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Building Your Automation Journey with 90-Day Outcomes

10 Steps Towards Operational Efficiency, Sustainably and Resiliency

As the world begins the slow transition into the “new normal,” organizations are facing the monumental challenge of rapid transformation. With so much uncertainty, ITOPs no longer has the luxury of taking its time in planning and carrying out long-term projects, what used to take several months, now happens overnight. Today’s IT leaders must find a way to compress and accelerate their efforts in order to achieve ROI as quickly as possible – and all while navigating relatively uncharted waters in the process.

Thankfully, rolling out automation in the post-COVID world doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s how your team can do so in 10 easy-to-implement, 90-day increments and be fully productive before you know it.

Step 1 – Identify Candidates

To begin, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Likewise, automating the wrong processes can completely derail your project. Start by analyzing your data sources, namely your ITSM records. The goal is to identify where you are currently spending the most time and money.

This analysis of your current policies and procedures should help you pinpoint which tasks, workflows and processes would produce the quickest wins if automated. Good candidates for automation include, but are not limited to, tasks that:

  • Have a high volume of tickets
    • Are repetitive with little variance
    • Require little or no human intervention
    • Are time consuming

Step 2 – Select Quick Wins

The previous step should have resulted in a shortlist of various tasks and workflows that, if automated, are likely to generate the fastest ROI. You want to be able to demonstrate to stakeholders the value of automation and get them onboard with widespread rollout. Showing them quantitative value as quickly as possible is key. To achieve this, prioritize your candidates so that your desired outcomes align with the ability to produce fast and measurable results. 

Step 3 – Document

The next 90-day phase should involve developing detailed documentation and flow charts, beginning with existing processes. Specifically, you should focus on identifying any and all manual steps that can and should be transitioned to automation.

It’s critically important during this phase that you remain cognizant of the fact that some existing processes may need to be fundamentally changed in order to take advantage of automation. Take a step back and examine each process thoroughly to determine whether it could benefit from redesign, either in part or in its entirety. Then, set to work re-imagining and reworking it accordingly.

Step 4 – Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Once you’ve generated a few quick wins from some low-hanging fruit, it’s time to dig deeper and start defining your longer-term objectives. How will you ultimately measure success? Try to stick with the SMART acronym as you develop your KPIs and potential outcomes:

  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few common hard ROI examples to get you started:

  • Reduce total number of tickets
  • Reduce # of tickets that require human interventions
  • Reduce # of tickets that are escalated from L1/L2
  • Shorten MTTR

In addition, you may want to include a few “soft” metrics as well, such as improved user satisfaction.

Step 5 – Design Workflow

Moving into phase five, it’s time to begin designing your automated workflows. At this point in the process, it’s important to remember that it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Heavy lifting is also not required here. Instead, lean on established technology and pre-built templates. For example, Ayehu features a massive library of pre-designed, existing workflows based on best practices developed from over 250 successful deployments. It’s also entirely codeless. All you need to do is match these up with the “quick wins” you identified in steps two and three and you’ll be ready to begin implementation.

Step 6 – Implement and Test

It’s time to start putting all of your hard work and planning into action, albeit in a safe, lower-risk environment. Using the pre-built templates you’ve matched with your automation initiatives, modify them as needed to suit your organization’s specific needs and goals. (Note: Ayehu’s visual designer can dramatically shorten time-to-value in this phase.)

Once your templates are customized and ready to be run, begin launching test workflows in a staging environment. This will allow you to identify and address any issues prior to live rollout, enabling you to avoid potentially costly problems down the road and increasing your likelihood of success.

Step 7 – Start a Pilot

You want your final rollout to be as close to perfection as possible, so you’ll need to do a great deal of testing before you officially launch. Working with a live pilot program & initial users first will enable you to continue identifying areas of concern and correcting them before deployment to the masses.

Ayehu can help with this as well by enabling you to easily move workflows from staging to production using our workflow migration feature. Conduct a pilot in a small scale production environment, measure your results and then modify workflows as needed based on the real-world feedback received.

Step 8 – Move to Production

When you’ve worked out all (or most of) the kinks and you’re confident that your automation project is working as planned and producing the desired results, it’s time to put your proverbial money where your mouth is and expand your usage into full production. This phase is often challenging to move into because, let’s be honest: it’s scary to take that leap. As a result, many IT teams end up in ‘pilot purgatory.’

Know that if you’ve done all the previous steps correctly, you should be ready to confidently move forward. It can be helpful during this phase to use the “bottom-line-value backward” approach, rather than focusing on technology. Make sure quantifiable metrics are collected, stored and adequately tracked.

Step 9 – Measure Results

For an automation project to achieve sustainable success, results must be measured and iterations performed on an ongoing basis. Once you’re officially in full production, you’ll need to continuously verify that you’re on the right track. Evaluate your results and compare them against the KPIs you defined in step four. As you identify procedures that are no longer adding value, be swift and decisive about eliminating them. (Note: if you are using Ayehu, your management dashboard can serve as a reporting aid, making this process much more efficient and effective.)

Step 10 – Promote Outcome

The final phase in the process, and the key to sustaining continuous improvement, is to obtain executive buy-in. Utilize all of the quantifiable data you’ve gathered over the previous nine steps, compile it and report it to the “powers that be.” Remember to use established KPIs and each one’s subsequent ROI to provide compelling proof of success. This will enable you to gain the approval you’ll need to expand and broaden your automation reach, which will bring you full circle back to phase one again.

Automation doesn’t have to be some distant goal on the horizon. By breaking down a multi-year project into a series of smaller, more achievable steps, you’ll be at the finish line before you know it. More importantly, you’ll already have a number of victories and best practices under your belt by the time you arrive.

Start today by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

How Ayehu Can Help You Win the Automation Race

You’ve probably heard the term “Enterprise Platform.” In many situations, this is a fairly accurate statement. In some, however, such as the race to innovate, the idea that the bigger the vendor, the better the outcome is simply not always the case. In fact, to the contrary, we believe Ayehu is not only capable of competing with legacy automation vendors, but is actually in a much better position to help CIOs lead their organizations to victory. Here’s why.

Automation companies grow over time, but their DNA remains the same. It’s been present since their inception. Some of the most successful players in the automation space, like HP, BMC, IBM have been around for many years – far longer than Ayehu. But while their length of service may provide them some advantages, their legacy DNA, which is at the core of their existence, may actually present a hindrance.

This is particularly relevant in today’s uncertain climate, where IT leaders are seeking speed, nimbleness and agility. And the truth is, the larger a vendor becomes, the less it is able to offer these benefits. Sure, there may be lots of fancy bells and impressive whistles associated with their products. But in reality, very few organizations actually need all those frills. Even fewer need the added expense that comes along with them.

Today, CIO’s are no longer afraid of choosing innovative startup over well-known enterprise software companies because they recognize that the biggest the risk, the bigger the reward.

As a young, innovative startup, Ayehu is not encumbered by the legacy DNA or services-heavy business models of many of the dinosaurs that have long dominated the automation space. Being lighter and more agile enables us to make rapid progress, iterate quickly and pivot on a dime. We find – especially now – that this way of operating more effectively addresses the unique challenges and aligns much more closely with the goals and priorities of today’s CIOs.

Last, but certainly not least, our advanced product is not only powerful, but rooted in innovation and continuous improvement. New features, enhanced capabilities and an ever-growing list of seamless integrations make Ayehu one of the most efficient and effective intelligent process automation tools on the market. And with a codeless, drag-and-drop visual designer and over 200 pre-built, ready-to-use workflow templates, we are able to get organizations up and running with automation in less than an hour. (No, that is not an exaggeration.)

Thanks to all of these things, we are able to help our customers achieve the agility, performance optimization, cost savings and resilience they need to compete in the digital age. These customers vary by size, location and industry to include everything from global MSPs and international telecommunications organizations to multinational financial services firms, major school districts and more. We’ve also been named a Cool Vendor in IT Automation by Gartner, and recognized in several of their market guides over the years.

So, does bigger always mean better? Sometimes, yes. But not when it comes to winning the automation battle. The victory for that race goes to the swift, and Ayehu can help get you to the finish line faster.

Want to learn more about Ayehu’s products and services? Click here to schedule a live demo or get started right away with a free 30-day trial.

The Secret to Unlocking Maximum Return on Efficiency and Cost-Savings

The Secret to Unlocking Maximum Return on Efficiency and Cost-Savings

Artificial intelligence technologies have already begun to change the way we live and work. Yet, still far too many businesses remain caught up in the trap of wasting tremendous amounts of valuable time on routine, repetitive tasks. Automating as many of these mundane tasks and workflows can not only have a massively positive impact on efficiency and productivity, but it can also dramatically improve morale. But it’s not just about adopting these technologies on a case-by-case basis that will reap the greatest rewards. It’s doing so in a way that automates business processed from end-to-end. That’s the real key.   

Why End-to-End?

In order to optimize business operations and gain competitive advantage, IT leaders must focus on integrating intelligent automation into processes at every level. Without this holistic approach, you will inevitably end up with automation silos, which can actually impede progress rather than facilitate it.

Using purchasing as an example, the goal should be to embed automation from supplier selection through invoice payment. Ultimately, you want intelligent technology to become a seamless part of normal daily work, from the start of every task or workflow through completion and beyond. Keep in mind that this may (and very likely will) involve incorporating automation through multiple teams and departments.

One of the biggest problems with dedicated (isolated) automation projects is that the organization misses out on valuable insights along the journey. For instance, automating just a piece of the customer experience process could result in a failure to effectively capture feedback data. Without this information, business leaders cannot fully understand behaviors, buying decisions and reasons for churn. As a result, they miss out on the opportunity to hone and improve their product or service.

The Self-Driving Organization

Many similarities can be drawn between intelligent process automation in the workplace and autonomous vehicles. In particular, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies have the potential to adapt and either recommend certain actions based on data, or carry out those actions independently, without the need for human intervention. Does this mean people will suddenly stop driving? No – at least not for the foreseeable future.

Likewise, humans will still be needed to oversee the intelligent technologies that are being utilized in the workplace. (This is why we recently posted an article about the importance of reskilling the workforce.) Someone still has to define algorithms, decide what rules should be followed and determine which priorities present the most value.

That being said, there is plenty of opportunity now to start making strategic decisions and laying the foundation for a more autonomous future. A great first step is to help human workers gain a better understanding of the technology, its capabilities and the potential ways intelligent process automation can bring tremendous benefits to their daily lives. Better understanding will foster trust, which will make it much smoother sailing as more and more processes are moved to automation.

At the end of the day, in order to remain profitable in an increasingly digital world, business leaders must take a holistic approach to their automation initiatives, working together across the entire enterprise to incorporate intelligent technologies across the board. Only then will they be able to achieve the highest return on their investment.

Did you know that Ayehu NG integrates with dozens of the top software, platforms and applications to help facilitate seamless automation process across the entire infrastructure? Check out our full integration list here and then download your free trial to take Ayehu for test drive today!

How to Keep the Lights on When “Work from Home” Isn’t an Option

How to Keep the Lights on When “Work from Home” Isn’t an Option

There’s been a lot of buzz around the topic of work from home and the importance of having a business continuity plan in place, particularly in light of recent events. For many organizations, making the transition to remote work is relatively easy. For others, however, such as those with employees in developing countries who don’t have access to computers or internet connectivity at home, it’s simply not a feasible option. Intelligent IT process automation can provide a viable solution, effectively “keeping the lights on” by augmenting the human workforce. Here’s how.

Implementing the right intelligent IT process automation platform empowers businesses to continue operations, even when human operators are unavailable.

In fact, automation can be used to handle a wide variety of different tasks and workflows, many of which are complex and multi-faceted. Here are just a few real-world examples of how ITPA can be leveraged during a staffing shortage:

Each of these actions can be automated to be carried out with zero human intervention. Or, if greater control and oversight is preferred, can be set up to loop in human decision-makers.

And it’s not just the ability to facilitate staff absences that organizations stand to gain by adopting intelligent process automation. There are a number of additional tangible and intangible benefits to consider. For instance, ITPA has been shown to help MSPs boost their profit margins by as much as 35%!

Perhaps best of all, however, is that businesses can be up-and-running and fully functioning with automation in just one single hour. For organizations in crisis, this can be the lifeline that prevents the ship from going down.

If your company has been hit hard over the past several weeks and you are concerned about significant potential business disruption due to lack of available talent, we are here to tell you that there’s no need to panic. Intelligent IT process automation can become not just a means of survival, but a force multiplier, helping you weather any storm and eventually emerge on the other side stronger and more stable than ever before.

Don’t wait. Start your free trial of Ayehu NG today and give your organization the solid foundation it needs to achieve continued success, no matter the circumstances.

4 Steps to Intelligent Process Automation Breakthrough

Intelligent process automation is rapidly transforming the global economy, delivering momentous gains to enterprises that adopt it at scale. One recent article by McKinsey revealed that some organizations have been able to automate 50 to 70 percent of their workflows, generating ROI that reaches into the triple-digits. In addition to cutting costs, intelligent process automation can also deliver precision, speed and enhanced customer experience.

In order for organizations to enjoy the full value of intelligent process automation, IT leaders must be willing to take a guiding role. Unfortunately, many IT executives find this challenging, whether due to the increased complexity of IT processes, lack of understanding and/or clarity, inconsistent or fragmented tools that hinder scaling, or the misconception that intelligent process automation cannot be adopted without major re-engineering of existing processes.

How can these challenges be overcome? And how can IT leaders succeed in their automation initiatives? The answer to these questions lies in the following four key steps along the intelligent automation journey.

Step 1: Evaluate the high-level potential value

The first step in becoming an intelligent process automation leader starts with the development of a clear business case. This involves assessing the potential high-level value of the company’s main IT activities. Some examples of what these areas of value might look like include:

Incident Response – A significant number of IT incidents are initiated through support desk requests. These typically result in tickets being created and assigned to Level 1 support agents. While these are the obvious candidates for automation, the portion of tickets that are escalated to specialized L2 and L3 agents are also ripe for the picking, thanks to the advanced technology behind intelligent process automation. And since these activities are generally well-documented, categorizing and prioritizing them by automation potential should be relatively straightforward.

Planned Activities – In addition to the one-offs and unexpected support tickets that crop up, IT is also responsible for performing a number of planned activities on a regular basis. These activities typically include things like backups, upgrades and patching. They may also involve more complex security audits. The amount of time and resources required to perform these duties can collectively add up to around 20 percent of the IT budget. Calculating this figure can help determine the potential savings intelligent process automation can deliver.

Introducing New Applications – From a business perspective, this activity is often viewed as the one that produces the most significant value. It can also account for an additional 20 to 40 percent of the time and resources put forth by IT. These activities are not exclusive of application development, either. They also include such tasks as testing and hosting. This places increasing demand on both the application team as well as the infrastructure group.

Step 2: Dig deeper to identify which specific use cases are best suited for intelligent automation.

Determining how to effectively implement intelligent process automation requires a deep dive to uncover the root causes of issues. It may also involve the untangling of complex systems and the development of an accurate picture of how to leverage automation to extract the greatest value. In other words, the process is a complicated one and requires a certain degree of commitment. Let’s take the three potential use cases above as an example.

Incident Response

Automating IR begins with identifying which incidents are the best candidates, which can be challenging. The goal should always be digging deep enough to uncover the “why” of documented incidents. Without this information, efforts are futile. Text-mining can help by automatically reading ticket descriptions and extracting the necessary insights to sort them into three categories:

  • Automatable
  • Requires machine learning
  • Highly cognitive/manual

This analysis should leave you with a prioritized list of incidents to automate and the type of automation best suited for the job.

Planned Activities

Most enterprise-grade IT departments rely on industry-standard tools to manage their infrastructures. Unfortunately, due to factors such as advanced customization, adjustments due to mergers and specific user requirements, managing these systems often requires a significant amount of manual effort, diminishing the overall value.

For instance, despite the widespread adoption of infrastructure and application monitoring tools, support teams are often unable to respond effectively to the logs being generated, either because there are too many of them or because of the many reasons why they are being generated in the first place. As a result, IT leaders are often unclear on how to approach intelligent automation implementation.

In situations such as this, machine learning technology can be “trained’ to identify the reasons behind alerts and then either recommend or autonomously make better decisions on which action to take. This eliminates much of the complexity for the IT team.

Introducing New Applications

Many IT executives fall into the trap of focusing solely on the reduction of manual labor. As a result, they fail to see and achieve the full value potential of intelligent process automation. Faster and more accurate delivery of applications requires the development and design of a new operating model, with an emphasis on DevOps and agile.

Reviewing this entire process to gain an understanding of how to make the most use of this new operating model can result in entirely new approaches to work. Intelligent process automation can facilitate some of these new ways of working. For instance, automating the testing process will enable applications teams to iterate more quickly. Likewise, developing a self-service model for things like automated server provisioning allows the operations team to become more responsive. The list goes on.

Step 3: Execute your proof of concept

In order to demonstrate the true value and validate your case for intelligent process automation, the next critical step is executing a proof of concept. A great place to start with this is incident management. Organizations that have successfully deployed intelligent process automation for incident management have been able to achieve substantial cost savings in a relatively short period of time.

Thankfully, there are many different incidents that can quickly and easily be automated to support your proof of concept, including such tasks as password resets and employee onboarding. In its most basic form, a proof of concept requires the following:

  • Collaboration with subject matter experts to identify where automation can best be applied and understand all the steps and systems involved in a particular process or workflow.
  • Careful selection of an intelligent process automation platform. Look specifically for products that can be integrated with existing systems and applications and offers pre-packaged, no-code options. (This will enable rapid adoption and time-to-value.)
  • Obtaining necessary IT and overall business approvals with regard to regulatory constraints, security guidelines and access limitations.
  • Ongoing testing and monitoring to capture results and document value

This phase is also an ideal time to consider building stronger internal intelligent automation capabilities; for example, developing a team to spearhead a future automation center of excellence (CoE). This team will ultimately become the foundation and engine that drives all IPA initiatives.

Step 4: Build intelligent automation capabilities to scale

Achieving the full benefits of intelligent process automation requires the development and nurturing of certain skills and capabilities, in addition to rolling out an entirely new company-wide culture. This is essential as successful adoption of IPA requires that automation become embedded into the very heart of the organization itself. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this, but generally speaking, companies that have been successful have done the following three things:

Build on success to expand into new areas of IT (and beyond).

Once the basic tasks and workflows have been automated, it’s time to move on to more advanced level-2 and level-3 activities. The IT team should be expanding beyond incidents to begin leveraging the AI and machine learning technologies to assist with things like analytics and decision support. The goal is to eventually roll out intelligent process automation to as many routine and complex processes as possible.

Spread the word.

With a strong foundation of capabilities and experience, IT leaders can begin to position themselves as subject matter experts for the rest of the organization. This process involves continued outreach, such as connecting with other leaders across the enterprise to advise them of the specific benefits IPA can have for them. This outreach also provides the opportunity to identify additional areas where automation might be beneficial.

Explore the advanced elements of intelligent process automation.

While the majority of organizations have thus far only focused primarily on simple process automation, the future belongs to those with an eye toward artificial intelligence and cognitive learning. These solutions are already making an impact on companies with forward-thinking leaders. The best way to break into this arena is to start working on small AI initiatives. From there, just like basic automation, you can continue to build, expand and grow.

Intelligent process automation is maturing rapidly and quickly becoming a core component of the IT landscape. IT professionals who recognize the importance and understand how to develop their automation capabilities have the potential to become respected leaders in the process – a title that will serve them well throughout their careers.

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4 Steps for Selling Intelligent Process Automation to the Masses

Seasoned leaders know that, when beginning any significant project, there are two different paths that can be taken. Path number one offers the shortest route from point A to point B. This is to simply force-feed the project to everyone, essential saying, “We’re doing this and that’s that.” The second path, on the other, may be a little less direct and take a lot longer. On this journey, time is taken to explain the strategy and the reasoning behind it. In other words, saying, “Here’s what we’re doing and why.”

Which of these paths do you think will yield better results? If you chose the second path, chances are you’ve experienced both options before and know firsthand that getting people onboard with change is almost always the wiser choice. Few industries are as familiar with the correlation between major change and feelings of fear, skepticism, resistance and other challenges as leaders in the IT realm. Implementing intelligent process automation is no different.

What’s the best way to overcome the many uncertainties and misconceptions that could delay or derail your automation project? Let’s take a look.

Appeal to their self-interest.

Most people won’t get fully behind a project unless and until they know how it will directly impact their lives – essentially, they want to know what’s in it for them. Self-preservation is human nature. Appealing to this natural instinct can help make your argument much more persuasive. Instead of simply announcing that you will be introducing intelligent process automation into the mix, show them how that change will benefit them.

Will automating a particular workflow finally put an end to those middle-of-the-night phone calls? Will it allow some employees to eliminate low-skill, manual tasks from their workload, freeing them up to focus on more strategic and meaningful work? Will learning how to work alongside artificial intelligence enable ambitious team members to develop new marketable skills that they can use to further their career?

Figure out what’s in it for each of the individuals or teams you are presenting to, as well as how intelligent automation will ultimate benefit customers and the company as a whole, and then communicate that to the masses. Paint a picture of what’s currently causing issues and then demonstrate how automation can help. By the way – the same concept applies when making the case outside of the IT department, to non-technical stakeholders, for example. Just go easy on the jargon.

Connect your proposal to specific business goals.

A big part of making a strong and support-worthy case for anything, really, involves getting people to understand that you’re not simply chasing trends. In other words, you’re not just automating for the sake of automating. If people sense that’s the case, they’re going to lose confidence and likely provide even greater resistance – especially those who are directly impacted, such as the IT team.

The case for intelligent process automation must be driven by a specific business demand, whether it’s reducing expenses, improving service levels, gaining competitive advantage, etc. Unless it’s a core competency of the organization, no automation endeavor should be a means unto itself.

If you want people to back your plan, you need to align it with specific business goals and then clearly and accurately convey those connections. Lay out these goals and explain, step-by-step, how automation will help the company achieve those goals.

Break down your plan into manageable milestones.

One major reason why many automation projects fail is because they are simply overwhelming undertakings. Even if your goal is to automate everything (or close enough), attempting to do so in one fell swoop is simply not realistic nor is it a sustainable strategy.

You’ll make a much stronger, longer-lasting argument when you develop a plan that breaks down your project into smaller, more manageable increments. This also allows for more flexibility to be able to adapt and iterate as needed along the way. At Ayehu, we almost always recommend starting with tasks and workflows that offer the quickest and most measurable wins. This will enable you to continuously prove value and gain ongoing support as you begin to proliferate automation further throughout the organization.

Identify smaller areas where automation will have the biggest immediate effect and then work your way outward from there. Remember, as they say, the proof is ultimately in the pudding. Once you’ve got those smaller wins under your belt, you’ll be in a much better position to sell the big-picture benefits as well.

Sing your own praises.

Well, not necessarily your praises, but those of your automation project. If you’ve followed the steps above, you should begin to generate ROI relatively quickly. It’s in your best interest to promote those positive results early and often. There is no case more convincing than one that features real-world, definitive and measurable results.

This step is especially important for instances where skepticism still abounds. People can resist change and choose to doubt anticipated benefits of intelligence process automation all they want, but this becomes markedly more difficult when they can see and experience those benefits firsthand.

Not only will continuously promoting positive results quiet the critics, but it will also lay the groundwork for automating even more tasks and workflows in the future, which will ultimately lead to becoming a self-driving organization.

Get started on your journey to successful adoption of intelligent process automation today by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

The Secret to Surviving the Tech-Led Revolution

The Secret to Surviving the Tech-Led Revolution

Automation has been at the forefront of the digital revolution for decades, primarily because it maximizes efficiency, reduces costs and accelerates service levels. But the cloud, mobile and other innovative technologies – coupled with an ever-growing volume of raw data – have led to dramatically more complex IT environments.

According to ESG’s IT Spending Intentions Survey from 2018, 68% of those surveyed said their IT infrastructures are significantly more complex than they were just two years ago. Furthermore, 39% of respondents listed automated IT operations as a critical component of survival in today’s digital age.

In response to this increasing complexity, organizations are beginning to make the shift toward the next generation of automation – from basic to intelligent. This new level of automation involves technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence to orchestrate workflows across a multitude of tools, systems and processes.

In fact, with the right platform, it is now possible to fully automate L2 and L3 tasks – functions which have traditionally required the use of human judgment. Now, those insights lie within the data itself and can be extracted, interpreted and leveraged autonomously by AI.

Embracing intelligent process automation is also enabling enterprises to lay the foundation for AIOps, a focus area that experts predict will boom over the next five years or so.

AI and ML: Augmenting IT Operations

AIOps is helping IT teams manage the increasing challenges created by data and digital disruption, leveraging intelligent process automation and orchestration to gain competitive advantage. Thanks to the powerful processing capabilities of artificial intelligence, IT can sort through mind-boggling amounts of data points to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

The role of humans in this increasingly tech-driven environment is still present, though it too is evolving. Rather than relying on error-prone employees to handle the bulk of the processing work, human cognition and advanced skillsets are being used to define that proverbial needle.

In response to this, more organizations are focusing their efforts on reskilling and upskilling their existing staff to bring them up to speed on ML and AI technologies.

Making the Switch to Autonomous Operations

Autonomous operations (AO) utilizes advanced AI to deliver unassisted responses to IT incidents across the entire infrastructure. Thanks to the self-learning capabilities of ML algorithms, AO is able to continuously improve its ability to identify patterns and carry out the appropriate actions.

Again, human workers are still needed in an AO-driven environment, but in the role of supervisor as opposed to operator. Yet as the software continues to evolve and improve, and as errors consistently decrease over time, full autonomy and a zero-touch IT operations environment will one day become a very real possibility.

The Role of Data

The key to success with intelligent automation is accurate data, as this enables users to write more impactful rules. There is little to no value in static data. These days, it’s all about dynamic information which comes from things like descriptive metadata as well as relational and behavioral data.

In order to harness this dynamic data and gain adequate insights from it, organizations need to develop software-defined IT environments. Intelligent process automation is about the ability to not only proactively identify anomalies, but to also remediate those issues automatically without causing any business disruption.

The Right Way to Automate Intelligently

In today’s competitive landscape, automation is no longer an option but a necessity. That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to leverage this game-changing technology. Start by weighing the time, effort, complexity and frequency of a given task and then benchmarking these factors against the cost of transitioning that task to intelligent process automation. From there, create a prioritized list. This will help you maximize ROI and harness the full potential of intelligent IT operations.

Not sure where to start? Why not give intelligent process automation a test drive free for 30 full days? Click here to launch your Ayehu trial today.

How Intelligent Process Automation is Revolutionizing the Financial Field

How Intelligent Process Automation is Revolutionizing the Financial FieldJust as robots have been performing routine, repetitive tasks on the floors of factories for decades, that same concept is now being applied to the financial industry with tremendous results. Intelligent process automation (IPA), powered by AI and machine learning technologies, promises to revolutionize how financial organizations operate, maximizing efficiency, cutting costs and ensuring optimal service levels.

This advanced technology has the potential to transform just about every area of the finance function. In particular, IPA will enable finance professionals to make the critical shift from transactional to strategic.

When rote, manual tasks are automated, skilled finance experts will spend less of their time running reports and performing provisional data analyses. Instead, they will be able to quickly and easily gather and analyze the essential data they need to enhance performance and deliver better support. No longer bogged down with busy-work, these experts will have the time to engage with other lines of business and deliver the forward-thinking guidance that leadership needs to pursue new opportunities.

Let’s take a look at a few real-life examples of how intelligent process automation can be applied in financial institutions.

Account Reconciliations

A good portion of today’s accounting teams spend far too much time performing manual reconciliations across a variety of systems. At the enterprise level, this can involve thousands or tens of thousands of individual transactions across multiple systems, both internal and external.

In reality, many of the mismatches found in reconciliations actually follow similar patterns. For instance, an entry was made twice in error or someone accidentally keyed in a negative sign instead of a positive. Intelligent process automation is capable of not only recognizing these patterns, but also identifying the issue at hand and correcting it. In many cases, this can be done without the need for any human input.

Some estimates indicate that up to 80% of these simple reconciliation tasks can be automated, freeing up skilled staff to focus their efforts on the smaller percentage that are more complex or require human judgment.

Closings

For most corporations, the end of the month or quarter is a stressful time that requires all hands on deck to handle the financial close. This process typically involves a number of different systems, multiple finance teams and several lines of business, there are a multitude of dependencies that require tracking and management. For instance, certain accounts cannot be closed until all related sub-accounts are closed by the subsidiaries.

Intelligent process automation can alleviate much of this complexity by:

  • Automatically tracking the status of completed tasks across multiple systems
  • Automatically initiating close processes upon completion of dependent tasks
  • Updating the close calendar to provide visibility into the status of the financial close process

Financial Planning & Analysis

FP&A is another complex but necessary process eating up a significant portion of time, particularly for senior executives. It involves creating and approving budgets, analyzing spend, managing those budgets, etc. With IPA, routine budget requests that follow a common pattern don’t need to be signed off on. Instead, only unfamiliar or unusual requests will require review and approval.

Prior to submitting a request for executive approval, the intelligent process automation platform can analyze the pattern (i.e. dollar amount, similar requests that were made in the past, etc.). If it determines that similar requests received 100% approval in the past, the software can automatically process the approval without the need for human intervention. If an anomoly is detected, it can reroute to an executive for manual review.

PwC predicts that by 2020, financial services organization will begin to ramp up their AI adoption, streamlining operations and re-shoring jobs. And given the tremendous benefits intelligent process automation has to offer, it’s obvious why.

Want to position your financial organization for future success? Jump on the IPA train! Click here for a free, interactive product demo and get started on the path to digital revolution today.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

5 Tangible Benefits Intelligent Process Automation Brings to the Table

5 Tangible Benefits Intelligent Process Automation Brings to the TableIn terms of disruptive technology, intelligent process automation has gained tremendous ground. In fact, according to Statista, more than half of business leaders today say they expect to implement automation in the coming years. And for good reason. While technologies like traditional workload automation, cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) reduce costs and provide the flexibility to perform routine tasks and workflows, artificial intelligence (AI) brings these benefits to a whole new level with the capability of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence.

Intelligent process automation software enables businesses to perform much more diverse and complex activities without the need for human intervention. Furthermore, thanks to machine learning algorithms, this type of platform is capable of learning and improving entirely on its own based on data from past experience. Artificial intelligence can also provide valuable insight and decision support for management. But how does all of this translate into actual, tangible return on investment? Let’s take a look.

Time and Money Savings

When a good portion of business processes are shifted from human to machine, the operation runs far more efficiently. Work is performed faster and more accurately, which equates to greater productivity and higher service levels. Fewer man hours results in tremendous savings for the organization. (In one recent case study, one global enterprise slashed man hours by 1,500 in less than a year simply by adopting intelligent process automation. That reduction resulted in an overall savings of nearly $500k.)

Competitive Advantage

Staying a step ahead of the competition is the key to success – especially in today’s global marketplace. Every company is chasing digital transformation and hoping to claim their spot at the head of the pack in their respective industry. The use of intelligent process automation can facilitate this transformation, not only be streamlining processes, but by empowering human workers.

When the mundane tasks and workflows no longer require human input, employees are able to apply their skills, time and effort toward more important business initiatives. The freedom to be creative breeds innovation which can provide the competitive advantage companies are striving for.

Agility

The ebb and flow of business has long been a challenge for organizational leaders. Scaling up as needed based on sudden changes in market demand is not only difficult, but it’s also quite costly. Conversely, in situations when finances are lean, such as during economic recessions, the ability to maintain an expected level of production on a limited budget is incredibly problematic.

The deployment of intelligent process automation resolves both of these issues by enabling businesses to scale up or down at a moment’s notice. Seasonal or other business influxes can be met seamlessly thanks to the ability of software robots to take on some of the workload. And when it comes time to tighten the belt, automation can help skeleton crews operate as if they were fully staffed. Every business leader understands the importance of agility like this.

Reduced Downtime

Another way intelligent process automation can deliver tangible benefits to a company is through improved system operability. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Due to variations in how businesses operate, Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner estimates that on the low end, downtime can cost as much as $140k per hour, while at the high end, can run upwards of $540k per hour.

Regardless of which end of the spectrum a business happens to fall on, system outages can be, without question, downright disastrous. Enter intelligent process automation and suddenly there’s an army of robots monitoring the infrastructure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Furthermore, artificial intelligence is capable of identifying threats that could take days, weeks or longer for humans to spot. When incidents can be pinpointed quickly and the platform itself is capable of addressing and remediating those issues, downtime can be dramatically reduced and, in many cases, prevented altogether.

Decision Support

Because intelligent process automation is powered by AI and machine learning, it is inherently capable of analyzing massive amounts of data and extracting value. Furthermore, AI-powered automation can then turn that data into actionable insights that can be utilized by business leaders to make better decisions.

Incorporating advanced business automation technology into the mix enables the analysis of overall organizational performance. With these intelligent analytics, business leaders can more effectively identify and implement the right approaches to achieve improved performance over the long-term.

Could your organization benefit from any of the above? If so, adopting intelligent process automation should be on your list of priorities. Get a jump start by taking Ayehu for a test drive today.

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What is Intelligent Process Automation (and Why Should You Care)?

What is Intelligent Process Automation (and Why Should You Care)?There’s been quite a bit of buzz lately surrounding the topic of intelligent process automation, with viewpoints ranging from ‘farfetched’ and ‘too good to be true’ to excitement that the future is essentially happening right before our eyes. But for many business leaders, the topic is completely off their radar, whether it’s due to lack of technical prowess or simply because they’re too busy to learn more. As such, we thought it might be helpful to summarize exactly what intelligent automation is and, more importantly, why it should be something every busy professional considers.

Intelligent Process Automation Defined

In simplest of terms, IPA is a set of innovative technologies that bring together robotic process automation (RPA) with machine learning. Like conventional automation tools, IPA is designed to assist human workers by taking over repetitive, routine and manual tasks. Where IPA differs from automation tools of the past, however, is in its capability to not only mimic human activities, but actually learn from them and improve over time, without the need for human intervention.

Thanks to cognitive technology and deep learning algorithms, automated rule-based workflows can be further enhanced with decision-making capabilities. As a result, forward-thinking organizations that have already adopted intelligent process automation technology are realizing greater efficiency levels, improved staff performance, less risk, better response times and ultimately more positive customer experiences.

IPA in Action

As an example of intelligent process automation in action, let’s consider a financial services firm in which a customer support agent must pull information from a dozen different systems in order to provide basic level, day to day service. With IPA employed, software robots can interpret text communications, make decisions that don’t require pre-programming, offer suggestions to clients and provide real-time tracking and visibility into the workflow between systems and human agents.

Business Value of Intelligent Process Automation

With IPA a significant portion of the manual work is instantly taken off the plate of customer support agents. This frees them up to focus their efforts and abilities toward more mission-critical business projects. Customers still receive the same high level of support and the organization benefits from an engaged team that is free to be creative and innovative in achieving business goals.

While the greatest benefits of IPA come as a result of complete, enterprise-wide implementation, business leaders can unlock ROI quickly even just by automating just one or two manual tasks that routinely bog down employees.

In addition to intuitive automation, IPA can also bring value in the way of improved decision-making capabilities. Through sophisticated machine learning algorithms, intelligent process automation platforms can deliver data-driven recommendations to key decision makers to help optimize workflows and improve performance. Business leaders can then apply this insight to future planning and forecasting for better results.

Getting Started with IPA

The best news of all is that with the right partner, implementing IPA doesn’t have to be a complex, highly technical project. Ayehu’s Next Generation intelligent process automation and orchestration platform features an easy to use workflow designer, enabling rapid adoption and time-to-value, with an extensive pre-built library of activities and end-to-end workflows. No coding or programming required.

Experience it for yourself. Click here to take Ayehu for a test drive today!

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