This blog is part of our ongoing series, IPsoft’s 2019 AI Trends, detailing what we believe will be the dominant developments and movements in the Enterprise AI market next year. These blogs will be published regularly through the end of the year.

We’ve previously predicted that cognitive AI-based digital colleagues will transform how global IT operations collaborate and operate by 2021 in a trend known as AI-based IT Operations or AIOps. In the coming decade, the overwhelming majority of large enterprises will employ both digital colleagues and virtual engineers to field and perform complex queries and tasks, such as executing multi-system automations, and even creating new automations on their own.

Prior to reaching this watershed moment in IT operations, digital colleagues will become a mainstream fixture at large enterprises performing simpler tasks. We have already seen examples of this among IT service desks, and we believe 2019 will be the year that this trend happens in earnest. Digital colleagues will not run the complex, multi-step automations that represent a net-new IT operation (at least not yet), but they will take care of the most frequent and mundane IT operations tasks without the need for manual interjection. Ultimately, 2019 will be the year that enterprises begin to infuse AI-based digital colleagues into Chat-based IT Operations or ChatOps.

By combining these two methods of working, digital colleagues will start to profoundly change how work in IT operations is being coordinated, streamlined and executed. Progressive IT organizations will deconstruct and reconstruct actual tasks using AI and automation, and forever change the face of IT ops.

The AIOps Evolution

Before we delve too deeply into how the next year will look, let’s review AIOps, and examine how digital colleagues will be initially incorporated into AIOps processes using chat and voice.
Today’s AIOps tools analyze and prioritize millions of events across a digital environment. They employ Machine Learning (ML) and AI to find, prioritize and help resolve the most vital tasks, which relieves human workers from having to sift through a seemingly endless log of events. By 2022, 40% of organizations will use AIOps to enhance IT operations and 86% of organizations say they will require intelligent automation in their business to help keep up with operational demands. Unfortunately, despite new and improved technology, many organizations are still handling IT ops requests using traditional procedures. The time between an initial request and its resolution can take days. In fact, 38.4% of organizations take at least 30 minutes to resolve IT incidents.

Companies that use chat-based tools to send, receive and give updates on requests have produced a more efficient and user-friendly method by which IT ops teams can communicate and collaborate. By introducing digital colleagues – who can seamlessly operate IT management applications such as ticketing and monitoring systems – into the chat-system, companies will dramatically overhaul IT operations.

What IT Ops Can Learn from the Service Desk

As mentioned above, initial IT support from service desks is already being managed by a digital colleague at the more advanced enterprises. We have already seen several large organizations switch off human phone support entirely. Every employee has a digital colleague on their desktops, phones, or tablets with whom they can chat or speak just as they would with a human service desk colleague.

Working with a digital service desk colleague allows for faster and simpler request input; some actions that previously required 20 steps in a self-service portal or catalog can be completed with a single phrase (and maybe a clarifying question or two from the digital employee). If the digital colleague can automatically fix an issue, it does. If it can help the employee fix the issue his or herself, it guides the employee through the process. Frequent tasks such as access requests, status requests, troubleshooting email, catalogue requests and policy questions no longer require human labor ever again.

IT operations will eventually see an even bigger impact from AI. Instead of an IT ops manager scrolling through a list of incoming requests, the digital colleague will process every request immediately, resolve simple issues autonomously (i.e., “long-running queries impacting database performance”), and diagnose and escalate unresolved issues to the most appropriate human engineers (e.g., “Wireless router has intermittent connectivity issues”). Change requests will be created with a single utterance, approved (or escalated to a company’s Change Advisory Board) by algorithms, and most will be resolved automatically. Humans will collaborate alongside digital colleagues by having them perform tasks such as locating and inviting the appropriate people to root-cause analysis sessions, and even automatically setting up post-mortem meetings to ensure the system continuously learns.

Beyond 2019, digital colleagues and virtual engineers will be able to resolve even more complex incidents via automation. Based on workflows designed autonomously and approved in collaboration with human engineers, AIOps tools will be able to automate fixes for Level 3 and Level 4 issues. In other words: AI will design and recommend even more efficient automations.

However, before IT teams are able to reach this point, enterprises must begin the transition away from traditional ticketing to conversation-based AIOps. Industry-wide change will take time, but 2019 will see the first steps in a sea change that will make today’s IT ops unrecognizable compared to IT ops five years from now.