Though the jury is still out over what constitutes successful digital transformation, there is no question about the immense excitement in this area as organizations seek to re-architect their IT environments to be more agile and responsive to modern business needs.
Organizations understand that the pace of business is ramping up in today’s digital-centric world, and maintaining or growing market share in this new paradigm necessitates the aggressive use of technology. However, enterprises seeking to grow their business into next level will first have to overcome several barriers.
Barriers to digital transformation
As many successful case studies imply, digitalizing existing services could allow enterprises to create new value proposition to end customers, and then lead to the growth of business. However, without a suitable IT environment, this paradigmatic process (so called Digital Transformation) will not be successful.
A common challenge of building up a suitable IT environment is how to improve the IT operations to support the transformation. For example, deploying new technologies and working with different service level agreements (SLAs) and multiple local vendors across various geographical areas significantly overloads operation teams. Moreover, enterprises are unlikely to have domain experts at every location. This issue is further exacerbated by manpower shortages and results in overloaded teams and unavoidable human errors.
One way to alleviate this would be by tapping into the expertise offered by a managed service provider (excluding expertise in a diverse range of enterprise systems from the likes of Oracle, Microsoft and EMC, to hybrid cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services, or AWS, and Azure Stack). This includes working on behalf of enterprises, analyzing and deploying processes which could be automated, proactively monitoring hybrid environments, leading to the release of overloaded operation teams and allowing them to focus on the strategic tasks.
Easing day-to-day operations through a managed service provider whose services are based on automation is only a small part of the equation for enterprises. The greater reward is surely about increasing quality of service through eliminating human errors, especially for organizations where operations are still largely manual. Unlike most business initiatives, the use of automation in ICT does not overload employees, but allows businesses to increase their transaction volume without increasing the time taken or cost.
For a start, the managed service provider can analyze a business process or IT system and offer recommendations on the optimal way to deploy automation. Such automation can play a part in mundane, everyday situations like unloading ticketing systems or standardizing and visualizing operations.
For instance, by utilizing an AI (Artificial Intelligence) virtual engineer offered by a managed service provider, it can study the network topology and automatically notify the crucial parameters change. This brings dramatic improvement in the reaction lead time rather than wasting hours with employees discovering, analyzing and solving the problem manually.
Doing more with automation
On the operational front, automation can help free up the IT team by automatically resolving errors caused by repetitive issues, bringing productivity and efficiency to a new level. For instance, large IT environments are often inundated with an avalanche of alerts when key equipment fails. Rather than forcing IT engineers to waste precious time sorting through these issues, automation can help by quickly parsing them and identifying the root causes, such as the failure of a hardware router or a virtual machine. This helps save time and offers a tangible improvement to the quality of service, allowing organizations to overcome any manpower shortage and significantly reduce their operational cost.
One example would be the consolidation of thousands of tickets into a master ticket, regardless of the industry vertical the enterprise is in. A large retail organization with 20,000 locations across the world had as many as a thousand alerts per day. Upon inspection, the majority were determined to stem from wireless routers breaking down, which could typically be fixed with a reboot. By leveraging automation that included an automated reboot of affected routers, this was reduced to a manageable 10 tickets a day.
Taking the first step
To be clear, a move towards managed services and automation isn’t about replacing the IT department, but empowering organizations by helping them to optimize existing resources. Moving the mundane and repetition out of the way translates into greater job satisfaction and better worker retention.
The way forward necessitates an evaluation of IT deployments to recognize the areas that can be automated. By identifying repetitious tasks that can be performed automatically, the workload of full-time employees can be reduced, allowing for them to be deployed or reassigned to new roles. Crucially, this lets them focus their energies on the areas that contribute directly to the company’s bottom-line.