Analytics is the New Green

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If you thought analytics is not just for the analysts – think again. Businesses recognize the important role analytics plays in tracking and improving their profitability, cost structure and customer experience. It shows in the increased investment in analytics – 65% of global enterprises plan to increase their analytics spending in 2020.1 Analytics in operations in particular can show real results, contributing to your company’s success.

Big data teams look to analytics for competitive differentiation as well. Just look at the different ways analytics can uncover opportunities for a business:

  • Using analytics to reveal human sentiment which can predict upcoming trends
  • Evaluating transactional data which might suggest a new business opportunity
  • Analyzing click-stream analytics can uncover what elements are popular on your website versus dead real estate

If your business is looking for the next level, more advanced analytics can lead to highly sophisticated algorithms for “unsupervised” machine learning, where machine intelligence can pinpoint new potential for human interpreters to exploit. But this level of advanced analytics is not necessary to gain real benefits.

Back in the real world

Unless you’re Facebook, Google or Netflix, you don’t need a data scientist on your team to create such sophisticated, highly-tuned logic to analyze every single piece of your data. What you do need is quick information when something goes wrong that can impact your company’s bottom line.

The good news? Most IT teams are already using tools for monitoring network performance or detecting operational anomalies that have sufficient analytic capabilities built in, even the ones available off-the-shelf or open source. The trick is understanding how the intelligence built into those tools can spot trends in your data and how to use that capability to predict things like costs, time-to-failure or service desk call volume.

If your organization is large enough that you have security or business intelligence specialists on board, you can leverage their wisdom to dig deeper into what the data is telling you. But even if you don’t have teams like this available for training or questions, here are a few of the benefits you can realize and how to start putting into them practice:

  • Managing expenses
    Total cost of ownership (TCO) and cost-to-performance – these are two high-level metrics that IT leadership is often expected to manage. Tools for workload management, which are used to monitor automated data warehouses have years of knowledge built into them. It comes preconfigured, so management can set performance thresholds and monitor how well a cloud-based storage system, for instance, is doing relative to how much it’s costing the business. You can use that data to calculate your TCO and cost-to-performance.
  • Root cause analysis
    Many tools for IT operations monitoring have a playback feature, like rewinding a movie scene. The idea is to trace a spike in performance back in time to the overload on a particular server or subnetwork. Why does this matter? It helps you find inefficiencies that impact productivity which, in turn, impacts your operational efficiency.

    Some tools have graphics built into this capability, or you may have to export data to your favorite visualization tool. In any case, it’s nice to have a graphic to show management where fault in a particular component lies. Although the component may only be the symptom, you at least know where to investigate.

  • Team notifications and collaboration
    Open lines of communications between teams is critical to business success. Teams need to share progress and identify risks and pitfalls to ensure operations run smoothly. The value of instant messaging when working in a team environment is clear, especially when the team is scattered geographically. Mergers and acquisitions require unfamiliar teams to begin working together efficiently, and a solid IM system can be an easy first step toward unifying those cultures.

    ChatOps takes the IM concept to a new level. A smart messaging system integrates with IT monitoring, so when an operating condition goes out of bounds (high server load or network outage, for example), the team members responsible for that segment of infrastructure can be automatically alerted to the trouble. Chat bots deployed to monitor specific parameters can help pinpoint a problem with an IP address or network node, so teams not only get a message about the problem, they also have an educated guess about the cause. That makes it easier to investigate and resolve an issue before too many customers, internal or external, are affected.

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Analytics is helping IT operations teams understand the root cause of server failures, which enables them to bring systems back online more quickly thus, minimizing lost productivity. So yes! Go with analytics wherever you can implement the tools in your IT operations. The evidence points to incremental, sometimes more dramatic, cost savings. Your C-suite executives will thank you, sooner than you might expect.