Mitigate WAN complexity with SD Branch
Technology has entrenched itself into the way we do business, becoming the fundamental foundation of virtually any organisation. For IT departments, this has created incredible complexity as teams need to keep their fingers on the pulse of every aspect of their business and the constantly evolving technology it uses.
From connectivity and networking to security, to managing multiple data environments both in the cloud and on premise, to factoring in business enhancing technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), IT teams have a lot on their plates.
Organisations with multiple branches have considerably more complexity as IT teams add the headache of managing the myriad service providers that provide connectivity between branches and back to their head office, as well as the extended WiFi networks within each branch.
For many businesses, the number of service providers used to provision their WAN becomes costly and managing them can be inefficient. When part – or all – of their network experiences downtime, the hassle of logging a call with the right service provider(s) and lack of control over the resolution can be frustrating. There’s also a question of security, with multiple providers offering different levels of security, not all of which may conform to the business’s own security policy.
There are solutions available, however, that can simplify management of the WAN while alleviating cost strain, increasing security controls and putting control over the network back into the hands of the business, while also reducing the complexity.
Software Defined (SD) WAN, is a solution that effectively extends a business’s head office connectivity across the entire network of branches within the organisation. Leveraging remote access points (APs), strategically placed at each branch, alongside the last mile connectivity, a secure tunnel is created from each branch back to the head office.
From this vantage point, the IT team at the head office is able to securely manage and control connectivity to, from and between each branch. Businesses can manage quality of service, data security protocols, access controls, speed and troubleshooting from a single point. They are able to view the network as a whole from a “single pane of glass”, easily managing traffic and prioritisation without needing to obtain multiple reports from different service providers.
For organisations on digital transformation journeys, implementing technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and the cloud, this makes all the difference. SD Branch ensures security is managed from a central point based on the business’s security policy, so onboarding of IoT devices becomes more secure and easily controllable.
Essentially, SD Branch enables security and data at the edge. Data and traffic prioritisation allow for fast transmission and opens the door to analytics at the edge – right at each branch, or device.
The process of moving the cloud becomes dramatically easier with SD Branch, as modernisation become simpler and there is no need to reinvest in additional physical hardware. SD Branch is a cloud-based solution, therefore businesses are already in the cloud, which facilitates the step up for the rest of the business’s processes and systems.
Easy management with sensors
Enhancing AI powered networking capabilities with a sensor-based service assurance solution, businesses leverage a simple, proactive, and network-agnostic tool for measuring and monitoring SaaS, applications, and network services. This helps organisations deliver the best possible end user experience by enabling IT to get ahead of service quality issues before they occur, accelerate time to resolution, and lower cost of operations.
Through SD Branch capability augmented with sensors and AI, businesses can achieve a holistic view of the WAN and LAN environments, gaining complete and proactive management of the quality, speed and performance of the entirely of their network without having to rely on multiple service providers. Ultimately, they save money, resources and do away with much of the complexity.
Pieter Engelbrecht is the HPE Aruba BU Manager for Sub-Sharan Africa
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.”