By Christoph Goldenstern, Kepner-Tregoe
Business operations today are increasingly technology-driven. As a result, the success of the business may come down to the ability to address technology issues and prevent their recurrence in order to ensure effective operations. While supporting the business technology side may not be a traditional role for IT, those IT organizations that take it on are in a unique position to become truly aligned with “the business”. The benefits of IT engagement in supporting business technology include:
- Improved integration between IT and business initiatives and activities
- Better understanding of business operations by IT, leading them to be able to make recommendations for additional innovation
- Improved relationship between IT and the business
- Relaxation of some budgetary constraints due to becoming a revenue-generating partner
- Faster resolution, lower recurrence rate of business technology issues
Supporting business-focused technology is little different than supporting infrastructure and applications. Service management processes can be leveraged, regardless of the type of device involved, moving the organization towards Enterprise Service Management in its truest form.
Consider the following service management processes:
- Portfolio management: maintaining a portfolio of investments in technology should include any type of technology from IoT to robotics and automation.
- Demand/Capacity management: the ability to predict future demand and manage capacity accordingly is as critical to business technology as it is to computing environments.
- Information security management: much is said about the need to protect IoT devices, robots and other automated systems from information theft and data breaches. IT’s support is critical in this area and business technology should be embedded in all security operations monitoring and vulnerability management.
- Event management (monitoring), incident and problem management: these three processes are at the crux of this blog since IT’s ability to spot or prevent recurring issues can be of huge benefit to the business, decreasing downtime and performance degradation involving business technology.
Adding business technology to IT’s existing activities doesn’t require much more than supporting IT systems since the processes are already in place. The IT organization needs:
- The ability to monitor and capture issues affecting business technology
- A mechanism to recognize repeat issues and correlate them
- The ability to troubleshoot problems
- Ability to coordinate investigation and resolution with equipment providers
In many cases, redundancy or use of virtual technologies can help build a highly resilient support system. Managing robotics and IoT devices still comes back to applications that run on infrastructure and which need to perform well in order for the business processes they support to succeed. Thus, their back-end systems still need the ability to monitor and respond to issues with:
- Capacity and performance
- Infrastructure availability
- Resiliency to support new releases in a Dev Ops / Continuous release environment
Success is increased by combining this with a strong monitoring program, good incident management and the ability to address operational issues in a timely fashion.
Working with Business Operations
The primary capabilities IT will need to achieve is the ability to understand business needs and the application of technology by the business. To help with its automation and then to support it effectively and efficiently. This is where Kepner-Tregoe problem solving techniques, analytics and data driven process improvement methodologies can assist IT in supporting the business.
As new technologies are employed, the following steps can be performed:
- IoT sensors and monitoring systems to support the technology are identified, installed and configured to sense any anomalies in functionality
- Functionality is baselined so that variances in expected behavior can be identified
- Data variations that indicate the start of an issue are programmed to trigger automated alerts to operations personnel, with the goal of preventing incidents
- Root cause analysis is performed on anomalies to find ways to eliminate the cause of issues
This raises the bar for what IT needs to be able to provide. It puts IT in the line of fire more than ever before, requiring top notch event, incident and problem management processes, combined with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. To achieve these outcomes, a number of environments need to be available, integrated and tuned, all based on data they can provide and to which they can react, including:
- Common infrastructure monitoring tools
- IoT sensors
- Event, incident and problem management application
All of this is supported by the ability to collect and correlate data, then make sense of it. While systems can collect and correlate the data, humans still need to be able to apply intelligence to the data, determine corrective steps and automate the response to the same future issues. This is where Kepner-Tregoe training and consulting can help an organization move to the next level, by providing the training and programs needed to help the business and IT organization come together in creating a support program that will help them achieve desired outcomes.
Read more from Kepner-Tregoe about Business Technology
Kepner-Tregoe has been the industry leader in problem-solving and service-excellence processes for more than 60 years. The experts at KT have helped companies raise their level of incident- and problem-management performance through tools, training and consulting – leading to highly effective service-management teams ready to respond to your company’s most critical issues.