Posts

Transform Your Organization with AI in 5 Steps

According to IDG’s 2018 State of the CIO report, 73% of IT executives struggle with striking a balance between the need to innovate and the demand to achieve operational excellence. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that IT frequently gets bogged down with a growing list of tools and competing priorities, all of which chip away at precious time and available resources. As a result, more organizations are turning to artificial intelligence as a way to bring technology, data and people together to drive digital transformation. Here’s how you can use AI to do the same in five easy steps.

Step 1: Understand what you can and cannot solve.

While AI has the potential to transform an entire organization, machine learning technology is not yet capable of fully replacing the experience of skilled professionals. Instead, IT teams can leverage automation powered by artificial intelligence to free up skilled workers to do what they do best: apply their expertise to develop solutions for highly prioritized issues.

Machine learning algorithms can sift through mountains of data to spot trends, deliver insights and identify potential solutions. Automation can assist in resolving certain issues. But it’s up to the IT department to apply the deep analysis necessary to achieve business goals.

Step 2: Identify and prioritize problems to address.

Artificial intelligence can help address the two biggest IT challenges: maximizing operational efficiency and improving the customer experience. The role of CIO has taken on much greater importance, with 80% of businesses viewing IT managers as strategic advisors for the business. As such, these individuals, along with others in IT, are responsible for defining key areas of focus for new technology, such as AI solutions. In order to achieve buy-in, new solutions should be presented in a way that closely aligns with broader organization-wide goals.

Step 3: Pinpoint gaps in technology and skills.

The IT skills gap is an ever-present problem, and it doesn’t appear to be going away any time in the near future. In addition to the talent shortage, IT budgets are stagnating. AI solutions can help to mitigate both of these issues by empowering IT teams to do more with less, and at a much faster rate than they could on their own.

Keep in mind, of course, that key skills are still necessary in order to drive these solutions. To address this, many organizations are looking to reskill existing staff. Thankfully, today’s automation tools do not require a PhD to operate them. Regardless, decision-makers should look for a data-based platform that features AI-powered technology.

Step 4: Develop your strategy.

Once you’ve identified which problems AI is capable of solving for your organization, defined the specific challenges you’d like to overcome, achieved buy-in for adoption and assessed what resources you have to work with, the four step is to develop your strategy for deployment. This strategy should include the following main segments:

  • Roadmap – from proof of concept to continuous process improvement
  • Testing Plan – defining what you want to accomplish and what metrics will indicate progress
  • Team – investing in and arranging training for IT staff

Step 5: Prepare for scale.

Any broader AI strategy should involve mapping out data across all systems, services, apps and infrastructure. This includes both structured and unstructured data as well as data in a variety of different formats. It’s essential to select a solution that is capable of ingesting, normalizing and formatting all data sources for analysis.

Further, it’s critical to choose a platform that offers room to mature and scale. And keep in mind, also, that while the “land and expand” concept may work for some companies, others – particularly those with a higher risk tolerance – may be better off to push transformation across the entire organization at once. Generally speaking, however, stable and sustainable change begins by starting small and building on early successes. The key is leaving enough room to grow.

Want to experience some of those early successes now? Launch your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG and put the power of AI and intelligent automation to work for your organization today!

How to Leverage Intelligent Automation to Better Manage Alert Storms [Webinar Recap]

Author: Guy Nadivi

As most of you already know, there’s a digital transformation underway at many enterprise organizations, and it’s revolutionizing how they do business. That transformation though is also leading to increasingly more complex and sophisticated infrastructure environments. The more complicated these environments get, the more frequently performance monitoring alerts get generated. Sometimes these alerts can come in so fast and furious, and in such high volume, that they can lead to alert storms, which overwhelm staff and lead to unnecessary downtime.

Since the environments these alerts are being generated from can be so intricate, this presents a multi-dimensional problem that requires more than just a single-point solution. Ayehu has partnered with LogicMonitor to demonstrate how end-to-end intelligent automation can help organizations better manage alert storms from incident all the way to remediation.

The need for that sort of best-of-breed solution is being driven by some consistent trends across IT reflecting a shift in how IT teams are running their environments, and how costly it becomes when there is an outage. Gartner estimates that:

Further exacerbating the situation is the complexity of multi-vendor point solutions, distributed workloads across on-premise data centers, off-premise facilities, and the public cloud, and relentless end-user demands for high availability, secure, “always-on” services.

From a monitoring standpoint, enterprise organizations need a solution that can monitor any infrastructure that uses any vendor on any cloud with any method required, e.g. SNMP, WMI, JDBC, JMX, SD-WAN, etc. In short, if there’s a metric behind an IP address, IT needs to keep an eye on it, and if IT wants to set a threshold for that metric, then alerts need to be enabled for it.

The monitoring solution must also provide an intuitive analytical view of the metrics generated from these alerts to anyone needing visibility into infrastructure performance. This is critical for proactive IT management in order to prevent “degraded states” where services go beyond the point of outage prevention.

This is where automating remediation of the underlying incident that generated the alert becomes vital.

The average MTTR (Mean Time To Resolution) for remediating incidents is 8.40 business hours, according to MetricNet, a provider of benchmarks, performance metrics, scorecards and business data to Information Technology and Call Center Professionals.

When dealing with mission critical applications that are relied upon by huge user communities, MTTRs of that duration are simply unacceptable.

But it gets worse.

What happens when the complexities of today’s hybrid infrastructures lead to an overwhelming number of alerts, many of them flooding in close together?

You know exactly what happens.

You get something known as an alert storm. And when alert storms occur, MTTRs degrade even further because they overwhelm people in the data center who are already working at a furious pace just to keep the lights on.

If data center personnel are overwhelmed by alert storms, it’s going to affect their ability to do other things.

That inability to do other things due to alert storms is very important, especially if customer satisfaction is one of your IT department’s major KPI’s, as it is for many IT departments these days.

Take a look at the results of a survey Gartner conducted less than a year ago, asking respondents what they considered the most important characteristic of an excellent internal IT department.

If an IT department performed dependably and accurately, 40% of respondents considered them to be excellent.

If an IT department offered prompt help and service, 25% of respondents considered them to be excellent.

So if your IT department can deliver on those 2 characteristics, about 2/3 of your users will be very happy with you.

But here’s the rub. When your IT department is flooded with alert storms generated by incidents that have to be remediated manually, then that’s taking you away from providing your users with dependability and accuracy in a prompt manner. However, if you can provide that level of service regardless of alert storms, then nearly 2/3 of your users will consider you to be an excellent IT department.

One proven way to achieve that level of excellence is by automating manual incident remediation processes, which in some cases can reduce MTTRs from hours down to seconds.

Here’s how that would work. It involves using the Ayehu platform as an integration hub in your environment. Ayehu would then connect to every system that needs to be interacted with when remediating an incident.

So for example, if your environment has a monitoring system like LogicMonitor, that’s where an incident will be detected first. And LogicMonitor, now integrated with Ayehu, will generate an alert which Ayehu will instantaneously intercept.

Ayehu will then parse that alert to determine what the underlying incident is, and launch an automated workflow to remediate that specific underlying incident.

As a first step in our workflow we’re going to automatically create a ticket in ServiceNow, BMC Remedy, JIRA, or any ITSM platform you prefer. Here again is where automation really shines over taking the manual approach, because letting the workflow handle the documentation will ensure that it gets done in a timely manner, in fact in real-time. Automation also ensures that documentation gets done thoroughly. Service Desk staff often don’t have the time or the patience to document every aspect of a resolution properly because they’re under such a heavy workload.

The next step, and actually this can be at any step within that workflow, is pausing its execution to notify and seek human approval for continuation. Just to illustrate why you might do this, let’s say that a workflow got triggered because LogicMonitor generated an alert that a server dropped below 10% free disk space. The workflow could then go and delete a bunch of temp files to free up space, it could compress a bunch of log files and move them somewhere else, and do all sorts of other things to free up space, but before it does any of that, the workflow can be configured to require human approval for any of those steps.

The human can either grant or deny approval so the workflow can continue on, and that decision can be delivered by laptop, smartphone, email, Instant Messenger, or even via a regular telephone. However, note that this notification/approval phase is entirely optional. You can also choose to put the workflow on autopilot and proceed without any human intervention. It’s all up to you, and either option is easy to implement.

Then the workflow can begin remediating the incident which triggered the alert.

As the remediation is taking place, Ayehu can update the service desk ticket in real-time by documenting every step of the incident remediation process.

Once the incident remediation is completed, Ayehu can automatically close the ticket.

And finally, it can go back into LogicMonitor and automatically dismiss the alert that triggered this entire process. This is how you can leverage intelligent automation to better manage alert storms, as well as simultaneously eliminating the potential for human error that can lead to outages in your environment.

Gartner concurs with this approach.

In a recently refreshed paper they published (ID G00336149 – April 11, 2019) one of their Vice-Presidents wrote that “The intricacy of access layer network decisions and the aggravation of end-user downtime are more than IT organizations can handle. Infrastructure and operations leaders must implement automation and artificial intelligence solutions to reduce mundane tasks and lost productivity.”

No ambiguity there.

Ayehu

4 Ways Digital Transformation will Impact IT Support

The IT help desk, as it once existed, has changed. Driving that evolution has been the changing demands and expectations of digital customers. Simply put, digital is revolutionizing the world of IT support and service. These newer and more complex requirements of digital customers (which include employees) are causing IT teams to re-evaluate what they have to offer in terms of support and capabilities. If your organization or team is at a similar crossroads, here are four key areas on which to focus. 

IT Support Strategies

Regardless of whether your IT service desk happens to support a company of ten or a multi-location, enterprise level organization, the time to start thinking digital is now. A great place to begin is by uncovering how employees have evolved into so-called “digital consumers” and, more significantly, how this evolution has changed the expectations they have of IT support.

To do this, evaluate the gap between your current situation and those changing expectations. In particular, look at your current channels of support. Poll employees to determine whether they feel the current channels they are using to contact IT support are sufficient and effective. Figure out what channels they might prefer. Also, examine common customer use cases and needs. Then, use this information to develop a strategy that incorporates newer, more innovative support channels (like self-service chatbots and virtual support agents).

Operating Models

How does your IT service desk engage with customers? The focus here should be more on this approach as opposed to best practices and ITSM processes. To bring your operating models in line with digital transformation, ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • Is your approach to IT support adequately in line with your realistic business needs and expectations? For example, what is the overall goal? Cutting IT support costs? Minimizing lost time and revenue at a business level? Understand your objectives and align your strategy accordingly.
  • Do your IT support agents understand “personas” of its customers (i.e. the common characteristics and behaviors they share)? Do your operational practices accurately reflect these personas?
  • How does your IT support desk measure success? Is it primarily related to how the IT service desk has helped and/or improved customer and business operations?

Once you’ve answered these questions, use the data you’ve gathered to identify any and all disconnects between IT support status quo and the actual needs and desires of both the customer as well as the business as a whole. These gaps are where changes must be made.

IT Support Technologies

Without question, the future of IT support will rely heavily on automation. In fact, newer technologies have already made it possible for organizations to augment their human workforce by leveraging ever-improving artificial intelligence capabilities. With these advanced technologies deployed in the right areas, IT support teams are able to more effectively deliver on the increasing demands of digital customers.

Whether your service desk is already leveraging virtual support agents or is planning to in the near future, it’s important to ask the right questions. In particular:

  • Are your virtual agents being used to their fullest potential?
  • Are your virtual support agents being employed at the right points during the customer journey?
  • Do end-users feel that the VSAs improve their support experience?
  • Have you established a robust and accurate knowledge-base from which the VSAs can draw?

This last point is key, as virtual IT support will only be as good as the data behind it. That being said, creating an environment that blends high-tech automation with the human touch of IT support agents will position your organization for greater success.

IT Support Staff

The question of whether human service desk agents will be assisted, augmented and possibly even replaced by virtual support agents is no longer an “if,” but rather a “when.” Getting employees onboard with the concept of artificial intelligence isn’t always easy, especially those L1 agents who view automation as a threat to their livelihood. But it’s essential for an organization of today to remain competitive tomorrow.

Educate your IT support team on the value and benefits that AI has to offer. Make it about them – how AI will make their lives easier, enable them to perform more meaningful work, provide an opportunity to learn new skills and make themselves more marketable, etc. – not just about the company. And start investing in your current workforce. Identify champions of the cause and reskill them so they’ll be ready to face the digital future with confidence. Get them excited about the possibilities that lie ahead!

There is no longer any doubt. IT support as we know it today is changing. Only those organizations that are willing to adapt and evolve their strategies, models, technologies and people alongside those changes will make it through unscathed.

Want to experience the power of artificial intelligence for your IT support team? Try Ayehu NG absolutely free for 30 full days. Click here to download your free trial.

The 7 Secrets of Effective Digital Transformation

If you’ve ever read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, you’re familiar with the concept of “beginning with the end in mind.” Putting that into context in terms of digital transformation means organizations must determine what their goals are before they begin adopting a ton of shiny new technologies. Unfortunately, many otherwise intelligent business leaders make the mistake of focusing so much on technological innovation that they miss the mark altogether.

This is not to say that technology isn’t a key driver of digital transformation. The problem often lies in a misunderstanding of what digital transformation actually is. According to a recent report by Altimeter, despite the fact that a growing number of enterprises are investing in innovative technologies, the majority of them are still lacking in terms of meeting customer expectations due in large part to a lack of digital literacy. The report also concludes that the main obstacles to achieving the solidarity and collaboration necessary for true, effective and lasting digital change are ego, politics and fear.

When an organization begins with a tech-first approach, it risks missing the point about what digital transformation is truly all about. In many instances, company leaders – CIOs in particular – fall into the trap of attempting to build new technology atop an old and crumbling legacy foundation. There’s an erroneous belief that all it takes to keep up with disruption is continuously adopting the latest and greatest apps and programs. New tech is great, but it must be adopted as a component of the digital transformation process, rather than its fundamental basis.

To demystify the whole digital transformation concept and improve your chances of success, here are a few expert tips to keep in mind.

The human element should be front and center.

Yes, the term is “digital” transformation, but in reality, it’s more about human transformation than anything else. That’s really what’s at the heart of any successful change. Technology is essential, yes, but it’s equally, if not more important that your people are all on the same page and moving together at the right speed. One of the biggest challenges to transforming a business is bringing its workforce up to speed, in particular, getting them current with the skills needed to facilitate change.

Experts unilaterally agree that the key to achieving true digital transformation is having a team of individuals who are curious, motivated by and passionate about the mission. Only then can you successfully usher in the innovative technologies you need to move forward.

A great example of this is Pitney Bowes. Several years ago, the company began initiating a shift to align itself with the changing world of tech. Specifically, they focused on evolving in 10 key areas such as machine learning, analytics, mobile, SaaS and APIs. But while leadership recognized the critical need for a strong technical strategy, they also prioritized the development and implementation of a solid people strategy as well.

The company organized curriculum for each of the 10 key areas of disruption and every one of the 1,200 employees was tasked with immersing themselves in one of those 10 topic areas for a period of one full year. The results have been beneficial to both sides – the company, by enhancing its workforce, and the employees, who have enriched their skills and improved their personal value proposition. Additionally, with staffers becoming subject matter experts in their chosen topics and subsequently collaborating together, many new and valuable relationships have been forged. This is advantageous to everyone involved.

Take the time to really understand your customers.

Ask any business leader what they believe the biggest driver of digital transformation is and they’ll probably cite the evolving behaviors and preferences of their clientele. Yet, according to the Altimeter report, a remarkable few (less than half) actually bother to truly understand their digital customers.

The few that are actually getting it right have done so by taking an outside-in approach. In other words, they take the time to determine what’s missing or broken that can solve a need and then focus their efforts on doing just that, tying in key performance indicators (KPIs) and ROI to demonstrate success. Rather than looking at internal processes, these innovators examine the customer experience first to identify opportunities to add value.

The key takeaway? If you aren’t meeting what your customers want or need, your efforts to achieve digital transformation will inevitably fall short and you will risk being left behind. The best technology, the best policies and procedures, the best laid plans – none of that will matter if the end result doesn’t make the lives of your clientele easier. That’s the end result that should be your focus from day one.

Establish new teams.

Spearheading digital transformation shouldn’t be a side project. If you want it done right, you need to have a team of individuals who are 100% dedicated to the cause. Teams should be made up of various people with different strengths and diverse backgrounds. For instance, you might have a project manager, a lead developer and someone who is focused on the customer experience. You could then supplement this with members from other roles, such as QA, development, ops and finance.

When an idea for a new initiative arises, the team’s job should be bringing it to fruition – at least to some degree – as quickly as possible. It’s not about achieving perfection right away. Digital transformation involves evolution, which means your team should be ready to go through a cycle of development – try things out, assess how they work and then adapt and improve accordingly. This agile methodology may require a paradigm shift, which is why it’s so important to have a dedicated team.

Cultivate collaboration as you deploy technology.

As mentioned, digital transformation isn’t entirely about technology. Yes, technology is a critical component, but it takes people to really achieve successful change, and that requires ongoing collaboration. Trailblazing ideas, sharing best practices, building a community – these things drive innovation and continuous improvement.

Use Pitney Bowes as an example once again. While they were designing their curricula around their 10 targeted technology areas, leadership also hosted global innovation roundtables to enhance collaboration efforts. As a result, they were able to identify cases in which there were common problems with their integration, delivery and operational practices. This enabled a fast and effective resolution across the board. Furthermore, because of the improved collaboration, workers acknowledged feeling much more engaged, as opposed to being just another “cog in the wheel.”

Don’t give in to the resistance.

It’s human nature to fear change, and that fear often manifests itself as resistance amongst workers. Logically speaking, the larger the enterprise, the greater the push back is likely to be. If you want to successfully shift to a digital ecosystem, you simply cannot let the naysayers get you down.

That’s not to say you should steamroll over them and ignore their concern. It’s more about your approach. Over communication and clear articulation, not just about what is happening, but how and most importantly, why, is key. It’s also important to develop a group of early adopters and innovators – those who embrace the proposed changes, as they can become your champions.

At the end of the day, digital transformation is really about people transformation.

Think like a startup.

As organizations become larger, greater divides between various groups and departments begin to occur. This results in silos of information, which can hinder communication and the ability to collaborate effectively.

To avoid this, try to adopt more of a startup mentality – one that focuses on operating nimbly and making sure that projects are being carried out in the correct way. Be cognizant of any walls and barriers that exist and focus on eliminating those and encouraging unilateral communication across the board. Encourage teams, departments and divisions to work closely together with a goal of making strategic decisions more quickly and rolling out smaller changes faster.

Take a bottoms up approach.

According to the aforementioned Altimeter survey, only 40% of the companies polled say their digital transformation initiative is overseen by an executive-mandated steering committee. Getting buy-in from the C-suite is certainly important, but how you go about doing so can make all the difference in the world.

Many organizations have had tremendous success by flipping the typical top-down narrative to more of a bottoms up approach. In other words, they focus on obtaining buy-in from all levels of hierarchy within, bringing together a diverse group of workers to collaborate together to create a digital transformation strategy.

This provides the opportunity to go through checks and balances to determine what makes the most sense and is directionally appropriate. Only when every ‘I’ is dotted and every ‘T’ crossed is the strategy presented to the C-suite for approval.

Conclusion

Is technology an important part of digital transformation? Of course. But if that’s all you’re focused on, you will inevitably come up short. Instead, focus on the people and policies that matter most, get all your ducks in a row and start with the end in mind. Do so and your organization can be counted among the success stories.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

5 Tips for Managing the Changes of Digital Transformation

Today’s business leaders are focused on digital transformation. What they often fail to consider is how much transformations like these alter the very essence of their organization. In some instances, a company might modify its entire business offering after going through a successful transformation. This may require a complete realignment of how you approach the market, how you use technology, how you engage your customers and how your employees see their roles as well as the business as a whole.

At the end of the day, change is about speed. It’s about competitiveness. It’s about innovation. To be successful in today’s digital environment, organizations must be agile and ever-evolving. The problem is, change isn’t always easy – especially when it comes to people. Getting your employees on board requires strong, deliberate leadership. This is where change management comes into play. To follow are five truths that change leaders must embrace in order to be successful.

Start with a vision.

You cannot drive change unless and until you have a clear and accurate picture of what you’re trying to achieve. When you develop a vision of the end-state, it becomes easier to understand the ‘why’ of what you’re doing, and when you can get others to appreciate this ‘why,’ you’ll get buy-in. Just be careful not to be too rigid with your vision. Make sure you leave room for adjustments along the way. 

Involve the stakeholders.

Remember, change management is really about people, and these people will either resist or embrace the proposed changes. To mitigate detractors and maximize drivers, identify who will be most affected by the changes you are proposing and then get them involved in the process as early as possible. If you can make them feel a sense of control over what’s happening, they’re more likely to become advocates for your cause.

Listen.

The nature of digital transformation is that it is fluid. You will inevitably reach points at which you must pivot in order to progress. There may also be a number of tradeoffs or roadblocks you haven’t yet considered. Listening to those most closely affected can provide insight as to what courses may need to be corrected. Additionally, giving people a voice can help get them on board. Invite people to share their questions, concerns and feedback.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Having a clear vision of your digital transformation won’t do much good unless you share that vision with everyone else. Being honest, forthcoming and transparent right from the start can do wonders for overcoming employees’ fear of change. Use as many tools as are available to you, from email and newsletters to intranet sites, videoconferencing, town halls and more. Do everything you can to instill that vision in your employees.

Learn as you go.

The fifth rule for change leaders is to recognize that as you push forward toward your goal, new and unexpected challenges can and will arise. Your success in achieving digital transformation will depend largely on your ability to adjust to those challenges. Be prepared to regularly reevaluate to make sure you’re still on the right track and course-correct as needed. Being agile is what will ultimately get you to your end game.

Of course, having the right tools in your corner can also help make managing change easier. Ayehu supports digital transformation through seamless integrations, rapid adoption and even faster time-to-value. Click here to take Ayehu for a test drive for 30 days.  

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

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.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

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.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

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?

New Call-to-action

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.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

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