When you look at IT in your business, how intelligent is it? If you look beyond your people and your processes – and think holistically – are your operations as smart as they can be?
This is goal of intelligent operations: to capture and maximize all of the information that exists about your IT environment, analyze it and put automatic systems into place to eliminate waste and problems before they happen. It’s the business of keeping things running, keeping the business profitable, and doing it in a way that requires the least amount of effort with the most intelligent insight possible.
“Today, many people use the term ‘intelligent operations’ as a catch-all. If there’s a problem, you know about: buzzers go off, calls come in, systems get flagged. You get notified of an issue, and you fix it. Yet, we like to challenge the businesses we work with to think about those processes a little deeper. It’s important to ask yourself: ‘are you avoiding the problem – or simply being reactive to it?,'” says Chris Miller, Chief Technology Officer at Advizex. Chris has been helping customers solve business problems and assisting customers with aligning IT and business strategy to produce beneficial business outcomes at Advizex since 2011.
As Joe Clarke, Director of Cloud Architecture at Advizex explains it, reactive IT means fixing things after they go wrong. Intelligent operations is a proactive approach to IT. It’s putting conditions in place to help you avoid and reduce problems entirely.
“Intelligent operations shifts you out of reactive mode and into a productive one. I love to give people an example that happens in pretty much in every IT department: you open your email inbox and see a thousand open tickets. Even if you go through every one of those, it’s virtually impossible for a person to see patterns and track overall issues. You certainly don’t have the time to fix the problems before they happen,” says Clarke. “Intelligent operations, at its most basic level, gives you that insight.”
It also does so much more, helping you make decisions about IT consumption and overall capacity, and showing you how to utilize the power of your people in more strategic ways.
Intelligent operations shifts you out of reactive mode and into a productive one.
How can your organization benefit from intelligent operations? Ask yourself these questions:
1. How do you currently make decisions about IT consumption and capacity?
A basic goal of intelligent operations is two-fold: 1) Take a more proactive approach to business situations, and 2) Allow automatic responses to issues in the environment. Consumption and capacity fall under the first part of this; intelligent operations gives you visibility into how different business functions are using and consuming your IT systems.
“Today, a lot of companies understand this usage manually. For example, a disk runs out of space, and someone calls to tell you about it. What if that space could automatically be expanded without the phone call? That’s intelligent operations on a very basic level,” says Clarke, who, as the Director of Cloud Architecture and technical consultant at Advizex, holistically examines a company’s tech and application and identifies ways for the operations of IT to impact business value.
Intelligent operations provides data, dashboards and analytics along with real time information about the environment, so you can make informed decisions about consumption. It uses new tools and approaches, as well as processes and skills – so you can leverage analytics and modern platforms to drive a more practical approach to operating IT.
“Every client we work with has different needs and different analytics they need to assess. At Advizex, we find that our relationships with ServiceNow, Microsoft and VMware can help many businesses start down the path towards intelligent operations,” says Miller.
2. Are you utilizing people-power when you should be utilizing automated technologies?
Intelligent operations also provides cost and time savings by utilizing automation to free up your people to do more strategic work.
“When I first talk to clients about intelligent operations, I ask them to consider how automated systems have changed their lives already. For example, think about the last time you were in your car and had to back out of a tight parking space: Did you have your friend get out and guide you? Or did your car have a backup camera that made the job easier? If that friend is standing outside the car, the process takes longer. They’re also not in the car helping you with other tasks: liking programming your destination into the GPS. It takes you longer to get going,” explains Clarke.
IT productivity is a similar scenario. Many companies have people performing tasks that can be done better and more efficiently with the right technology. This is the heart of intelligent operations – getting IT professionals on to more pressing and meaningful tasks.
“People are critical to the IT world, but they should be the drivers not the doers,” says Miller. “Right now, if you have a problem, you probably put a team of people on it. ‘Fix it,’ you say. Two weeks later, the problem happens again. That’s operations: making things work immediately. Intelligent operations is looking deeper at what caused the problem, and determining if there is an automated solution that can prevent it from happening again.”
3. Are you fixing the same problem repeatedly and not realizing it?
It’s common that in a very large organization, if an incident occurs more than once, IT professionals don’t have access to rich data regarding the issue. Intelligent operations can help provide that data – and show patterns that make the data more actionable.
“Person A calls the helpdesk, and the problem gets fixed. Person B calls the helpdesk and a different person fixes the same problem. The cycle repeats itself, and you never get a permanent resolution. Intelligent operations can look for patterns in the problems, and come up with an automated solution to prevent it from happening again,” says Clarke.
Leveraging the newer intelligent operations tools that are in the market means companies will have richer, more actionable insight into their operations. They will also get more concrete ideas on what to-do with the analytics. They will understand better how they should be operating, what their environment should look like, and what’s normal versus what is not.
“The beauty of intelligent operations, done correctly, is that it’s not just a technical fix. If you’re going to be successful in shifting how you operate, it has to be done strategically in a way that is driven by the business need,” says Miller.
4. Are you avoiding intelligent operations because things are “good enough”?
“It’s not uncommon for a business to avoid considering intelligent operations systems because things seem to be going smoothly. It’s kind of like going to the dentist or doctor. No one likes doing it, but you sure feel better knowing you’ve taken care of what matters most: your health,” explains Miller.
Intelligent operations takes care of the long-term health and viability of not only your IT services but also your business. Intelligent operations can have the largest impact on a businesses’ efficiency and cost savings than any other IT solution. If it is considered properly – not just from a technology point-of-view but from an overall operational approach – you can profoundly change your business. Moving to a higher maturity level in terms of IT means continually improving, and those improvements can be iterative. Intelligent operations gives you the insight, data and actionable items needed to make small – but mighty – changes.