Larry Scinto, Senior Managing Director, Technology Strategy and Advisory practice, Accenture, recently participated in two fireside chats with Stephen Elliot, Program Vice President for Management Software and DevOps at IDC, and Brian Emerson from the IT Operations Management team at ServiceNow. One session focused on AIOps, and the other on modern IT operations. Both conversations revealed some fascinating insights about the challenges and opportunities facing operations teams today.

All eyes on the customer experience

Customer experience is a top priority for operations teams. The pandemic has forced organizations to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives and almost all customer interactions are now virtual. This means it’s even more important that systems are up and running around the clock.

Operations teams are vying to enable seamless end-to-end experiences across many digital channels. And it’s not just revenue-generating customers that they’re serving. As working from home remains the norm for many of us, operations teams must ensure that employees have the tools they need to be productive.

Reimagining incident management

As part of this drive toward seamless experiences, operations teams are aiming to foster zero-incident cultures. This is a puzzle with several pieces.

For a start, there are many systems involved in the end-to-end customer or employee experience and they’re often spread between on-premise legacy applications, private cloud, and several public cloud. Each environment may have its own monitoring system. The challenge? Determining which alerts to deal with first. Operations teams need platforms that show how each technical issue impacts employees, customers, service, and revenues so they can prioritize their work.

Operations teams should also rethink their monitoring tools. The aim? To move away from traditional reactive monitoring toward predictive capabilities. AIOps can help here, by detecting early indicators of potential problems, so operations teams can resolve issues before users are impacted. It’s a great example of the power of human + machine using technology to help operations teams make smart decisions and boost efficiency.

If incidents occur, they must be fixed fast. Many operations teams are investing in self-service capabilities (e.g., virtual agents) that help users resolve issues independently. The benefits are two-fold: users enjoy a better experience, and operations teams save time and money. The more operations teams can automate routine tasks and issue resolution, the more they can focus on innovation.

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Organizational structure is key

Many operations teams are investing in automation and AI, however, they aren’t always realizing their desired results. Why? In many cases, it’s because they don’t have the right organizational structure.

Disappointing outcomes can also stem from a disconnect between IT and operations teams. We’ve seen IT teams make sizeable investments in data and analytics tools, then look for problems that they can solve. However, that’s like putting the cart before the horse. Instead, IT should be working with operations teams to identify business problems, then look for technologies to address them.

The need for collaboration doesn’t stop there. As modern IT operations teams look to drive process efficiencies, they’re working more closely with other teams (e.g., DevOps, Site Reliability Engineers, and developers). This should translate into better availability of digital services, however, to make that happen, teams need more efficient ways of sharing information.

When operations teams rethink their organizational structure, they mustn’t ignore data. After all, AI is only as powerful as the data it uses. To unlock the full value of AI, companies must invest in bringing together the right data on a suitable platform with proper ownership and accountability structures.

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Choosing the right metrics

When operations teams set out to address challenges, they should decide early on how they’re going to measure success. They must choose the right balance of metrics, such as customer satisfaction, time to resolve user queries, number and severity of incidents, the cost of serving customers, and the speed of delivering new features. When selecting metrics, it can be useful to think about the “4 Cs”:

  • Cost of operations
  • Complexity of operations
  • Capability (using AI and automation to ease the burden on operations teams, so they can build new capabilities faster)
  • Customer experience

Don’t boil the ocean

Digital transformation is a big and crucial topic, however, addressing everything at once is unrealistic. Instead, operations teams should choose one or two areas to tackle first.

Creating true vertical integration involves a lot of work, and some systems may need to be replaced. For instance, to revamp the employee experience, teams must rethink how they deliver end-user services – including the service desk, ticket resolution, and the HR system. Once they’ve finished with the first area, they can use that success as a catalyst to kickstart other initiatives.

This blog outlines just some of the points that Larry, Stephen and Brian explored in their fireside chats. For the full set of insights, watch the sessions on AIOps and modern IT operations.

Christopher Brown

ITx Global Play Lead – Accenture ServiceNow Business Group

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