Addressing the New Social Distancing Rules as Businesses Re-Open

Over the past several weeks, as organizations were forced to shut down due to concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak, some serious weaknesses have been exposed. First, many quickly discovered how drastically unprepared they were for disaster response.

According to a recent survey conducted by AvidXchange, a shocking 40% of organizations polled did not have business continuity plans in place. And despite the fact that 60% of those surveyed did have a continuity plan in place, only 37% of them actually have the technology necessary to enable employees to work remotely as part of their strategy. Furthermore, only a mere 19% said their workforce has the appropriate technology to be able to work from home.

Then there was the challenge of offshore IT support. In particular, many organizations that rely heavily on MSPs for their IT management recently discovered that such an arrangement isn’t always viable. For instance, the entire country of India – where a massive number of these MSPs are located – was ordered to lock down for several weeks. Unfortunately, working from home there is a rarity, which left the reliant businesses in quite a bind.

In recent weeks, we’ve discussed the various ways that intelligent automation could address these issues. For example, we talked about how automation could help minimize and possibly even prevent business disruption when transitioning to a work-from-home setup, as well as which factors to consider when making this change. We also talked about how automation could help companies for which remote work wasn’t an option, as well as how it could be an insurance policy for those relying on offshore MSP arrangements.

Now, as the world slowly but surely prepares to reopen, there has come to light a new challenge. Many businesses are now quickly coming to the realization that they’re simply not prepared to respond to the new social distancing rules that will inevitably be in place for the foreseeable future.

For larger enterprises, the first wave of reopening will likely involve a return to work of only a portion of employees. After all, we can’t have droves of workers filing in, sitting in cubicles located just inches from one another. But how will companies fare on only a segment of their workforce. Yes, some can continue working remotely, but what about organizations that weren’t able to facilitate such an arrangement? How can they be expected to operate at full capacity with only a small percentage of their people?

Once again, we are seeing a point at which humans and robots are coming together to work in tandem. Intelligent automation can be brought in to fill in the gaps, be it executing complex IT processes and workflows, monitoring systems 24/7 to prevent and address incidents, or delivering instant self-service IT support – all without the need for human agents. This will support just about any arrangement a company has, whether it’s a partial remote/on premise setup, or operating on a skeleton crew during the first wave.

Most importantly, technology can (and should) be used to help manage those processes and workflows that are most critical to business continuity. The aforementioned study revealed that there is a direct correlation between the existing gap in technology preparedness and the mission-critical processes that are necessary to keep businesses operating. Intelligent automation is a surprisingly simple and affordable solution to these glaring needs. And 85% of those surveyed agree that this is something they need to invest in.

The fact is, while the coronavirus situation happens to be at the forefront, it’s really only one of the many serious risks organizations today face. Beyond health crises, there are any number of disasters that could potentially knock a business off course, whether it be something physical, like a fire or flood, or something digital, like a cyber-attack. Having a solid plan for backup and recovery – one that leans heavily on innovative technology – is the key to survival.

By leveraging intelligent automation, you can fortify your organization and make it more resilient so that no matter the external circumstances, you’ll no longer be vulnerable to them. Best of all, getting started with automation is quick and easy. Simply download your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

Pandemic-Proof Your Service Desk with Automation for MS-Teams

Author: Guy Nadivi

I’m going to assume that just about everyone reading this blog post is affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 7th, 2020, the New York Times reported that at least 316 million Americans — about 95% of the country — have been told to stay home for at least the next few weeks, and likely longer. That’s forced a lot of organizations to very rapidly change the way they work, and especially for IT, the way they deliver services to an organization’s end users, customers, and partners.

One platform being chosen increasingly more often to deliver those services is Microsoft Teams. When you add automation to MS-Teams, you can create a pandemic-proof way to empower your end users and others with self-service, effectively turning MS-Teams into a virtual service desk operator that’s available 24x7x365

Adding a virtual service desk operator should be high on the list of priorities for IT Operations teams these days, because anecdotal evidence suggests that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, their workloads have mostly gone up, and in many cases, way up.

One thing likely to have caused workloads to spike upwards, of course, is the recent & very rapid switchover to remote working.

Numerous government & health officials have encouraged organizations to let their employees work from home, wherever possible, as a way of minimizing community transmission of the Coronavirus.

This created a new reality for those workers, because now that they’re working from home, they can’t just walk over to the help desk cubicle to make a casual request. They might not be able to do it by phone either because the help desk staff is also working from home, and they’re pretty busy right now just trying to maintain the status quo at most organizations.

Maintaining the status quo on its own is a pretty onerous task.

Ayehu’s customers, partners, and prospects have been telling us that IT Operations is already inundated with things like:

  • Application Issues
  • System Alerts
  • Outages
  • And of course the ever popular Password Resets

This represents just a fraction of the many incidents, requests, & projects that IT Operations is responsible for.

Now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of all that, IT has been tasked with this massive emergency project to start supporting most if not all people working remotely. It’s an absolute tsunami of work, and it’s further overwhelming IT Operations staff.

I think everyone can agree that this massive transition to remote working can be categorized as “unplanned work” for just about every IT Operations team.

It just so happens that last month, PagerDuty conducted a survey about the impact of unplanned work on IT Professionals. I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of the results in particular.

Nearly 1/3 of respondents, 31% have said they “considered leaving a job due to too much unplanned work”. That should be pretty startling to anyone in IT management, especially right now, because if 1/3 of your team is thinking about leaving due to unplanned work, what will that do to your IT operation?

This isn’t a hypothetical scenario either, because as it turns out, 21%, over one-fifth responded that they actually have left a job due to too much unplanned work! So again, ask yourself what would happen to your SLA’s, ticket queues, etc. if one-fifth of your IT professionals just got up & walked out? I’m guessing it would drastically complicate things even more than they already are.

During this pandemic, many of you have no doubt heard the term “Flattening The Curve”, which refers to slowing, not stopping, the number of sick people who have to go to the hospital for treatment. Flattening the Curve is all about minimizing the number of cases that doctors, nurses, & hospitals have to deal with simultaneously so that the healthcare system doesn’t collapse.

And flattening the curve, of course, is one of the main reasons so many organizations are justifying sending people home to work remotely.

Flattening the Curve for the Healthcare System

But how about “Flattening the Surge” for IT professionals so that service desks & other operational teams don’t buckle under the strain?

Just like the healthcare system, IT Operations has a capacity threshold too. If the # of daily incidents, requests, etc. come in too high & too fast, IT Operations might collapse. Remember what PagerDuty’s survey said your IT staff might do because of too much unplanned work?

The way to avoid that disaster, the way to pandemic-proof your service desk, is with automation for MS-Teams.

Flattening the Surge for IT Operations

Thanks to COVID-19 causing so many people to work remotely, the NATURE of work is changing. That change will almost certainly carry over once the pandemic ends, and the all-clear signal has been given.

I want to share with you what work might look like post-pandemic from the perspective of Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365. He recently said:

“It’s clear to me there will be a new normal…… We don’t see people going back to work and having it be all the same. There are different restrictions to society, there are new patterns in the way people work. There are societies that are thinking of A days and B days of who gets to go into the office and who works remote.”

So he believes there’s going to be a new normal, and that new normal involves a lot more remote work for people who, pre-pandemic, found themselves exclusively in corporate office environments.

One of the products Jared Spataro is responsible for is Microsoft Teams, and the market that MS-Teams is in is called Unified Communications. More recently that space has been referred to by Gartner as the Workstream Collaboration market.

According to Statista, Microsoft’s market share in the Workstream Collaboration space has been growing very steadily, but on March 5th, 2020, things took a dramatic turn. On that day, Jared Spataro, who we just heard from, announced that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft Teams would be made available to everyone FOR FREE as of March 10th, even if you didn’t have an Office 365 license!

What happened next was truly stunning. The worldwide number of daily active users for Microsoft Teams exploded from 32 million to 44 million very quickly. An increase of 12 million users, about a 37% jump in basically a matter of days.

That definitely caught the attention of Slack, their top competitor. Slack’s TOTAL WORLDWIDE user base is 12 million users! So with their announcement, Microsoft effectively added the equivalent of 1 Slack user base to their own.

Now just to be clear, here at Ayehu we love Slack. It was the first platform we built chatbots for, and we’ll continue building chatbots that enable automation for Slack because it’s a great platform. But when it comes to market share going forward, the writing’s on the wall, and at least in the near-term, this market is probably going to be dominated by Microsoft Teams.

The great news about that is that Microsoft Teams, like other chatbots, can help flatten the surge for IT professionals by diverting calls or tickets or work away from the Service Desk, and shifting that load to end-users for self-service. Combining Microsoft Teams with automation can do more than reduce work volume though, it can also slash MTTR by accelerating resolutions of incidents & requests, liberate IT staff from doing tedious work & free them up for more important tasks, raise customer satisfaction ratings (an increasingly critical KPI for IT Operations), and last but not least reduce costs.

Let’s drill down a bit deeper on that last value proposition, specifically as it’s often measured by service desks – Cost Per Ticket.

There’s a general industry figure out there, published by Jeff Rumburg of MetricNet, an IT research & advisory practice, that the average cost of an L1 service desk ticket is $20.

However, if you turn any given service request into a self-help or self-service function with a chatbot like MS-Teams, you can drive that cost down by 80% to just $4 per L1 ticket. 80%!

If you’re a CIO, CTO, or any senior IT Executive, and someone tells you there’s a way to reduce your single biggest expenditure on IT Support by 80%, without reducing service effectiveness (in fact, possibly speeding it up), wouldn’t you want to learn more?

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG with all its cool new features & ability to add automation to MS-Teams, download your very own free 30-day full-version trial today.

COVID-19 Has Business Booming for Some – Here’s How to Scale Quickly with Automated Onboarding

With businesses being forced to close down and unemployment skyrocketing into the hundreds of millions, it’s hard to fathom that some organizations aren’t only surviving during these challenging times, but are actually thriving. For instance, healthcare and biotech companies, as well as streaming service and remote learning providers (just to name a few), aren’t just staying afloat. Many of them are actually experiencing sudden growth, which means they’re hiring.

The challenging part that comes into play here, however, is that most of this scaling in is happening virtually, including the onboarding process. New employees must be quickly and securely provisioned and brought up to speed, which means IT teams are being bogged down with more time-consuming processes, like setting up users and permissions, managing access and controls and more. Thankfully, there’s a way to let technology handle most, if not all of the heavy lifting.

The secret weapon? Intelligent automation. With the right AI-powered automation platform, the entire onboarding process can be streamlined from start to finish, and all without the need for human intervention.

Benefits of Automated Employee Onboarding

For Companies:

  • Cost Savings – Automating the onboarding workflow eliminates the time-consumption and redundancy that plagues the traditional onboarding experience.
  • Time Savings – This benefit is two-fold, since it saves IT and HR employees the hassle of manual onboarding, freeing them up to focus their skills on more meaningful projects and also gets new employees up and running faster, so they can begin contributing right away.
  • Error Reduction – Intelligent automation incorporates the precision of a machine to the new-hire onboarding process. This thereby reduces the chance of error by a massive margin.
  • Enhanced Data Collection – When new-hire information is collected electronically via an automation platform, the entire process is much more efficient. It’s also more secure.
  • Improved Security – Onboarding involves the access and management of sensitive employee data. By transitioning this process from human to machine, organizations can ensure that all sensitive information remains confidential and securely out of reach.

For New Hires:

  • Streamlined Experience – The key to successful onboarding is making sure new employees receive the right kind of information at the right time. With automation, the entire process is optimally scheduled out, ensuring that new hires don’t begin their job feeling confused or overwhelmed.
  • Consistency – With manual onboarding, there’s always a risk that not every new employee will receive the same experience. Unfortunately, this means that while some enjoy a positive experience, others do not. Automation eliminates this risk.
  • Efficiency/Productivity – The faster a new team member is onboarded, the sooner he or she can begin contributing. Automated onboarding dramatically reduces the time it takes to get new hires up and running, which is better for everyone involved.
  • Empowerment – By bringing automation into the mix, new employees are immediately empowered to assist themselves through self-service options. Not only does this save them time, but it also creates a much more positive, stress-free experience right off the bat, which can contribute to retention long-term.

Employee onboarding is a necessary evil in the business world, but thankfully it doesn’t have to be a cumbersome process wrought with frustrating bottlenecks and costly errors. Best of all, it can be handled entirely remotely, something that’s absolutely critical in today’s volatile marketplace.

If your organization has been fortunate enough to experience success and growth during these challenging times, automated onboarding could be the puzzle piece you need to scale quickly, seamlessly and successfully. Take Ayehu for a test drive and experience it for yourself today!

Still not convinced? Learn how one of our customers leveraged automation to cut onboarding time by 80% AND saved more than $485,000 in the process!

5 Ways IT Automation Can Help Your Organization Survive the Coronavirus

5 Ways Automation Can Help Your Organization Survive the Coronavirus

With the number of people infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) nearing a hundred thousand worldwide and the death toll steadily rising, there’s no question that we’ve got a pandemic situation on our hands. In the face of fear and uncertainty, more and more organizations are curbing corporate travel and turning to remote work arrangements in order to minimize impact and prevent potential business disruption.

The importance of preparing for what is quickly developing into a world health crisis simply cannot be understated. And with these sudden and substantial changes that are occurring in the workplace as a result, there are additional challenges to consider. In particular, there are the logistics of facilitating remote work (provisioning more VPNs, providing remote access to files, etc.), which means more work for the IT team – effectively pulling them away from their normal daily duties.

Addressing these serious and impactful concerns – and quickly – has become a top priority for business leaders across every industry. The good news is, it starts with the right technology. In light of this, we’ve pulled together the top 5 use cases every organization should be prepared to automate and how to pull it off as seamlessly as possible:

VPN Access

With so many employees now getting the green light to work from home, the demand for VPN is going up substantially. Subsequently, VPN access issues for both employees and contractors are also on the rise, such as resetting, opening, closing, VPN certificate updates etc. This places a tremendous burden on IT personnel, many of whom are already overworked and lacking appropriate staff and/or resources. By automating this workflow, remote workers can be up and running quickly without adding to the IT team’s already overloaded schedule.

Permissions and Password Related Issues

The requests for systems permissions and password resets don’t go away just because employees aren’t working in the office. In fact, with remote access, these issues tend to increase in frequency, which means the IT team should expect an uptick in these types of tickets. Unfortunately, as any IT support agent knows all too well, requests like these are time consuming, pulling skilled workers away from other, more important tasks. Again, this is where automation can have a tremendous impact, providing self-service options for end-users and alleviating the pressure on IT.

Extend More Resources

One of the biggest IT challenges with a remote workforce is resource management. Manually monitoring and allocating resources is not the best use of your IT team’s time. With IT process automation, however, resource provisioning requests that would otherwise bog down the service desk can be turned into automated workflows, including those that end-users trigger on their own with just a few simple mouse clicks. This results in a much more satisfactory experience for both the end-user as well as the busy IT team.

Day-to-Day Server and App Maintenance

Just because the office is empty doesn’t mean IT isn’t still responsible for meeting their day-to-day expectations. Things like service restarts, app pool rotation, log cleanup, disk space, memory and CPU utilization, etc. must all still be completed in order to prevent, or at least minimize, business disruption. With automation, you can set up workflows that are either scheduled or automatically triggered via an event. Best of all, this can even be done when IT agents are working remotely as well.

On-boarding / Off-boarding

The spread of the Coronavirus may be most ill-timed for incoming or exiting employees, but life goes on, regardless of whether these team members are in the office or working from home. The problem is, onboarding and off-boarding employees is a time consuming process, and as we’ve already established, IT has enough on their plate as it is. Thankfully, the entire onboarding and/or off-boarding workflow can be automatically initiated and completed quickly, eliminating delays and ensuring a more optimized allocation of resources.

Additional pandemic preparedness tips for IT teams:

  • Evaluate the IT supply chain to determine preparedness
  • Implement remote data center management solutions
  • Review and/or implement remote work policies, especially issues regarding BYOD, company-issued equipment, prioritized access and Internet bandwidth capacity
  • If possible, leverage the cloud to mitigate risk
  • Investigate and utilize alternative communications channels (voice, chat, etc.)
  • Leverage web-based video conferencing
  • Decide which business operations requiring heavy resource usage must continue, and which can be postponed
  • Delay/reschedule non-essential IT ops activities
  • Stagger hours of operation and staffing allocation to ease bandwidth demand
  • Reorient IT budget and projects accordingly

Unfortunately, this latest catastrophic health crisis serves as a sobering reminder of just how vulnerable businesses can be to external circumstances. By leveraging the latest technology, like intelligent IT process automation, organizations can keep employees safe and minimize potential impact. And since enabling remote work has been shown to improve productivity, reduce employee turnover and slash operating expenses, companies implementing these policies may find they come out even stronger on the other side.

Ready to strengthen your position and arm yourself for battle against this and future pandemic situations? Start your free 30 day trial of Ayehu NG today!

How to reduce employee onboarding time by 90%

How to reduce employee onboarding time by 90%Did you know that the average company spends $4,000 for each new hire? And that number doesn’t take into account the amount of lost productivity during those first few months on the job. Some sources estimate that it can take up to eight full months for a new employee to become fully productive. But since employees who are successfully onboarded are 69% more likely to stay, reducing costly turnover, it’s a process that is necessary. The good news is, there are ways you can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to onboard new hires. Let’s take a look at one such case study below.

Recently, one of Ayehu’s long-term customers – a large international shipping organization, won an award in automation and infrastructure from a respected magazine in Israel named ‘People & Computers’. This recognition was given due in large part to the impressive reduction the company has been able to achieve on their employee onboarding process. How did they achieve this? Simple. By shifting the process from human to machine through intelligent automation.

The company’s director of IT, together with the company’s HR Project Manager, realized that each time they hired a new employee, more than a week of time was being wasted performing the necessary but tedious onboarding functions such as opening an account and granting appropriate permissions. There was also lack of synchronization between the company’s cloud HR system and on-prem IT infrastructure. Furthermore, every time an employee changed status, the same time would be required to process his or her permission changes as well.

The managers began searching for a solution to reduce the time being wasted in performing these processes and workflows, and ultimately chose Ayehu to automate it. Together with Ayehu, the IT team created a fully-automated process that handles this task in mere minutes, rather than the previously required week of manual work across multiple departments.

In general, the automated workflow they created performs the following steps:

  1. Import the users’ details to a CSV file from the Active Directory
  2. Compare the changes in the current details to last weeks’ details, using their existing cloud HR system and IT infrastructure
  3. Update the new users and their permissions in Active Directory and several SQL databases
  4. Open and close permissions and send a report to IT team

This entire process is now handled automatically with zero human input, which has cut the process time down by an incredible 90%!

How much time is your company wasting on manual processes and workflows? More importantly, what could your employees achieve if they were no longer bogged down by these tasks? Experience for yourself the same liberating time and cost-savings that hundreds of global organizations have already achieved. Click here to experience Ayehu’s revolutionary next generation intelligent automation and orchestration platform today.

Ayehu Software Names Fernando Malta of Teleperformance Brasil as Latest ITPA Super Hero

IT Process Automation Super HeroPalo Alto – Ayehu Software, industry leading developer and marketer of enterprise-grade IT process automation and orchestration solutions for IT and security professionals, has officially named the most recent recipient of its ITPA Super Hero Award. This time around, Ayehu has chosen Fernando Malta of Teleperformance Brasil. Fernando was selected for his use of IT process automation to create a more efficient, streamlined working environment for his team.

In his role as Senior Security and IT Governance Manager, Fernando is tasked with overseeing multiple department functions, many of which, up until recently, were still being handled manually. Prior to using Ayehu’s automation and orchestration platform, Fernando’s team was drowning in manual processes which were problematic because they were subject to operational failures. Even with a dedicated person at the helm, the group was unable to meet the deadlines set in the security policies to remove disconnected users according to best market practices.

Initially, Fernando and his team attempted to do a POC with another solution from a large manufacturer, however, due to the high cost and complexity of deployment they ultimately decided to give Ayehu a try. Once deployed, the group was able to reduce incoming monthly tickets by an incredible 2,500. Fernando has been most impressed by how fast and easy the Ayehu platform was to implement. Thanks to the rich, built-in library of IT Process Automation templates, workflows can be easily configured and modified using a drag-and-drop visual environment. Adding or modifying steps can be done with no need for coding and scripting.

“We’ve realized a number of benefits from leveraging the Ayehu platform,” comments Fernando. “If I had to name just one, however, I’d have to say it’s been the ability to use it in various company automation processes, not being closed to a single activity or limited to a number of users. We’re really excited to see how much further this technology can take us.”

Ayehu’s IT Automation Super Hero Award is given in recognition of IT professionals who utilize automation technology to improve the way their teams, departments and organizations run. Anyone in any industry who uses the eyeShare product is eligible to receive this coveted award. To learn more, or to nominate yourself, your team or someone you know, please click here.

About Teleporformance Brasil

Teleperformance is a global leader in outsourced omnichannel customer experience management, serving companies around the world with customer care, technical support and customer acquisition, as well as a number of specialty services. The Group operates 163,000 computerized workstations, with 217,000 employees across 340 contact centers in 74 countries and serving 160 markets. It manages programs in 265 languages and dialects on behalf of major international companies operating in a wide variety of industries. For more information, please visit: www.teleperformance.com.

About Ayehu

Ayehu provides IT process automation and orchestration solutions for IT and security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infrastructure through automation. Ayehu solutions have been deployed by major enterprises worldwide, and currently, support thousands of IT processes across the globe. For more information, please visit www.ayehu.com.