Testing Tomorrow’s Technology at BMC Innovation Labs
When we think about tech’s ultimate disruptors, Apple leads the pack.
Apple was a PC vendor competing with the likes of Commodore in the early 1980s before co-founder Steve Jobs seeded the idea of a portable music player — and anticipated the explosive demand for the iPhone.
The company’s leadership envisioned what the end user would want years in advance, as well as how to pre-empt problems by solving ahead of time those that would likely occur along the way.
Most technology- and data-driven companies realize that just focusing on meeting today’s user demands is not a sustainable business model. In other words, preparing for what the customer will require tomorrow is at least equally important. However, garnering the necessary skills, talent and resources to research future customer needs, is out of reach for many organizations. As a result, they fall further behind the more well-funded competition.
At the BMC Innovation Labs employees, customers and partners collaborate on solutions to solve timely and current problems, focusing on experimentation and technology incubations that can lead to tomorrow’s disruptive innovations.
To that end, BMC recently announced its BMC Innovation Labs Preferred Partner Program, created to offer participants the opportunity to design solutions to support customers on their autonomous digital enterprise journey. The program provides what BMC describes as “dedicated spaces” for partners to develop new and disruptive ideas that go beyond traditional enterprise IT.
BMC announced its Innovation Labs Preferred Partner Program during the first annual BMC Innovation Summit, held in June at the company’s Innovation Labs in Santa Clara, Calif. The summit provided an opportunity for media and industry analysts to meet with key BMC senior leaders to learn about innovation at BMC, in addition to discussing the Innovation Labs Preferred Partner Program.
Attendees also got an inside look at the types of things BMC is working on, and experimenting with, to serve its customers and partners.
Customers can support their innovation journey by collaborating with both BMC and its Innovation Labs’ preferred partners to develop, test and provide real-time feedback, delivering immediate value. The lab embraces fresh thinking and new perspectives, with its partners collaborating on ideas to anticipate and address customers’ needs quickly and more effectively.
“We have some pretty top-class tech folks that are intellectually curious and technically solid, Ram Chakravarti, chief technology officer at BMC, told The New Stack. “With our tech talent, we have on offer many emerging technologies so we can serve as a vehicle that solves problems and finds new solutions by working with partner companies to conduct experiments — and those experiments prove out the value.
Anticipating Customer Challenges
During the past two years since its creation, BMC’s Innovation Labs have served as a conduit to “anticipate things that will become major challenges for customers in three to five years and we start solving for them now,” Chakravarti said.
“As opposed to being driven by innovation, we are leading with innovation by focusing on things that would become super important to customers from 18 months and up to about three to four years from now.
“So what do organizations do so that our product organizations are not burdened with things that are in the future? We at the innovation labs focus on the next set of things that are going to become big, incubate them, run tests and take a subset of them that show promise on the pathway toward commercial commercialization.”
True to the BMC focus on technology to power the future, the projects accepted into the Innovation Labs’ partner program should involve DataOps. DataOps, as defined by Chakravarti, is the application of agile engineering and DevOps best practices to the field of data management to rapidly turn new insights into fully operationalized production deliverables that unlock the business value of data.
Case Study: Customer Service Management
Though the Partner Program is new, a few participants have already started engaging. This was demonstrated during the BMC Innovation Summit, which highlighted segments and opportunities that BMC customers and partners care about, such as data, edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Each demo was live and represented a technology focus area or vertical.
These included IT solutions provider CyberMAK Information Systems W.L.L., which is working with BMC to develop and extend data-management and artificial intelligence-managed customer support solutions based on AI-determined predictive outcomes, observability and other BMC know-how.
The demo with BMC’s innovation preferred partner, CyberMAK, showed how customer service can be easier with intuitive ticketing and advanced automation. It highlighted an agent and a supervisor interaction to show how businesses can better manage customer communication over the phone, email, live chat, SMS text and social media.
Out-of-the-box features — like an agent assist, voice of the customer, collaboration console and a global-case monitor, among many others — were also demoed.
Already, customers demand self-service that is “completely effortless” and that predicts what the customer wants and needs “before they get on the call,” Tasnim Pithapurwala, chief technology officer at CyberMAK Information Systems, said during her Innovation Summit demo.
To meet these demands, the customer-service management system must be able to address both current problems and anticipate other issues before they occur.
“How can the system guide the agents to take the next best action without having to scramble to find several data points to get that data?” Pithapurwala asked during the summit. “And how do we have a supervisor jump in when required? How does the supervisor automatically know when to jump in as a coach” to resolve the situation?
One of the more frustrating user experiences can be with the company chatbot, especially when the AI-controlled interactions fail to provide the user with the answers they seek (which they often do). The obvious solution is to improve the AI.
As Pithapurwala said, “The system has the ability to understand who has the skill set and who is right for which customer personality.”
Glimpses of the Future at the Innovation Summit
In another demo shown at the BMC Innovation Summit, the company talked about how technology today is changing faster than our minds can keep up with — and because of that, BMC said it’s seeing an ever-widening skills gap in the industry. For example, operations may not know enough about the technology to keep up with the developers, which can affect business.
The demo shed a bit of light on how the company can address this issue with predictive service operations, featuring three separate videos that addressed the difficulties in keeping up with support and management skills for new technologies. Statistics communicated during the demo showed how business-service failures can be prevented in most cases, if the tech stack is proactively monitored and managed the right way.
In this demo, BMC highlighted how it has taken its BMC Helix Operations Management platform and extended its use of AI and automation to narrow that skills gap to manage business applications and give operations teams the tools they need to keep up with their developers.
Other live demos given during the summit covered the following topics:
- Automated data analysis. This demo addressed the exponential growth of data and the impact it has on the role of analytics for businesses.
- Augmented reality (AR) fleet management. In this scenario, a fleet manager used an AR headset to monitor his overall fleet status and track critical issues using a 3-D space and operational dashboards through the AR headset.
- Compliance violator annihilator. This demo focused on reducing compliance violations in the workplace.
- Virtual reality (VR) data monitoring. Audiences were asked who had seen “the spinning wheel of death.” They then learned about how the amount of data and complex systems that cause this “spinning wheel” are enormous. They also saw how VR could potentially play a role as support engineers diagnose these issues and study complicated service models.
As the demos showed, the Preferred Partner Program’s projects rely heavily on a convergence of operational technology and information technology — and, in particular, the orchestration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and associated data at the edge.
“We’re solving things at the edge,” Chakravarti said. “And there, I categorize these things into two sets of use cases: One is things that you absolutely need to solve for at the edge, which involve taking into consideration latency and security at the edge.
“The second set of use cases is how do I integrate my edge data with my central compute data to provide even greater value for my organization, with the harmonized set of data from the agent central compute systems of record. The combination of these two sets of use cases is where the magic happens.”
You can learn more about BMC Innovation Labs and the BMC Innovation Labs Preferred Partners Program here.