IBM Watson

Reimagining Technology Support with Autonomous IT

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The vast amount of unstructured data from servers, networks, and social media, along with highly-personalized mobile devices and “always-on” IT expectations, requires a higher standard of support – support that can seamlessly transition between environments to identify, evaluate, and resolve issues consistently. However, today’s conventional IT support still relies on plenty of manual analysis and monitoring of an organization’s infrastructure, running the risk that a whole host of issues go unnoticed for long periods of time.

With the recent announcement of the IBM Services Platform with Watson, the next generation of infrastructure services – including technology support services – is poised to provide companies with augmented intelligence capabilities that offer ongoing maintenance and constant visibility into a client’s IT environment to detect risks before they occur and keep critical systems or applications running uninterrupted.

From a business perspective, infusing automation into technology support services can give both company leadership and their client base a foundation of mutual dependability, leading to a level of new business growth that may not have previously existed. Eliminating an individual one-to-one issue/remedy approach to maintenance will help give IT experts the leeway they need to create and develop new ideas and innovations that can help push companies forward.

From a practical standpoint, integrating the power of IBM Watson into technology support services will unlock new methods that change the way IT experts approach a range of issues – from a broken part, to a coding error, to a large-scale cyberattack. One example of this transformation comes in the evolving nature of field service support today. Readers might find it surprising that much of field services no longer happens in person on-location. In addition to using automation to own more commoditized IT tasks, many companies are deploying cognitive to help tackle the secondary and tertiary steps of the IT support process.

When a piece of equipment malfunctions, or approaches the end of its life-cycle, the traditional protocol to send a person out to diagnose the problem and return at a later date to fix it is no longer viable in the era of “always-on” expectations. Autonomous IT could keep systems up and running consistently by pinpointing equipment flaws before they fail. In this scenario, a new piece of equipment could be shipped for replacement prior to its predecessor’s failure to avoid downtime and save valuable time and money.

This is not to say that humans are removed from the IT support equation, far from it. Automation actually creates more opportunities by enabling people to focus on higher value opportunities, creating an environment for greater innovation. In fact, we are seeing economic growth that is leading to more opportunity for job growth in higher-skilled areas. Tools like virtual resolution, augmented reality, and cognitive agents should grow in importance and availability in the coming years to help empower employees on-site to solve issues quickly and affordably.

In the near future, an employee who submitted an IT support ticket would be able to download an application on their mobile device and place it in front of the flawed piece of hardware or software. A human agent or cognitive program on the other end could then examine and repair the problem virtually in real-time. Furthermore, in cases where human intervention is required, cognitive agents can assist IT experts in the field and sift through a wealth of data quickly to retrieve best practices from similar incidents.

To remain competitive today requires a zero-tolerance policy for downtime across a company’s infrastructure, which adds significant pressure to the prospect of an organization reaching its business goals. To meet that challenge, autonomous IT strategies should be a central focus for any business leader looking to deliver goods and services with newfound speed and productivity. Introducing broad strategies like the IBM Services Platform with Watson into the world of IT support will give companies the ability to shake off old habits and maximize their opportunity for long-term success in the years ahead.

General Manager, IBM Technology Support Services

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