Enabling Digital Transformation Through Intelligent Automation

Although more and more businesses have come to rely on their IT infrastructure to deliver their products and services, IT budgets have steadily shrunk over the last year. 1 With these budget cuts, IT infrastructure and operations teams are under significant pressure to handle the increased ticket and incident volume while improving operational performance levels to support critical business processes. Some companies are using task automation to help address these IT needs, but basic automation scripts lack the flexibility to address advanced technical issues without human intervention. Consequently, they fail to remediate many of the core issues driving excess ticket volume in networks.

However, there is an approach that goes beyond simple task automation and gets to the heart of the problem – Intelligent Automation (IA). As we discussed in our interview with Jonathan Crane from IPsoft, IA is poised to revolutionize the way companies manage and improve their IT infrastructure and operations. In fact, 86 percent of global business leaders believe their organization must successfully deploy intelligent automation solutions within the next five years to be a leader in their field. However, 69 percent said their company is not currently deploying it.2 Considering the robust capabilities of IA platforms, what’s preventing companies from using it to improve IT operations? And how can companies effectively implement IA into their IT infrastructures?

To better understand how Managed Services Providers (MSPs) can help businesses deploy and use IA, we asked one of our executives for his insights.

Meet Doug Tracy

Doug Tracy

Doug Tracy is Milestone’s Chief Operating Officer. With 30 years of executive experience, Doug supports Milestone’s service delivery, technology and service strategy, partnerships, and internal IT operations while focusing on ways to enhance Milestone’s services through innovative technology.

Why do businesses need MSPs?

Although companies can certainly choose to work alone, most have found the use of highly skilled and experienced partners to be the optimal path forward. World-class MSPs have developed a wealth of expertise from years of experience with multiple clients in a variety of scenarios. As a result, MSPs can dramatically improve their customers’ ability to drive efficiency through improved IT operations, which helps their clients reach long-term goals faster and addresses issues around scaling their digital enterprise. Businesses rely on the MSP’s people, processes, and tools—backed by strong Service Level Agreements (SLAs)—to effectively manage and optimize IT operations while they concentrate on their core business value drivers.

As IA becomes a significant component of IT strategies, successfully implementing IA platforms will be imperative. However, before even considering IA, businesses need to have a fundamental understanding of their IT environment. Without a clear framework in place, IA won’t solve any problems. MSPs can bring the expertise to establish that necessary framework and mature the business’ IT environment so that it’s ready for IA.

IA Fundamentals

Why has Milestone chosen to explore intelligent automation?

We leverage IA to perform routine IT functions and optimize the way effective processes are implemented. As those processes evolve and become more complex, we’ve started to utilize IA’s advanced pattern recognition and learning capabilities to drive even more efficiency in our clients’ environments. This ensures that our personnel can focus on critical technical issues and high-level strategies to help our customers drive even more business value.

Additionally, the economics of IA has become extremely compelling, especially when compared to legacy models like offshore outsourcing. Moreover, IA delivers a much higher degree of quality and consistency in IT operations—something that our customers require as they become more dependent on digital business models to drive revenue.

Which of Milestone’s services will be leveraging Intelligent Automation?

Our initial focus is on Network Operations, Service Desk, and Data Center services, but any area within IT infrastructure and operations can benefit from IA. While reducing ticket-handling time is a major goal, an even better outcome is to eliminate the root cause of the ticket, reducing outages and operational interruptions as close to zero as possible. With more and more incidents handled by IA, our skilled technicians can dedicate more of their time to creative problem solving and problem elimination, thus accelerating progress towards a fully resilient and reliable infrastructure for our clients.

How does partnering with IPsoft change Milestone’s capabilities as an MSP?

We reviewed and considered a number of partners as we endeavored to enhance our capabilities. IPsoft offered the industry-leading solution for IA but also committed to a true partnership with Milestone. This partnership enables us to unite our extensive experience working with major companies in the tech industry with IPsoft’s innovative technology platform that has enabled scalability for their large financial services and technology customers. In addition, we believe the mid-market is underserved with respect to bringing IA capabilities to play, and Milestone plans to address this with our IPsoft partnership.

What are some of the challenges of implementing an Intelligent Automation platform?

Effectively implementing IA can’t be accomplished overnight—it’s a process; a journey. So, the biggest obstacle that businesses face is trying to short circuit that journey. Upwards of 50 percent of IA implementations fail because the foundation of governance, processes, and data weren’t in place before automation began. Therefore, companies need to establish a solid IT Service Management baseline before considering IA platforms by:

  • Understanding their IT environment in detail
  • Mapping dependencies in their architecture and tools
  • Establishing clear governance
  • Developing effective processes
  • Documenting procedures
  • Defining metrics and analytics to measure and review to progress towards goals

Without establishing these fundamentals, a business doesn’t truly understand its IT environment. With 20 years of industry experience, this is a journey that Milestone thoroughly understands, and we can help our clients navigate it.

Upwards of 50 percent of IA implementations fail because the foundation of governance, processes, and data weren’t in place before automation began.

What effect will Intelligent Automation have on IT operation teams and end users?

People sometimes fear automation because they suspect it will eliminate their job, but that fear is largely unfounded. Automation eliminates the mundane work that often prevents people from focusing on what they are really good at. By leveraging IA, we enable people to be creative and apply their skills to higher-level problem solving. This, in turn, allows businesses to reinvest their human capital into business-critical work that is both rewarding to the person and essential for the company. Automation hones and refocuses a work force and often leads to more satisfying work by allowing people to develop their core competencies while the automation platform takes care of the routine tasks.

How can the right MSP make a difference?

Although IA is capable of significantly improving IT operations, how it is implemented is key to its success. Whether a business is new to automation or already has some internal automations in place, a partnership with an experienced MSP can provide the skilled personnel, mature processes, and industry experience necessary to help businesses prepare for integration with IA by establishing a strong IT foundation. Beyond just implementation, MSPs can leverage IA to fundamentally improve back-end infrastructure, significantly reduce ticket volume, and prioritize business-critical objectives that keep IT operations at peak performance. However, the choice of MSP is critical. Enterprises need an MSP that has experience scaling with clients, has established true strategic partnerships with carefully selected platform suppliers, is rigorous but flexible about building upon a solid IT Service Management Foundation, and is an agile partner who will collaborate effectively. Milestone is all of that, which is why our clients continue to grow with us. To find out more about working with Milestone, consult our best practice guide.

1 http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3277517
2 http://www.cioinsight.com/it-management/slideshows/benefits-and-challenges-of-intelligent-automation.html