Evolution of IT Operations

Posted on Wednesday, December 02, 2020
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By Ross Hamilton
Account Chief Technologist

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The problem

Many IT leaders are having to assess how they deliver and support IT services to their users due to IT landscape changes that have happened over the past few years with cloud services, IT outsourcing, and more recently the adoption of remote working. You will be challenged with how you support and service the five generations of workforce and what channels will be required to communicate and support your users. Each demographic will require a different approach to how you upskill and support them. Traditional methods of IT operations are focused on a one size fits all organisation, and the method for delivering and supporting follow this orthodoxy, but this is not fit for all users. This legacy method is not sufficient and requires a change in how you support your business and how you measure the success throughout the life of that service.

Remote working example

We are now entering a remote working revolution which has been forced on us due to natural events. With more users working remotely this will have an impact on how you service your users at a physical / virtual level. From a physical perspective you will need to make changes to your operating model and supply chain of IT hardware for the business. This will involve changes to how you provision your endpoints and continue to manage them on untrusted networks. By losing a physical support presence you will need methods to allow self-service for your users. You will also need to consider the impact to your joiners, movers and leavers (JML) process. Fortunately, technology is ahead of the game and ready to embrace this change, and there are many approaches that can enable your business to work remotely. With the use of cloud services and automation you can start to shift IT operations back to the users and leverage the ability to manage your devices from the cloud without physical connectivity to your endpoints. All businesses have been forced to look at how you can communicate and thanks to many video conferencing solutions with products such as Microsoft Teams this has allowed your workforce to stay in touch and collaborate. When it comes to enabling a remote access, I would recommend you read this article around SASE which can provide your users with security and connectivity regardless of where they are connected with minimal impact to the user experience.

Communication channels

Depending on the demographics of your users, they will be using different communication channels when it comes to support. This is the case both when in the workplace and working remotely. Common channels of communication were focused around a central call centre, but now you will see more focus on digital methods of communication and handling of support issues. If we use a popular shopping site as an example, when you require support the primary channel is via webchat and in some cases it is not even a human agent you are speaking to but a bot. This digital channel experience can be used for your IT operations with the ability to automate requests with no human interaction from a service desk. With the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning you can use tools to understand the request and associate it to an automated workflow. This approach allows your users to continue working and reduces the strain on your IT service desk. This digital channel will be appropriate for many users but some demographics will still prefer the phone approach. But this experience can also be improved and enriched with automation and intelligent IVR processes.

Baby steps…

A lot of the changes I am proposing may seem daunting and a big change to your operations team and culture, but small steps can be made with the right roles and technology to deliver on a digital operations team. All aspects are still heavily focused on the ITIL framework but we generally see Incident, Change and Request fulfilment being used which I would consider as a break fix model. In order to evolve from this legacy approach you need to look at a service orientated model, and this can be done with training to support all demographics of your business and the use of the Continue Service Improvement and Knowledge Management modules of ITIL. These modules will give you processes to measure a service, ensure the business is getting the value of the investment, and provide training and documentation through knowledge management. If you invest in people to implement CSI and knowledge management then you will see a reduction in service requests and incidents and in turn improve your employee experience.

Long Term

In long term in order to strive to a digital operations function you will need to define a roadmap in the tools and architecture to support that journey. Your roadmap will need to consider and be incorporated into your end user strategy; 

· Identity strategy for internet and third-party applications

· Tools for management and compliance of your endpoint estates remotely

· Provisioning and the logistics of physical devices to your users. Otherwise known as Device as a service (DaaS)

· Service Management tooling to support;

o Self service automation of request fulfilment

o Chatbot and AI/ML integration

o API integration with third party tooling

o FAQ system

o Pulse check capability (Survey)

o Performance Benchmarking

· Low Code tooling to integrate with multiple sources such as HR, Service management, RPA, Infrastructure and identity providers

· HR processes and policies for JML

· How you deliver your applications to your users

· Remote Access for users across Laptop, Tablet and phones on untrusted networks but ensuring it complies to your security policies

· Understand the behaviours of your user profiles with the use of surveys and interviews to help influence your roadmap

 All of these items will contribute to your end user strategy in how you support your employees and deliver on an improved employee experience.

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