How Will Automation Impact IT Administrators?

Machine learning and chatbots will soon bolster the bond between IT teams and their organisations

26Jan

Despite vendors' best efforts to develop automated solutions, there is currently very little intelligence built into IT management tools; most solutions still rely on human intervention in reading a user's request and responding accordingly. However, the technology is about to change this for the better. Machine learning and chatbots will soon become the ultimate assistants to IT administrators, offering IT departments a way to overhaul their help desk and increase efficiency.

First and foremost, IT management tools augmented with machine learning capabilities will be able to automatically log user requests, enabling IT administrators to respond quickly within an SLA. Chatbots will also provide aid by assuring end users that their request has been acknowledged and that the work required will be completed in a given time frame.

Once those requests are logged, these "smart" IT management tools will automatically monitor exactly what is and isn't completed within the given time frame. In the case of network operations, IT operations management tools can use machine learning to periodically monitor the health and competence of the network. Today’s systems do not have the ability to log these operations, but machine learning will enable this process to run autonomously, providing assurance to both the end user and the IT department that all requests are being dealt with.

Today's IT management systems can't recognise spikes in requests or occurrences where large volumes of SLAs are not being met. However, by incorporating machine learning elements, IT management tools will be able to successfully detect abnormal activity. For example, where the average number incoming requests might be around 100, this could suddenly increase to 500 requests in one day. Systems require the intelligence to recognise and react to this kind of unusual activity.

The next generation

Automated SLA monitoring will cut down on the requirement for technicians and administrators to follow up on requests. Traditionally, there is a lot of follow-up activity; administrators chasing key pieces of information that are essential to the resolution of the problem, such as which version of software a user’s laptop requires.

To counter this, the next generation of intelligent systems will interact with the users making requests, without an IT administrator communicating from the other side. The platform will become the brain that ensures the correct information is being provided and that the request is being acted upon.

This will require machine learning that mines all data in the organisation’s infrastructure—including data outside of IT systems—and makes its own intelligent decisions based on that data. Systems that incorporate machine learning can then detect when abnormal activity is occurring, decide which actions are required, and then deploy a solution automatically.

Machine learning will also aid IT management tools in becoming smarter about security threats, both internally and externally. For example, when a user is away from the office, the system can detect their remote activity and push higher security protocols onto that user’s laptop and any other devices that they might be using externally.

The dependency on human input and the reliance on an IT administrator to sit and monitor these tasks will be completely alleviated by machine learning. The increasing intelligence of these systems will free IT departments from mundane tasks, enabling them to dedicate time to more exciting projects.

Chatbots on the rise

In addition to the many benefits of machine learning, bots will soon facilitate better engagement between users and IT systems, while also easing the strain on IT administrators. Traditionally, users have interacted with IT administrators and help desks over phone or email. More recently, support channels have grown to include chat platforms such as WhatsApp, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.

Personal interactions on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other platforms have driven employees to expect to interact with the IT department on one single platform instead of having to open additional browser tabs or submit messages through various channels in the hope of a faster response.

The reality is that a single chatbot platform that integrates with existing IT management products, facilitating more effective responses to user-submitted issues, is not such a distant dream. Natural language processing will enable chatbots to understand and respond to each request autonomously. Reading from the relevant data points, the chatbot platform will detect the user’s operating system, software, and hardware, then generate an automated solution to each individual issue.

A chatbot will have the ability to expand its capabilities with every issue that it resolves and will build sufficient responses to future events based on historic data. With cloud-based collaboration systems, a chatbot may even be able to push new capabilities out to other bots.

For IT administrators, it should now be clear that automation is not something to dread, but an asset that will be revered by businesses benefitting from more efficient IT operations.

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