More than 2.14 billion global consumers are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021, according to Statista. That is up 29% from 1.66 billion digital customers just six years ago.
This rapid change in shopping habits is driving retailers’ digital transformations and ever more advanced technologies. Many retailers have begun automating back office functions like claims processing, accounting and inventory management. And some have employed machine learning-powered data analysis to make forecasting more accurate and insightful.
Several in the industry have adopted customer-facing technology to provide digital experiences commensurate with in-store experiences. Augmented reality (AG) enables shoppers to “try on” clothes in virtual fitting rooms while natural language processing (NLP)-driven chatbots can handle simple customer service queries.
This technology comes together to provide a more convenient, more personalized shopping experience. But what does the heavy use of technology in the retail space mean for the people behind these systems? How can IT teams guarantee seamless on-demand services for customers with increasingly high expectations?
How Retail can Benefit from AIOps
It is important to acknowledge that every system, application or network used to create these new digital experiences is run by the IT Operations team.
The influx of customers relying on digital products and services creates more data — so much data that it can’t be manually monitored. At the same time, retailers’ digital transformations and movement to the cloud have made the IT systems consumers rely on more disparate, interconnected and complex. As a result, IT Operations teams in charge of uptime must have a way to automatically monitor these fragile systems.
Retailers can adopt Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps) as a long-term strategy for simplifying the way IT Operations teams support and manage modern IT environments. This approach combines the power of big data, machine learning and automation to increase system performance. In practical terms, it predicts system outages, makes reports actionable for quick fixes and automates the mundane tasks that slow down IT teams. With better system performance and less toil, IT teams can focus on innovations that improve the retail experience and provide measurable business value.
AIOps in Action: a Lesson in Adoption
A multi-billion-dollar global sports equipment and athletic apparel brand came to my team looking for an AIOps solution to manage its vast IT system. Let’s dive into how our IT teams helped launch this AIOps strategy — in less than two months.
The first critical step in AIOps adoption is developing a vision around how AIOps will serve the organization. After the vision is formed, leaders can create a strategy to help leaders prioritize initiatives that add early business value, focus investment over time and hire the right talent. This strategy should include measurable steps that tell teams what to implement and when to execute.
Our client’s initial AIOps vision was to simplify monitoring. Together we devised a strategy to deploy AIOps platform Moogsoft and integrate it with an internal ticketing system and other monitoring tools, making the platform seamless for end users.
With clear goals in mind and a comprehensive strategy in place, companies can roll out their AIOps tools. Our teams designed algorithms to consolidate and cluster system alerts and workflows, reducing the noise associated with incidents and events. Once implemented, our teams tested the integrations, enrichments and alerts and ensured end users could operate them.
Many organizations overlook a critical factor in their strategies: a change management plan. To solve problems with technology, organizations and leaders need to inspire people to adopt the new technology. In our client’s case, the outsourced contractor’s team needed full training on the implemented systems. Our teams worked closely with the contracted IT team to train, educate, document and run user acceptance testing.
At the end of the project, analyze the results and share wins (and misses) with stakeholders. For our client, integrating software with Moogsoft’s AIOps platform made monitoring complex systems easy to manage, which can impact customer uptime and innovation acceleration. The retailer also reduced costs associated with redundant software.
Digital transformation and technology-driven tactics are imperatives in the hyper-competitive retail space, making an AIOps strategy critical to keeping pace with continuous innovation. But beware that AIOps is more than just a platform — this business-transforming strategy requires thoughtful planning and execution and a keen eye toward the people side of change.
Sean McDermott is Founder and CEO of Windward Consulting and RedMonocle. He also acts as lead researcher at Helix Market Research. McDermott previously acted as founder and CEO of RealOps Inc., the pioneer in enterprise management run book automation solutions, which was acquired by BMC. McDermott’s curiosity for advancing technology began at his first job as a network engineer/architect installing and managing the first private internet for the U.S. Department of Justice. At a time when the internet was just taking off, he was at the forefront and has continued to be on the cutting edge of technology with the development of Windward and RedMonocle. He is an advocate for business leadership strategies and shares how other entrepreneurs can align passion and action on his blog, Wheels up World.