The growing sophistication of analytics gives IT leaders the opportunity to use these tools to improve their own operations. Analytics can provide insight and data to help IT teams improve reliability and uptime, assess new technology and plan upgrades or new investments.
However, an article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) pointed out that, although IT helps other business units to use analytics in many different applications and processes, it makes little use of the tools in its own environment.
The article also points out that many business disciplines recruit analysts with specific data skills in finance or marketing, for example. However, there are currently no equivalent roles in IT.
Automate Routine Tasks
While analytics is primarily used to support decision-making, commentators see a growing potential for combining analytics with automation to handle routine tasks such as detection, remediation and provisioning.
The HBR article quoted an example from Facebook, which uses analytics to make decisions and automate the provisioning of new server clusters. Facebook reported that automation supported by analytics means they only require one engineer for 25,000 servers. In contrast, IT organizations might have an average of one engineer for 100-250 servers.
Automation on this level is important when labor-intensive routine tasks and firefighting take up so much time of the IT team’s time. When demands from the business to deliver new services faster and focus on innovation are increasing, routine tasks act as a barrier to progress.
Make Better Use of Analytics
According to the HBR article, a number of IT organizations are still at the first stage of analytics use. They collect data to report on service levels or outages, but rarely use analytics to support predictive maintenance. Organizations at the second stage use analytics for tasks such as analyzing security threats or monitoring energy usage in the data center.
When IT adopts the third or fourth stage, they can use analytics to automate decisions and routine tasks, with the type of productivity benefits that the Facebook example shows. The Harvard Business Review suggests that using analytics in this way can support many important tasks.
Predictive maintenance is a key area, improving the availability and reliability of servers and networks. In the security arena, analytics can be used to support predictive and automated tasks. And, analytics can support predictive estimates of IT resource requirements and costs.
Automation and analytics can speed up infrastructure provision and system testing, as well as incident recognition and remediation. On the help desk, it can provide support to technicians, increasing first time resolution and improving customer satisfaction.
By using automation and analytics more widely, IT leaders can make better use of their teams, moving them to more strategic development roles, while automation takes care of the routine tasks.
To start the process, IT needs to assess its current processes to identify where automation can deliver benefits. It also needs to identify the data that will be needed to support automation. And, to make the most effective use of these tools, they should recruit analytics specialists with experience in IT.