10 tips to boosting Efficiency, Agility and Security in your Business
Automation often makes business sense. But it only makes sense if it works – and that’s been a significant problem for years. Now, however, things are changing. When it comes to automating manual processes in finance, HR, IT, logistics and many more operational areas, recent advances are truly changing the equation. The costs are dropping, the risk is all but gone and the opportunities for business transformation are finally yours to seize.
So where do you start? That’s a question this guide can help you answer. At Cleartec, we have helped organisations nationwide – and in practically every industry sector – to realise their full potential. By partnering with businesses in order to fully understand your needs, we can free your people to focus on the activities that really move the needle in the long term. We aim to create space for your teams – in every function – adding value that will help you achieve your business goals. And if there’s one thing our experience has taught us, it’s that our customers do better when they start small, with measured improvements that make a difference fast.
Recognise these challenges?
Every industry is unique in terms of the threats and opportunities posed by technology. But there are three key challenges that arise again and again when we work with our customers – challenges that are facing organisations in almost every sector.
Protecting the Azure stack
Alert Logic brings together award-winning SaaS delivered security technologies, continuous threat research and analytics, and round-the-clock security experts to address the areas you are responsible for in protecting Azure.
We integrate these unique insights with other global sources of threat intelligence and content to continually enrich vulnerability scanning, threat detection analytics and blocking logic. The result: vulnerability scans, incident reports and live consultations that give you context and confidence to know when and where to act.
Alert Logic includes a managed, in-line Web Application Firewall (WAF), and targets attacks that follow patterns consistent enough to trigger high-confidence millisecond blocking decisions. Web application security experts in our SOC continuously tune your blocking and white-listing logic to each of your applications to avoid false positives. The WAF
is load-balanced in Azure to support cloud-scale application performance and availability.
For the remaining majority of attacks, where there is no immediately clear black or white, we apply the gold standard of effective threat detection: analytics and experts together. The Alert Logic security operations team leverages multiple layers of analytics, including machine learning and anomaly detection as well as signatures and rules. Analytics are used and enhanced by experts from a variety of disciplines including security research, threat
intelligence, data science, and Security Operations Center (SOC) analysts. Together, they act as your virtual security team in the cloud, providing 24×365 monitoring, enriched incident reports, remediation advice and live notification within 15 minutes of critical incidents.
Unlocking the full potential of your people
There are some things that people still do better than computers. Tasks involving vision, intuition, creativity and imagination – these are the things that drive long-term growth. Yet all too often, employees are saddled with manual tasks to such a degree, that they rarely get the opportunity to make a real contribution. By automating repetitive tasks that are currently still undertaken by people, you won’t just gain a happier, more loyal workforce (although that is undoubtedly one of the benefits). You’ll also see your organisation flourish, as every brain in your business is empowered to share new ideas.
Eliminating IT infrastructure complexity
The pace of technological change is increasing – and it seems that every day brings a new sales pitch for a new platform or app that can revolutionise some corner of your business. As a result, the infrastructure in most organisations is now a multi-layered patchwork of hardware, software and cloud services. And often, this complexity hampers decision-making rather than helps it. By making targeted changes with the potential for big gains – call it low-hanging fruit if you wish – we can help set you off on a road towards simplification, rather than further complexity.
Capitalising on new technologies and ways of working
Regardless of the increase in IT complexity, technology remains a key opportunity for businesses to gain efficiencies and competitive advantage – through innovation and exceptional customer service, for instance. This is something it would be foolish to overlook. All organisations need to be on the lookout for such opportunities, lest they be left behind. The problem is that most carry such high risks, in terms of both up-front cash investment and time to market. Against that backdrop, Intelligent Automation represents one of the clearest and most compelling opportunities yet
1) Avoid the temptation to automate entire processes. Instead, target single tasks or sub-processes.
Identify tasks that, once automated, will result in a measurable benefit. Imagine a service centre in which 30 people perform a specific task – updating a web portal – around ten times per day. It might involve keying data into just five fields of a web form and hitting submit, but every time, it takes a full minute in total to complete. So that’s ten minutes per individual per day, or five hours per day for the whole group. Now imagine there are four more tasks like this and we’re up to 25 hours. By introducing ProcessFlows Intelligent Automation solution, this time is given back to the team, freeing up their time to use the skills they were employed for.
2) Eliminate the use of applications for crossreferencing or verification.
It’s been proven that people are less productive when they need to navigate between applications to verify data. Automated processes do this type of verification much faster and importantly, they don’t get distracted. What’s more, data protection is improved because the less data your people can see, the less will end up in the wrong hands. So our advice would be to focus first on processes that require people to switch between applications.
3) You don’t need to automate everything people do on their desktops.
Many tasks are performed using Windows just because that’s the easiest way for workers to access your data. It can therefore be tempting to use automation software to take control at certain points in a process. Intelligent Automation is different. It seeks to move tasks away from the desktop and onto the server where possible. That way, they can run silently in the background without complicating the desktop environment any further. When considering Intelligent Automation, it makes sense to think outside the box.
4) Don’t forget your field-based teams.
With manual processes, there’s often a compromise to be struck between productivity and rigour. For example, it’s a great idea to cross-check the VAT number on a new supplier’s invoices, but it takes time. As a result, it often doesn’t get done – opening the door to criminals operating bogus companies in order to defraud your business. With Intelligent Automation, the heavy lifting of data verification can be handled without human input, improving both speed and accuracy, without compromising your organisation’s security.
5) Use Intelligent Automation for rigorous verification.
Working via mobile devices is often a compromise. Small screens and keyboards mean the devices are often not optimal for the task in hand – especially when it comes to responding to customer queries. In situations like these, rather than opening one or more app to retrieve the necessary data, it can be quicker and therefore more efficient to send an email to a robot assistant. For example, sending an email saying “give me the last week’s sales figures for customer x” is likely to be much faster than navigating through menus or apps to obtain key information.
6) Practice kaizen: the art of continuous improvement.
It’s normal to have pockets of inefficiency – but many organisations have no way of tackling them cost-effectively. Intelligent Automation allows you to be more agile in your approach to process and task improvement. One of the most effective examples of implementing Intelligent Automation is in the benchmarking of business processes, whereby process data is visualised using user-friendly dashboards, helping you identify any productivity bottlenecks or error-prone processes on an ongoing basis.
7) Where you have inbound documents, you’ve got an opportunity to streamline.
Cognitive Automation technology works hand-in-hand with Intelligent Automation and together, they can deliver significant productivity improvements. Document processing is almost always a drain on human workers’ effectiveness. But once manual data entry has been replaced with Cognitive Automation, your employees are free to add the value that only humans can.
8) Insist on a solution that complements your IT governance policy.
Although automated systems can be considered benign from an IT governance perspective – they work on the same access control and privileges as real end-users, after all – the scale of work that computers can perform means that any automated process must still run under watchful management. This is because a compromised software process can perform many more malign operations than a human user. Intelligent Automation gives you access to process intelligence dashboards that make it easier to spot compromised systems and, crucially, deactivation mechanisms that allow you to intervene, should an automated system become compromised. That way, you can benefit from automation, while maintaining a resilient, reliable and secure infrastructure.
9) Seek out the re-keying ‘gaps’ in your processes.
Many business processes are made up of loosely coupled tasks and use a variety of off-the-shelf components, such as email, CRM systems, spreadsheets, line-of-business applications and web-portals. Often, the data passed between these processes has been re-keyed at least once. These instances of re-keying information are the ‘gaps’ that Intelligent Automation can fill, improving accuracy and overall efficiency.
10) Use Intelligent Automation as the ultimate data and process housekeeping tool.
Once your people have left the building for the evening, Intelligent Automation can be deployed to run extensive data verification routines. Data can be intelligently replicated (or ‘staged’) to improve application performance and usability without the wholesale duplication of effort involved when this is done manually. Digital Process Automation obligations can be fulfilled using systematic data cleaning, all undertaken automatically.
Intelligent Automation – and all the business benefits that go with it – is a realistic goal. And to help you make it happen in your organisation, ProcessFlows has a clear, three-step process.
And it doesn’t stop there. Once the solution is rolled out, our account management team will work with you to help you achieve operational excellence now and in the future.
To learn more, please contact us to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation call with one of our experts. We’d be delighted to discuss your challenges in more detail.
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