Cisco and Endava: transformation in networking/cybersecurity
Networking giant Cisco is a leader in helping companies to communicate and collaborate, both internally and externally, as Paul Maravei, General Manager, Cisco Romania explains: “Having helped build the internet, we’re now at the stage where more than 80% of internet traffic flows through our products. The only limit to what the internet can transform across all industries and locations is expertise - having the specialists that can take these technologies and put them to good use for companies and society at large.”
Cisco plays its own part in creating those specialists through its Networking Academy, which saw 2.3 million people take courses in the last fiscal year. “Having more than 80% of the internet flowing across our devices means we hold ourselves to the highest standards of trust, transparency and accountability,” says Maravei. “Because we are in that position, we have to be open in terms of the way we operate and conduct our business globally.”
Maravei sees a number of trends emerging as the latest wave of transformation via the internet, such as the methods to combat the complexity of IT in the modern workplace. “One clear trend over the last couple of years is the rise of automation to manage massive amounts of IT infrastructure with a limited number of people. That basically allows teams to focus on more creative tasks. Another is the rise in cybersecurity attacks.“ Alongside its investment in those areas, another critical area made even more important by the ongoing pandemic is remote collaboration, with Cisco’s Webex a key player.
Cisco has worked closely with software company Endava as part of its digital transformations. “One of the challenges of the most successful companies is the ability to grow while ensuring the base is solid. We’ve helped to sustain their growth with IT infrastructure and cybersecurity solutions as they’ve grown to 6,700 employees and 20 branches.” Maravei is clear that the relationship goes beyond the classic vendor and customer interaction, and instead represents a true partnership. “The difference is firstly about investing time to understand what the customer is all about. In our partnership with Endava, the team took that time to understand in detail what the customer’s needs and challenges are, and provide bespoke solutions rather than what already exists in our portfolio.”
Maravei is confident the partnership will remain strong going into the future, with Cisco standing ready to adapt to a shifting marketplace. “With the pandemic, the adoption and demand for collaboration solutions has skyrocketed,” says Maravei. “On the other hand,
customers are on one side developing their own data centers, and then at the same time looking into public clouds with tremendous computing power. The focus is then going to be on providing the infrastructure to connect those two and securing the data across both.” Web applications are another domain that Maravei believes Cisco will have a key role in enabling: “increasing the visibility and managing the performance of those applications that are out there on the world wide web will be another of our focuses.”
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”