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The problem

IT shops are typically complex and managing an array of moving parts. Keeping identities provisioned, licensed and secure, involves endless touch points. There’s the basics of ensuring that people in roles have access to the right applications, but most organizations quickly find that they still have a lot of gaps even after they deploy and configure a well-known IGA software product. IT professionals quickly discover, many applications aren’t covered, data still needs to be managed, recertification campaigns need to be kicked off at the right time, self-service needs to be implemented. There are literally hundreds of these scenarios. Buying an IGA was just the beginning. Many IT shops decide that solving the problems is either beyond the abilities of their IGA, or requires a tremendous amount of costly custom development. This in turn, creates a new problem of documenting and maintaining custom code.

Take the Identity AutomationQuiz!

Not sure about this? Take the Random Acts of Identity Automation Quiz with your team:

  1. Do we have any privileged scripts? Where’s the list?
  2. Do we have an identified owner of each?
  3. What systems and data do they touch?
  4. Where are they deployed?
  5. What credentials are being used with these scripts?
  6. How are the credentials stored / accessed?
  7. How are we protecting scripts from malicious modification?
  8. Is there an existing audit record showing who’s modified them and when?
  9. When was each of these scripts and their access audited?
  10. What mechanism will alert when the scripts are changed?

If any of these 10 questions make you take pause, then a serious team discussion is warranted.

The Lesser of Evils

wo choices remain:

1. Automate or

2. Send it  the ITSM and manually fulfill

The manual fulfillment option is the obvious choice and gets the job done but it’s error prone, slow, and very expensive. Often, only the most painful of these tasks will get automated.

Random Identity Automation

Many organizations will pursue a path that we refer to as Random Acts of Automation. When the pain becomes unmanageable, someone decides to write a script to address the problem. With an immediate win, another isn’t far behind. Then another, and it continues. Virtually every IT shop has these. Random scripts that “do something” that “someone wrote”, put on a server, and scheduled to run at certain points in the day.

Let’s be clear…these scripts can offer great relief. They are a quick fix to a problem(s) but they are the seeds of future problems.

Risk!

In a nutshell… random scripts are NOT governed and likely not documented; and that is a major risk. Especially in a world where every organization is working to implement a governance model.

Scripts almost always run in an elevated, admin context, and they run against production systems and data. These scripts often wield greater power than the admins that wrote them. People move on. They forget. Departments evolve. Many orgs are shocked to find out the extent of their problem! Many of these scripts have been running for years and as long as the org is evolving, new scripts are likely being created to address new challenges. These scripts are prime candidates for a future breach!

History

How did we get here? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There’s little desire to fix something that is working. These band aids get created, they work, the team moves on. Months later, the pain is long gone, and the band aid is forgotten. These build up. They are unmanaged, random, and therefore go undetected.

Awareness is key. Often, CISO’s aren’t aware that this is happening and so they are unable to govern it. Correcting this has to come from the top as part of a security initiative.

Discovery

The old adage: you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Starts awareness. A scan of all target servers and workstations that are likely to have automation scripts is a good start. Identify the potential sources; you might be surprised what you actually find.

Next, look for the low hanging fruit: are there embedded credentials? Is this running in an admin context. Get these ones identified and on the action list.

Management and Governance

The next step is taking measured action. To solve this, scripts will need to be co-located in a common repository where there’s some access governance. Scripts can be moved to folders, code signed, and credentials pulled from a vault. This is a big step forward, but still many controls remain missing. The organization will need to assign a capable script author and create a thoughtful implementation plan.

Going Forward

How will we handle auditing? How will we ensure that a script cannot be changed? How will we know if it has been changed? How will we implement SOD? For these kinds of controls, typical of an ISO27001 shop, the bare-knuckles approach to identity automation becomes very complicated.

Identity Automation Platforms

This is one area where products like ServiceNow have made their mark. They provide a very sophisticated, managed environment for identity automation. It’s one of the greatest things about ServiceNow beyond their ITSM services. A move in this direction, is an evolution beyond Random Acts of Automation. Everything is centralized, governed, secure and audited.

But not everyone needs or wants ServiceNow. There are many ITSM products and if you’re already a user of one of them, it likely isn’t feasible to make the switch to ServiceNow.

Compliment your IGA and ITSM Investments

That’s where Readibots Identity Automation comes in. Like ServiceNow, The READI platform is designed specifically for IT automation. Readibots offers IT shops a choice – a cloud-based automation platform that is technology agnostic. The READI platform is  agile, cost effective and integrates seamlessly with any IGA solution (SailPoint, Oracle, IBM, MicroFocus, Saviynt and others) and any ITSM solution (ServiceNow, Cherwell, BMC, Freshdesk, SolarWinds and others.) With the READI platform, you get secure, governed automation at a fraction of the cost.

Are you READI to get started?

The READI Platform provides management and governance over scripts which already exist as well as providing a platform for you to build more with governance.  As a bonus, Readibots has a free assessment tool that will help organizations discover their scripts and identify the highest risks. In only a few hours, scripts can be cataloged, risk ranked, and if desired, migrated into the READI platform where they will become governed as part of a greater automation strategy.

In the modern business landscape, IT Operations has evolved from a support role to a catalyst for innovation. However, it faces a growing challenge - the relentless onslaught of operational tickets overwhelming IT personnel [1]. This has left many IT Operations teams feeling like they're drowning, despite the emergence of automation solutions like ServiceNow.

The key issue? These solutions confine automation to a select few ServiceNow engineers, creating an unnecessary bottleneck; and limiting organizations to a specific approach which requires changing processes.

So, how do we redefine this narrative? The answer is as simple as it is transformative: the READI Platform.

Unleashing the Power of Automation with the READI Platform

Readibots is a revolution, not just a platform. It takes the promise of ServiceNow and amplifies it, injecting the power of automation directly into the hands of IT operational teams.

Scale

The Scale of the Challenge

Understanding the scale of the issue highlights the true value of Readibots. A mid-sized organization grapples with up to 10,000 tickets per month, a number that is set to increase by 15% annually[2]. This onslaught forces IT teams into a constant loop of repetitive, mundane tasks, with precious little time for anything else.

Service Desk,IT Operations,IT Automation,automation

Breaking Free from Bottlenecks

With ServiceNow's automation capabilities restricted to its engineers, an uncomfortable bottleneck ensues. Tickets take an average of 3 days to resolve, significantly longer than the industry best practice of under 24 hours[3]. The resulting inefficiency leads to longer waiting times and diminished service quality, impacting every area from security to competitive agility.

Idea

Readibots: The Game-Changer

The READI Platform is a game-changer. By moving operational automation into the hands of the IT operational team, Readibots eliminates the need for ServiceNow engineers, thus breaking the cycle of inefficiency. This allows IT teams to focus on strategic tasks, driving innovation and growth.

Automation doesn't just save time - it boosts productivity. Automating routine tasks can lead to a productivity increase of up to 40%[4], unleashing a wave of potential that will allow your IT team to contribute significantly to your company's growth and innovation.

IT Operations

Redefining Service Desks with Readibots

Readibots does more than streamline operational tasks; it revolutionizes service desks. Readibots empowers IT teams to create a bespoke service desk portal that executes routine tasks across a myriad of systems and data, from users and groups to mailboxes, servers, and computers.

The beauty of the Readi Platform lies in its unique blend of power and control. It ensures that all actions taken by the service desk staff are within defined parameters, reducing errors and boosting efficiency. Service desk staff are empowered to execute operations, but they can’t “color outside the lines.”

But the real revolution comes with Readibots autonomous ticket management. Tickets are automatically created, remediated, and closed, with zero human intervention. And the cherry on top? Service responses are now instantaneous. This remarkable reduction in response time transforms the end-user experience and is a lifesaver for organizations burdened with excessive ticket volumes.

Money

Supercharging Your Service Desk Investment

Readibots doesn't replace ServiceNow; it supercharges it. By harnessing the full power of automation, Readibots optimizes your IT operations, reducing ticket resolution times, and significantly boosting your operational efficiency.

Automation is the future. As organizations grapple with an ever-increasing avalanche of operational tasks, it is essential to empower those at the front lines of IT operations. The READI platform does precisely that, sparking a paradigm shift in the IT landscape. It's time to supercharge your Service Desk investment and make your IT operations truly READI for the future.

[1]: Gartner, "ITSM Tool Implementation Guide," 2022.
[2]: Forrester, "The State of ITSM," 2023.
[3]: HDI, "The HDI 2023 Support Center Practices & Salary Report."
[4]: Forrester, "The Total Economic Impact™ of IT Automation," 2022.

Your service desk is a critical component of your organization. However, many organizations I speak with face the same issue: an overwhelming number of tickets and a continuous backlog. In fact, HDI's 2020 Support Center Practices & Salary Report indicates that the average ticket volume for organizations is 13,100 per month! It’s accepted as a necessary evil and while everyone I speak with acknowledges the problem, few know what to do about it.

In this message, I'd like to discuss the following questions and offer some potential solutions:

1. What's causing the ticket backlog?

2. How does this impact the business?

3. Whose responsibility is it to address this issue?

4. How can we resolve it?

Causes of the Ticket Backlog

Tickets often come from various sources, making it challenging to pinpoint a single cause. However, common contributors include:

IAM operations:

A 2019 study by One Identity found that 66% of organizations experienced manual IAM processes resulting in human errors. This often leads to many tickets at the service desk, with IGA products focusing on governance rather than automation.

The SOC:

Gartner estimated that by 2022, 50% of organizations with a Security Operations Center will include SOAR technologies. However, CISO’s I talk with report that thousands of tickets still end up at the service desk. The service desk staff cannot resolve and close them, so they remain waiting for an analyst to investigate.

End-user requests:

HDI's report reveals that 49% of tickets are related to end-user requests, making it a significant source of ticket volume. Although some can be resolved by the service desk, most require expertise and privileged access, resulting in significant backlogs.

The Problem

The service desk is a hub of operational activity, providing a central audit source. However, service desk staff lack the skills and privileges to resolve issues, resulting in ticket escalation and backlog. Since tickets are originating from multiple teams, and span many scenarios, it’s difficult to chart a path forward.

The Impact

The impact to the organization is significant yet seldom addressed. Industry data shows that backlogs affect multiple areas of the business including security, operations, and staffing:

Security: ­

Ponemon Institute's 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report states that the average time to identify and contain a breach is 280 days. Slow responses can lead to financial and data loss. The cost of breaches that expand due to delayed detection and remediation can be significant.

Operations:

Consider that for each ticket that remains backlogged, an employee may be blocked from progressing with a task. A 2017 MetricNet study found that each unresolved ticket costs an average of $22. The cumulative productivity cost of thousands of requests per month can negatively affect company performance.

Staffing:

Gallup reports that 23% of employees feel burned out at work  very often or always. Engineers processing tickets may experience burnout, leading to turnover, lost productivity, and reduced innovation. This can compromise industry competitiveness and hinder the adoption of game-changing technologies like AI.

The Path to Automation

Many organizations have implemented automation in various areas, but IT operations often lag behind. While companies that I speak with estimate as high as 75% of tasks can be fully automated, McKinsey estimates 45%. Whichever number you feel is realistic, it’s still significant and provides an opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness, yet IT teams are generally ill equipped beyond crude scripting capabilities and point solutions that fail the test enterprise governance and management. They are reduced to using tools born out of necessity rather than strategy.

A Potential Solution: Readibots

Readibots is an automation platform designed for IT operations. It interfaces with your infrastructure systems including security, identity, and service desk. It features a distributed architecture that empowers staff to create and consume automations across all IT disciplines. The platform is secure, governed, distributed, and highly capable, allowing IT operational staff to build out solutions and delegate tasks to the service desk. It empowers an organization with sophisticated, well-managed automation and at the same time puts them on a path towards zero-trust administration.

Embracing Change

Overcoming skepticism and reluctance to change is crucial for addressing the service desk backlog. Vision and executive leadership can drive this change, leading to lasting improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.

I invite you to have a conversation with us on how to tackle this issue in your organization. Let's work together to find a solution that empowers your service desk, reduces backlog, and improves overall operations.

security,automation,soar,automate it operations,continuous monitoring,security automation,security risk,readibots

Hey there! If you're a CISO, you know that your Security Operations Center (SOC) deals with a crazy number of threats every day. During my time at Innovate, CISO conference in Nashville, I heard a lot of talk about this and how big a problem it is. We're talking about billions of events each month, and even with automation, there are still thousands of tickets to deal with. The problem? Most of these tickets are just noise, and the real threats can easily get lost in the shuffle. In this blog post, we're going to dive into the challenges SOC teams face when dealing with manual tickets, why traditional automation tools haven't nailed this problem, and how Readibots can make a real difference in finding and fixing those pesky hidden threats.

  1. Human Limitation in Ticket Processing: What Gives? Teams have a tough time dealing with thousands of manual tickets. They can spend hours, if not days, figuring out which ones are legit threats and which ones aren't. This not only wears analysts out but also means critical risks might get missed. And when crucial issues are stuck in a backlog, things can go south pretty fast for your organization's security.
  2. Signal-to-Noise Problem: Let's Get Real So, what can we do to fix this? We need to find a way to separate the real threats (the signal) from the fake ones (the noise). That's where advanced tech like Readibots comes in. By using smart automated user-engaging playbooks, Readibots can help SOC teams zero in on what actually matters, so they can tackle the real threats head-on.
  3. Traditional Automation: Why Hasn't It Worked? You might be wondering why automation tools haven't solved this problem yet. The issue is that these tools are usually stuck in their own little worlds. SOAR tech is in the SOC, process automators hang out with the business side of things, and IT automation is typically with the service desk. None of these groups actually fix security tickets, so we're stuck with the same problem, just with more tech piled on top.
  4. Meet Readibots: Your SOC's new best friend Readibots changes the game by giving operational teams—the people who actually fix these problems—the automation tools they need. With the READI platform, these teams can set up their tooling, which means everyone can work together to fight threats more efficiently. Plus, Readibots has this cool interactive verification and attestation tech that lets end users verify threats, and in many cases, call them out as false positives.
  5. Fixing Problems on the Spot: no more waiting around with Readibots, issues like account lockouts can be fixed right away, any time of day with self-service. That means end users can get back to work ASAP, with minimal frustration and downtime.
  6. A Better Life for Engineers: happier, more efficient people. By using advanced tech like Readibots, engineers can enjoy a much better work-life balance. When they don't have to deal with a never-ending stream of manual tickets, they're less stressed, more satisfied with their jobs, and more likely to stick around. That's a win-win for everyone, from engineers to CISOs, and it helps keep your organization safe and sound.

To make your SOC more efficient and effective, we need to deal with the whole manual ticket processing headache and find those hidden threats. Readibots is a game-changer, breaking down the barriers between automation tools and making life way easier for the operational teams that handle the real problems. If CISOs stay in the loop and keep exploring innovative solutions like Readibots, they can lead their organizations to a safer, more secure future while improving the efficiency and job satisfaction of their SOC teams.

Kansas University’s IT department faces the challenge of supporting 65,000  students and staff. The IT Help Desk is comprised of student employees (which don’t have full access) and Help Desk Staff (who have limited technical depth) to resolve issues that arise with technology.  This resulted in a high number of tickets escalated to technical experts, which was both costly, time-consuming and difficult to have a reasonable response time.

To address these challenges, University of Kansas’ Enterprise Systems Group decided to use the READI Platform. With the READI Platform, the University was able to save $200k per year via Help Desk automation and self-serve portals that allow students and staff to get the information they need in minutes. The Help Desk staff no longer need to be given administrative privileges, and Kansas University can record and audit all system actions. Overall, the READI Platform has allowed the University to improve IT productivity, reduce operating costs, and ensure compliance.  Read the full case study here.

Recently, one CISO mentioned they are receiving 84 billion alerts per month which results in over 2000 tickets for their operations team with an average of 5 real threats hidden within the noise.  Using the READI Platform to automate existing playbooks with prebuilt bots to reduce the number of tickets the Operations team must manually process is a huge win for their team. It improves our ability to identify and address real threats by reducing the team’s workload. The READI Platform leverages PowerShell, a language our Operations team is familiar with, means no specialized skills are required. His organization has PowerShell scripts today, but they are difficult to manage. Readibots ability to move those PowerShell scripts into the READI Platform so they are governed and reusable is a huge win. 

Readibots is an Identity Driven Platform which provides automation to Security and Operations teams helping organizations to become more secure by reducing the threat window and allowing Operations to create playbooks which automates their current processes.

Our Readibots team would love to have a conversation about helping your team with identity driven automation.

Most help desks or service desks have an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool that allow them to manage IT requests, incidents, problems, change requests and service level knowledge. When a new request is created, it is generally referred to as a “ticket”. Quickly handling these tickets directly impacts an organization’s costs and revenues, customer retention, and public brand image. 

The costs of IT incidents can be significant, consequences include: 

At first glance it may appear that an enterprise’s incident management needs are fully addressed by an IT Service Management tool. But how does an ITSM impact the resolution of incidents? Enterprises aim not just to track and report on incidents, but also resolve them faster, more reliably, and cheaply. As a result, automating service desk ticket resolution could bring many benefits to the organization.  

What are the Benefits of Automating Service Desk Ticket Resolution? 

Automating incident resolution has the potential to reduce expensive manual efforts, errors, and escalations. By promptly identifying service issues and quickly validating, diagnosing, and resolving IT incidents, businesses can drastically reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction; and mitigate other risks associated with infrastructure or service failures. With a growing number of in-house systems, clouds and users to manage IT must investigate the potential of automation.   Automation can help the organization manage increasing numbers of systems and users without adding costly head count. 

For simple incidents, end-to-end automation can accomplish the entire resolution process with no human interaction.  More challenging incidents affecting mission-critical systems can be facilitated by providing automated diagnostic tools, and automation bots that can speed resolution. 

Move to an Automated Service Desk with Readibots 

Readibots automation allows you to get things done quickly and accurately with zero effort.  Here are just a few examples of what Readibots can automate. 

Provisioning

Managing the lifecyle of users is one of the most common tasks in IT. Use Task Bots to guide anyone through the steps. Even integrate with your IGA and extend it.

Emergency Termination

Relying on normal procedures to remove access in emergencies can result in hours, if not days, of vulnerability. Task Bots allow for instant removal of access when needed.

Reporting

Automate reporting on anything your service desk and IT need to manage. Even automate the formatting, reporting and alerting as changes are discovered.

Change Management

Humans make mistakes. Increase your change success rate, by taking human error out of the equation. Train Tasks Bots to faithfully execute changes consistently. 

Cloud Provisioning

Single-tenant, multi-tenant. Single-cloud, multi-cloud. Doesn't matter. Service agents and IT can respond to incidents consistently across boundaries.

Service Management

No need to give direct access to servers to manage services. Start, stop, and configure them from one place, with zero standing-access and 100% control.

Legal eDiscovery

Take the service desk and IT completely out of the picture when legal needs to conduct eDiscovery. Delegate the pre-made Task Bots of inside and outside counsel. 

Automated Diagnostic Tools

Create powerful automated diagnostic tools with guided contextualization of data to speed up triage, diagnosis and resolution of issues

Readibots provides a library of pre-built automations, building blocks, and connections to 3rd-party systems. Building custom automation should also be easy, Readibots allows non-developer IT service desk staff to quickly build and edit automations. This enablement not only saves IT operations from having to wait on support from an external development team, it’s also a way of retaining and implementing IT experts’ consolidated knowledge. 

Building a Business Case for Automating Service Desk Ticket Resolution

Readibots has recently worked with a large enterprise that has a worldwide footprint to help automate incoming tickets to their Messaging Group.  In order to justify the acquisition of Readibots, the Messaging Group built a business case with real financial analysis.  Their analysis only considers savings to the Messaging Group.  The actual savings from ticket automation to the whole organization would be much larger.  The logic of this business case could easily be adapted to other organizations looking to cut service desk costs and improve customer service. 

Business Case for Service Desk Automation
Business Case for Service Desk Automation

The main inputs to this business case are:

  1. The average labor cost per hour for the messaging service desk.  The labor cost in this organization was $41.03
  2. The average time to resolve a service incident.  The average time in this organization was 0.7 hours
  3. The number of service desk incidents received by the messaging group.  The Messaging Group received 1,350 incidents per month.
  4. The percentage of service desks incidents that can be automated (incidents like adding users to groups, changing passwords, removing access etc.)  The organization stated that 90% of their incidents could be automated. 
  5. The percentage of incidents that have a material effect on the productivity of business users waiting for resolution.  This was estimated at 10%.
  6. Opportunity cost of business users waiting for resolution.  This was estimated at $41.03 / hour.

As can be seen, the Messaging Group estimated total annual saving of $672,549.  If automated ticket resolution could be applied to the whole organization, the annual savings would be multi million dollars. 

For more information see the Readibots web site.

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