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5 Signs Your Business Needs an Operations Intervention

Modernizing IT operations is not to be taken lightly. But if you value revenue, reputation and long-term business success, it may be essential.
Dec 21st, 2023 6:22am by
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Technology is supposed to help organizations grow. But sometimes it can have the opposite effect. To deliver the digital experiences customers demand, organizations have built complex, heterogeneous IT systems. When these systems inevitably fail, incident response teams struggle to collaborate and resolve issues in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Over recent years, organizations have thrown tools and resources at the problem — potentially making systems even more complex.

With so much at stake, it’s important to modernize operations in order to protect revenue, reputation and talent. So how do you know if your organization needs an operations intervention?

Here are five warning signs to watch out for.

1. Your Business Is Rife with Inefficiency

More is not always better. That’s certainly true in digital operations, where a proliferation of tools amassed over years has done little but create chaotic, sprawling and inefficient ecosystems. These fragile systems frequently break, at great cost. One study revealed that 59% of Fortune 500 firms experience almost two hours of unplanned downtime per week. Outage costs are notoriously difficult to calculate, but by some estimates, this could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour. In the meantime, technical debt continues to accrue — potentially to as much as 20% to 40% of the value of the entire IT estate before depreciation.

This is no way to run a business at the best of times and especially not against today’s economic backdrop. Operational efficiency has therefore become a critical means to carve out a competitive advantage. To drive lasting change, your business must focus on dramatic cost reduction, consolidation of the tech stack, enhanced development of AI and automation, and the ability to proactively predict, manage and prevent incidents that could damage the business’s revenue and reputation.

2. You Haven’t Harnessed the Power of AIOps

AI operations (AIOps) sits at the center of a much-needed operations transformation, helping to introduce consumer-style simplicity to enterprise-grade work. Combined with automation and observability, AIOps could reduce customer-facing outages by half and mean time to recovery (MTTR) by up to 95%, according to Forrester.

Yet your organization is not harnessing its potential if it is not using the technology to automate at scale, drive major cost efficiencies or enhance collaboration by delivering a standardized view of events and incidents. Harnessing the power of AI and automation opens the door to real-time insights, predictive analytics and proactive incident management — which in turn drive successful digital transformation built on solid foundations. It doesn’t mean incidents will never occur. But it does mean they will be automatically remediated more often. And when teams are required to get involved, they will be able to resolve incidents rapidly and efficiently. That means more engineers and developers can focus on innovation, rather than firefighting.

3. You Can’t Calculate the ROI of Automation

At a time when every last cent of spending must be accounted for and justified, IT automation projects need more than the promise of success to get off the ground. It’s therefore essential to show how a project will support key business initiatives to help deliver on the company’s goals. The metrics used to illustrate this value will depend on the organization and projects involved. But fail to calculate return on investment (ROI), and the organization will risk having automation projects defunded, trapping them in a vicious cycle of IT operations (ITOps) firefighting, burnt-out teams and a lack of innovation.

Here’s a simple equation to calculate automation ROI: Add together the reduced costs of workflow execution and error reduction to the increase in business value generated from IT automation. Then add the other opportunities created by freeing talent to work on other tasks. Subtract from this figure the cost of the automation environment and time spent automating each task.

4. Operational Failures Have You on Edge

Operational failures often lead to business failure. And they are becoming more frequent, complex and expensive to resolve. The challenge is that teams are frequently overwhelmed with alert data, making it difficult to sort the important events from the rest. First-line responders lack the tools or knowledge to effectively triage, gather diagnostics and/or remediate incidents. That means subject matter experts (SMEs) who should be working on high-value tasks are instead forced to spend hours gathering context to determine the root cause. The result is longer MTTR, more frustrated customers and less innovation.

Your organization instead needs to apply automation to accelerate response processes for certain incidents. Prioritize where to apply automation by considering factors including the frequency of the problem, the repetitiveness of the resolution steps, how well those steps are understood and documented, and the time taken to resolve them.

5. Customers Flag Issues before Your Teams Hear About Them

Customer support teams are increasingly fielding issues raised by end users and customers. But their work is complicated by siloed tooling, which creates manual work, wastes time and makes it hard to escalate to the right SME. This is bad for customer experience and bad for support teams who are stressed and overwhelmed with reactive work. Your organization needs to transition to a more proactive, preventative posture.

That begins with empowering customer service teams with real-time status updates for business services and customer-facing applications, and by teaching customer service teams to understand how potential incidents can impact customers so that they can help identify the source of problems and route rapidly to the right teams to remediate.

Back on the Front Foot

Modernizing your IT operations is not a task to be undertaken lightly. But if you value revenue, reputation and the long-term success of the business, it may be essential. Thanks to AI tooling, it will become easier for people to create software, which may risk adding complexity and incident volume. The only way to get back on the front foot is through AI and automation, judiciously applied.

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