A new Cisco study finds that 68 percent of respondents expect to increase their IT budget in the next 12 months to spend more on optimizing and remediating IT operations, including policy, data collection, data analysis, and automation. Currently only 28 percent of IT budgets are directed toward these activities.
And this investment is paying off, according to respondents who report a wide range of benefits as a direct result of this investment. For example, 88 percent said their investment in IT operations over the past 12 months had improved external customer satisfaction and 89 percent noted improvements in innovation.
“IT is moving from a cost center to a profit center and is really being viewed in a broader, more strategic light,” said Joseph Bradley, global vice president, IoT, Blockchain, AI and Incubation Business at Cisco.
For its new IT Operations Readiness Index, Cisco surveyed 1,522 respondents from seven countries (U.S., U.K., China, India, Japan, Australia, and Germany). About 38 percent of these were C-level executives.
From this survey, Cisco also developed a four-step model for IT operations maturity showing where organizations are now and where they would like to be in two years.
Only 14 percent of companies’ surveyed have reached the highest level of IT operations capabilities, what Cisco calls “preemptive,” while 26 percent are still at the lowest or “reactive” level, where IT events are reacted to as they occur. Thirty-three percent expect to reach preemptive operations within two years.
Organizations at higher levels of maturity reported collecting data from more areas of their infrastructure, running more analytics, and using automation more extensively. To get “preemptive” capabilities, organizations must be more data-driven by using data indicators to predict events (such as outages) and automation to make continuous changes and maintain optimal health.
“The race to transformation is on, and it is a race,” Bradley said. “When you think about where IT operations and where tech leaders see themselves today, most see themselves as being proactive. But the point to me isn’t whether they are reactive, proactive, or predictive, the point is everyone wants to move to the right. With only 14 percent being preemptive, that basically means nine out of 10 companies view themselves as being, over the next two years, in a race to optimizing their IT business on a continuous basis.”
So how do companies move to the right?
“Wherever you are in the spectrum, it ultimately has to do with two core elements of being a data-driven organization,” Bradley said. “First, you’ve got to get your data assets in place. Ask yourself: what do you know about your customers that no one else does? Then you can begin to ensure that data is accessible.”
Securing this data is also key. “And why do you secure something? Because it’s valuable,” Bradley said. But it’s only valuable if it’s correct, and to that end companies should invest in processes such as blockchain to ensure their data has not been compromised.
“Once you have a strong set of data assets, and once you start securing those data assets, then you can begin to invest in automation,” Bradley said.
Other key findings include:
- Only 26 percent of respondents collect data on an ongoing basis; 17 percent use real-time automated analysis. Most activities are still periodic.
- Forty-two percent said AI was the emerging technology that will have the biggest impact on their ability to automate. And 51 percent said they use AI to some extent today to improve their automation capability.
- Of the enterprises surveyed, 70 percent currently have a chief data officer that is responsible for orchestrating the use of insight to drive improvement in both business and IT operations. Enterprises employed on average more than 40 data scientists.
- Outside vendors are critical sources of data, and 84 percent said it’s “imperative” to have access to data beyond what is collected internally.
- Security is the most data-driven of the infrastructures, and 82 percent of respondents already collect operational and performance data about their security infrastructure. Security is the clearest use case for getting real-time insight and control.
- Seventy-four percent of “preemptive” organizations gathered data from IoT today versus 59 percent of “reactive” organizations. And 77 percent of all organizations agreed that IoT was critical to running their IT infrastructure more efficiently.