Autopilot was introduced way back in 1912, ushering in the era of long-distance air travel. Attaching gyroscopes and altitude indicators to rudders allowed aircraft to maintain their trajectory. Today, intelligent automation software promises to similarly revolutionize business by monitoring and automating critical processes, so your organization flies true without your undivided attention.
I host the Art of Automation podcast, in which we explore the application of automation in the enterprise. In a recent episode I spoke with Chris Bailey, Distinguished Engineer, AIOps and Observability, about BizOps — not just a quicker way to say business operations, but a whole new approach. We talked about what’s driving this emerging practice, the challenges in implementing it, and its benefits in an ever more digital world.
What is BizOps?
BizOps brings together business and IT operations, using data to correlate business goals and KPIs to affiliated IT operations and vice versa.
Say you have a business goal that all orders are to complete within 24 hours. The “autopilot” will keep one eye on observing business events from ordering and fulfillment business processes. Its other eye will observe IT events from the systems executing those processes. With enough time, training and data, your BizOps solution can predict when the 24-hour KPI will be missed, with an explanation of why and how to improve.
This concept isn’t new. What’s new is how effectively we can bring these elements together now, thanks to the massive amount of data generated and captured via digital transformation. “Much of business is now implemented through IT,” says Bailey. “Think of physical banks moving to online banking, and physical retail moving to e-commerce. And the parts of the business that aren’t implemented in IT? Chances are, they’re managed by IT.”
As Bailey mentions, humans may be pick-and-packing in warehouses, but that activity is managed by IT. For any given end-to-end process, each stage is either implemented or managed by IT. And that level of involvement of IT systems is what gives us an unmatched opportunity to collect data about the execution of the business — a big step toward putting your business on autopilot for competitive advantage.
Challenges of BizOps
But a persistent challenge remains: how do we connect business strategy and IT systems? What would it look like?
Bailey lays out an e-commerce example: Let’s say there’s an IT outage, and you lose the payment process on your e-commerce site. But you can still track the user on the website, what they’re browsing and doing. And you can track every request to make a payment that failed. From there you can understand the impact of that outage on the business goal to sell, say, a million dollars of goods an hour. You know exactly how many payments have failed. You also know who those affected customers are and what they were trying to put in their carts.
At this point, you can do two things:
Measure impact to the achievement of the business goal: $300,000 in lost revenue.
Launch automations to affected customers. For example, you can automatically reach out to frustrated customers with a discount coupon and repopulated cart.
All of this could be 100% digital. Impact analysis is 100% digital using observability technology. But how you respond to the affected customers could be a mix of digital and human touch, perhaps reserving high-touch to reenact the sales for high-value customers.
From performance monitoring to predictive business benefits
The use of application performance management software has helped IT professionals monitor, observe, and analyze data for years. These tools can now be used on any business process that runs on IT. This doesn’t just provide deeper insight into these discrete processes. It connects the two areas through data, so managers can understand how changes in IT affect business goals and how IT may need to scale or change.
Say you’re launching a marketing campaign, and the goal is to drive 50% more site traffic and 20% more shopping conversion. Those business goals need to map down to IT goals. Maybe there needs to be 50% more capacity for requests on the website, and 20% more capacity to handle payments for those shopping conversions. You might also need more staff capacity for fulfillment.
If your organization, like many, has siloed IT and business functions that fight for resources, a BizOps approach is good news. It means you’re in it together.
As your business digitally transforms, you can monitor and capture data in every corner of your enterprise. A BizOps approach aims to correlate these events from IT to business strategy. It’s a powerful way to create happier customers, and a big step toward getting your business to run straight and true without your undivided attention — like an autopilot for your business.