Forrester Predictions 2019 – Amicus ITS Digests: Session#4 AI and Automation

(L-R) Forrester CMO Victor Milligan with Principal Analysts Michele Goetz and
JP Gownder

In the fourth of our sequence of digests on Forrester’s 2019 findings and forecasts looking ahead in 2019, Principal Analysts Michele Goetz and JP Gownder were in the hot seat for the AI and automation session with #Forrester CMO Chair, Victor Milligan.

Asked about the current status of AI and Automation, Michele Goetz observed that AI was becoming more interesting to companies.  Activity remains principally on pilots and Proof of Concepts, with the main focus on what analytics can offer.   But it was the automation aspects that were identified as having the most traction because of the opportunity for business benefit outcomes.

JP Gownder added that business values were starting to be seen in ‘Robotic Process Automation’ (RPA), whereby repetitive tasks get automated, freeing up people to spend time on more strategic tasks.  Through automation he said, businesses can identify the seeds of opportunity in AI with connections starting to be made and APIs connected and the starting steps of value to the change in process.

Victor Milligan asked how businesses were addressing the issue of (high) risk and (high) reward with AI (where machines replace people) but what were the ‘consequences’.

To evaluate this, Michele Goetz recommended that if an organisation broke down its ‘business processes’ and ‘automated processes’, you could get a ‘horizon view’ of business activities, business behaviours and customer behaviours.   Then, through Machine Learning providing pattern analysis, organisations would be able to spot the ‘digital twin’ in order to make simulations that could support strategic decisions about a company’s AI road map.  This would enable organisations to:

• Determine where they wanted to go
• Redesign their processes
• Create new products as required
• Create new experiences and engagement with customers

By committing to AI, organisations would be positioned to change the way they operate, to better manage the day-to-day and oversee outputs.  Then if things went awry, managers could act quickly and de-risk any aspects, whilst still looking ahead at new opportunities by virtue of having deep operational knowledge and how customers engage, plus a holistic view of the business.

Victor Milligan wanted to know what AI could improve in business today, against what it will create for a business net new?  Michelle Goetz felt there was great opportunity for the new opportunities arising from AI.  However, most organisations are still getting to grips with the basics.  To get to this next stage, organisations would need to review some key aspects and remove old and inefficient processes. This approach includes:

• How we look at data
• Changes in how we approach and utilise analytics and algorithms
• How we see and understand our businesses

In looking at the changes on how employees work (or not) JP Gownder advised that with RPA, for legacy systems that are disconnected – automation can be a game changer. In retail shops (eg. Wallmart), robotic scanners were now deployed to look for product/shelving or price errors, so clear example in retail where robotics were driving value and adding efficiencies. Elsewhere physical robots are starting to be seen in factories working alongside humans.

Victor Milligan questioned what pragmatic aspects people should think about doing or avoiding.  Goetz reflected that people should think big and re-imagine their approach to business, production and what the experience looks like through a customer’s eyes – and stop testing algorithms.

JP Gownder believed that there were opportunities at both ends of the business spectrum, not just driving costs down.  He advocated that part of the solution lies in cleaning up shared IT operations to use automation – and secondly to make new money solving customer problems.

The traditional role of operations and the new role of digital were not consistently hand-in-hand today, but Gownder said would need to blend together to create commercial success.  Using automation technology could bring about greater clarity through rationalisation, but also be a means to drive profit ultimately for businesses.

Amicus ITS Sales Director, Les Keen

Amicus ITS Sales Director Les Keen commented:  “The evolution of cloud technology with AI and automation is putting B2B and B2C organisations at a crossroads, both developmentally in tech terms as well as the commercial opportunities on the horizon in the longer term”.

“Whatever the industry, the key to realising the benefits of AI and automation will be for organisations to review their business processes against existing infrastructure to understand their direct needs and priorities. Modernisation is key throughout, however looking at the processes that should be targeted to create the greatest improvements and efficiencies is a starting point”.  

“I would agree with Michele Goetz that introduction of AI has to start with a clear business plan to direct the vision, strategy and drivers required (technical or human resource).   Re-imagining an organisation would be a highly invigorating exercise for all companies as it would free you up from thinking about how you have done things before.   AI and automation are still largely in their infancy, but will mark a leap in the way a lot of organisations can and will operate and interact with people in the future”.

“Having a sensitivity and regard for humans in the workplace must be a focus to ensure the humans do the intelligent and creative work to distinguish from the repetitive and mundane. Mapping this journey successfully is also greatly about the messaging within an organisation to ensure everyone understands what the advantages will bring for them, as much as any business benefit”.

“For the public sector in the UK, despite a Cloud First Government directive, budgets are increasingly under pressure to maintain legacy IT estates, so ‘re-imagining’ could remain just a dream for many. However, in the short term it may well be that the greatest initial changes we see are in the clinical environment, rather than with core business IT”.

What are your thoughts on AI in the workplace? Do you consider it a threat or an advance that’s overdue? Leave your comment here



Amicus ITS completes MBO

Amicus ITS MBO

Award winning Hampshire IT company, Amicus ITS, has announced the completion of a management buyout (MBO) by its Senior Management Team, led by Managing Director, Steve Jackson.

“The MBO transition will give us further flexibility to design new and exciting IT managed services tailored to our corporate and healthcare clients’ needs, as we keep at the forefront of new and emerging technologies.” 

Steve Jackson added:  “This is an exciting moment in the company’s 27 year history and represents a huge opportunity for the business to build on our reputation as one of the UK’s leading managed service providers. We have a very clear vision about our plans for the company’s strategic growth and expansion over the next five years and beyond.  We are actively expanding our strong partner base across the UK and are already working with other like minded organisations who share our values and vision to deliver improvements in the IT and security environments for businesses nationally”.

“Having expanded over the last five years, the company is going from strength to strength. This gives us the stability to underpin our future plans for strategic collaboration and growth. This MBO gives us even greater flexibility to design and bring to the market new and exciting IT managed services which truly meet and exceed our clients’ existing and future expectations”.   

By way of illustration Amicus ITS recently launched Cloud First, its all-encompassing IT support service dedicated for SMEs which includes a highly flexible and secure backup solution. Amicus ITS is leading the way in cyber security threat management and prevention across the UK.  The company was awarded official Government supplier status in 2015 for providing IT managed Services within the public sector, which is already yielding a number of sizeable opportunities and is also a confirmed supplier on the G-Cloud 7 digital marketplace for Cloud services.

Steve Jackson continued: “Despite the exciting developments within the organisation, it is very much business as usual. I am pleased to say that we will continue to work closely with Care UK who remain a valued customer of ours.  We provide the full spectrum of IT Managed Services for 10.4 million people in the UK for Out Of Hours services, illustrating our enterprise credentials.  The core of our business remains our 24×365 UK Service Desk and Network Operations Centre staff who monitor and support all our corporate and healthcare customers. They are the true backbone to keeping our customers’ mission critical and life critical services always-on. Having quality systems to leverage is clearly an advantage, but having a team of skilled and trained staff with eyes and ears always on, is a great differentiator”. 

“By understanding and aligning ourselves with our customer’s business strategies we aim to provide the best current and future support as their trusted partner in IT and new technologies”.

Anyone wishing for further information or details about any of ours services should call Sales Director, Les Keen on 02380 429429.


MS Office 365 cleared for email use in the NHS

Microsoft has been confirmed as the first non NHS organisation to pass the high bar of ISB 1596 requirements for data handling.  Their Outlook application in Office 365 has passed the English Health and Social Care Secure Email ISB 1596 standard, published in February 2014.  This allows Outlook, in Office 365, to be used for emails containing personal and sensitive data including patient data.

The ISB 1596 standard provides a set of rugged, independently audited governance and compliance controls which affirm that data, which can identify a person, can be safely transmitted by staff following correct data handling procedures.

As public sector general manager at Microsoft UK, Derrick McCourt commented:  “Microsoft is pleased to have worked with the Health and Social Care Information Centre to meet this standard”. 

Up until now NHSmail has dominated the NHS and sister organisations as the main customised secure email software for healthcare, meeting government standards around patient and confidential data.  In June, the Department of Health announced that Accenture had won a £350m contract with the Crown Commercial Service to supply a new email system, dubbed NHSmail2.

This is an important step for Microsoft allowing them to access one of the largest organisations in the UK, made sweeter after their loss to rival Google over supplying internal apps within HMRC.  However, the commercial impact is great for health or social care organisations.  Primary and secondary care organisations including GP practices and hospitals, will now be able to access a more competitive market, leveraging substantial cost efficiencies of Microsoft Office 365 email, whilst remaining safe in the knowledge they are compliant with this standard.

JP Norman, Head of Technology & Governance, commented: “This accreditation will allow already challenged NHS organisations a third alternative for email systems. Selecting Office 365 Email would potential remove a considerable amount of effort for any NHS organisation that does not wish to move all email to NHSmail.   Up until this point the only two choices were migrate all email to NHSmail or ensure local email solutions meet the ISB 1596 standard by June 2016.  In May 2014 NHSmail had a total of 938,592 registered mailboxes and generic accounts with 618,806 person accounts in regular (daily) use within the NHS of which 91,029 were in Scotland. 445 organisations and many thousands of GP Practices use it as their sole email service (more than 70% of their accounts active), with another 723 organisations using it to a lesser extent. Having choice in this part of their service administration is a luxury these health workers have not been afforded before now”.

Les Keen, Director of Sales at Amicus ITS, commented on this new opportunity:  “It is an important win for Microsoft getting Office 365 Email accredited for patient data transmission.  It will open up many opportunities for MSPs serving the healthcare space.   From our point of view, the timing could not be better for Amicus ITS.  We have a well-established, fully scalable Cloud Services Framework that we offer, but excitingly we are just about to launch a brand new service called “Cloud First”. This is a complete IT support service model for SMEs, offering a simple £100 cost per user for 5 – 150 staff”. 

“Cloud First would be absolutely ideal for GP practices, especially given our accreditation and history of service in the healthcare sector”. 

Cloud First service summary:
• Office 365
• UK based IT Service Desk support from trained technical staff
• Any device, anywhere support
• 1 Tb data storage per user
• Upfront Service Level Agreements

Anyone interested in discussing Cloud First or speaking to any of the G-Cloud Team can call 02380 429429.