Empowering VMware Landscapes with AIOps

VMware has been at the forefront of everything good in the modern IT infrastructure landscape for a very long time. After it came up with solutions like VMware Server and Workstation around the early 2000s, its reputation got tremendously enhanced amongst businesses looking to upgrade IT infrastructure. VMware has been able to expand its offering since then by moving to public and private cloud. It has also brought sophisticated automation and management tools to simplify IT processes within organizations.

The technology world is not static, it is consistently changing to provide better IT solutions that are in line with the growing and diverse demands of organizations across the world. The newest wave doing the rounds revolves around IT operations and providing support to business services that are dependent on those IT environments. AIOps platforms find their origin, primarily from the world that VMware has created – a world that is built on IT infrastructure that is capable of modifying itself according to needs and is defined by software. This world created by VMware consists of components that are changing and moving at a rapid pace. In order to keep up with these changes, newer approaches to operating environments are required. AIOps solutions are emerging as the ideal way to run IT operations with no reliance on static service models or fragile systems. AIOps framework promises optimal utilization of skills and effort targeted at delivering maximum value.

In order to make the most of AIOps tools, it is important that they be used in ways that can complement the existing VMware infrastructure strategy. Here are a few of those:

Software-defined is the way to go

Even though SDx is not properly distributed, it is still here and making its mark. However, the uneven distribution of SDx is a problem. There is still a need to manage physical network infrastructure along with some aspects of VMware SDN. In order to ensure that you get the most out of VMware NFV/SDN, it is important to conduct a thorough overview combining all these aspects. By investing in an AIOps solution, you will have a unified view of the different infrastructure types. This will help you in not only identifying problems faster but also aligning IT operation resources to deal with them so that they don’t interfere with the service that you provide to your users, which is the ultimate objective of choosing to invest in any IT solution.

Integrated service-related view across the infrastructure

Not too many IT organizations out there can afford to use only one technology across the board. Every organization has to deal with many things that they have done prior to switching to AIOps. IT-related decisions made in the past could have a strong bearing on how easy or difficult the transition is. There is not just the management of virtual network and compute amongst others, organizations have their work cut out with the management of the physical aspects of these things as well. If that’s not enough, there is a public cloud and applications to manage as well.

Having an overview of the performance and availability of services that are dependent on all these different types of infrastructure is very important. Having said that, this unified view should be independent of time-consuming manual work associated with entering service definitions at every point of change. Also, whenever it is updated, it should do so with respect to the speed of infrastructure. Whether or not your IT infrastructure can support software-defined frameworks depends a lot on its minimum or no reliance on static models.  AIOps can get isolated data sources into a unified overview of services allowing IT operations teams to make the most of their time and focus only on the important things.

Automation is the key

You have to detect issues early if you want to reduce incident duration – that’s a fact. But there is no point in detecting issues early if you are not able to resolve them faster. AIOps tools connect with third-party automation tools as well as those that come with VMware to provide operators a variety of authorized actions to diagnose and resolve issues. So there are no different automation tools and actions for different people, which enables everyone to make the most of only the best tools. What this leads to is helping the IT operations teams to deliver desired outcomes, such as faster service restoration.

No-risk virtual desktops

There is no denying the benefits of having virtual desktops. However, there are disadvantages of taking the virtual route as well. With virtual desktops, you can have a chain of failure points, out of which any can have a huge impact on the service delivered to end-users. The risk comes from the different VDI chain links that are owned by different teams. This could prove harmful and cause outages, especially if support teams don’t go beyond their area of specialization and don’t communicate with other support teams either. The outages will be there for a longer period of time in these cases. AIOps can detect developing issues early and provide a background of the entire problem throughout the VDI chain. This can help different support teams to collaborate with each other and provide a resolution faster, consequently saving end-users from any disruption.

Collaboration across service teams

VMware admins have little problem in getting a clear overview of the infrastructure that they are working on. However, it is a struggle when it comes to visibility and collaboration across different teams. The problem with this lack of collaboration is the non-resolution of issues. When issues are raised, they only move from one team to another while their status remains unresolved. AIOps can improve the issue resolution rate and bring down issue resolution time considerably. It does this by associating events with their respective data source, aligning the issue to the team that holds expertise in troubleshooting that particular type of issue. AIOps also facilitates collaboration between different teams to fast-track issue resolution.

Transform your Azure Ecosystem with AIOps to Increase Operational Efficiency

The cloud is now a primary place for SMEs and other large enterprises, and Microsoft’s Azure is considered one of the preferred IaaS and PaaS services for most business organizations.

As Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are changing the digital way of life, AIOps is set to uplift cloud services and make operations easy for the IT industry. It provides users with a broader range of benefits, including better customer experience, service quality assurance, and productivity boost.

Why Does Your Organization Need AIOps With Microsoft Azure Ecosystem

As cloud usage is in high demand, businesses are facing problems in managing their cloud infrastructure. AIOps for Azure provides better efficiency with the help of AI-driven software, ensuring smoother operations.

By executing AI operations and ML on Microsoft Azure, organizations can be benefited in many ways. Some of these are:

Efficient and Cost-Effective Infrastructure

Microsoft Azure helps lower the overall cost of a business when enabled with AIOPs and MLOps. AI and ML help make Azure cloud a better choice for Machine Learning Operations and Artificial Intelligence Operations.

Edge Computing

Edge processing aims to bring data resources closer to the users, thus improving the overall performance of the cloud infrastructure. It also helps reduce cost and increase processing capacity simultaneously.

Pre-Trained Machine Learning Models

The Microsoft Azure Platform offers pre-trained models. These can be used for a custom model for tailor-made processing of the company’s workloads. Many ML programs can be used as models through MicrosoftML for Python and MicrosoftML for R for various functions.

Manage Your Azure Infrastructure Easily With AIOps

Microsoft Azure is a reliable cloud service that manages data efficiently. As the cloud is always increasing and becomes complex as each day passes, it needs more developers and engineers to make it stable. It can become quite easy to remain at par with the constantly evolving cloud if there were a solution to make data-based decisions automatically.

Not only will this save a lot of time for the resources of your organization, but also make the process more efficient. AIOps and machine learning help streamline the process and assist engineers in taking actions based on the insights from the existing data.

AIOps is based on self-monitoring and requires no human intervention. Automation of services ensures improved service quality, reliability, availability, and performance.

Azure cloud professionals are no longer required to investigate the repeated process and manually operate the infrastructure. Instead, they use AI and ML engineering. AI operations can work independently, and human resources can utilize their time to focus on solving bigger problems and building new functions.

Design Your Own Growth Path by Systemizing Your Operations With AIOps

The AIOps framework can contribute in several ways. The major elements are explained below.

  • Extensive and Diversified IT Data: AIOps is predicted to bring together data from IT operations management and IT service management. Bringing data from different sources helps accelerate root cause identification of a problem and enables automation simultaneously.
  • Big Data Platform: The center of an AIOps platform is big data. As data is collected from different sources, it is required to be compiled together to support next-level analytics. AIOps aggregates big data and makes it accessible to be used in real-time.
  • Machine Learning: Analysing big data is not possible by humans alone. ML automates and analyzes new and diversified data with a speed that is unachievable without the AIOps framework.
  • Observation: It is the emerging of the traditional ITO domain and other non-ITOM data to enable new models and correlations. The combination of AIOps with real-time processing makes root cause identification easier.
  • Engagement: The traditional domain offers bi-directional communication to support data analysis and, thus, auto-creates documentation for audit while maintaining compliance. AIOps help in cognitive classification with routing and intelligence along with user touchpoints.
  • Act: This is the final stop for the AIOps strategy. It provides the codification of human knowledge into automation. It helps automate analysis, workflow, and documentation for further actions.

What’s Does the Future Have in Store for IT Operations?

Artificial Intelligence for IT operations is bringing a continuous change in the cloud business. In no time, adopting the AIOps way will become a necessity.

  • Accelerate Digital Transformation: Sooner than later, businesses will be able to offer data-driven experiences with the help of AIOps. It won’t be a hassle to migrate systems after systems, as most of the monotonous work will be handled by automated systems. This way, businesses can easily transform digitally to remain relevant
  • Solutions to Various Challenges: Often, when humans spend time performing basic calculations, a lot of time and energy is wasted. Moreover, there is always a chance of human error. Empowering developers with actionable insights, AIOps will make solving problems hassle-free, replacing many traditional monitoring tools
  • Finding Issues Automatically: A faster and more efficient way to improve customer satisfaction involves ensuring that there are no problems with your service or product. However, this can be challenging. With AIOps solutions, identifying issues and mitigating them will be a cakewalk. It will play an essential role in troubleshooting workloads and understanding and predicting customer needs in the current competitive environment, eliminating the need for having a dedicated team of resources to solve simple issues.

How Does AIOps Transform a Business?

1. Digitization of Routine Practices

The AIOps architecture helps digitize routine practices, like user requests, while processing and fulfilling them automatically. It can even evaluate whether an alert requires action and if all the supporting data is under normal parameters.

2. Recognizing Serious Issues Faster and More Accurately

There are chances of human error while looking out for threats. This may lead to an unusual download being ignored. AIOps tools tackle can solve this problem easily. It can run an antimalware function through the system, automatically and when required.

3. AIOps Streamline the Interactions Between Data Center Groups and Various Teams

AIOps shares all the relevant data with each IT group and provides the operations team with what they require. Manually meeting and sending data is no more required, as AIOps monitors data for each team to streamline the interactions between all groups.

Conclusion

With the help of Microsoft Azure, the value of companies associated with this ecosystem is scaling in an upward direction. To conclude, it can be rightly said that AIOps is the infusion of AI into cloud technology. When properly implemented, AIOps can help reduce time and attention on the IT staff of an organization.

AIOps open-source tools allow Azure cloud professionals to observe multiple systems and resources. With better ML capabilities, it can enable software to find the root cause of a problem and accelerate troubleshooting by providing the right remedies for all unusual issues of an IT organization running on Microsoft Azure.

Ransomware Attacks in the Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is prone to various types of cyberattacks, with ransomware incidents causing heavy damages in terms of cost, compromise of data integrity, and reputation, leading to service-threatening repercussions. While several industries globally face the challenge of cyberattacks, the healthcare industry is particularly vulnerable because of:

  • Sensitivity of private patient information
  • Increasing costs of healthcare and tight budgets not leaving much scope for cybersecurity initiatives
  • Need for sharing of healthcare information across several entities
  • Heavy reliance on legacy systems/applications that are difficult to maintain & protect
  • Increasing use of technology, connected medical devices without the awareness, protection
  • High prevalence of illegal sale of patient information 

According to the 2021 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, the number of ransomware attempts against the healthcare industry increased by 123% in 2020! Ransomware can be perpetrated using phishing emails, malvertizing, or malicious links, and could be Strategic campaigns that target victims through compromised networks, or Opportunistic campaigns that employ ‘spray and pray’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP).

Notable Ransomware Attacks

It is observed that 2020 brought the most ransomware attacks on healthcare providers in the past five years. The Tenable Research 2020 Threat Landscape Retrospective reported that ransomware attacks accounted for 54.95% of healthcare data breaches in 2020. Another report from Comparitech states that 92 individual ransomware attacks in 2020 affected over 600 separate clinics, hospitals, and organizations. Some of the massive ransomware attacks in the last 18 months include —

  • In May 2021, San Diego-based Scripps Health was besieged by a ransomware cyberattack that forced a portion of its IT system to remain offline for several weeks.
  • A massive cyberattack hit universal Health Services (UHS) in October 2020. The ransomware strain known as Ryuk brought down all of its IT systems. Affected hospitals redirected ambulances and moved patients in need of surgery to other nearby hospitals.
  • In October 2020, the University of Vermont Health Network was affected by a ransomware attack that shut down the hospital’s applications, costing USD 1.5 million a day in recovery costs and lost revenue.
  • Blackbaud, a third-party service vendor, was one of the severely attacked companies in 2020. Inova, a Virginia-based health system, one of the affected companies reported a data breach that affected up to 1,045,270 people, to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights.

U.S. Regulations and Preventive Measures

Based on the research report from IHS Markit, the US has the biggest healthcare industry, consisting of 784,626 companies. With one of the robust and advanced healthcare systems in the world, the government has implemented several stringent regulations to protect healthcare players.

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal requirement in the U.S. that includes the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Security Rule, and Breach Notification Rule. HIPAA applies to healthcare clearinghouses, health plans, and healthcare providers who electronically transmit any health information.
  • Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act mandates organizations to safeguard computer systems and infrastructure.
  • 42 CFR Part 2 directs healthcare provider organizations to protect patient records created by federally funded programs while guiding them to be aware of other privacy and security laws.  

Apart from the regulations, several government agencies have taken preventive measures to raise awareness about cybersecurity and the threats to the healthcare industry. Some of them are:

  • As networked medical devices are most affected during ransomware attacks, the HHS’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review on mandates given by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Medicare Accreditation Organizations (AOs) to understand the importance given to cybersecurity strategy by hospitals.
  • In October 2020, The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended healthcare organizations implement both ransomware prevention and ransomware response measures immediately based on a detailed analysis.
  • In January 2021, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced the Reduce the Risk of Ransomware Campaign that helps organizations implement best practices, tools, and resources that can help them mitigate this cybersecurity risk and threat.

Ransomware Risk Mitigation

Larger healthcare organizations have a robust cybersecurity system with a dedicated CISO, board-level committees & governance, risk management, compliance committees, and BYOD management. However, smaller organizations do not invest in preventive measures such as network segmentation and multi-factor authentications. To mitigate ransomware risks, healthcare CISOs need to be proactive and address vulnerabilities. Some of the measures GAVS recommends are:

  • Deploy IT tracking tools to provide complete visibility into devices that connect to the network.
  • Heighten defense against ransomware by securing networks, systems, and end-users using backup hardware.
  • Ramp up employee training on basic digital hygiene to spot and avoid phishing.
  • Protect networks using multi-factor authentication.
  • Develop a cyber incident response plan and a risk management plan that maps various critical health services and care to the relevant information systems.

GAVS helps clients manage risk and build effective cybersecurity programs with a range of end-to-end Cyber Security Services. To learn more about our offerings, visit https://www.gavstech.com/service/security-services/.

Business Continuity During the Pandemic with VDI

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations around the world to adopt business processes & working styles they never imagined would be practical, sustainable, or productive in the long term. With governments suspending all business activities in the wake of the pandemic, and with nationwide lockdowns & travel restrictions, core business processes have been challenged. Thrown into the ocean of uncertainty, businesses have had no choice but to adapt in order to keep their heads above the water and swim to safety!

One of the main challenges for organizations during the pandemic has been to ensure a secure workplace for their employees. To steer through the challenges posed by the pandemic, businesses have had to embrace the remote work culture. Work From Home (WFH) which was once a privilege quickly became the only possible way to work! To that end, VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) hasproved to be the game-changer, enabling employees to connect & work securely from the comfort of their homes.

What is VDI?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) allows employees to securely access desktop applications and servers from outside their physical office premises. They are provided with computing capacity via virtual machines, enabling them to work from any remote location. Virtual machines allow a business to deploy applications and operating systems via a dedicated host server.

An organization can deploy business data, dedicated applications, and many more components of IT infrastructure to employees through a VDI. Business resources and applications are deployed to the employees in a virtual data center. Virtual desktop resources are delivered as a service by leveraging the internet. Unlike a physical desktop, you don’t need an endpoint device to connect to these business resources. The virtual desktop resources are managed in a data center and are delivered over a reliable network. Employees can use the applications deployed via VDI as if they are running locally – from any device.

Desktop Virtualization and VDI

Desktop virtualization creates a virtual version of the end user’s desktop environment. A virtual OS is created from the end user’s physical desktop via virtualization. VDI is a deployment model of desktop virtualization that is used by businesses for remote work. There are other deployment models for desktop virtualization like remote desktop services and DaaS (Desktop-as-a-Service).

In VDI a desktop image travels through the internet to the employee’s device. VDI is always deployed with the help of a server in a data center. Once deployed, users can interact with desktop applications and operating systems remotely.

Why is VDI a great solution?

Many firms around the globe have already started using VDI for providing a secure workplace to their employees. The major pros of VDI that ensure seamless business continuity are:

  • Centralized Monitoring:

With centralized monitoring and management VDI enables tighter control and saves a lot of time & effort for routine IT tasks. IT administrators can modify or patch virtual desktops at any time and can make changes to all the virtual desktops in a network at the same time.

  • Data Recovery:

With VDI, essential business data will be backed up in the data center. This data backup process is typically automated. Employees can run a virtual desktop recovery program if they face abrupt shutdowns or connection losses. If an end user’s device gets stolen, the connectivity of that device to the VDI can be terminated. Such features ensure that data is always safeguarded.

  • Enhanced Accessibility:

VDI empowers users to securely access their desktop from anywhere, at any time, and from any device, to gain access to their business files & applications. They do not have to use high-performing devices as computing capacity is also deployed under VDI – any PC, tablet, smartphone, or thin client can be used. This helps create a flexible work environment for employees.

  • Personalized Work Environment:

Virtual desktop environments are highly customizable to suit user preferences and business needs. For any ad-hoc requirements, virtual desktops can be quickly customized as required – much faster than a physical desktop.

Is VDI Cost-effective?

A business does not have to invest in any special hardware to deploy VDI. No specialized training is required to be able to use VDI. Virtual desktops are easy to manage & use and work exactly like a physical desktop. Deployment of large-scale virtual desktops involves much lower IT costs than physical infrastructure. For example, deploying a virtual desktop Mac would be less expensive than buying an Apple desktop. Resources can be deployed as required, and when needed, resulting in reduction in wastage and IT operating costs.  

In a Nutshell

The global VDI market size is expected to be USD 30 billion by 2026. VDI lends itself reliably to organizations as a business continuity strategy. It also empowers employees with tremendous flexibility in their work environment. Choose a reliable VDI for your organization and deliver a seamless working experience today! You can find information on zDesk, GAVS’ award-winning VDI + DaaS solution here.

Intrinsic Employee Motivation Translates to Corporate Success

Highly motivated and engaged employees contribute significantly to corporate success. It is not an easy task for an organization to keep their employees always motivated and focused around a common purpose, especially their remote workforce. You need to create an environment where the employees’ motivation to do their best job comes from within them, DAILY. Easier said than done! Here some factors that make employee motivation a habit.

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Motivation is of two types – Intrinsic and Extrinsic.

  • Intrinsic motivation is when you engage in a specific activity due to a genuine interest in the activity.  When you ask such people why they do it, they would reply “because I like it”, “because it is fun”. It is prompted by their internal desires to learn, explore, and actualize their potential. Most of our hobbies, artistic pursuits, and passion projects are driven by internal motivations. Intrinsic motivation satisfies you emotionally. Apart from driving our creative pursuits, this type of motivation also drives our social and work-related behaviors.
  • Extrinsic motivation is when you engage in an activity because of the external benefits you obtain by accomplishing it like money, credits, etc. Extrinsic motivation is behaviors prompted by a promise of some external reward such as praise, financial gains, or recognition. Traditionally, extrinsic motivation is placed at the core of most employee engagement strategies such as performance bonuses, ‘employee of the month’ programs, cross-department competitions, and so on. Extrinsic motivation creates a conditional atmosphere where employees are made to perform for the benefits they get, and the corporate culture becomes unhealthy. It leads to a point where people stop doing things for the sake of pleasure and only pursue reward-driven actions.

Following is the Job Characteristics Theory (JCT) developed by Hackman and Oldham that depicts what/how internal/external factors affect a job’s output.

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Let us see which factors drive an intrinsically motivated environment that is genuinely helpful to the individual as well as the organization.

1. Fitment of work/skill – The core of intrinsic motivation starts from the day you join work or even before that. Skill mismatch or wrong fitment in the job could be a great drain on an employee’s morale. So, extreme care must be taken during the recruitment phase itself so that wastages such as skill, time, money, effort, etc. can be avoided. Just filling up a job in haste for the sake of doing does not solve any purpose and will have a nose-dive effect on the employee’s career and the organization’s brand.

2. Work identity and significance – The importance of your job and the degree to which an employee can see how their daily actions contribute to the final outcomes mean a lot. The very feeling that “I am doing an impactful job” and “My work yields result in a meaningful way” can be a great employee motivational factor.

3. Feedback – Am I doing a good job? I know I do a good job but is anybody noticing it!?  As social animals, we humans cannot survive without validation. More so in a job. When an employee is adding value, it becomes imperative for a manager to TELL THEM THAT. I would even say that the manager owes this to their reportees. Honest, meaningful, and constructive feedback is great for intrinsic motivation. It is an explicit action of showing “Hey, I care for you”.

Do not save your feedback for year-end or mid-year appraisals. Feedback should be continuous so that there are no surprises or anguishes at a crucial juncture of the job.

An American analytics and advisory company emphasizes that only 47% of employees received some feedback from their manager and just 26% agree that the provided feedback was helpful for them. This points to a problematic trend. Regular feedback is key to amplifying both types of motivation — intrinsic and extrinsic.

4. Micromanagement tendencies – Micromanagement is passé. Managers should be aware if they are unknowingly practicing it! It demotivates employees and makes them lose their self-confidence. A mind works freely when it is not policed. As much as 73% of employees admit that micromanagement undermines their ability to do their job well, makes them miserable, and ultimately — disengaged. To foster intrinsically driven behavior, a manager must let people find their own way under a nurtured guidance and not a dictatorship.

5. Boredom – Mundane and repetitive tasks kill a person’s creativity, progression, and zeal to contribute. Boredom is a major productivity killer. When anyone feels that they are constantly engaged in menial, repetitive work, they are unlikely to find internal motivators for doing it better. So, it is a manager’s job to juggle the team’s responsibilities often.

6. Open door policy – Get transparent with your employees. Meet them more often through town halls or even virtual meetings. Tell them how the company has performed recently, how the company is seen in the market, how your market size has grown, etc. These leadership interactions are significant drivers of intrinsic motivation. When people clearly understand how their actions contribute to the big picture, they are far more inclined to do their best work without expecting any tangible rewards in return.

Unilever, for example, publicly reports on its progress to offsetting its carbon footprint. HubSpot has a culture of ‘radical transparency’. Such an open-door policy helps the leadership stay accountable for their decisions and defend them in front of employees who don’t understand and/or agree with them.

To conclude, you can see, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play their part in terms of effectiveness. But extrinsic factors’ effectiveness wears off over time if leveraged too often. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation can help maintain higher levels of satisfaction among your workforce for longer. Yet, getting it right requires implementing a wider range of cultural and organizational shifts. A successful company or leadership should work towards this for sustainable employability.

References

About the Author –

Rajeswari S

Rajeswari is part of the Presales team at GAVS. She has been involved in technical and creative content development for the past 13 years. She is passionate about music and writing and spends her free time watching movies or going for a highway drive.

ITIL® Misconceptions: The ‘IS’ and ‘IS-NOT’ of ITIL

Do you also think,

  • “ITIL is just Incident, Problem & Change Management. And yes, CMDB!”
  • “ITIL is a rigid set of tools, procedures, and processes and if you don’t follow what’s in the books, it’s not ITIL.”
  • “ITIL is for infrastructure or production only.”
  • “ITIL is only for big organizations, and it requires too many people.”
  • “ITIL doesn’t require any formal training, it is just common sense or a tool that will fix it all.”
  • “You don’t need to worry about culture when adopting the ITIL framework.”

If your answer to any of above is Yes, this article is for you!

Misconception #1: “ITIL is just Incident, Problem & Change Management. And yes, CMDB!”

Well, this misconception is incorrect. In essence, ITIL covers the entire life cycle of a Service/Solution/Product, right from its inception (aka, ‘kick-off,’ ‘initiation,’ ‘envision’) where ‘VALUE’ for the service is created, thereby supporting the complete service/solution/product lifecycle as an approach.

It involves practices such as management of Strategy, Portfolio, Finance, Demand, and Customer Experience function, with purposes of establishing Business Relationship Management for customer collaboration and loyalty.

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Misconception #2: “ITIL is a rigid set of tools, procedures, and processes and if you don’t follow what’s in the books, it’s not ITIL.”

ITIL is sometimes treated as a standard, which it was never meant to be. Businesses enforce this inflexible structure upon their employees, and it is often met with resistance. Despite what some people think there is nothing called an ‘ITIL way’.

As a resource, the very nature of ITIL is ‘adopt and adapt’ mindset which encourages users to tailor the best practices to their needs. If something fits your requirements, great, use it. If it does not, tweak it or do not use it.

Misconception #3: “ITIL is for infrastructure or production only.”

Many people associate ITIL with managing incidents and problems focusing on break/fix scenarios. But practices such as Lean, Agile, DevOps cannot be complete without ITIL for a holistic solution involving SDLC plus warranty.

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Misconception #4: “ITIL is only for big organizations, and it requires too many people.”

I have encountered several people who believe ITIL is not for their organization as they “don’t have and can’t afford to employ 26 process owners”.

Initially, ITIL may seem overwhelming and people think they need a big team to make it work. However, when taking the time to consult the ITIL guidance it is clear organizations of any size can use the framework.

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  • Just because ITIL has 26 processes, and each one must have a Process Owner – that does not mean having 26 different people each doing one of them. The roles can be assigned to existing employees in your organization with relevant skills and experience.
  • You do not need a minimum number of ITIL people to work effectively within a business. But what you do need is senior management buy-in. To get that, you need to communicate the business benefits clearly in a way that will show the tangible, positive changes it will bring to the organization and how ITIL will help with the pain points.
  • Another very common denominator for problems across teams is lack of role clarity: clearly documented ITIL processes can be used by businesses of all sizes to bring clarity to roles and responsibilities.

Misconception #5: “ITIL doesn’t require any formal training, it is just common sense or a tool that will fix it all.”

A lot of people believe that if they implement an ‘ITSM tool’, it will fix all problems in their business. And it is easier to implement a tool than a process.

Unfortunately, both these viewpoints just are not correct!

Often, while IT teams trying to adopt a full ITIL process, they instinctively just change what is possible within their silo, i.e.  going from Tool A to Tool B. While they may end up with a better Incident Management system or have SLAs implemented, it is questionable whether the proposed way of working, or a target is something that the business also requires.

Alongside a change in approaches and practices, ITIL requires a genuine collaborative cultural shift of a whole business. Otherwise, organizations will not achieve the transformation they are aiming for.

Misconception #6: “You don’t need to worry about culture when adopting the ITIL framework.”

Moving from one framework to another should not affect the organization’s culture too drastically but going from home-grown processes and methods to a structured framework can be quite daunting.

There are steps an organization can take to manage the company culture which will help a change initiative run smoothly:

  • Involve employees from the start – Brainstorm what is working and what is not with your employees. The more involved they are, the smoother the change will be. Reassure the most affected that they have value and a voice. By asking them to help shape the change, their worth to the organization is acknowledged.
  • Take the help of ITIL professionals and experts – Take professional advice that allows you to take advantage of each of the recommendations offered by ITIL methodology. An expert can clarify any doubts that may arise and ensure each process is executed properly according to the requirements of the business.
  • Break down larger changes – Larger changes can be broken down into smaller parts, which will make them easier to work through and can make them less daunting for potentially reluctant employees.
  • Embrace the fact that ITIL is not an immediate problem solver – ITIL does not bring with it a recipe for immediate efficiency but represents a transition that depending on the requirements of each business can vary widely in the amount of time needed to be successful. The effective coordination between processes, people and technology can take a considerable period. But there is no doubt that if these best practices are applied correctly, the organization will be able to enjoy the benefits progressively.

About the Author –

Gouri Mahendru

Gouri is part of the Quality Management function at GAVS, handling the Operations and Delivery excellence within ZIF Command Centres. She is passionate about driving business excellence through innovative IT Service Management in the Digital era and always looks for ways to deliver business value.

When she’s not playing with data and pivoting tables, she spends her time cooking, watching dramas and thrillers, and exploring places in and around the city.

5 Key Non-Traditional Areas of Cost Optimization in Healthcare

A recent analysis from the Office of the Actuary at CMS, reports that the national healthcare spending reached a total of USD 3.8 trillion before the pandemic hit the world. Conversely, there has been a steady decline of around 20% and 34% in inpatient and outpatient volumes, respectively. As a result, the American Hospital Association (AHA) predicts that the higher-than-usual supply expenses and other pandemic-related costs can lead to USD 323 billion loss for hospitals and health systems across the country. To curb the mounting expenditures in the healthcare industry, healthcare CXOs are shifting focus to cost optimization strategies. However, before focusing on cost optimization, one must consider:

  • Evaluating the role of IT in improving patient care
  • Prioritizing technology initiatives to address medical costs
  • Being prepared for internal backlash on account of budget cuts

Here are five non-traditional areas that can be optimized to bring down healthcare costs.

Medical Waste Management and IoMT

Medical waste in hospitals could have a severe impact. The economic costs associated with medical waste range from USD 760 billion to USD 935 billion, as improper management invites increased premium and out-of-pocket medical expenses, thus increasing healthcare costs. Investing in care coordinators, community health workers, and social workers can help to improve quality and cut costs. Waste management monitoring through sensors and IoMT can help hospitals become more efficient and remain compliant with various regulatory bodies such as OSHA.

Care Management and Process Optimization

In a dynamic environment, a lack of process standardization can increase the chances of variations in patient outcomes, resulting in longer LOS and increased costs to the healthcare system. Leveraging the power of data and data-driven processes, healthcare providers can standardize processes and identify areas that require improvement in terms of care delivery. Over a period of time, the data can help implement evidence-based workflows that improve consistency and coordination across processes.

Diagnostic Testing and Predictive Analytics

A report states that the costs of diagnostic testing account for more than 10% of all healthcare costs. However, there is also a rise in death or disability, with more than a million a year harmed by diagnostic errors, in the US. The repercussions of wrongful diagnosis can insure both direct and indirect costs that include medicolegal costs, increase in medical liability premiums, among others. While there is still an ongoing debate to determine whether diagnostic tests are being overused or underused, the cost factor of unnecessary testing must be taken into consideration. With the growing use of technology in healthcare, hospitals and other medical facilities must leverage electronic health records (EHR) for information transfer across care teams. The data acquired from EHR can be used in combination with new-age technologies such as predictive analytics and machine learning to minimize human errors and costly adverse events.

Data-driven Decision Making

The World Bank reported that the US leads the world in healthcare spending, with almost 18% of its GDP contributing to healthcare costs. One of the focus areas of cost optimization is the quality of consolidated patient information available to physicians, as it is critical to improving safety processes and quality. Lack of insight into patient information and process management leads to an increase in cost due to length of stay or complication rates. To manage frontline costs, it is imperative to establish a robust data-driven system. Using systems such as EDW will enable physicians to get real-time answers to clinical quality improvement queries, thus giving them the opportunity to analyze LOS and make necessary changes. Simply put, a hospital can improve its productivity by up to 26% by creating an environment for better decisions, thus creating more opportunities to optimize cost.

Supply Chain and Standardization

While focusing on increasing the volume, revenue, and growth of hospitals, one of the areas that is affected due to lack of attention is the supply chain. Gartner reports that the total healthcare supply chain cost averages to 37.3% of the total cost of patient care. The supply chain in a hospital can be affected by inefficiencies, service duplication, and poor labor management. To optimize costs in this segment, hospitals must focus on standardizing processes, manage physician schedules, and leverage health systems to handle patient access and flow. To build resilience within the healthcare supply chain, the top management must implement preventive measures such as improvements to data analytics and supplier visibility, and external intelligence focused on the healthcare supply chain.

Having discussed the different focus areas for cost optimization, it is important to implement these strategies wisely. While implementing a cost optimization strategy, one must follow these four rules:

  • Have a clearly defined area of focus
  • Build a functioning operating model
  • Learn and implement the right lessons
  • Demonstrate sustainable value

According to Gartner experts, avoiding reactionary cost-cutting in favor of purposeful prioritization requires a partnership between CIOs, CFOs, and CEOs. To that end, Gartner recommends the following:

  • Adopt scenario planning strategy to identify processes and technology impacts using various parameters such as TCO, ROI, and value creation
  • Expand IT portfolio in clinical processes using RPA, ML, AI, and NLP capabilities
  • Evaluate, review, and protect funding of transformative technology projects in different areas such as administrative modernization, patient engagement, etc.

Fireside Chat with Dr. Vinita Chauhan-Ramprasath

Dr. Vinita Chauhan

1. Tell us something about your childhood. What values had been instilled in you that helped you excel later in your life?

I think we all have our modest beginnings; I have certainly had mine. Growing up, we were comfortable but never outrageously wealthy. My parents were extremely hard workers and that is something they both instilled in me and my sister. We had everything we needed, but there weren’t a lot of luxuries and we didn’t miss them. Another thing our parents were very unequivocally insistent about was a good education. My father lost his father at a young age and then proceeded to educate himself and ended up getting his doctorate with a scholarship. My mother came from a family that put education above all else. Hard work and the value of education are two things that were instilled in us early in our lives.

2. What have been some of the biggest challenges in your life and how that has shaped you?

When I moved to the US, I lived on my own for the first time and so many things were new and different. Every immigrant has gone through that phase but for me that was especially hard because I was so sheltered before that. Getting a hang of the education system that was so different was also a task. After working in academic research for a while, there was a point when I realized didn’t want to be in academia. I had enrolled in an MBA program that I really enjoyed. When I went back from my maternity leave, I wasn’t willing to give up on my research position yet. There was one semester when my son was still an infant, I was taking 5 classes, working 30 hours a week in my lab, and teaching 2 online courses. It was a result of pure planning, and a lot of support from my husband; my days planned to the minute. It was a very trying time but was extremely rewarding.

3. How did you discover your passion for STEM?

I always enjoyed Biology. I found it fascinating and I was also fortunate enough to have some great Biology teachers. One of my teachers ended up mentoring me and helped me explore various opportunities. That was a big turning point for me. She tried to nurture my interests and talked to me about my options going forward. Studies have shown that school-going girls, lose interest in STEM at an early age, more so than boys, if not nurtured and supported appropriately. Girls take it harder when they make mistakes, and we need to show them to learn from it and continue moving forward.

4. What were the biggest leadership shifts in the past year?

We have all been trying to do our best juggling work and our family’s health. And we’re all in this together. There have been times my sons walked into the room while I was in meetings and no one batted an eyelid. Leaders understand that we are all managing things at home too and allow us the flexibility to do so. People step up to the challenge they are presented if we give them an opportunity to do so and the pandemic has clearly tested all of us.

5. Could you tell us something about how to manage remote teams?

I personally like to have video calls with my team members and know what is happening in their lives even outside of work. Our physical and mental health and well-being makes everything else possible, being mindful of that is important. It is also important to empower our teams to feel confident enough to come up with the best solutions. It is very fulfilling for me to see my team members come up with better ways of doing things and prove me wrong. A manager’s number one priority is to ensure that everyone is working to the best of their ability.

6. How important do you think is Diversity and Inclusion for corporates?

We are resistant to change but change is the only constant. Look at what the last year has taught us. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are considered buzzwords in corporate world, but they are important in every facet of life. There is a story about 4 people looking at a box as a problem but from different angles. So, it is a different problem for each of them, that results in different solution. Being inclusive fosters creativity and innovation.

Valuing our employees empowers them to be better performers. I have been fortunate to have leaders, both male and female, who have shown faith in me. I am particularly proud of working with Premier. Our leaders ensure that everyone is given a seat at the table and is heard and that makes everyone, in turn, want to do a better job.  

7. How would you describe an ideal technology partner?

The number one thing would be for them to understand our business. They must have the capability and resources to fulfill our business needs. Another important thing is clear communication. However, one thing that the pandemic reinforced was that the highest priority should be the ability to transform. Even if we don’t have an immediate need, we must have the capability to learn and adapt.

8. As someone from the healthcare industry, what message would you like to give to our readers especially about vaccination?

India is at a stage right now where US was sometime ago. We’ve had over a year to prepare for this and yet we aren’t adequately organized. On top of it, there is a debate about the vaccines raging on. The technology that these vaccines are based on has been widely researched. I would request people not to be skeptical of them. It will not make you immune from the infection, but it will ensure that you don’t die from COVID. Complications from COVID can have severe, adverse, long-term effects.

Please wear your masks, social distance if you step out of your homes and make the right decision for yourself and your families and get the vaccine when you are eligible.

About Dr. Chauhan –

Vinita Chauhan-Ramprasath was born and raised in India and spent most of her childhood in Mumbai. She graduated with her B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Mumbai and then received her M.Sc. in Biochemistry. Vinita moved to the United States in August 2000 and received her Doctorate in Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology. She got married in 2006 and moved to Charlotte where she worked as a research faculty at University of North Carolina at Charlotte before getting her MBA and joining Premier Inc. Currently Vinita works as a Director of ITS Operations where she manages the GAVS-Premier partnership as well as a part of the integration management office within Premier. Vinita lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband Ram and her two sons Neel and Nikhil and their dog Dakota.

Moving Ahead as Managers

Bindu

Bindu Vijayan

When I was recently asked to drive employee experience at GAVS, I thought, what an opportunity to support a group who are deliverers of high-value systems! I have personally seen the Leadership’s wisdom and the passion to drive GAVS forward as a meaningful and purposeful company. This is an opportunity to help deliver fine-tuned responses through earnest feedback.  And thus, started a somewhat ministerial role – listening truly, relating to what is being heard, because we believe there is a huge potential to strengthen bonds.

Operational execution takes place from the Managers, and here at GAVS, the value system is entrenched in the belief that seniors serve the needs of others; the inverse pyramid.  I have seen our CEO, Sumit Ganguli, treating everyone like a Leader, and everyone is given the responsibility to know and understand the company and the business. The earnest attempt is to have employees relate to GAVS, be the best brand ambassadors for the values and culture we stand for. 

Often times, we as Managers are going through the stress from genuinely caring to get everything right and move projects and teams forward along with the company, but it might be a totally different story with the teams we are managing – things aren’t going too well, and even before we realize what is going on, people leave us.

This points us to a need to recalibrate ourselves and our managerial style, and sometimes our self-calibration can have profound implications for the organization.

Was it a single event that had team members leave? It most times isn’t, it is a collection of problems…no quick fixes or silver bullets, but let’s take the medicine, the whole course, that would turn things around. We have all been on both sides and know what it is to open up and give honest feedback, the genuine hope and excitement about change, and as Managers today, we are happy to actually have individuals open up.   

Who am I as a Manager?

Ed Catmull, President, and co-founder of Pixar writes, “We acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable

As a Manager, let me take a real hard look at myself in the mirror to see what I might be doing wrong.  Why are my team members quitting? How do I lead? Is it through ‘Power’, as in our real inner power to lead with positivity and assertiveness, or is my leadership about ‘force’, where my authority, screaming, bullying, manipulating, sycophancy that drives my team along with me?

Making time for everyone

Let us make time to meet every single person in our team even when we are managing large teams. Scheduling that one crucial hour with each team member is giving them the opportunity to be a reviewer, exchange seats with them, and see it through their eyes.  Keep the agenda for the meeting to speak only about how we can improve managing them, all defenses down.

Demonstrate we see them as our peers, listen…

Listen to everything they have to say, without interrupting. Be a true listener, and promises are to be made and to be kept. The worst thing for us to do is to have that ‘excellent chat’ and go back to the ‘same old’.

Get straight forward feedback from the team and give them immunity for saying it the way it is

Sometimes we need to hear the little harsh truths about ourselves. And the team doesn’t want to see us defensive about our ways of impacting them wrong. We have to hear them out, and everything they want to say, and that’s the first step for them to choose to stay. People should feel safe to talk about things they want as improvements, and to be heard on what is working vs things that are not working.

Don’t wait on actions

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans” – Peter Drucker

I don’t mean there is a magic wand that we can use for everything to turn good overnight. But continuous improvements, by way of small consistent steps, should be visible, and getting everyone involved in it would be a great way to get it right. Everybody wants to see progress.

Here are some toxic traits that call for recalibration;

  • Highly irritable, short-tempered
  • Arrogant, unapproachable
  • Getting defensive about constructive criticism
  • Overtly dominant
  • Belittling other people’s feelings
  • Highly controlling
  • Manipulative

Today, it is interesting to see lots of new-age companies where there are zero hierarchies, employees and leaders are like family. The millennials and the Gen Z are comfortable being who they really are, and we Managers from different demographics must simply jump in and learn from their signature authenticity.

About the Author –

Bindu Vijayan takes care of Employee Experience at GAVS, she works towards creating an environment that’s conducive to passion and make employees feel valued as individuals. She is an avid reader, enjoys music and poetry, and is a devoted mother and a grand-mother. An ardent Kafka fan, she relates to his famous quote, “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

The Hands that Rock the Cradle, also Crack the Code

Sumit Ganguli

On February 18, 2021, I was attending a video conference, with my laptop perched on my standing desk while I was furtively stealing a glance at the TV in my study. I was excitedly keeping up with the Perseverance Rover that was about to land at the Mars. I was mesmerized by space odyssey and was nervous about the ‘seven minutes of terror’ –  when the engineers overseeing the landing would not be able to guide or direct the Perseverance landing as it would take a while to establish or send any communication from Earth to Mars. Hence, the rover would have to perform a landing by itself, with no human guidance involved.

During this time, I thought I saw a masked lady with a ‘bindi’ on her forehead at the NASA control room who was, in her well-modulated American accented voice, giving us a live update of the Rover.

And since that day, Swati Mohan has been all over the news. We have got to know that Mohan was born in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, and emigrated to the United States when she was one year old. She became interested in space upon seeing Star Trek at age 9. She studied Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, and did her master’s degree and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Swati Mohan is the lead for the Navigation and Controls (GN&C) Operations for the Mars project. She led the attitude control system of Mars 2020 during operations and was the lead systems engineer throughout development. She played a pivotal part in the landing which was rather tricky.

This led me to ruminate about women and how they have challenged stereotypes and status quo to blaze the trail, especially in STEM.

I have been fascinated from the time I got to know that the first programmer in the world was a woman, and daughter of the famed poet, Lord Byron, no less. The first Programmer in the World, Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace nee Byron; was born in 1815 and was the only legitimate child of the poet laureate, Lord Byron, and his wife Annabella. 

As a teenager, Ada’s prodigious mathematical talents, led her to have British mathematician Charles Babbage, as her mentor. Babbage is known as ‘the father of computers’. Ada translated an article on the Analytical Engine, which she supplemented with an elaborate set of notes, simply called Notes. These notes contain what many consider to be the first computer program—that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.

Six women—Francis “Betty” Snyder Holberton, Betty “Jean” Jennings Bartik, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum, and Frances Bilas Spence were associated with the programming of the first computer ENIAC. They had no documentation and no schematics to work with. There was no language, no operating system, the women had to figure out what the computer was, and then break down a complicated mathematical problem into very small steps that the ENIAC could then perform.  They physically hand-wired the machine, using switches, cables, and digit trays to route data and program pulses. This might have been a very complicated and arduous task. So, these six women were the programmers for the world’s mainframe computers.

The story goes that on February 14, 1946 The ENIAC was announced as a modern marvel in the US. There was praise and publicity for the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, the inventors of ENIAC the first computer, Eckert and Mauchly were heralded as geniuses. However, none of the key programmers, all the women were not introduced in the event. Some of the women appeared in photographs later, but everyone assumed they were just models, perfunctorily placed to embellish the photograph.

One of the six programmers, Betty Holberton went on to invent the first sort routine and help design the first commercial computers, the UNIVAC and the BINAC, alongside Jean Jennings. These were the first commercial mainframe computers in the world.

It behooves us to walk down the pages of history and read about women who had during their time decided to #choosetochallenge and celebrate the likes of Swati Mohan who have grown tall on the shoulders of the first women programmers.

About the Author –

Sumit brings over 20 years of rich experience in the international IT and BPO sectors. Prior to GAVS, he served as a member of the Governing Council at a publicly-traded (NASDAQ) IT and BPO company for over six years, where he led strategic consulting, IP and M&A operations.

He has managed global sales and handled several strategic accounts for the company. He has an Advanced Professional Certificate (APC) in Finance from Stern School of Management, NYU, and is a Post Graduate in Management from IIM. He has attended the Owners President Management Program (OPM 52) at HBS and is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration at the LeBow School of Business, Drexel University.

He has served as an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers State University, New Jersey teaching International Business. He speaks at various industry forums and is involved in philanthropic initiatives like Artha Forum.