Overcoming IT Automation Anxiety

Overcoming IT Automation Anxiety

The concept of automation has long struck fear into the hearts and minds of hard working IT professionals. Bring on the robots…and while you’re at it, hand over our jobs. Thankfully, the reality of IT automation isn’t nearly this grim. Will it impact the day to day job duties of some? Inevitably, yes. But if deployed properly, IT automation should net a positive return, not just for the organization implementing it, but for the workers in the trenches as well.

That being said, if automation is on your list of priorities for the coming year, it’s wise to anticipate some of the fear and anxiety your employees may experience. Getting in front of the problem will ensure a much smoother, more successful rollout. If you are, indeed, planning to leverage IT automation as a tool to complement and augment your human workforce, here are a few ways you can quell their worries.

Educate the masses.

One of the biggest drivers of fear is uncertainty. If your team has no idea what IT automation is and, more importantly, how it can actually improve their lives, there is a greater chance of resistance to change. By educating them on what IT automation is all about, what it’s capable of and how you plan to use it, you’ll ease some of that tension and remove much of the doubt that your employees may be struggling with.

Bring people into the process.

Don’t unilaterally adopt IT automation and then explain it to your end-users. Taking this kind of approach can breed mistrust. Instead, bring employees and other stakeholders into the automation planning process early and keep them involved. Invite feedback and suggestions – especially from the workers who will be most closely impacted. They know better than anyone what tasks and processes would be ripe for automation. Moreover, being involved and engaged will eliminate any anxiety that may be lingering.

Don’t just tell. Show.

It’s one thing to verbally tout the advantages of IT automation to the masses, but it’s immensely more compelling when you actually show people how it will benefit them. In addition to demonstrating the specific ways artificial intelligence can improve their jobs, you should also identify avenues for exciting new opportunities. In other words, show front line employees that when they automate monotonous tasks, not only do they save time, but they are freed up to reskill, upskill and ultimately progress in their careers.

Identify IT automation evangelists.

Long-term success with IT automation requires more than just calming anxieties. It depends on proactively winning over the hearts and minds of users. This improves the likelihood of adoption and accelerates scale. Wherever possible, enlist the help of employees who are personally being impacted by automation. Work alongside them, record their journey and let them tell their story. Making the connection on a human level is the key to getting widespread buy-in and support.

Give your IT automation a name.

The thought of robots working behind the scenes can be nerve-wracking. What if, instead, it was simply a colleague named Mark? It may sound rather silly, but naming your IT automation tool can humanize it, making it less intimidating. The reality is, the successful workplace of the future will be one in which people and machines work side-by-side. Why not get a jump on this desired collaboration? Better yet, why not involve the entire team in the naming process?

At the end of the day, while change may be frightening, it is something that is pivotal to growth. By implementing the five strategies above to show your employees that IT automation isn’t something to be feared, you’ll proactively address their uneasiness and make the experience a much more positive one for everyone involved.

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5 Dangers That Could Sideline Your IT Automation Project

5 Dangers That Could Sideline Your IT Automation Project

Mistakes are a part of life. In cases where they are unavoidable, we try to learn from them. Ideally, however, we sidestep them altogether by learning from the mistakes made by others. Having been a player in the IT industry for many years, we’ve encountered our fair share of bad practices, and we know the steps to take to avoid going down the same path. If you’re about to embark on an IT automation project, here are five risks to watch for.

Putting automation before optimization.

Automating a process that is broken or inefficient to begin with is a fool’s errand. In fact, you could end up with an even greater rate of failure than you had prior to automating. This is why it’s imperative to ensure that every workflow you are automating is fully optimized before moving forward. Keep in mind, this may involve removing certain steps or systems that are irrelevant or unnecessary.  

Automating everything.

While IT automation can certainly be used on a widespread basis, there’s no need to force a square peg into a round hole. At the end of the day, some processes and tasks are simply better handled manually (at least for the time being). When determining how to best deploy automation, be honest and realistic in your approach. Focus your efforts on areas of substantial value and don’t try to force things.

Not getting input from end users.

Another common mistake made by well-intentioned business leaders is developing an IT automation strategy without getting adequate input from those who will most closely be effected. Think about it. Who better to guide the process than the people who are in the trenches, day in and day out, handling all of the manual workflows. Not only does getting their input help to create a more effective strategy, but you’ll also gain more buy-in while you’re at it.

Poor or lack of communication.

The IT team may be responsible for deploying and managing the automation project, but successful organization-wide deployment requires communication and collaboration across multiple departments. In the absence of this, you risk ending up with silos, which are often counterproductive. All parties involved should be working together and continuously communicating to ensure that the benefits of automation are widespread and all-inclusive.

Becoming complacent.

Once IT automation has been deployed and seems to be working well, it can be tempting to just leave things status quo. In reality, business and IT operations are constantly changing and evolving, regardless of industry or sector. Failing to adapt your automation strategy to address these changes can be detrimental to your organization. To avoid this, you should periodically audit what’s being automated and how to identify areas of problem and potential improvement.

These are five of the most common mistakes that can derail an IT automation project. Avoiding them can help ensure a much smoother ride for you and your team.

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Preparing Your Business for the “New Normal”

So much has changed over the past few months, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to its collective knees. Businesses in just about every industry have felt the sudden and devastating effects of what such a global crisis can do, both from a human health as well as an economic standpoint. And with a projected timeframe to exit of anywhere from six to 12 months, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is still but a faint glimmer of hope.

If there’s one positive that has come from this crisis, it’s that business leaders now have a better sense of what their organization can or cannot do. They’re also beginning to understand how they can expect to move forward once the dust settles and the economy finally opens again. And while we all look forward to getting back to normal, the reality is, the workplace as we once knew it may never be the same again.

New social behavior, added restrictions, travel precautions and such are forcing decision-makers to think about how to do more with less. Less complicated, less expensive, yet at the same time agile and effective. Just what will this “new normal” look like and how can businesses prepare? Let’s take a look.

Remote/digital will become a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Oftentimes we have to be forced out of our comfort zones before we can accept and embrace change in a positive, productive way. This can easily be said for the many organizations that were abruptly thrust into the world of remote work. Suddenly, business leaders found themselves scrambling to enable work-from-home capabilities in order to keep operations going and avoid, or at least limit, disruption as much as possible.

What many have discovered during this trying period, however, is that – provided it’s supported by the right policies and technologies – not only is remote work completely feasible, but it’s also a much more attractive option for the company’s bottom line. As a result, more business processes will likely permanently transition to fully digital.

This includes industries like remote medicine, remote shopping and delivery and remote physical fitness, as well as functional areas like marketing (move to online marketing and virtual events), sales (a fully digital sales cycle – from demo and remote installation/remote POC, to remote deployment without ever physically interacting with a customer) and yes, even IT…which brings us to our next point.

IT projects will continue (they have to!), but they will require re-prioritization. With time frames being compressed due to uncertainty, IT managers will need to find ways to break projects down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Because they don’t know what type of budget they will have to work with in three to six months, they must focus on tasks that can be completed in shorter time frames – say, three months, or three to four weeks at a time. 

Automation is the key to the future of work.

The organizations that will be leaders in this “new normal” are the ones that will quickly make the needed changes to adapt to these remote work/WFH situations – and automation can play a key role in this adoption.

Specifically, automation can accelerate the transition, enabling businesses to retain knowledge even when people aren’t available. It also enables ITOps – even those that no longer operate on a single on premise infrastructure – to keep the lights on while simultaneously becoming more efficient by doing more with fewer people on-site. Likewise, IT projects can more easily be broken down into milestones with automation either augmenting or handling them entirely autonomously.

With the right automated platform, organizations will be able to accelerate out of this situation and position themselves stronger and even more effective on the other side. The good news is, this technology is easy to access and can be ramped up in less than one day. If you are a business leader or key decision-maker and you’re trying to figure out how to prepare your organization for the future of work – the “new normal” – Ayehu can become your saving grace.

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

Still holding out on IT automation? Here are 4 signs the time has come.

stop resisting IT automation

IT automation is certainly not a new concept. In fact, it’s been in use to some degree for over a century. Yet, there are still a great number of enterprise-level organizations that are on the fence about whether this advanced technology is really worth investing in. If you are one of these late bloomers and are still unsure of whether or not you should take the plunge and employ intelligent IT automation in your company, here are four signs that will let you know it’s time.

Your IT department is struggling to deliver services in a timely, efficient manner.

When a ticket gets opened to IT, how long does it take to achieve satisfactory resolution? In today’s fast-paced business environment, regardless of what industry you are in, agility and efficiency are absolutely critical to ongoing success and future growth. If the demands of your workforce are becoming too much for your skilled IT personnel to handle, the time to leverage technology has come. Not only will IT automation alleviate the burden of many of the day-to-day repetitive tasks, but it will also free up your talented technicians to apply their valuable skills in a more resourceful and profitable manner.

You have way too many staff members on hand just to handle those peak cycles.

Optimized resource allocation is the key to running a lean, profitable operation. If you have far too many IT employees on the payroll just so you can ensure smooth workflow during peak cycles, you are undoubtedly wasting money the rest of the year. Conversely, if your current IT department becomes completely overwhelmed during those peak cycles, your capacity is too low and you’re likely to see higher employee turnover rates. IT automation provides the ability to scale up or down as needed without having to make any changes to your human workforce.

Your employees are wasting an incredible amount of time and effort on repetitive tasks.

Even if you feel that your operation is being managed at the appropriate capacity and the turnaround time of your IT department is acceptable, if your IT team is spending the majority of their day completing manual tasks and processes, you’re wasting money and missing out on opportunity. You’re also facing a much higher risk of costly human error. Why not let artificial intelligence handle these simple, routine tasks? That way you’ll be paying an appropriate salary to workers who are able to better utilize their valuable skillset and the work will be completed faster and more accurately.

Your legacy systems and applications are operating independently.

Of course it doesn’t make sense to invest in an entire system overhaul, but what kind of operation are you running if every application you’ve got in place is functioning in its own silo. The problem many organizations face is the fact that legacy systems which offer useful benefits individually don’t have the capability of working together. This leads to tremendous inefficiency. The beauty of most modern IT automation and orchestration platforms is that they are designed to integrate existing systems, platforms and applications to create a more cohesive and streamlined infrastructure. This allows the organization to avail itself of all the benefits of each legacy system as they work in tandem, complementing and enhancing each other’s capabilities.

If you can relate to any of the four challenges listed above, the time to consider adopting intelligent IT automation is now. Get started today with your free 30 day trial and see for yourself what you’ve been missing out on.

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Still need a reason to automate your IT processes? Here are six.

These days more and more businesses are adopting intelligent automation to help streamline operations, improve efficiency, boost service levels, cut costs and more. And while the overall goals and objectives of each organization may differ, sometimes to a great degree, there are a number of universal reasons that key decision makers cite for why they ultimately opted to automate their IT processes. If you’re still on the fence, here are 6 key advantages to consider.

Automation of Repetitive Maintenance Procedures – Every IT department has its own fair share of routine processes and procedures that must be performed to ensure that operations continue to run as smoothly as possible for everyone within the organization. Unfortunately, many of these IT processes are highly redundant, such as checking disk space, system restarts, monitoring log files, resetting passwords and managing user profiles. All of these things can and should be shifted to automation.

Enhanced Incident Management – Incident management is one of the most frequently automated and subsequently optimized IT processes. Businesses are under constant threat and it’s become increasingly clear that the human workforce simply cannot keep up. By automating the incident monitoring, response and remediation process, the entire operation maintains a greater degree of accuracy and security.

Reduction of Errors and False Positives – IT personnel are constantly being inundated with incoming requests and, as a result, are often bogged down putting out fires and chasing their tails. This heavy volume of work coupled with the increasing demands can dramatically increase the amount of costly errors committed. Incorporating automation as a central part of critical IT processes can dramatically reduce errors and also eliminate time-consuming false positives.

Empower Skilled Employees – Automating basic, routine and repetitive IT processes is something everyone in the department can benefit from. IT leaders can focus their valuable skills and experience on more complex, mission-critical business initiatives and front-line IT workers are empowered to resolve issues without the need to escalate to management.

Integrate Disparate Systems, Programs and Applications – Maintaining a plethora of different systems, apps and programs is a very inefficient and ineffective way to do business. In many cases, these silos actually work against, rather than with, each other, further hindering operational efficiency. The right automation tool can effectively integrate with these legacy platforms to create a more connected, cohesive and collaborative interdepartmental environment.

Establishment of Documented Best Practices – The very nature of IT automation is that it creates and maintains a series of consistent, repeatable (and therefore often predictable) patterns and processes. It also provides visibility, insight and the ability to identify, establish, document and hone best practices for improved operations moving forward.

Could your organization benefit from any of these basic advantages of automation? Find out today by starting your free 30 day trial of Ayehu NG.

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5 Ways to Adopt IT Automation Without Breaking the Bank

It’s been a long-held belief in the business world that IT automation projects are costly endeavors. The good news is they don’t have to be. In fact, with the right solution in place, you can easily streamline your IT operations to actually save your business money in the long run. Here are 5 ways that you can develop, implement and deploy IT automation projects for your organization in a way that is cost effective and efficient.

Choose the right tool for your needs. You may think this is easier said than done, but it’s not. The key is to apply the 80/20 rule – that is, beware of IT automation tools that you may only use 20% of the time, but that require 80% of your time to make them work. Instead, select an IT automation tool that allows you to focus on the specific pain points of your particular business, gain quick wins, and manage projects of any size. Finally, make sure the tool is scalable to be able grow as your business needs change.

Take a modular solution approach. Another cost effective way to manage IT automation for your organization is to break each project into individual modules, and then implement each of those modules as needed. This also makes the project more manageable and easier to monitor.

Use an IT automation platform that is easy to use and simple to operate. Tools that are complex and difficult to learn and adapt to mean an added expense for your business, both in terms of the time of deployment and the training it will take to bring staff up to speed with the new process. When evaluating IT process automation tools, make sure that you select one that will be easy to implement and simple enough for everyone on your team to learn and use.

Select a platform that offers pre-packaged workflow templates, integration packs and out-of-the-box functionality. Again, when it comes to running a successful business, time is money. If your IT personnel has to spend hours, days and weeks writing tedious scripts, then you’re losing money. IT automation should be about saving time and improving efficiency. When you can leverage already designed workflows and other standard pre-packaged features, you’ll be able to achieve this goal more effectively.

Prepare your team. The last step for managing an affordable IT automation project is to implement adequate training to your team and bringing the right people on board to manage the project effectively. Determine what skills are needed to get the job done correctly and in the most efficient manner possible, and then set about lining up the right people to handle the job.

It’s time we dispel the myth that IT automation has to be a huge expense, making it out of the reach of small to mid-size businesses. To the contrary, when you approach your IT automation projects from the right direction, with knowledge of what to look for in a platform, and you adequately plan and prepare the right personnel for the job, it can easily be managed within just about any budget. The end result, a savings across your entire organization, will be well worth it in the end.

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eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate