March 2020 opened the digital transformation floodgates, with the pandemic dramatically accelerating the movement towards digital innovation. Digital innovation became the norm throughout most industries as millions of employees transitioned to a work-from-home environment and most enterprises struggled to contain costs.
To keep up with customer demands and succeed in the face of enormous challenges to their bottom line, supply chain, and operations, enterprises continue to be challenged to become laser-focused on resilience, efficiency, agility, and productivity. To accomplish their goals, many organizations turned to hyperautomation, which Gartner defines as an “effective combination of complementary sets of tools that can integrate functional and process silos to automate and augment business processes” for speed and efficacy. In layman’s terms, this refers to the marrying of various technologies -- such as artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, natural language processing, conversational chatbots, and machine learning -- to accomplish complex projects that might previously have been approached in a more piecemeal, siloed fashion.
Gartner estimates more than 70% of large commercial organizations have hyperautomation initiatives underway and predicts the future of office work will be significantly impacted by hyperautomation technologies -- especially when considering hybrid workforces are here to stay.
You Can’t Automate Without Understanding Change Management
Remote work continues to impact how work is ingested, allocated, supervised, and delivered across organizations. As remote work and hyperautomation go hand-in-hand, hyperautomation will change how employees work -- which means understanding change management will become a business necessity.
The amount of change employees can withstand without becoming fatigued was cut in half from 2019 to 2020 due to worries about the economy, job security, and health. All employees, even those who seem unwavering in their adaptability and resilience, need a sense of normalcy. So how can their employers support them? Gartner makes a few recommendations: a) focus on how employees experience change and tailor the approach based on their temperaments; b) engage employees in all facets of the change process; and c) build trust, because it leads to a greater tolerance for change.
The psychological and all-encompassing nature of change management often makes it the most difficult part of an IT project, regardless of the technology involved. To start, change management requires buy-in from key stakeholders. It also requires acceptance from employees who are accustomed to the status quo (which, after all, took time to learn.) While employers can choose to implement the most advanced technologies, those technologies won’t add value without stakeholder buy-in and employee adoption. This is especially true when implementing solutions that are as transformative as AI.
The bottom line? Don’t expect employees to embrace something new unless you successfully address change management.
All Roads Lead to the IT Help Desk
One way to effectively manage change and lay the groundwork for the adoption of new technologies is to automate the help desk first by automating employee self-help. The help desk is especially conducive to automation because it is the resource employees turn to for answers to technological questions.
While automating the help desk may seem intuitive, many help desks today still use manual processes. These range from manually resetting passwords and unlocking accounts to assigning access rights to folders and applications. Even more time is spent on manually assigning and prioritizing incidents and service requests.
Organizations will often cite cost as the main factor when attempting to rationalize their aversion toward automation. While cost is always a practical consideration, it can’t be a blanket excuse for automation inertia. Automating employee self-help delivers not only optimized support for remote employees by delivering immediate, personalized answers to employee questions, but it also delivers rapid ROI by enabling help desk ticket deflection. Help desk teams can spend more time resolving substantive matters versus answering maddeningly repetitive tickets. This, in turn, should lead to greater job satisfaction.
Unquestionably, hyperautomation is here to stay as technology continues its march forward and as employees become accustomed to the flexibility remote work offers. In fact, it may soon be the de facto approach for building operationally resilient enterprises. Before kicking off any hyperautomation initiative, enterprises should follow change management best practices and tailor their approach to the unique challenges presented by automation. The best place to start is by automating the help desk -- this alleviates employee frustrations from the inability to get answers they need 24/7. Automating the help desk means employees get immediate, personalized support that is critical to a seamless transition to new technologies. From there, organizations can take stock of successes and failures and apply those lessons to more widespread automation initiatives.
Pat Calhoun is a visionary leader with an intense focus on user experience and customer adoption. He has founded two companies -- Airespace and Espressive. As CEO at Espressive, Pat is set to transform the enterprise self-service experience to a consumer-like approach that drives employee adoption and significantly reduces help desk calls. Espressive has helped companies like Dexcom, SurveyMonkey, and Guardant Health achieve high ticket deflection, containing costs while improving workforce productivity.
Most recently, Pat served as senior vice president of product at ServiceNow where he was responsible for ServiceNow applications. Prior to that, he was general manager of the McAfee network security business. Pat’s first startup, Airespace, grew revenues to over $80M in two years before being sold to Cisco for $450M. After the acquisition, Pat served as both CTO for the Cisco $14B switching, routing, wireless, and security access business and GM of the Cisco identity business. Pat holds 35 patents and has been published in more than 16 publications.