What can cognitive IT operations do for your business?

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “imagine?” For me, it’s John Lennon’s iconic song. But sometimes, the word “imagine” makes me think about new realities brought by cognitive computing and the art of the already-possible. The capabilities that differentiate cognitive from traditional systems are humanlike characteristics, including the ability to understand, reason and learn.

Why IT operations needs cognitive capabilities

We are in an era of digital transformation that calls for changes in tooling, culture and even operating models and organizational structure to realize its full potential. In the market, we see interesting disruptors shaking up cloud, mobile data and other innovative business models.

Behind the scenes, there is growing pressure on IT to cope with the exponential growth of data. This pressure is coupled with faster adoption of new technologies in the fabric of today’s hybrid digital services. How many tools should a first responder need to check to answer simple questions like “what has changed in my app?” or “why am I getting error X, and how do I quickly resolve it?”

In the brilliant book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Steven Johnson describes the notion of “adjacent possible” as “a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself.”

For me, imagining that adjacent-possible map of is thinking about the dazzling possibilities cognitive IT operations can open for businesses. It’s new tools for new realities. IBM Watson cognitive capabilities help IT professionals quickly surface actionable insights in growing data, unlocking insights and foresight to make better decisions.

Cognitive tools can assist IT operations or DevOps practitioners quickly resolve incidents and find new patterns to understand root causes of problems impacting business.

Imagining what we can do with cognitive computing

I see the engineers, strategists, and marketers around me as artists. Together, we have been tinkering with the question, “what can cognitive IT operations do for business?” We are especially interested in removing the tedious, time-consuming parts of managing complex IT environments.

Doug McClure on the IBM operations analytics team has taken the classic “three-legged stool” business metaphor and made it relevant for cognitive computing.


Introducing #codename:Eleanor

Called #codename:Eleanor, the project is a cognitive assistant pre-trained on specific IT domains. Just like a human, this cognitive “employee” can be trained by our customers, understand natural language and learn on the job. The cognitive bot can also:

  • Continuously learn from structured and unstructured data. This includes documents, manuals and knowledge acquired either through human training or learning from previous interactions
  • Add context by continuously discovering evidence in clients’ data, such as real-time performance metrics, log files, events, incident or problem tickets
  • Recommend actions and improve recommendations as it learns from previous interactions

In a recent blog post, my colleague Dr. Anindya Neogi gives examples on how #codename:eleanor can integrate with Slack to help an IT operations first responder manage complex trading applications. He illustrates how faster troubleshooting is achieved by our cognitive bot using natural language to remove ambiguity and accelerate understanding.

I have no doubt we have only scratched the surface of enabling #codename:eleanor for all things cloud, IT and network operations management. It is a journey of many.

IBM World of Watson 2016 is fast approaching, taking place October 24 – October 27 in Las Vegas. We will be showcasing our #codename:eleanor prototype and excited to engage clients and partners on ways to outthink limits and complexities. We will also be extending invitations for our early access trial to help shape the future of cognitive IT operations. Hope to see you there!

Watch what’s possible when Watson is the newest member of your IT Ops team.

Senior Offering Manager, IBM Cloud IT Service Management

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