Root cause analysis. Once priority events have been correlated, AIOps identifies a root cause to enable the operations team to focus its efforts on a resolution. This is a task that proves challenging to perform at speed for a human operator considering the complexity of today’s systems.
Proactive response. A range of responses is available with AIOps, from directing issues to the appropriate people, to recommending actions that can be taken by operators directly in a collaboration tool, to rules-based workflows performed automatically, such as spinning up additional AWS EC2 instances.
Learning. By evaluating past failures and successes, AIOps can learn over time which events are likely to become critical and how to respond to them. This brings us closer to the dream of NoOps, where operations are completely automated.
The Impact of COVID-19 on IT Operations
The Ecosystm Digital Priorities in the New Normal study launched this month, asks technology users about how their digital priorities have shifted during the pandemic. Despite pressure to shift to digital delivery, almost 40% of participants reported that their organisations cut headcount in the IT department (Figure 1). Furthermore, over one third had been forced to cut their employees’ salaries. As we have seen in previous crises, IT operations teams are being asked to do more with less and will need automation to bridge the gaps.
As we begin to move into the next phase of the COVID-19 reality and businesses continue to open, we will see many launch digital services that were conceived of during the crisis. One of the greatest challenges that IT departments face will be scalability as digital businesses grow. AIOps will be a go-to tool for IT operations to ensure uptime and improve user experience. It is likely that the next 12-18 months will be a watershed moment for AIOps.
NLP and the Democratisation of Data
Natural Language Processing (NLP) will be the next string in the bow of AIOps. While the ultimate goal of IT operations is to identify and remediate situations before they have an impact on the user, oftentimes it is the service desk that generates the initial barrage of alerts. AIOps equipped with NLP can extract relevant data from user tickets, correlate them with other system events and potentially even suggest a resolution to the user. Here, ChatOps can help to reduce the workload on the service desk and bring relevant events to the attention of the operations team faster. NLP will also help democratise IT operations data within the organisation. As they digitalise, lines of business (LoBs) besides IT will need access to system health and user experience data but business managers may not have the necessary technical skills to extract them. Chatbots that can return these metrics to non-technical users will begin to proliferate.
Most IT departments would have discovered the limitations of their current systems during the upheaval caused by recent lockdowns. Only about 7% of organisations in our study reported that they were well-prepared across all areas of IT, to handle the COVID-19 crisis. For those organisations that have yet to invest in AIOps, we recommend starting now but starting small. Develop a topology map to understand where you have reliable data sources that could be analysed by AIOps. Then select a domain by assessing the present level of observability and automation, IT skills gap, frequency of outages, and business criticality. As you add additional domains and the system learns, the value you realise from AIOps will grow.
The power of collaborative AIOps tools would have been undeniable as the COVID-19 crisis began and IT departments were forced to work in a distributed manner. When evaluating a system, carefully consider how it will integrate into your organisation’s preferred collaboration suite, whether it be the AIOps vendor’s proprietary situation tool or a third-party provider like Slack or Microsoft Teams. The ability for operations teams to collaborate effectively reduces time to resolution.
In his report, The Path to Retail’s New Normal, Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Kaushik Ghatak says, “Satisfying their old consumers, now set in their new ways, should be the ‘mantra’ for the retailers in order to survive in the New Normal.” To be able to do so they have to evaluate what their new business requirements are and translate them into technological requirements. Though it may sound simple, it may prove to be harder than usual to identify their evolving business requirements. This is especially difficult because even before the pandemic, the Retail industry was challenged with consumers who are becoming increasingly demanding, providing enhanced customer experience (CX), offering more choices and lowering prices. The market was already extremely competitive with large retailers fighting for market consolidation and smaller and more nimble retailers trying to carve out their niche.
In the New Normal, retailers will struggle to retain and grow their customer base. They will also have to focus aggressively on cost containment. A robust risk management process will become the new reality. But above all else, they will have to innovate – in their product range as well as in their processes. These are all areas where technology can help them. This can come in the form of technology partnerships, adopting hybrid models, increased usage of technology across all channels and investing in reskilling or upskilling the technology capabilities of employees.
Re-evaluating the Supply Chain
One of the first business operation to get disrupted by the current crisis was the supply chain. Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Alea Fairchild says, “Retailers are finding themselves at the front-end of the broken supply chain in the current situation and there is an enormous gap between suppliers and buyers. Retailers will have to aim to combine inventory with local sourcing and become agile and adopt change quickly. This will highlight to them the importance of transparency of information, traceability, and information flow of goods.”
Ecosystm research shows that supply chain optimisation and demand forecasting among the top 5 business solutions that firms in Retail consider using AI for (Figure 1).
“In the New Normal, consumers are going to demand the same level of perfection that they have received and at the same cost. In order to make that possible, at the right time and at a lower cost, automation has to be implemented to improve the supply chain process, fulfill expectations and enhance visibility,” says Ghatak. “Providing differentiated CX is intimately dependent upon an aligned, flexible and efficient supply chain. Retailers will not only need to innovate at the store (physical or online) level and offer more innovative products – they will also need to have a high level of innovation in their supply chain processes.”
Digital Transformation in the Retail Industry
Ecosystm research reveals that only about 34% of global retailers had considered themselves to be digital-ready to face the challenges of the New Normal, before the pandemic. The vast majority of them admit that they still have a long way to go.
With COVID-19, the timeframes for digitalisation have imploded for most retailers. The study to evaluate the Digital Priorities in the New Normal reveals that in Asia Pacific nearly 83% of retailers have been forced to start, accelerate or refocus their Digital Transformation (DX) initiatives (Figure 2).
So, what technology areas will Retail see increased adoption oF?
Fairchild sees retailers adopt IoT, mobility, AI and solutions that deliver personalised experiences such as push notifications. What they are likely to do is blend different aspects of their physical and virtual environment to create a solution for customers. “To address in-store processing, hygiene, safety standards and compliance requirements, retailers will change their processes through a combination of resources, KPIs, automation, task management software and switching the information flow.”
Ghatak thinks automation has a significant role to play in improving both CX and the supply chain. “This is also an opportunity for retailers – both online and in-store – to create a solution experience where technologies such as Augment/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) can help. While retailers are adopting these technologies, with 5G rollouts, there is potential that the adoption will implode in a short time-frame.”
Those retailers that are not re-evaluating their business models and technology investments now will find themselves unprepared to handle the customer expectations when the global economy opens up.
Ecosystm Principal Advisors Kaushik Ghatak and Alea Fairchild were part of a conversation with Ecosystm CEO, Amit Gupta. Watch the video here ?
COVID-19 will definitely stress test our digital assets and strategies. Just recently, the Australian government’s citizen-facing portal crashed as too many citizens logged on to register for welfare. This forced many people out into government shop-fronts – putting themselves, the staff and all connected families and friends at risk of catching the virus. I also heard today of a bank that called many of its staff back to the office as the VPN could not cope with the number of users and volume of traffic! If you have not already, you will quickly find out how your digital capabilities are performing – where you need extra capacity, where services are running smoothly, where you need to rethink process design or where you need to consider re-crafting this approach for the fully digital era.
But stay safe – listen to the advice of medical experts and act on that advice. A senior medical officer recently stated that social distancing is the only way that we will overcome this virus – so stay safe and stay home (if you can!). But also take the time to review your digital capabilities – start making moves now to ensure they help your business stay afloat – or your government agency to keep serving citizens in times of restricted trading or shutdowns.
At the end of last year, Ecosystm published The Top 5 IoT Trends for 2020. Principal advisors, Kaushik Ghatak and Francisco Maroto predicted that in 2020 5G providers will be forced to operate outside their comfort zone. While the impact on network and communications equipment providers will be immense, 5G will also force telecom providers to re-think their existing business models. They may not be the best equipped to take 5G technology to market, they way the operate now.
Traditionally telecom providers have been focused on horizontal technologies and on connecting people. They have not had to have conversations around connecting machines – where every industry has their own unique use cases. This verticalisation, will force telecom providers to deal with newer stakeholders in their client organisations – not just IT infrastructure and Facilities. Several telecom providers have in the past become public cloud providers, as their markets becomes smaller and they face competition from global cloud storage providers. Now, telecom providers will increasingly look to partner with cloud providers and systems integrators with relevant industry experience, to translate the value proposition of what they are offering. “Strategic partnerships between leading technology and telecom operators are taking place especially in building various 5G use cases and applications centred on the cloud computing platform,” says Shamir Amanullah, Principal Advisor Ecosystm.
Maxis Strengthening their Market Position in Malaysia
The recently announced partnership between Maxis and Microsoft is an example of how these partnerships will pan out. Maxis does not want to be viewed only as a telecom provider and wants to be the leading Malaysia-based solutions provider. As telecom providers also start to tap the enterprise market, cloud and IoT will be key technology areas, that they should focus on.
“Maxis is leading the way as a converged solutions provider in Malaysia and following the appointment of Gökhan Ogut as the CEO in 2019, there has been a focus to grow the enterprise business which promises a lucrative opportunity,” says Amanullah.
“While the mobile connectivity market is effectively about customer retention in a saturated market, new opportunities lie in enterprise needs for fixed connectivity, managed services, cloud and IoT which is largely untapped. The expected deployment of the 5G network will spur new applications, business models and partnerships.”
Maxis’ move appears to be well-thought. Amanullah thinks that the strategic partnership with Microsoft will help Maxis accelerate its enterprise solutions offering combined IoT and 5G capabilities with Microsoft’s Azure IoT technology. It will also allow for hybrid environments, which is important given the rise of hybrid and multi-cloud adoption. Ecosystm research shows that hybrid cloud adoption in Malaysia is at a nascent 7%. But if they take a lesson from their neighbour, the rise in adoption will be steep. Our research finds that hybrid cloud adoption in Singapore is around 42%.
Telecom providers are also focusing on Digital Transformation (DX). In the Top 5 Telecommunications & Mobility Trends for 2020, Liam Gunson, Director Ecosystm says, “In 2020, operators will focus on transforming the core – remove unnecessary costs, improve customer experience, capture new opportunities – and on building telecom networks with scalability, flexibility, efficiency and agility.” Microsoft’s enterprise Modern Workplace solutions including Microsoft Teams will aid Maxis’ own DX efforts. Maxis will offer fixed line voice calls with the unified communications service.
Mutually Beneficial Partnership
Amanullah also sees this as a positive move for Microsoft. “Microsoft is poised to lead efforts in 5G network deployment which promises to enhance capabilities and drive new economic growth, especially with the focus on Industry 4.0. Maxis’ position as a leading enterprise communications provider and Microsoft’s enterprise technology experience and offerings promises a mutually beneficial partnership.”
Ecosystm research finds that Microsoft is the leading cloud provider in Malaysia when it comes to brand perception, and about a third of enterprise cloud deployments use Microsoft. Amanullah thinks that, “Microsoft’s leading position in cloud platforms is an attractive proposition for enterprises that are looking at speed, performance, reliability, global scale, security and lower costs.”
Talking about the 5G applications that the Malaysia market will see, Amanullah sees tremendous business opportunities in areas such as smart city, autonomous driving, smart traffic management, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), cloud gaming, and healthcare, to name a few.
Employee Experience as a Business Focus Will Drive Faster Adoption of Consumer Collaboration Tools
Organisations in mature economies already have employee experience (EX) and CX as their top business priorities. This comes with an understanding that offering a great customer and employee experience will lead to revenue growth, profit growth and lower costs.
For communication and collaboration solutions, if the experience is not right, employees will move on to the next best app for the right experience. The competition between the vendors across voice, video and collaboration is heightening. It may sound simple but that is where the innovation needs to happen in the industry. If employees do not like what IT has provided for them, they will download the application of their choice for work. This will be a huge challenge especially in industries that are heavily regulated such as Financial Services and Healthcare.
HR KPIs Will Drive IT Teams to Invest in Workplace Analytics
HR teams are ultimately responsible for driving improved EX. And a happy employee is a productive employee – so an employee’s environment (managed by the Operations or Facilities team) and their technology (managed by the IT team) will have the biggest impact on driving employee satisfaction. To drive these outcomes, we will see these three teams work closer than they ever have – and not just on a project basis, but as a permanent arrangement.
Investments in Workplace Analytics will increase, and there will be more collaboration between IT, HR and Facilities Management to drive best practices for employees. Right now, there is very little collaboration between the three departments in driving better workplace practices. Workplace Analytics will help solve problems related to poor office practices around email overload, long work hours, absenteeism, usage of rooms and other facilities, employee discontent, as well as understand the overall trends on communications and collaboration solutions usage.
5G Services will Push Organisations to Rethink their Network
Today 5G is not available in many countries – and where it is available coverage is generally spotty. But this will change in 2020 as more operators launch or expand their 5G coverage. The unique capabilities of 5G to offer software-defined networks (SDNs) – designed specifically for organisations’ needs – will help businesses rethink the way they operate. They can stop thinking of their network as a physical place and start thinking of it as a set of capabilities and this takes work beyond designated physical addresses. Retailers will be able to offer complete retail environments from wherever they choose. Banks will be able to offer complete in-branch services from anywhere. Employees will be able to get access to all sorts of data and systems regardless of location. 5G is about much more than a faster network – the potential to transform enterprise networks will see a huge rethink of the network and the way IT teams provide technology services to their employees.
Organisations Will Wake Up to the Need for the Right Knowledge Management Solution
IT has been guilty of dictating the knowledge management (KM) requirements and platforms to the business. Many customer teams are using tools that are inherently wrong for the job. Management is using tools that do not support their needs, and information workers are given generic platforms when they have specific needs. 2020 will see a fragmentation of the KM market as businesses start to buy based on customer and employee needs – not based on what the IT team dictates.
2020 Will See a Rise in CPaaS Adoption
Cloud-based platforms that enable developers to add real-time communications features within the workflow of their own business applications will be the next big area of innovation in the unified communications space. Through the use of APIs, developers can embed communication capabilities into their existing business applications, without extra hardware or software costs. Developers can embed it directly into the cloud platform so the time to market is fast. Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) will see greater adoption as more organisations look to build code and apply agile and DevOps methodologies.
Download Report: The top 5 Workplace of the future trends for 2020
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As a technology analyst I have followed HCL for many years – and their capabilities have changed over that time – particularly in Australia and New Zealand. When they entered the ANZ market they were somewhat unique – an Indian IT Service provider with views and opinions. One who was not just good at meeting RFP requirements and delivering technology projects, but also individuals who were empowered to challenge the status quo in their clients – to challenge clients to be better. But as several large managed services providers lost their way in ANZ, HCL stepped in and – for a number of years – became all about outsourcing and managed services. They grew their business significantly, but what seemed to be lost was that factor that set them apart. In focusing on good delivery they seemed to lose their differentiator.
However, I recently spent a few days with HCL and their clients in Adelaide and I can report that they are back. They are winning digital transformation deals. They are driving a technology industry agenda and are becoming an important force in the education and evolution of the high tech sector in Australia and New Zealand. Adelaide was chosen for the event as HCL wanted to showcase how they are making real investments in the local market, and how they are helping South Australia to transform itself and create new job opportunities both in Adelaide and in the regions. Their managed services contract with Elders is a great starting point for them – and in meeting and interviewing the Elders stakeholders, it is clear that it is a partnership – HCL has collocated to ensure that the HCL staff are side-by-side with the Elders teams – and they are doing a good job in driving innovation into the Elders business.
The Cricket Australia digital transformation contract is a big deal, and is really a great indicator of their capabilities. HCL won the contract from Accenture – showing that they can compete against and beat the best (Accenture is the biggest IT services provider in Australia today – and for good reason). Building off their success with Manchester United, HCL has won another important digital transformation deal with a global sporting brand. Personally, as a fan of the Australian women’s and men’s cricket team, I look forward to engaging with the fruits of their endeavours soon!
The main take away from the time spent with HCL is that they are growing their business here in Australia and across the entire Asia Pacific region – and that the growth is coming from many areas – not just traditional outsourcing contracts but also across the spectrum of digital transformation. Importantly they are also taking responsibility for that growth – bringing the market along with them as they look to help educate and employ the next generation of technology professionals.
HCL also seem to have mastered the ability to both respond to the standardised processes of the sourcing deal advisors as well as stand out as an individual company. While deal advisors play an important role, I often hear clients say that they can sometimes take the personality out of a deal. They bring comparisons between vendors to standard and measurable metrics – but you sign a deal with a person, you negotiate with a person, and it is people who deliver the solution. Winning deals is not just about proving the ability to deliver, but also convincing the client that they want or need to partner with the IT services business. Based on client feedback, HCL is mastering both sides of this process, and are earning the right to be considered in a broader range of deals.
If you are dealing with HCL, it may also warrant looking beyond the traditional measurable metrics. Speak to their leadership team both locally and globally, especially given their emphasis to bring in local leadership in their key markets . Get a feel for the culture of the company and whether or not it matches your culture or even sometimes challenges your business to be better. Services deals are ultimately about people, so spend time with the people – challenge them to come to the party. Put them under stress and see how they respond, as it is typically the hard times that define the longer term success of a partnership.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is another technology driving DX. AI is creating opportunities in areas such as intelligent systems, speech recognition, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA). AI tools and applications require a lot of data to train the algorithms which is leading to the creation of more data collection points by the organisations. The creation and consumption of piles of data, often called ‘Big Data’, is leading businesses to generate better insights, better decisions and support organisational strategy derived by combining this data with AI.
Another area making its way into digital transformation is the adoption of mobile technology, allowing us to be geographically independent. The most common application of mobility is smart phones which has transformed us in many ways. Mobility has brought new applications and services for businesses, driving a whole range of initiatives – often referred to as Workplace Innovation – to improve employee productivity and engagement. Organisations have had to adopt several Mobility solutions, such as Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile App Management (MAM) and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) – and the trend is to have these solutions consolidated under one Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution. The overriding need is offering flexibility and connectivity to the business world for remote workers.
At the enterprise level, corporate data and corporate applications have also become untethered from the physical world. Large scale corporate wide applications (Enterprise Applications/Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)), services and even infrastructure services are now delivered on the Internet. And the digital world is meeting the physical world – drones are being used for remote applications and autonomous vehicles are becoming a reality. Even governments of several nations are delivering their services digitally and providing access of the government data to businesses to help them develop new information-based services.
These changes are revolutionising businesses and the way we work. Innovative technologies mean fresh opportunities, better business capabilities, lower costs, reduced time and improved customer experience, creating a win-win situation. But sustaining business integrity, data safety and protection of cyber assets is of prime importance and that is where Cybersecurity comes in play.
The global Ecosystm Cybersecurity study finds that DX is the key driver for investments in Cybersecurity solutions.
Cybersecurity encompasses a range of technologies designed to protect endpoints and networks from unwelcome intrusions and to ensure continued reliability. Cyber-attacks have become a major issue and not taking care of security can have large and long-lasting repercussions. A Cybersecurity strategy is becoming a necessity for digital business to protect the infrastructure and data assets.
In these early years of the 21st century we have witnessed a lot of innovations that have transformed how we work and do business. While DX allows process automation, improves accuracy and enhanced applications, there are those that are still sceptical and are concerned about the potential negative disruption to the traditional ways of doing things. The benefits that we are deriving from DX – and those that we will continue to derive – will outweigh the scepticism and positively impact businesses and society, on multiple levels. DX is sweeping the world and the future is here, now.
The Government will primarily focus on four significant sectors for its Industry Transformation Plans: food and beverage, agritech, forestry and wood processing, and digital technologies. For this, the government will work with businesses, workforce, and Māori to determine the best path towards to achieve their goals.
Agritech Industry Transformation Plan
New Zealand’s agritech sector spans across a range of technologies including genetics, information and communications technology, machinery and equipment, including robotics. The government is working with industry body ‘Agritech NZ’ and other relevant entities to draft a strategy and action plan for agritech transformation in New Zealand. The objective is to support production, drive innovation and increase exports for New Zealand’s industry.
Commenting on the NZ’s digital transformation Ecosystm Principal Advisor, New Zealand-based Jannat Maqbool, said “the agriculture sector needs to focus on innovation in order to compete and thrive as global trends and consumer demand presents challenges in feeding the growing global population. Investment in programmes driving investment in technologies and related initiatives to boost innovation and productivity in the sector will support the growing Agritech sector including work to scale Agritech businesses internationally.”
Digital technology opportunities
To support the ongoing development of New Zealand’s technology and industrial sector, the NZ government is taking several actions. The government has plans for more coordinated action between industry and the Government. Including:
Continuing work with the IoT Alliance and the AI Forum to drive applications of digital technologies;
Implementing Industry 4.0 programmes to increase uptake technologies and processes across manufacturing sectors, improving productivity and competitiveness;
Coordinating, developing and rolling out a National Digital Infrastructure Model to generate value from data for all aspects of the economy–e.g. infrastructure management and development;
Supporting New Zealand digital technology firms by providing a level playing field for New Zealand firms to compete for government business;
Working through the Digital Skills Forum to ensure the digital technology sector, and the industries that rely on digital technology workers, can access the tech talent needed to support the growth of these sectors and the economy.
With Government setting itself for the fourth industrial revolution, there will be certain challenges and opportunities in the implementation, “the opportunity is for increased productivity and to focus more on value add to compete internationally whereas a key challenge will be finding the skilled employees that will be required as industry 4.0 is adopted” said Maqbool.
Journey of NZ industries for digital transformation
SMEs make up over 97 percent of enterprises in New Zealand and digital transformation presents an opportunity for accelerated growth and competitiveness, potentially contributing US$7 billion to New Zealand’s GDP. “Digital transformation requires awareness, adoption and effective change management but before all of this there needs to be a shift in mindset of those in charge or a changing of the guard so to speak to understand and appreciate that the move is necessary, not only for the business itself but for bridging the digital skills gap and supporting a region’s productivity and economic growth ” said Maqbool.
The Government has also created plans for tourism, creative industries, aerospace, renewable energy and health technologies for the digital push. These advances will facilitate the development of new industries in New Zealand.
“It essential that efforts through government initiatives align with other approaches already driving the move to digital in order to ensure available resources are effectively utilised and for ongoing sustainability,” says Maqbool.