Achieving Service Desk Zero

By Roman Kruglov

The shift in technology to cloud-based solutions is causing technology to be less platform-centric. Mobile devices are replacing traditional PCs and the use of mobile apps, rather than applications in a client-server environment is going up. With this shift our users are becoming more technology savvy and independent, they are looking outside of the traditional helpdesk tools and process to accomplish what they need, we must be able to adjust to this change to keep users happy. Digital transformation is happening everywhere; we have automation at home; we have smart TVs, phones, and watches. The end user expectation in the enterprise for technology to simply work as it does at home is what’s driving the need for change in how we approach the support. There is no longer a fine line between consumer technology and enterprise technology.

Change Happens, Change is good, but change is not a light switch you can simply turn on. It does not happen overnight; there must be enough resources and time for the process to take place. You also need proper tools to help implement this type of change. While change is happening, communication will play a key role. You must make sure that the service desk has enough people because no amount of automation and processes will help if you are not staffed properly. We must find a way to provide support via all different channels, including social media. Knowledge management is also essential to empower users as well as it will save time for your service desk team from opening un-needed tickets.

Automation and self-service are the key ways to empower users. Look at the big pictures if 15% of all your tickets are password reset, then a self-assisted password reset tool will eliminate most if not all those tickets eventually. Analyze service desk trends and look at the ways to automate anything that’s a repeatable task. The idea behind self-service and empowering your users is not to push responsibility back onto the end user but to improve their experience and productivity by giving them the ability to resolve their problems quickly and without traditional IT process. The next big trend in service desk automation is Chat-bots that can truly understand a service request and have a proper workflow configured to execute that requests, which results in the user getting instant help and service desk being free to work on the real issues. AI-powered chat-bots and automated self-service are going to be the driving force in transforming your service desk to the next stage and reducing your operations costs while increasing user satisfaction.

Automation can also help with skill-based routing, so the incidents and problems go to the right team or person and reduce the bouncing between the teams which still happens quite often and does not reflect well on the Service Desk or IT department as a whole. Automation is there to save time and saving time is saving money, as well as reducing a chance for a user error that happens during manual entry.

Concentrate on user happiness: Companies that place user happiness at the center of the service desk tend to be more successful and have better employee retention. One of the most important steps in keeping the user happy is communication. Let them know you are working on their problem, send them constant updates on the status of the tickets, and follow up when the problem/issue is resolved. Think about your own positive experiences, when you travel or when you go to a store and note what customer service did to make you happy, then think about how you can implement that in your company.

Customer Satisfaction and user feedback: It is important that we ask for user feedback via surveys, but it is even more important that we act on that feedback, by following up in person about their experience with the service desk. Keep your surveys short 1-3 questions not to overwhelm the user and provide an option for comments. Only by knowing, can we improve and move forward, achieving greatness.

Service Desk Zero is like a finely tuned race car, that requires continues improvement and maintenance, but delivers the results. Results that both satisfy the users and makes the job of service desk easier.

About the Author:

Roman Kruglov was born in Moscow, but has lived in New York City where he is constantly shooting pictures.

His  love for photography came at an early age. He says, “ I remember the dark room and watching the pictures magically come to life.”  He says he tries to photograph every day and his camera goes with him everywhere he goes. The inspiration for his photos come from seeing them develop on the screen much like they used to develop in the dark room and then being able to share those developed pictures. Roman’s work has been published in Dodho Magazine, Popular Photography June 2014, Bloomberg, Popular Science, Business Insider and a book called “How to Photograph Everything”

User Experience Engineering in ZIF

by Nirupama G

Do we really think we need to apply engineering into user experience? Why Not?

User Experience Engineering is more than Usability Engineering. We often confuse ourselves thinking that an easy to use intuitive application is good user experience. No! Its just good usability. Usability engineering is just a layer that influence User’s experience, but User Experience Engineering is a bigger picture which comprises of Visual Design, Interaction Design, Information Architecture and Content Strategy.

In this article, I have written about the Design Thinking process, building mood board, Design System and the best practices.

The Design Thinking Process: How to get Started?

Sometimes, the toughest part of a new project is to get started. But there are few common things that everyone should do to get started which will hopefully result in efficient use of time, and a better result.

UI Concept

The first stage of Design Thinking Process is to gain understanding of a problem you are trying to solve. This can be done by interacting with the experts to find out more about the area of concern through observing, engaging with people to understand their experiences.

In this stage, a substantial amount of information is collected for use in the next step and to develop the best possible understanding of the users, their needs, and the problems that underlie the development of your product.

User Research

We need to start thinking about our users. We need to look at all the requirements and list out the questions and the clarifications we have and hand it over to the Users. We will get more ideas from the users, which will help to build the product better.

User persona

“Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.” Wikipedia

In simple, Personas are composed on the basis of the data that you are interviewing, testing and analysing typical users. The main purpose of making them is to define the most common need of our customers.

A User Profile / Persona describes the goals, expectations and motivations of real people.

  1. We need to know why they come to our site.
  2. What are they looking for?
  3. What makes them nervous?
  4. What are their pain points?

Sample Template of a Persona

Bio: It should be a short paragraph to describe user journey.

Goals:

  1. The Goals the user hopes to achieve
  2. A Task that needs to be completed
  3. Experience to be felt
  4. Value to be achieved

Frustrations:

  1. The frustrations the user wants to avoid.
  2. The obstacles that prevent the user from reaching his goals
  3. The Product or service that currently does not exist.

Mood boards:

As designers, we aim to optimize and speed up our process. The idea from Atomic Design is to allow UX designers, UI designers and front-end developers to work in parallel instead of a waterfall process.

A mood board is one of the visual deliverables in the design process. It is a collage that generally consists of images, text, and objects that describes the feelings we obtain through the digital products aside from the actual layout of pages.

So, how to do it?

The first thing we need to do is evaluate the project and we should pick the mood board style which will best suit our product. There are many ways in presenting a mood board. We need to select the Refined template mood board where we can have different elements for colours, buttons, icons etc.

Based on the theme, we need to further collect screenshots, photos, colour swatches, and we should not only investigate the things which are pretty and but also collect the bits and pieces which might help to accomplish the goals for our product.

So now, you may think what’s the benefit of creating this Mood board?

  1. Create Mock-ups faster, based on the client needs. By preparing this mood board, it will help to create a visual guide with a clear vision, and it will also be very easy to jump into visual design once this is finalized.
  2. Client participation is very important in all projects. So, mood boards will make it clear to them that we are listening and considering their inputs.
  3. Mood boards are so much fun, they will reduce the frustration and there won’t be any limitations in the layout for the elements we select.

Wireframes

The logical place to start the actual design process is with a rough wireframe.

Wireframes are the visual representation or a skeleton of any project structure. It will define the bones and the elements that will work in our layout and will let us know the placement of the content in our prototype.

We need to be clear about our project targets and develop them through wireframing by using simple elements.

We need to start the wireframing with paper and pencil which makes a lot of sense. It will help the concepts to flow easily and It will be easy to make the changes after we discuss with team.

Design / Prototype

So once the Layout is finalized, the next step will be to work on the final graphics.

To build a high-quality design, we need to start building the high-fidelity designs with the ideas we got from the Mood board and the low fidelity wireframes.

What tools to use?

To explore on various ideas, basic pencil drawing is enough but for high fidelity designs, the tools that can be used are Adobe XD or Sketch. We need to move all the Wireframes to Adobe XD and bring that to your team or real users, do some tests, and test how they react and what feedback we get and create a new design based on their feedback and take it to the user again.

As per the Design Process, UI and UX needs to agree with each other. UI is about beauty, UX sometimes has a different approach. So, we need to be very strict with colours, fonts, padding etc.

So here the Design System plays a very important role, and it also needs human effort to maintain that, and to be updated daily to bring all the UI consistently.

What is a Design System and why we need to create a Design System?

A Design System is a set of Components guided by clear standards, that can be assembled together to build any number of products in different combinations. So, in short, its reusable, scalable, shared among teams, and it follows certain standards.

Are you sure it’s called a “Design system”?

It has many names. Brad Frost calls it “Atomic Design”. AirBNB Calls it “Design Language”. So, the Industry is still finding out a name which can also be called as Pattern library, User Interface library etc.

Are Design Systems Synonymous to Style Guides?

Style Guides mainly focus on Style which includes Styles, colours, fonts and logos and brand attributes.  Design system is more than just visual presentation which focuses on ecosystem.

Conclusion:

The main objective of each UX design process is the equivalent – make incredible UX for your clients. To be successful in the current digital market, we should concentrate on the User Experience.

So, in a nutshell, UX design should consider the Why, What and How of Product Use.

The Why involves the user’s motivations for adopting a product, what addresses the things that people can do with a product and its functionality, and finally, the How relates to the design of functionality in a pleasant way which overall will form the meaningful User experience.

Keep them close to you

by Bindu Vijayan

I have seen Talent Acquisition teams worry over resumes that smack of job-hopping; these candidates are super smart and efficient, and everyone wants to hire them but when you see how often they have changed jobs, one isn’t too sure if they are going to be a good hire. 

Three to five years in the system allows one to establish her work ethics, professionalism, showcase her capabilities, prove her worth, and then?  ‘Does my leader make the time to plan my career growth when I have made use of all the available opportunities, or would she see me as someone who is ready to be overlooked, complacent and forgotten?’  is the question often on employees’ minds, and the reason for people to change jobs often.  If the give and take isn’t fair, one ends up wrestling with the incessant noise in one’s head ‘change, change, do another role, another challenge’.  For someone who has given her best to a company, it is very easy to pick up on that voice and act; passionate workers need to keep doing meaty work to thrive.

Some, especially the high performers have this need to feed their internal mission constantly, they should be able to translate their work into part of their ‘purpose’ which calls for increased, stable engagement.  Otherwise the company loses a gamut of skill-sets accrued by her that might be quite institutional to the specific employee and her role.

Look at it this way – Managers who grow your flame the most by valuing you, offering you true learning experiences and challenges, viable options and meaty responsibilities are considered to be the genuine seniors who value accomplishments as against those with dated notions evaluated on your tenure on the job.

A client visiting GAVS once said ‘you can tell what the company is about when you walk into the building’, he was talking about the positive vibes he got here, but that can be true in other senses as well; high performers want to keep moving thru responsibilities to thrive and their passion and drive is apparent. 

Good performers want Managers with a vision for their roles and to help them succeed. And these job hoppers are people who want to set free to act on their ideas. When it takes the team’s energy to meet the goals and the company mission, the true performers expect transparency and inclusion. Poor Managers manage rather than lead, they are unable to show any path to growth, they can’t spot what you are good at to offer you success in that path. Sadly, their strategies are for themselves and don’t include their teams or subordinates.

Very often, in informal chats and coffees with industry peers, I have heard that their employers run the business as if they don’t see the human aspect in or from their business results, and it sounds like it is a call between job security and wanting more participation in the company.

With the rapid advancement of technology, we are going to find changes with employee productivity; as workplaces get increasingly automated, businesses are going to need skills like creativity, collaboration abilities, good communication and such, which means more independent thinking and acting. These are people who demand more than just a job and pay from an organization or a Leader, they want more inclusion and opportunities to participate; you want to keep them close to you.  The constant search for new talent will most often result in that revolving door effect that organizations so easily fall prey.

Transparency – Employees whose Managers are transparent, honest, open, communicative, and sincere to their responsibility to team-members are well engaged.  In the featured article by Peter, it is so true when he says, “One of the keys to being an effective leader with credibility is being authentic and straightforward. Teams will forgive many mistakes if they believe their leader is shooting straight with them and is well intended.”  These traits set the positive climate within the team, the idea is to encourage everyone to respect each other’s special skills and help each other grow. It calls for a lot of honesty and commitment and the spine to weed out bad apples before the team morale breaks down. Being transparent and sharing information is key to inclusion.  When team members do not know enough about the work that is going on in their function, or when an employee has got no clue what the others in his team is working on, nor any information on what the function head is planning leads to a sense of distrust.

Value them – have you heard about the times when it takes the head-honcho to notice and appreciate someone before his / her Manager sits up and notice it? And then they forget about it in the long run These are day to day situations within the intrinsic circles of corporate life that can’t be ignored – Statistics; A Gallup study of 2015 indicates that one in two employees left their job to break from their Managers for various reasons, at some time in their career…

Active listening –  Lack of engagement happens when employees feel they are not being heard, and that can erode their commitment.  The lethargy that is often seen during Appraisal times; the sense of frustration towards a Manager for their indifference to the team’s personal aspirations and goals and repeated lukewarm responses to ‘get it done with’ are ticking bombs in the system. Active listening can result in improvements, increased participation and ownership, the best recipe for high productivity.  When employees feel they are not being heard, the result is a general lack of commitment, engagement, and productivity and the dreaded employee turnover.

Genuine care for employees – Here’s an excerpt from the ‘2017 Retention Report’, a study by Work Institute; “The top five reasons employees quit include career development (22 percent), work/life balance (12 percent), management behavior (11 percent), compensation and benefits (9 percent), and well-being (9 percent)”.

The truth is employees’ lives (and families) are influenced by Leadership, and that’s a huge responsibility.  To my mind, the caring starts from right hire based on the principles and values that the company is rooted on, and truly enabling employees to bring out their best and celebrating them.  An employee might bring in big or small initiatives, it doesn’t matter how directly relevant it might be to gross margins, EBITDA and all the other corporate compulsions; valuing and celebrating employees have them feel included.  It is largely true when it is said ‘the way we treat people at work affects the way they go home and treat the family’.  Wouldn’t it be really cool if Management schools teach to lead rather than only teaching how to manage.

I have seen a lot of conflicts and inner struggles within Managers when they try to portray their company values but didn’t seem ready for it within themselves.  Very often organizations claim they are not hierarchical, but the same Managers are uncomfortable when the millennials come up and talk to them as their equals or do not follow the ‘right way to sit’, ‘the right way to stand’ etc. etc.  I personally find that a little tough to understand because if you consider somebody your equal, then he/she is just that. We would all do better with titles like Mentors and Coaches rather than Supervisors and Managers, and allow the system to really grow a set of smart and involved people rather than a race of people trying to grab jobs and positions.

Personally, I feel as Managers we should make it a point to send people home ‘fulfilled’ , treat them how you would have everyone treat you. Too many times Managers write off forced exits as ‘that’s how you run a business, that’s what happens in a business’, but there have been very innovative ways that companies have resolved such issues – One company who went thru a crisis where their supplies from China to one of their factories was put on hold, that caused the entire factory to go out of work.  But, instead of sending people off like how it happens so often, the CEO of the company came up with a solution where every employee was asked to go on a month’s vacation. The outcome? People felt safe with a step like that, they understood that they wouldn’t be let off easily, and everyone knew that when they went on a month’s vacation, it was to save someone’s job!  When people are happy they do amazing things, they need to be shown that everyone matters…

Lateral opportunities – More statistics – When Salesforce came up with the 1-1-1 model of giving, the program offered an opportunity for the employee to spend time on her interest / any interest. The program included time off for volunteering, pro-bono volunteering to aid several causes.  And here’s the terrific result to that; more than 27,000 salesforce employees participated in this volunteer program, they put in 1.4 million work hours towards things close to their hearts!  That’s the best engagement strategy I have come across. 

Adding a lateral challenge / responsibility might be a good way to engage employees who are bored and getting restless in their current job and who might welcome additional responsibilities.  Sometimes with small sized companies, the opportunities for growth don’t come up that often. Bringing new aspects to employment can renew their enthusiasm and help them handle their regular jobs better.  Intellectual stimulation, that sense of purpose, and the need to do more thru a job can be provided by employers.  

Mentorship roles – Those mid-career professionals with the right attitude, skills, leadership qualities, critical thinking and so on may be given mentorship roles / managerial development roles to coach the less experienced employees.  Opening up mentee roles for the mid-career professionals is also equally important as it is giving them an opportunity to gain knowledge. I think this will definitely serve as a way to support employees and build a culture of strong support within where everybody helps and supports everybody.  A structured program for mentoring or towards succession planning would work positively for all, and it would ensure that people who have been in the system for long are well immersed in the system while the newer employees have the opportunity to learn successful and positive work habits.

Sometimes relocation can be the change that will bring the needed zing back into their career.  A change of location works even if they are going to be doing the same job.  I have seen this happening here at GAVS, people who have been in the system long are given the opportunity to work overseas, and that renews their enthusiasm for work and deepens their commitment. Its like a breath of fresh air, it sure works well.

To conclude, an annual appraisal and employee assessment is most times not enough to retain employees or keep them happy and motivated. To me it looks like appreciation by seniors and others instill a deep sense of accomplishment in people.  How about Managers writing monthly letters within the organization appreciating team members and their efforts.  Genuine understanding of each team member results in a better relationship as against insisting on maintaining hierarchies and not collaborating with the teams.  Everyone feels good when they understand there is more to their work than just collecting their checks every month, and it takes a mature, sensitive and a good person to nurture great teams.

“If there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, you lose.” – Ed Catmull

A perspective on DevOps

By Vasudevan Gopalan

Do you know?

  • Amazon does more than 7000 deployments per day, i.e. deployment per every 11.7 sec
  • Google does ~500 million test cases execution and ~4 million builds per day

Aren’t these numbers mind-boggling? Welcome to the World of DevOps! So what is DevOps? Some well known definitions given below

“Across-disciplinary community of practice dedicated to the study of building, evolving and operating rapidly-changing resilient systems at scale. ” – Jez Humble

“DevOps is an IT mindset that encourages communication, collaboration, integration and automation among software developers and IT operations in order to improve the speed and quality of delivering software.” – Versionone

“DevOps is a set of practices and cultural changes — supported by the right tools — that creates an automated software delivery pipeline, enabling organizations to win, serve, and retain customers.” – Forrester

“The emerging professional movement that advocates a collaborative working relationship between Development and IT Operations, resulting in the fast flow of planned work (i.e., high deploy rates), while simultaneously increasing the reliability, stability, resilience and security of the production environment.” – Gene Kim

In my simple words –

  • While Agile helps in bridging the gap between Business and Development teams, DevOps helps in doing this for Development and Operations teams
  • While Agile refers to an iterative approach which focuses on collaboration, customer feedback, and small, rapid releases, DevOps is the practice of bringing development and operations teams together. DevOps central concept is to manage end-to-end engineering processes (Concept to Cash)

Relationship between Agile and DevOps

Agile and devops

Keys to DevOps

  • Plan small / fail fast / deliver quickly
  • Embrace Automation in every possible aspect – Build, Test, Infra Provisioning, Deployment
  • Culture of Focusing on People and Welcoming Change
  • Measure everything, show the Improvement
  • Collaboration and Communication

DevOps outcomes

  • Improved deployment frequency
  • Faster time to market
  • Lower failure rate of new releases
  • Faster mean time to recovery
  • Better employee engagement and motivation

Conclusion

DevOps has not just become part of new ways of working, but also the foundation block for any successful Digital Transformation journey.

By the way, if you are someone interested in reading novels 😊, I would recommend you the book titled “The Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim, Kevin Bahr, George Spafford. It takes us through the journey of a mid-size company – typical IT challenges faced, how it adopts DevOps to integrate IT into its business, and eventually how this catapults the company to become the Industry Leader.

References

  1. “DevOps – an Agile Perspective (at scale)” – by Brad Appleton

About the author:

Vasudevan Gopalan (Vasu) is a Digital Transformation Leader with rich experience in Engineering, Delivery, Transition, Program and Client Relationship Management with multiple tier-1 IT organizations, with focus in the BFSI domain

Has cyber security become a priority for all companies?

Relevance of cyber security for any business

When an entrepreneur lays the founding stone of his business, his focus is usually on factors like strategic planning, funds, sales and marketing. With an overwhelming growth of digitalization, cyber security has gained immense importance. Security threats, if neglected can result in severe implications starting from financial losses to damage of reputation. Thus, for any business, be it big or small, to operate in a risk-free manner, investment in the realm of cyber security is essential. This is due to the fact that business in today’s world is connected through centralized networking data systems, and the fact that data is backed up and stored in cloud.

Critical organizations like Government establishments, banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and e-commerce enterprises store a lot of critical information online, on both clients and businesses, and disclosure of such information can lead to serious repercussions. According to secondary research, 43% of companies are prone to cyber-attacks which confirms the fact that it is absolutely indispensable to secure the infrastructure before running a full-fledged business in order to remain reliable and compliant.

Outsourcing of cyber security

The increasing probability of cyber-crimes and attacks have enabled thought leaders to create businesses offering IT security support. The support can spread across installation of security software and firewalls, generation of secured backups, assurance of cyber-attack mitigation plans and the presence of on-site IT support team for maintenance of software and monitoring. The team also guarantees training of the ground staff to stay informed of the possible cyber-attacks.

Prominent cyber-attacks

Few of the prominent cyber-attacks;

Phishing – stealing of sensitive information.

Ransomware – Extracting ransom through locking the entire system.

Trojans – Undetected codes that can help hackers enter one’s framework.

Viruses – Corrupt files.

Spam ware – It slows down the system through unwanted ads.

Identity Thefts – Hackers steal one’s information and identity to make financial transactions.

Denial of Service – It is the deadliest of all, controlling the system and causing breakdown.

Why invest in cyber security?

  • Protection of sensitive information

The primary objective of cyber security is to protect customer information. Sensitive information of both, customer and business are stored in servers that might not be stringently secured. Incase credit card information of customers are compromised, the company will lose a huge fortune along with its credibility. Hacking of sensitive information like social security numbers, routing numbers, passcodes etc. can lead to identity theft. The need for cyber security is not only of paramount importance for financial institutions, but also for companies with complex operations. Infact, cyber security is applicable to every business operation, be it military, corporation or an enterprise.

  • Self-destructive data transfer process

Tools like Privnote are commonly being used these days to transfer data securely online with self-destructive mode. While initiating a contract with a cyber security company, one should rely upon reference rather than on premonitions. Although the common cyber attacks are viruses, spams and identity thefts, however, a mere security installation is not enough, continuous monitoring and updating is essential for effective functioning of security system. Investments should be made on appropriate technology and training individuals.

  • Need for cyber security awareness

In one of the appalling cyber-attacks, the finger prints of more than 5.6 million people along with those of Government employees were stolen. This costed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security $1 billion to design a security system to protect the stolen data. The Government now takes the initiative to spread awareness,  the month of October, is recognized as the National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), since 2004. 

As we know, a lot of effort goes in deploying firewalls, intrusion detection and active monitoring, however, the best possible solution is to secure the data itself with encryption, masking, advance access controls and additional solutions. Secondary research reveals, by 2021, the financial damage to a nation caused by cyber crime can reach $6 trillion annually.

Cyber security and its prerequisites

Since cyber security has become the priority for all companies, according to Gartner, there are few points that leaders and organizations focus on while adopting cyber security.

  1. With the evolution of cyber security in data class and governance, new security skills in data science and analytics are at constant demand.
  2. With increasing usage of cloud storage by companies, its security has become a top priority. There is an increase in the need for strict security guidelines for companies using both public and private cloud, this will minimize risk factors.
  3. Proactive detection and prevention is the need of the hour that will ensure the required protection. Organizations are shifting focus on detection, response, and remediation.
  4. The increasing demand of security opened a new horizon of opportunities for data security to combine with development operations center.
  5. A security ecosystem needs to be reliable for consistent operation and production environment.

Cyber security in shipping industry

Cyber security has become all the more critical due to the growing importance of identity and access control management. It is essential that the company knows if any outsider has access to its system. Cyber security is an aspect of system integrity followed by other components like ability to measure, software and data integrity. For shipping industry, the CSO Alliance is a group of CSOs who informs the shipping community of any plausible cyber incidents or threats.

Healthcare and cyber security

The healthcare industry has started depending on technology and artificial intelligence more and with that, it has become even more vulnerable to cyber security risks. In 2018, there was a massive cyber-attack in the healthcare industry, involving emails, phishing attacks and misconfiguration of databases. Life Bridge Health was the victim of one such cyber-attack in September 2016. Through the malware attack, hackers could gain access to patient’s details such as: medical histories, insurance, social security data. A report published in Forbes about connected medical device confirmed the vulnerability of healthcare industry. With access to medical devices hackers not only compromise data but also patient’s health. Again, as per Norwich University, the healthcare organizations can protect themselves through systematic monitoring of IT systems, training individuals, encryption of data, hiring skilled professionals and limiting data access.

Banking and cyber security

In the financial sector, Bankers Life fell prey to a cyber-attack in May 2018. The hackers gained access to employee credentials and misplaced social security numbers, credit and debit card numbers of customers.

Priority based on attack

The question here is when does cyber security become priority for a company – it is observed that there is still lack of awareness about the criticality of cyber security. Majority of the companies consider cyber security once attacked. The exponential rate at which cyber threat is growing globally is alarming. Due to increasing dependence on technology and automation to drive productivity, the need to secure the digital environment of a company has become even more important. Cyber-attack incidents range from service interruption, commercial and personal breach to cyber fraud. Thus, organizations should take a risk-based approach that should meet operational requirements. After identifying risks, it should be prioritized followed by regular monitoring and by making security every employee’s responsibility.   

Conclusion

Cyber security has thus become the priority for all companies since it can threaten an organization and compromise sensitive client information making it vulnerable. Even the most sophisticated network systems can become vulnerable to cyber-attack. Thus, companies are opting for security insurance which can ensure pre-emptive and precautionary measures to prevent security attack, recover financial damage and confirm potential claim.

Automation trends of 2019

Automation is an inevitability

“You’re either the one that creates the automation or you’re getting automated,” was famously pointed out by Tom Preston-Werner, the superbly indigenous American entrepreneur. Yes! Digitization is creating a catastrophic change across industry verticals, breaking the illusion of AI as a mere concept to making it a more niche market component. It has transformed the way organizations operate. Industry experts have deciphered that, by 2030 artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will contribute to nearly $16 trillion to the global economy. Secondary data also reveals, by the end of 2019, most of the companies globally will incorporate automation in their daily processes.

For companies to survive the wrath of competition, there is an inherent need to refine and automate the work process. Innovation and reorganization will prove indispensable and as digitization touches all the different realms of life, companies are bound to advance and transform themselves in sync with the trend. The following automation trends are distinctly positioned to create a visible mark in 2019:

Involving Natural Language Processing (NLP)

The advancements in Machine Learning would, in future, become the driving force in the growth of the NLP market. We have successfully reached a point where Amazon Echo and Alexa constitute a major portion in our daily lives. Both, individuals and organizations alike, have developed greater interest in NLP which has contributed to major advances in speech recognition and language generation. If you consider a situation, where a bot using NLP will be empowered to act like a human exhibiting empathy, while at the same time responding to a recognized task, it will definitely create a life-changing experience for the user.

Automation and its undeniable impacts

Automation is inevitable, by and large, for all companies globally. A company, at present, can use AI and automation either for hiring or marketing its products or for the usual day to day operations. However, it is essential to create a receptive customer base, who wouldn’t be disturbed by such extensive usage of automation. Not all consumers are aware of the concept of automation and its major implications in daily life; thus, its considerable adaptation is far from reality.

Introducing AI without oriented customers, is ethically incorrect and can lead to mistrust among customers in future. With the right to information in place, consumers are increasingly becoming aware of their rights and demand a clear, transparent AI algorithm. There is no denying of the fact that individuals who share their personal information will at some point in time demand visibility on the method of information usage. Transparency is 100% necessary to build a trustworthy bond between a company and its customers.

Merging of technologies

With successful automation of various projects, AI is slowly getting integrated with technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, Blockchain and Analytics. Although such absolute convergence will be time-consuming and expensive, yet business leaders across the globe are aggressively considering opportunities to ensure exemplary results. Automation along with data-driven decisions can improve the overall scope of business.

Leaders taking ownership of AI strategy

The potential of automation is huge, yet there exists a gap in understanding the different deployment scenarios to be able to create the maximum impact. Experts opine, to gain momentum from automation usage, the AI strategy for every business should clearly reflect from the top management. Business leaders are expected to owe the responsibility of distributing AI strategy across the organization to change the overall dynamics. Entrepreneurs have started to prioritize automation by initiating training programs to help employees upskill so that the technology can be optimally utilized.

Automation of business would also involve investment in both, the software and training programs, to solidify the position of AI in the company. A relevant report generated by McAfee confirmed, on an average an enterprise uses 1,935 cloud apps, indicating a 15% increase over the last year. This surge has encouraged enterprises to dedicate a head or leader of business systems to formulate strategic investment decisions so that appropriate solutions can be ideally identified to tread the path of automation.

Combining RPA, AI and ML

Secondary research suggests that the economic impact of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will reach approximately 6.7 trillion dollars by 2025. Currently, the role of RPA is grossly mundane and involves repetitive tasks. It is evolving due to digitalization, and intelligent process automation (IPA) is the result of such progression. Once AI and ML are integrated with RPA, it can be programmed to manage more complex tasks. It will, then become more capable of identifying behavioral changes along with pattern recognition, boosting the adoption of automation. Also, the integration of tools will empower the organization to save time and effort on end-to-end solutions. This will substantially automate the major chunk of manual processing, which can thereafter organically evolve into a completely automated process. As we all would agree, a consolidated software solution is far more appealing than their disparate counterparts.

Automation – Key role in decision making

Increased dependence on AI to automate decision making is a dynamic development that all companies are looking forward to. Barring reducing the burden of decision making from both, entrepreneurs and employees, automation will ensure a process that will highlight transparency (decisions without any bias), seamlessness and error-free functioning. For example, automation will be able to decide whether a refund should be meted out to a customer, after careful analysis of the transaction history, that too with more precision and promptness than humans. Automation software can by itself take a decision and execute the process. In fact, IT automation is currently moving towards the self-learning mode, where it takes the liberty to test, monitor, self-learn on the basis of use cases. This, consequently, enhances the business process and deliver robust results, marking a futuristic shift towards digital transformation. According to secondary research, 20% of the organizations in the U.S is expected to implement AI-based operations by the end of this year, to reduce manual burden of processes and optimize automation.

Edge technology and augmentation

The edge technology is a step ahead to enhance the scope of both, resources and assets, to create resilience and responsiveness across organizations, leading them towards automation. With each passing year, more cognitive technologies are put to use in the form of intelligent tools such as IBM’s Watson and Salesforce’s Einstein. Cognitive technologies can locate patterns that can otherwise be overlooked by humans, expediting the implementation process of automation (although they might involve creativity).

Reforming automation and enhancing the experience

Initially, automation centered around automating repetitive and manual work. According to a third party research, such automation is still used by a company’s back-office. However, the concept of automation is transforming to a holistic notion and along with creating a better experience for customers, employee experience has also become the focal point.

Scaling of automation usage

According to third party research, only 16% of companies could scale their use of automation. Automation requires extensive coding and scripting, which is why there is a need for a skilled employee to maneuver through it. Infact, the research confirmed that 57% of the organizations lack a skilled workforce to introduce automation within the enterprise.

The Last Word

No organization will want to dry off from competition. To ensure survival and fare well through the competitive path, transformation is essential, and it can effectively be brought in by automation. Leaders should have clarity on the need of the hour and understand the importance of adopting automation to avoid extinction. Statistical reviews clearly highlight the positive impacts of automation, validates the incorporation of virtual assistants and related innovations and their far-reaching implications on business professionals. Are you ready to defend your moves as digital disruption is on a mission to keep slaying?