In a world where as much as 25% to 30% of the typical IT environment changes annually, how can CIOs keep up with these changes while delivering increasing value to their companies? AI-powered automation holds great promise for the IT function, which is why IT has been one of its earliest and most enthusiastic champions.
The current landscape of complicated and ever-changing networks leads to an unprecedented data deluge; a few minutes of operations time can generate an Everest of data. IT staff must sort through this data mountain to discover and remediate issues. Given the hundreds of thousands of incidents to comb through, even top-notch IT teams have no chance to respond quickly, effectively and thoroughly.
IT problems must be addressed, but addressing them doesn’t add value to the organization, which is why IT is so often seen as a cost center rather than a business enabler. Worse, IT workers begin to get the sense that they are engaged in a pointless battle that they can’t win. They address one issue, and the next five appear. Fighting the many-headed Hydra of incidents leaves staff feeling frustrated and worn out, leading to their departure.
Those who stay are tasked with preventing downtime and the resulting loss of revenue while also improving both customer experience and IT efficiency. This means IT staff must do capacity planning, performance optimizing, infrastructure scaling and log analysis – all tasks designed to find patterns within the mounds of data. This is important and necessary; it is also redundant, boring work that talented IT workers balk at.
That is why these tasks are ideal for AI automation to take over. AI-based automation relieves the strain of the IT team while improving both the accuracy and speed of repetitive tasks.
The Benefits of AI
These challenges have led organizations to implement IT automation initiatives, but they did not scale well in dynamic enterprise environments. However, today’s AI-based automation is different. Organizations can’t afford for their revenue-generating systems to experience unscheduled downtime; IT teams that use commercially available AI tools are seeing a reduction in downtime. Indeed, AI-driven tools are assisting IT Ops so efficiently that problems see resolution in minutes rather than the typical several hours. These tools are revolutionizing customer experience.
AI addresses the scalability problem, and it adds the twin benefits of adaptability and autonomy. It can use a variety of “intelligences.” AI can use what’s called recognition intelligence to discover patterns within huge data sets. It can discern what those patterns mean using reasoning intelligence. AI can also help address issues using operating intelligence, which provides recommendations for fixing those issues and uses automated, predetermined actions to do so.
History reveals that the hardest part of addressing an IT problem is finding the source of the problem. AI can help here as well by acting as a sort of “all-seeing eye” across all aspects of IT: middleware, network, operating systems, database, storage and so on. Though each aspect has its experts, none has a holistic view. AI can provide that view and discover the source of an IT issue faster than any individual.
Finding the Business Value of AI in IT
Like any other promising new technology, AI can fall prey to its own hype. The technology’s virtues or vices are oversold in today’s culture, so CIOs need clarity about what is realistically possible with AI and where in IT it should be applied. Their expectations for the use of AI need to be clear so that they don’t lose control of the business’s expectations.
CIOs have the opportunity to bring AI into IT processes, and there are several ways to do it. Business assurance is where organizations will see the most bang for their buck, as AI helps to keep revenue-generating systems up and running and quickly remediating the issues that do come up. AI also pays off when it is applied to specific problems, like increasing IT agility or creating better customer experiences.
It is always nice to have IT team members with AI skills, but this becomes less critical as providers create intelligent systems and offer AI-as-a-Service solutions for IT. Using AI in IT heralds the dawn of less firefighting and more strategic work. CIOs will be freed to reassign team members to tasks that help to grow and transform the organization. AI will thus enable the CIO better align with business needs.
As AI learns its environment, it will continuously adapt and increase its ability to address more complex problems. This will enable IT to adapt its role and to focus on becoming a business enabler. Team members will be able to focus on higher-value, interesting work that keeps them from looking for greener pastures and gives the organization a competitive advantage at the same time.
By – Akhilesh Tripathi.
(Global Head | Digitate)