Today’s technology produces a tidal wave of data, and it’s only going to grow. Research firm IDC estimates 41.6 billion devices will connect to the internet by 2025, creating a mind-boggling 79.4 zettabytes of data. One zettabyte is equal to a trillion gigabytes.
Data is generated and stored every time a customer interacts with your website or purchases products. Used properly, this data provides your company with insights to propel your business ahead of the competition.
The challenge lies in the ability to analyze and make sense of this data trove. About 55% of a company’s data is untapped on average according to a survey of business and IT decision makers.
But you can use this data to ensure IT (information technology) systems are performing well for your customers. You can identify security threats and fraudulent behavior and streamline resolution when the eventual technical problem appears.
The IT group is responsible for finding a solution to use this data since they’re the ones collecting the data . But how can they best monitor and use all this data?
The answer is operational analytics. It’s the key to uncovering knowledge about your customers, accelerating decision-making, and increasing the reliability of IT systems.
Overview: What is operational analytics?
IT operations analytics (ITOA) involves methodologies to retrieve, analyze, and report on a company’s data to produce business insights. ITOA strives for real-time reporting and actionable analytics of a company’s operations.
ITOA is focused primarily on maintaining a company’s IT systems. Our dependence on technology creates struggles when that technology falters, so IT systems require constant monitoring and quick resolution of issues, called incidents in the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) parlance.
For the uninitiated, the ITIL framework is a series of best practices around delivery of IT services.
Operational analytics is the key to incident management, increasing the reliability of IT systems, and accelerating a solution when a problem arises. ITOA enables the proactive detection of technical issues.
Identifying problems in real time improves IT system performance and uptime, making it a natural tool for IT risk management.
Because data volume is enormous, operations analytics tools typically employ artificial intelligence (AI) to sort through and identify patterns in the data. These patterns present insights that allow your business to move from a reactive organization to one that proactively recognizes opportunities and acts on them.
Rather than an incident taking place and your IT team dealing with the impact, you can catch warning signs and act before an incident impacts your customers.
For example, if your website traffic is spiking to the point it impacts performance, ITOA can catch this trend in real time before your site becomes inaccessible, allowing you to take the appropriate action to mitigate the situation, such as increasing server capacity.
Benefits of operational analytics
Incorporating analytics into operations management delivers several benefits. We touched on a few already, and here are other impactful ways ITOA helps your company.
1. Better decision-making
IT operational analysis delivers data insights in real time. This allows you to assess a situation, particularly time-sensitive ones, so you can make an informed decision based on what the data is telling you.
If you see a trend of growing consumer traffic to your website, you can predict when you need to increase your system capacity. ITOA can tell you when such traffic increases are natural and when you’re targeted by a cyberattack instead.
How you react to these two scenarios is different, and ITOA can guide you toward the right solution.
2. Root cause analysis
IT systems are complex. Many devices and software applications connect to your network and access your data, making it a challenge to accurately identify the source of a technical issue.
ITOA delivers the data needed to analyze a system problem and pinpoint the root cause, taking the guesswork out of incident resolution. This allows your IT team to deliver the right fix quickly to your customers.
3. Improved customer satisfaction
ITOA allows you to catch issues before they impact your users. This increases your customers’ confidence in your systems and improves their satisfaction with your services.
When an incident impacts your customers, ITOA helps you find the right solution fast, so downtime is kept to a minimum. This also improves customer satisfaction levels since clients understand outages can happen, and they’ll usually forgive these occurrences if resolution is swift.
How to use operational analytics in your business
You can apply operational analytics to your business in several ways. Banks often use it to identify the credit risk levels of customers. Here are the steps to introduce and use ITOA.
Step 1: Define goals
Before applying operational analytics, set goals for what you want to achieve and how you want to apply data insights. Define measurable objectives, such as reducing by 50% the time to address a customer-reported issue.
ITOA’s strength is its ability to extend beyond supporting IT system uptime and into many operational areas including ITIL change management. Decide how you want to use data to drive business evolution and support your customers’ needs.
Having goals upfront is important because it affects how you implement ITOA. Leveraging analytics for improved IT system performance requires different data collection and benchmark considerations from identifying security threats.
Given the vast number of data sources, it’s important to narrow your focus to the areas that matter most to your business. Goal setting helps you do that.
Step 2: Determine tools and processes
Operational analysis requires a data scientist or team of business and data analysts, putting it out of reach for many small businesses if not for IT management software.
Seek an ITOA software platform to capture the types of data required to achieve your goals. If you’re looking to improve your service request processes, select an IT ticketing system that incorporates data analytics capabilities and AI to deliver insights automatically.
If you want to improve manufacturing operations, select monitoring software that supports real-time data to give your team actionable intelligence and visibility into production and equipment effectiveness.
Examine how ITOA impacts current processes and tools including your CMDB (Configuration Management Database) as part of configuration management.
Consider how you can incorporate ITOA findings into your organization’s knowledge management procedures so the applicable insights are shared, and learnings are incorporated to avoid repeating mistakes.
Step 3: Achieve team buy-in
Before implementing ITOA, make sure those involved in its execution and any affected teams and stakeholders have bought into the idea. This allows you to roll out operational analytics with the support of your team, making the implementation easier and faster.
Achieve this buy-in by involving team members in the project from the start. Get their input and incorporate it into the ITOA process. Communicate the ITOA benefits to your organization so everyone understands its importance and value.
Step 4: Use a phased approach
Test your ITOA approach with a single, small, low-risk area of your operations first, ideally, one that doesn’t affect customers. Do you use development or staging environments where your software developers test new code before deploying changes to customers? This is a good place to try out ITOA.
Learn from the experience and use those learnings to help you extend ITOA gradually to other parts of your operations. This approach allows your team to manage implementation phases more effectively.
The team is tackling the project in smaller, manageable chunks and won’t become overwhelmed or miss deadlines.
By bringing the learnings from initial rollouts to later phases, you increase the likelihood of success for the entire project. Although this method may seem to take longer, it delivers a better return on your investment.
Step 5: Continue to evolve and optimize
Where you begin isn’t necessarily where you will remain. As your business grows and needs change, you want your analytics and insights to continue to evolve.
You’ll also collect learnings on how to improve and optimize your approach. As more data is ingested by your AI, it becomes better at identifying and predicting outcomes. So plan to examine your ITOA approach regularly with an eye toward continuous improvement.
A last word about operational analytics
When you adopt operational analytics, your business possesses a competitive advantage. Your IT systems become more resilient, and your customers are happier with your services.
It’s why the ITOA market is predicted to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 13% through 2023. This underscores the importance of incorporating IT analytics into your operations, and it helps your business evolve faster and with greater effectiveness.