AIOps could help your business survive COVID-19

Johannesburg, 13 Jul 2020
Read time 6min 10sec
Gary de Menezes, Managing Director, Micro Focus South Africa
Gary de Menezes, Managing Director, Micro Focus South Africa

COVID-19 is bringing us into a whole new world with new ways of doing pretty much everything. No company is going to do business the way it did before, and AIOps could offer a competitive advantage to businesses as they’re forced into this new way of working.

Around the world, Internet usage has skyrocketed, and South Africa is no exception, recording record increases in online activity across all platforms, both business and recreational, over the past couple of months. “Companies that don’t recognise how AIOps can give them a competitive advantage will be passed by those that do,” forecasts Gary de Menezes, MD of Micro Focus South Africa. “Online consumers are fickle; if they try to buy something online and the portal hangs, they’ll just move on to another portal. Customers are easily lost online. Purchasing and engagement methods are having to adapt to the new buying cycles of an online world, where customers can easily and quickly move on if they aren’t serviced adequately.”

Today, consumers and customers alike want immediate help online; they’re no longer prepared to phone a call centre and listen to music while they wait. They’re being increasingly enabled to help themselves online – and this is where AIOps is coming into its own, enabling mundane tasks to be automated and removing the need for human engagement. This gives early adopter companies a major competitive advantage over those that still rely on human intervention to perform such tasks. “Your company’s digital footprint will define its business growth going forward, especially in sectors such as banking, insurance, retail and telecommunications.”

De Menezes goes on to explain that AIOps was formed more out of necessity than as a technological evolution. “In the past couple of years, there has been an explosion of cloud, with mega cloud providers setting up data centres in South Africa, and with access to local cloud environments, businesses are starting to embrace cloud adoption in a bigger way. The result is that they’re losing the ability to manage their environment on a day-to-day basis, or to have a view of enterprise regardless of where applications sit.

Alvin Barnard, Solutions Architect at Micro Focus, continues: “Our world has become a lot more complex in the past five years. For the past 10 to 15 years, enterprise applications sat in one room. With a different terminal for each environment, everything was managed and operated manually using processes and people. Technology has, over the years, evolved to embrace cloud, hybrid cloud and even hybrid IT, yet people’s skills haven’t progressed at the same rate, resulting in major gaps in the enterprise’s ability to manage this ever-expanding beast.”

Barnard elaborates on the complexity conundrum faced by large enterprises: “Today, applications are moved around between servers and clouds in order to ensure maximum availability, which means that business service management is no longer static – it now has to manage a moving target. Because everything is in motion, AIOps enables the use of AI to suggest the potential causes of issues based on past behaviour.

Added to this, increased security risks and breaches mean operations have changed irrevocably. No longer is an application either up or down, today’s operations are far more complicated. Again, people aren’t keeping pace with technology and that, together with incidents of shadow IT in almost every corporation, is leading to a reduction in the operational efficiency of many large companies. This is evidenced in the form of increased downtime and service interruptions.

AIOps is effectively the evolution of operations management, bringing automation into the process to manage the complexity that the human element simply can’t keep up with. De Menezes says, with the maturity of solutions like big data and analytics over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a merger of these worlds with the operations world, making it more intelligent, enabling it to self-remediate, because a lot of problems don’t need manual intervention. Based on statistics, analytics and past events, AI can take the required actions and fix issues. Operational management is becoming its own ecosystem where it understands itself, fixes itself and actually controls this new dynamic world where applications are spun up to the cloud and back down again, catering for them on the fly.

Barnard agrees, saying AIOps looks at how the technology behaved previously and, based on statistics, can identify the likely suspects based on past behaviour. “You have all these moving parts and a limited number of people, you need to know where to spend time to fix the problem – and you can use statistics to point you in the right direction.”

This can prove invaluable in a helpdesk environment, enabling it to do more with the massive amounts of information that’s available to it. He explains: “A lot of information received by a helpdesk is unstructured data in the form of comments that people submit, which wouldn’t necessarily fit into a predetermined format. Technology is able to read that unstructured data and give it context.”

De Menezes says: “A lot of businesses invest in new technologies without evolving how their operations are run. They have these great projects under way using agile, DevOps and cloud, but neglect the fundamentals on how to keep their business running. Companies get stuck in the same manual static enterprise management environment they’ve been in for the past 15 years.

“This is what is primarily causing the outages that we see. CIOs are focused on keeping the lights on with limited budgets that don’t allow them to make necessary investments into bringing new levels of efficiency and intelligence into managing the company.”

The whole COVID-19 situation and the ensuing global economic reset will exacerbate this problem, predicts De Menezes. “How will CEOs and CIOs manage their businesses going forward when they’re running on technology and environments in need of updating? CIOs especially face the challenge of motivating for additional investment into creating an AIOPS environment. While such investment won’t create new revenue streams, it will protect existing ones while reducing costs – and this is the dilemma around investment into AIOps. Businesses have to rather ask themselves, what is the cost of not investing in it?”

Barnard says even when countries have moved past the COVID-19 crisis, there’s going to be an ongoing drive towards digitisation, as people will have established certain patterns of behaviour – such as shopping online – that will continue going forward.

In brief, companies need to evolve their operational management to survive the economy post COVID-19.

To find out more about AIOps and what it can do for your business, click here.

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