As companies undergo additional transformative changes with each new phase of Covid-19, uncertainty prevails in the business world. In August last year, UK offices were encouraged to reopen by a government-backed campaign; then companies were urged to reverse their back-to-work plans to comply with new restrictions due to rising infection rates. With the route out of the country’s current lockdown unclear and businesses constantly having to adapt to new working arrangements, productivity is challenging to maintain and profitability is hard to predict. It’s a testing climate to say the least.
To navigate this complexity, organizations are relying heavily on the skill and resourcefulness of their IT and security teams. These professionals are tasked with not only managing remote access to company systems for employees but also with finding more efficient ways of working amid budget restrictions. Supporting these teams with modern technology is crucial in order to ensure businesses can continue to operate effectively in the ‘new normal’, where change is commonplace and agility is the key to survival.
Taking automation to the next level
Covid-19 has created a catalyst for new technological investment as businesses adjust to their new reality, with KPMG finding that 59 percent of executives believe it has created an impetus to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. In fact, over half of major organizations worldwide expect to increase their spend on cybersecurity, automation and smart analytics. Due to its independent and proactive capabilities, automation in particular can play a key role in relieving overworked IT teams, managing staff fluctuations, and boosting productivity in challenging times.
That being said, businesses can take this a step further to gain advantage over the competition with hyper-automation. The term stands for the application of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automated processes. The predictive nature of hyper-automation allows the system to self-heal and self-serve, turbo-charging issue resolution and delivering superior employee and customer experiences. Beyond performance, hyper-automation also simplifies the security element, helping companies cope with the current surge in cyberattacks by self-securing. Overall, it’s an invaluable IT and business tool.
Autonomous device management
In a competitive commercial landscape, where seconds can make the difference between failure and success, a reactive approach to IT operations simply isn’t good enough. Implementing hyper-automation means device management is no longer reactive, but fully autonomous. To enhance efficiency, issue resolution can be ‘shifted-left’ and moved as close to the end user as possible in order to free up IT specialists’ time. With hyper-automation, devices essentially manage themselves, giving users the means to personally solve any performance hiccups they encounter. This way, analysts and more senior technical staff can employ their time in more complex and meaningful work, helping the organization make better use of a valuable asset – their expertise.
What’s more, automated and proactive healing mitigates the risk posed by the wide range of devices being used to access the corporate network, while at the same time facilitating staff productivity by solving issues before they arise that otherwise might have caused a stop to their working day. At a time where every minute is precious, hyper-automation serves as a crucial enabler of optimization and efficiency.
Adaptive and predictive security
When protecting a business from security threats, time is of the essence. Allowing cybercriminals to breach defenses and begin their malicious activity before triggering alerts and security mechanisms significantly lowers the chances of containing the damage. That’s why it’s necessary to fast-track threat discovery with hyper-automation: the process becomes constant and autonomous, so the system is monitored for potential threats at all times. But there’s more. With a combination of automation and machine learning, companies can proactively and predictively detect risks before they even happen, thus gaining an immense advantage in thwarting any type of attack.
In the age of remote working, cyberattacks on organizations across industries have visibly increased – for instance, 400 UK & US health firms were victims of hacks in September last year alone. With danger lurking around every corner, hyper-automation is an unparalleled ally, as it can prioritize the resolution of alerts based on risk. By predicting, prioritizing and remediating threats, hyper-automation truly has the potential to solve today’s security conundrum.
Recent Ivanti research found that 92 percent of EMEA CISOs agreed that they need to put additional security measures in place to facilitate remote working this year. With IT security budgets expected to be larger compared to 2020 and their top challenges – employees using unsecure WiFi and personal devices to access the business network – showing no signs of abating any time soon, automated security tools should be a key investment over the coming months.
As companies strive to keep up productivity and minimize disruptions amid remote working challenges and increased security risks, self-service is a critical element of IT. Chatbots and virtual agents currently support IT staff as they work to quickly resolve issues. However, hyper-automation once again takes this to the next level by enabling systems and devices to independently produce service tickets. Therefore, performance and security problems can be remediated and recorded before users even realize they occurred, minimizing disruptions to their work and preserving efficiency. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2024 endpoint analytics and automation will have enabled IT service staff to transfer 30 percent of their time from reactive support and repair to continual engineering.
It’s impossible to predict what the future might hold for businesses over the next year, or what the future ‘everywhere workplace’ may look like. However, what is clear is that priorities have irreversibly shifted to account for this new world of work. Businesses have been forced to compete in a uniquely testing situation – between mounting pressures to cope with the financial crisis, fiercer and more frequent cyberattacks, and an entirely new and constantly evolving workplace setting. Operating effectively in this environment requires careful evaluation of new strategies and solutions that can increase profitability and help prevent disruptive incidents. As such, hyper-automation can be an incredibly useful tool in an organization’s arsenal, as it’s able to improve security, enhance IT performance and, ultimately, boost success.
Nigel Seddon, VP of EMEA West, Ivanti