4 Ways Intelligent Technology is Transforming IT Support

The IT help desk, as it once existed, has forever changed. Driving this revolution has been the changing demands and expectations of digital customers. Simply put, intelligent technology 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 about intelligent technology 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 intelligent technology, 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 Tools

Without question, the future of IT support will rely heavily on automation. In fact, intelligent technology has already made it possible for organizations to augment their human workforce by leveraging ever-improving AI 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 optimal success.

IT Support Staff

The question of whether human service desk agents will be assisted, augmented and possibly even replaced by intelligent technology is no longer an “if,” but rather a “when.” Getting employees onboard with the concept of virtual support 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 and not just the company – 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.. 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.

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4 Ways to Optimize Remote IT Leadership

4 Ways to Optimize Remote IT Leadership

If 2020 taught us anything, it was the importance of agility and resiliency. The global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way businesses across almost every industry operate. Perhaps one of the most impactful changes was the shift to remote working – something that was accelerated far more rapidly than many organizations had ever anticipated. This was especially the case with IT, the department tasked with the burden of keeping the lights on, despite the disruptive circumstances.

Now, as we begin to settle into the so-called “new normal,” it’s becoming increasingly clear that the virtual workforce is here to stay. For those leaders facing the challenge of managing remote IT teams, here are a few helpful tips to keep everyone on track.

Prioritize technology.

First things first. If you want to set your dispersed IT team up for success, make sure to arm them with all the technology that they need. We’re not just talking about physical equipment, either. Beyond laptops, modems and headsets, invest in tools and platforms that will make it as efficient as possible for them to effectively perform their duties.

Intelligent automation, for example, can take much of the grunt work off their plates, freeing them up to focus on mission-critical tasks while simultaneously ensuring that everything that needs to get done gets done. This can also be a powerful tool for teams that are struggling with limited human resources, for whatever reason. IT automation can be that extra set of hands when staff is tight.

Stay connected.

When working from home as opposed to part of a physically present team, it’s easy to become distant and begin to feel isolated. Add to this the stress and anxiety many people are experiencing due to the current health crisis, and you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster on your hands.

It’s not enough to simply make yourself available to your remote employees. You should take things a step further by proactively making an effort to stay in communication with each team member. This can be done via regular group meetings, one-on-ones or even virtual social hours. We’ve got the technology today to stay hyper-connected. Be sure to use it to your team’s advantage.

Collaborate regularly.

At some point, online team meetings will inevitably become cumbersome and won’t always be the most efficient use of everyone’s time. To prevent fatigue and keep your team engaged, leverage online collaboration technologies, such as instant messaging, document sharing platforms, like Google Drive, and virtual workspaces, such as Slack or Yammer.

Being able to connect and work alongside colleagues in real-time, regardless of physical location, can help keep productivity high. It can also work wonders for morale. According to a survey by Telus, when asked what they missed most about working in an office setting, many respondents cited small talk and co-worker interaction at the top of their list. Providing this on a virtual level is the next best thing.

Be disciplined (and lead by example).

Working from home can be a very different dynamic from working in the office. IT leaders (and leaders in any field, frankly) can benefit from treating their virtual roles the same as their in-person ones. In other words, don’t let your schedule become lax, or be tempted to work from your couch.

Instead, approach each day just as you would if you were heading in to the office. Wake up at a decent time. Get ready. Start work at the normal time. Staying in a routine – and encouraging your team to do the same – can have a tremendous impact on productivity.

Likewise, designating an area of your home that will be dedicated to working only can also be effective in helping you stay focused and prevent distractions that are inevitable when working from home. It can also help in establishing and maintaining better work-life balance.

Transitioning from on-site management to a virtual workforce has been incredibly challenging – especially for business leaders who are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the lack of face-time with employees. Following the above guidelines should make things much easier to deal with, both for managers as well as remote employees.

Still struggling? Check out our extensive Work from Home Support Resources or get in touch today!

Integrating Intelligent Automation into Your Company Culture

In order for intelligent automation to be truly successful and produce sustainable results, it can’t be a one-off project that is exclusive to the IT department. It has to be woven into the very culture of the organization and fully embraced across the entire company. But changing corporate culture is much easier said than done. How can you incorporate automation so that it becomes an integral part of the everyday work environment? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Get buy-in from top leadership. Cultural changes typically start at the top and trickle downward, so make sure that everyone in a leadership role within your organization understands the benefits of intelligent automation and why it’s so critical that it become a part of the underlying atmosphere of the company as a whole. Once they’re on board, it’s time to start leading by example.

Sell the benefits. If you want your company culture to embrace automation, you have to make everyone in every position aware of how it will benefit them directly. In other words, show what’s in it for them. Otherwise, you will lack the support needed to make the final shift. Remember, intelligent automation isn’t just about those running your help desk. Things like self-service automation also provide enhanced flexibility, autonomy and empowerment to the end-user. Get the message out.

Identify and address obstacles. Change management is challenging, especially when it involves the evolution of an entire corporate culture, but it’s not impossible. You just have to understand what’s standing in the way so you can overcome those obstacles. For instance, if your employees are scared that intelligent automation will make them obsolete, they will resist. You have to address and quell that fear head on by showing them the opportunities it will bring for new roles, such as Automation Engineer, and the ability to do more with less.

Incentivize and reward. Culture change happens much more smoothly and effectively when it’s not shoved down the throats of your employees. Instead of simply telling them and expecting them to adapt, make them a part of your company’s evolution. Not only will this help them better understand the reasons behind the change, but the buy-in will create a much stronger foundation for the shift across the board.

Keep it fluid. The beauty of intelligent automation, and technology as a whole, is that it’s constantly changing and improving. A corporate culture is much the same in that it should be something that can be molded and enhanced as needed. Keep an open mind and make modifications where necessary. As long as you’ve got a solid foundation to work with, the only direction you can go is up.

Have you been successful in weaving intelligent automation into your organizational culture? Please share your insight, advice and tips in the comment section below. And don’t forget to launch your free product demo of our Next Generation Automation & Orchestration platform, powered by AI. It’s something you must experience for yourself!

cio guide to operational efficiency

The skills gap is widening. Intelligent Automation to the rescue!

intelligent automation to bridge the skills gap

When it comes to digital transformation, certain distinct skillsets are needed – of which many are in short supply. The area of cybersecurity, for instance, is suffering a remarkable shortage of talent – a shortage that only continues to widen by the year. IT operations that focus on human capital and disparate tools and systems simply won’t be enough to keep up with the staggering pace of innovation.

Modern enterprises must be capable of adapting quickly to the ever-changing and increasingly complex environment while also remaining flexible. Furthermore, a growing number of IT technologies, applications, systems and processes must be adopted and routinely updated in order for organizations to remain competitive.

These demands pose a serious challenge to those enterprises that do not have adequate talent or expertise. For those IT teams that find themselves behind the eight ball, intelligent automation can be their ace in the hole.

The Shift from Human to Machine

In response to the lack of talented human resources, many organizations are already working to add technologies that can augment their existing human resources. In particular, intelligent automation and orchestration is becoming a significant focus. In fact, Gartner lists AI and machine learning strategy development/investment among “the top five CIO priorities.”

Making the shift from human to machine results in two distinct advantages. One, because intelligent automation is capable of performing massive amounts of error-free work, productivity skyrockets. Second, with the addition of intelligent automation, existing human workers can apply their advanced skills to more important business initiatives, such as growth and innovation. And thanks to machine learning and AI technologies, decision-makers can avail themselves of data-driven support.

A Match Made in IT Heaven

With intelligent automation, organizations facing the challenge of budgetary restraints can build highly functioning, agile IT operations without the need to hire additional staff. Existing personnel can be trained and reskilled to become versatilists — those who can hold multiple roles, most of which will be business, rather than technology, related.

Furthermore, with the help of intelligent automation, IT departments can operate at maximum efficiency, saving time and money in the process. In fact, this technology has the potential to position forward-thinking enterprises at the forefront of digital transformation, despite the growing talent shortage.

Could your organization benefit from this “ace in the hole?” Find out today by taking Ayehu for a test drive and set yourself up for success in 2021!

6 Common Challenges of Intelligent Automation Adoption

6 Common Challenges of Intelligent Automation Adoption

As with all disruptive technologies, intelligent automation has the potential to bring about tremendous transformation, both in how organizations operate, as well as how the human workforce carries out various day-to-day business activities. Because of its massive and relatively rapid impact, however, there can also be a number of potential issues that can arise along the way, slowing down or even stalling progress.

Whether you are just starting out on your intelligent automation journey or you’re already in the thick of things, here are a few of the most common challenges that you should try to sidestep.

Lack of Definitive Strategy

Adopting new technology is no small feat. Organizations often get themselves into hot water when they try to accelerate the process of implementation without taking the time to lay the framework first. Before proceeding with an intelligent automation initiative, it’s essential that you first assess the current state of your business so you can accurately identify primary areas of focus.

It’s also important to decide on the scale and scope of automation (i.e. small pilot projects vs. organization-wide adoption). Having a definitive plan in place will help you measure progress and stay on track.

Unrealistic ROI

Another important point to make when adopting intelligent automation is that initial ROI projections are really just educated guesses. Understanding this helps to avoid setting unrealistic expectations and dealing with the aftermath when things don’t pan out quite as hoped.

This is one of the major reasons we strongly recommend starting with smaller projects – the lower hanging fruit, so to speak, as this enables you to more quickly achieve quantifiable ROI that can then be used to make more accurate estimates.

Staffing Issues

It’s no secret that the IT field has been battling an ever-widening skills gap for many years now. Rapid advancements in technology, including intelligent automation, have made a lack of talent even more of a glaring problem for organizations around the globe. Skilled IT professionals are hard to come by, and even harder to retain.

To address this, forward-thinking enterprise leaders should focus their efforts inward, looking to existing staff to upskill and reskill. There are plenty of low-cost or even free resources available to bring employees up to speed on intelligent automation, including our own Automation Academy.

Improper Use Case Selection

Determining which process or workflow to focus on as your first use case can certainly be a challenge. And, if you choose the wrong one, you could easily end up behind the eight ball with nothing to show for it as a result. Again, our strong recommendation is to start small and focus on tasks and processes that will yield the highest return the fastest. Once you’ve achieved success there, you can begin to scale upward and outward.

Vendor/Platform Choice

One area where many well-intentioned business leaders get tripped up is in choosing the vendor and/or intelligent automation platform for their needs. It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in a product or service that touts all the “bells and whistles,” but at the end of the day, if you don’t need all of those extras, it’s not really worth it.

The key to success here is to focus on ease of use and low-code/no-code solutions – especially if your long-term goal is to disseminate intelligent automation across the entire enterprise. You want a tool that can get you up and running quickly, doesn’t have a steep learning curve, is agile enough to grow and adapt along with your changing needs and doesn’t require an engineering degree to manage.

Poor Change Management

Just because the management team is gung ho about adopting automation doesn’t mean everyone will be equally as receptive. In fact, given the uncertainty and many misconceptions surrounding intelligent automation as a threat to human jobs, fear and resistance to change are almost to be expected.

To avoid this and gain as much buy-in and positive momentum as possible right out of the gate, invest in open, honest and ongoing communication. Educate your employees on the many ways that the purpse of automation isn’t to replace them, but rather to make their lives easier. Here are a few more tips for quelling end-user anxiety.  

Without question, intelligent automation can be the catalyst for positive change in helping organizations achieve the three key elements of digital transformation: agility, responsiveness and cost-savings. The six tips above should help you avoid many of the common but unnecessary bumps along the road and set your organization up for a much smoother transition.

Get up and running with intelligent automation in less than an hour! Download your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG today!

Using AI to Level Up the CIO Role

Using AI to Level Up the CIO Role

Today’s executive leaders are being challenged to identify ways to help their organizations work smarter and adapt to a rapidly evolving landscape, and all of this while keeping expenditure as low as possible. Perhaps no role is under as much pressure to achieve these things than that of the CIO. As the individual most frequently leading the charge for digital transformation, CIOs are tasked with not only overseeing IT initiatives, but also take on additional responsibilities, like market positioning and revenue generation.

Thankfully, there is a not-so-secret weapon that can be leveraged to help executives in this role not only meet the growing demands that they are facing, but exceed those expectations to reach even higher levels along their career path.

A Shift in Perspective

CIOs have transitioned from being viewed primarily as a service provider to becoming an integral business partner. This, of course, requires an alignment between the overarching business objectives and the organization’s IT capabilities, including the help desk, network and infrastructure.

Conventional responses are simply no match for the ever-growing demands of the cloud, big data and IoT. As such, CIOs must take appropriate measures to ensure that ITOps does not interfere with or limit the digital transformation journey.

Introducing AI into the mix – a process now formally referred to as AIOps – has become a go-to solution for forward-thinking IT executives. And while early adopters may have focused on monitoring data and automating remediation to reduce downtime, more experienced leaders have begun to embrace and employ the technology’s advanced capabilities, such as chatbots and virtual support agents (VSAs).

AIOps has proven to be effective in optimizing time and resource allocation for the IT department, primarily by automating both routine as well as complex and multi-faceted processes. This thereby reduces MTTR, eliminates unnecessary work and boosts productivity, improving service levels across the board.

Achieving Self-Funded Status

When applied aptly and broadly, AI has the potential to become self-funded. That is – its overall, long-term and sustainable value far outweighs its upfront and/or ongoing investment. This is the ideal scenario, especially for the CIO who is under immense pressure to minimize costs without sacrificing quality and quantity of output.

Once self-funded status is successfully established, the results can then be lined up with the various key metrics that business stakeholders are targeting.

To start, CIOs and their teams should identify tasks, processes and workflows that are not only able to be quickly and easily automated, but will also produce rapid and quantifiable ROI. These will typically include repetitive, manual activities that are tedious but necessary to continuous business operations.

When these basic, “low-hanging fruit” are identified and successfully automated, the next step for the CIO is to ask questions and uncover areas or segments where AI can be applied to make processes and experiences more intelligent. Looking for repeatable patterns is a good place to begin.

The third step should include the creation of a formal inventory which lists these various business opportunities for automation and AI, and prioritizes them based on impact and feasibility. Again, the focus should be on achieving the ultimate end-result of a fully (or at least largely) self-funded operation.

Like it or not, the role of CIO is rapidly evolving. With so many critical hats to be worn, it can easily begin to feel like an overwhelming and unachievable task. Thankfully, with tools like AI and intelligent automation, those in this leadership position can boldly push forward, not only achieving the goals set forth for them, but exceeding them at every turn.

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