in top-of-the-line, Next Generation Automation and Orchestration. Give it a try free for 30 days. What do you have to lose?

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The CAO’s Role in Digital Transformation

The CAO's Role in Digital TransformationToday’s savvy business leaders recognize the need to adapt to changing technology or risk being left behind. And while we may not be able to control what that technology will be or which direction it will take us, we can take advantage by responding quickly and making the necessary adaptations before our competitors. That’s why the role of Chief Automation Officer is becoming much more necessary.

A recent study by PMG revealed that the biggest obstacle to successful adoption of automation was the lack of a holistic approach. In fact, 59 percent of respondents agreed that automation implemented on an ad hoc basis leads to incompatibility and subsequent inefficiency. Most organizations today require not only a unification of silos but also the ability to align automation strategies between different physical locations, some of which may be situated half a world away.

How can one expect to effectively align IT functions with the business as a whole when automation – the very technology that’s designed to enable better business decisions – is not adequately represented in the C-Suite? A CAO brings valuable perspective with the ability to see automation from a global viewpoint. As a result, automation becomes a critical component of the overall strategy rather than just a means to deliver it.

Organizations with multiple technology centers located worldwide recognize the importance of global collaboration to the forward progress of the company. There is little overall business value if you’ve achieved continuous process improvement in just one office but not the others. You may have certain specialists deployed across the globe who are highly skilled at managing automation technology, but if there’s no central strategy and one leader, their abilities cannot be maximized.

The CAO’s purpose is to drive this type of simultaneous widespread orchestration. While automation specialists focus on their specific IT departments, managing the day to day operations, the Chief Automation Officer spends his or her time looking outward and forward. This role is absolutely essential to achieving rapid, sustainable transformation, as the ability to orchestrate automation on a global scale and unify strategies is what ultimately enables businesses to adapt at the speed of thought.

Automation is critical to an organization’s ability to reallocate capital from today’s business operations to the needs of tomorrow. It allows IT to shift from reactively putting out fires to taking a more proactive approach, which is necessary for successful digital transformation.

The good news is automation is evolving at relatively the same pace as the complexity it is designed to simplify. Disruption that would otherwise be overwhelming is now becoming entirely feasible thanks to automation and orchestration solutions that provide a competitive edge. Deriving business value from the IoT, for instance, is made possible by automation strategies that process and analyze the data being procured. Automation essentially frees up funds that can then be used to fuel innovation.

The CAO is responsible for taking optimized workflows and applying them wherever feasible throughout the entire organization. This creates more compliant and easily auditable processes. And because this approach eliminates repetition and duplication of work, the entire operation can run more consistently and efficiently. Furthermore, by evaluating how automation is utilized throughout the company, the CAO is also able to optimize the allocation of human resources, removing bottlenecks and improving productivity across the enterprise.

Another area where the CAO can be highly beneficial to the company is in his or her ability to seek inspiration from the rest of the workforce. One company was able to uncover nearly 300 innovative ideas simply by asking employees to suggest processes to automate. In the absence of this communication between upper management and frontline workers, these suggestions, and the positive changes they brought about, would have remained private.

In conclusion, automation remains a catalyst for change, driver of innovation and procurer of productivity. With the overarching visibility and control a CAO provides, automation strategies will have the flexibility and scope needed to stimulate disruption and achieve digital transformation.

Want to see the power of automation and orchestration powered by machine learning in action? Click here to request a product demo.

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5 Things that Can Hinder Digital Transformation

5 Things that Can Hinder Digital TransformationDigital transportation is no longer just an option. In order to remain relevant and competitive, it’s an absolute necessity. In fact, 87 percent of companies believe that digital transformation will give them a leg up on the competition. A further 27 percent consider it a matter of survival.

But while many business leaders recognize its importance, achieving enterprise-wide buy-in remains challenging. And let’s face it, any change of this magnitude has the potential to go south. That being said, let’s take a look at five red flags that, if not addressed, will almost certainly derail your progress.

Not Defining Objectives

You can’t embark on a digital transformation initiative just for the sake of doing so. Company executives must have a clear vision of not only why they’re doing this, but also what they specifically wish to achieve as a result. Without this vision, the entire project will be doomed right from the get-go. To begin, take a look at what your competitors are up to and then figure out how you can improve to make a real impact on your market.

Failure to Communicate

It’s human nature to fear change and, in response, resist it. Knowing your front line employees will likely push back at the thought of rolling out tools like intelligent automation can make it tempting to avoid those difficult conversations. But in order for digital transformation to truly occur, everyone across the board must buy into the vision and have a clear understanding of why it’s necessary. Be open and transparent with your employees and tackle fear head-on. That’s the only way to overcome it.

Lack of Guidance

You may have the utmost faith in your staff, but are they truly up to the monumental challenge that comes with achieving digital transformation? Chances are you’ve already got the foundation, but you can’t simply assume that your employees will automatically adjust and adapt without adequate assistance. A skills assessment is crucial to identifying knowledge gaps so they can be addressed accordingly, prior to moving forward with your project.

Not Recognizing Champions

As you move forward with your skills assessments, you will likely identify certain key players who are stand-out experts. These individuals can become an invaluable asset to the project at hand and the organization as a whole, but only if you consciously tap into them as a resource. These champions of change should be encouraged and empowered to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with others. This can do wonders for gaining buy-in, particularly with those who are still somewhat resistant.

Caving to Challenges

Digital transformation is a long journey and one that is wrought with many challenges along the way. If business leaders do not work to create and nurture a culture within the organization that embraces change with unwavering optimism, when things get rocky, morale can seriously take a hit. Those spearheading the change must do their best to maintain a high degree of energy and not let challenges and struggles bring down the team.

What’s the first step? Adopting the right technology. According to Accenture, 92 percent of business leaders say that intelligent automation will be put to wider use within their company during the next 12 months. Will you be one of them? Get started on the path to true digital transformation today with a private demo.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

The Role of Workflow Automation in Digital Transformation

The Role of Workflow Automation in Digital TransformationThe digital era has opened many doors to businesses in terms of technology. These days, new tech is not only widely available, but it’s also far more affordable than it was even just a decade ago. With this increased access, many organizations have set forth on the path to digital transformation with technology as their primary focus. In reality, however, it’s people and the processes they are empowered with that will lead to true transformation. And it’s intelligent workflow automation that will unlock the power of your employees. Here’s how.

Overcoming Barriers to Digital Transformation

Forward-thinking business leaders recognize that in order to remain competitive, they must continuously evolve their culture, processes, procedures and technology. Accomplishing this successfully is no easy feat.  And despite the fact that 83% of IT decision makers say workflow automation is “essential” to digital transformation, a surprising number of manual processes still remain.

The truth is, even the most dedicated IT teams cannot possibly manage to optimize the thousands upon thousands of processes that are occurring across the business. As a result, only certain processes get prioritized for automation, which means only select users experience the benefits. This is particularly true at the enterprise level.

For instance, the workflows most critical to keeping the C-Suite operating efficiently may be automated while line of business workers in other departments, such as human resources, marketing and finance are left in the dark. This results in a remarkable number of inefficiencies across the organization.

Providing these LOB workers with access to an intelligent automation platform eliminates these inefficiencies. Users can automation and orchestrate processes that are most relevant to them, eliminating manual processes and thereby optimizing their workflows.

Deploying Workflow Automation Across the Enterprise

The key to enterprise-wide adoption of workflow automation is that it must be trusted by your IT team and accessible enough to be used across the entire line of business. If IT has to waste hours of their busy day writing code, the automation project will just become another point of contention. This, coupled with the need for LOB accessibility, makes no-code solutions the best choice.

With an intelligent workflow automation and orchestration platform like Ayehu provide this enhanced accessibility. And since the technology requires no coding and features a drag-and-drop design, workflows can be built and deployed in minutes, making life easier for the IT department and improving the experience for LOB users.

No-Code Intelligent Solutions for Workflow Automation

At Ayehu, we believe that every business user should be able to benefit from workflow automation. By leveraging a solution like ours, enterprises can unlock the power of their workforce, empowering users to optimize and innovate. Workflow automation, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, can become the catalyst for change and the next step in the journey that leads your organization to true digital transformation.

Want to experience intelligent workflow automation for yourself? Take Ayehu for a test drive today!

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