In 2011, InformationWeek reported on the CIO 80/20 barrier, whereby CIOs typically dedicate 80 percent of their IT budgets to basic, “keep the lights on” activities, leaving just 20 percent for innovation, revenue generation and strategic planning. Since then, unfortunately, not much has changed, if not worsened. With cloud computing, big data, mobility and many other expansive IT undertakings, only half of IT departments have implemented even the most rudimentary of IT service management systems, and the 80/20 barrier is holding solid, preventing many CIOs from expanding their employees’ focus from mundane tasks to groundbreaking ones.
Many companies have turned to traditional outsourcing, which has long-created efficiencies for IT departments that have outgrown their resources by offering a proven model to support even the most process-intensive organizations. This market has skyrocketed in recent years, and today, 60 percent of organizations outsource some portion of their IT infrastructure, with a further 19 percent considering it in the next year. But, while many have found efficiencies in outsourcing, still more are finding that these projects often end up costing more than originally planned and may not always deliver the promised process improvements. It’s clear that this industry needs to evolve to better serve organizations and deliver more tailored operational efficiencies to each customer in order to create an IT service that is more efficient, keeps costs low and still delivers great results.
I believe that autonomics offer an answer to this critical step change, serving as a crucial third leg of the efficiency stool to help CIOs overcome the 80/20 barrier. Autonomics take the concept of automation a step further than simple task execution by machines, delivering self-learning and self-healing automation that can manage itself. In IT management, autonomic systems can “learn” an IT environment, resolve issues, perform changes and carry out a range of tasks – all without human intervention.
The results of the introduction of autonomics to traditional outsourcing will likely emulate the productivity gains that robotics brought to the manufacturing industry. This used to be an industry dominated by manual labor and extremely mundane tasks – securing lug nuts upon wheels, for instance – performed over and over again by one person. When robotics and automation were brought into these factories and could then secure those bolts more accurately and more quickly than their predecessors, humans were rendered obsolete for bolt tightening, and instead, elevated to create new products and improve existing designs. Not only did those workers gain a more rewarding and stimulating job function, but factory production skyrocketed, and output became far more consistent. It was truly a win-win scenario.
The transition to incorporate autonomics into outsourcing won’t happen overnight, but many are beginning to move in the right direction. Organizations are taking notice of autonomics’ ability to liberate humans from the drudgery of routine chores and reallocate IT departments’ loads, so that employees can focus on higher forms of creative expression that generate true business value. Autonomics is poised to deliver substantial benefits to IT management and support, with a predicted 35 percent reduction in IT operations costs and 60 percent reduction in mean-time-to-resolution. Due to such strong performance, I predict that we will see autonomic solutions completing the majority of IT and business processes across all verticals before the decade is out, nearly eradicating the need for human intervention or involvement in the most common and repetitive IT tasks.
It’s important to keep in mind that this shift is not motivated by replacing engineers with machines, but instead, by developing a method to more efficiently utilize human capital. The human brain is extremely sophisticated and thrives most when it is challenged. Thus, passing off repetitive and routine IT processes to autonomic systems will not necessitate the removal of humans from this industry. Rather, it will elevate them to deliver creative and thoughtful results beyond securing bolts. Plus, with the ability to overcome, and even reverse, the 80/20 barrier, CIOs will have the necessary resources to further propel future IT innovation and growth.