Digital transformation and constantly evolving digital landscapes are making internal and external stakeholders hyper-connected across mobiles, social media and other digital avenues. This is changing the way enterprises manage the IT and business expectations in terms of IT needs fulfilment. There has been an exponential increase in the number of chatbot platforms used in enterprise supporting business functions like customer support, sales & marketing, order processing, and employee FAQs assistance.
However, introducing an Enterprise Virtual Assistant as an extended arm for IT Administration/Development and other backend teams is a potential area that can deliver significant benefits.
This article explores the possible avenue of using Chat Bot as an Enterprise Virtual Assistant for IT Administrators and development teams to enable them to collaborate better and to optimize their work.
As part of their day-to-day responsibilities, these teams perform activities that are based on a pre-determined schedule which can be automated by simple scripts. However, this would still require the respective teams to trigger the actions and scan the output manually for remedial actions. Introduction of chatbots as an extended arm for these teams to trigger the actions in a voice driven mode would give them greater flexibility in terms of execution of the tasks.
Some of the areas where we see enterprises experimenting and benefitting are:
- DevOps team uses chat bot as part of the software development cycle for activities, such as checking code in repository, checking the availability of environments for development. The support team can utilize the chatbot to fetch the logs in case of attending issues related to job failure. This reduces the overall time required to perform these activities.
- Storage administrators save up to 20 minutes per request for managing and provisioning storage that they might need to do multiple times a day and would involve logging into various systems and running tasks.
- Server /database administrators do routine checks through chatbots and are notified only for exceptions. The administrator can use the same chatbot to remediate the exceptions wherever possible rather than logging to the system manually.
Enterprise Assistant - Possible avenues
These are the potential areas where chatbots could be used across the enterprise:
Internal IT /R&D
The R&D team can use chatbots for requirement fulfilment rather than raising a service request through ITSM tool and waiting for infrastructure teams to revert. A user working on a collaborative task on Slack or Office 365 should be able to connect to a chatbot as another agent in the conversation group either by text or voice interface and seamlessly complete their request. A possible scenario is where a group of developers working on a collaborative platform like Slack and having chatbot as another agent in the conversation group who can be used to provision some of their requests like onboarding users to application or getting an environment ready. This would help developers in dynamic allocation of requests.
The administration team (L1 - L2) can utilize the Chabot platform for performing daily routine activities of health and pre- post upgrade checks. Based on the output of the these checks the L1 team can use the chatbot to take remedial actions automatically or provide specific inputs to trigger the actions rather than involving L2 team.
The internal teams can also utilize the chatbot for power dialogues, for instance, resetting the server in times of mass outage and broadcasting the message within the teams. This leads to increased collaboration and quick resolution of issues that would affect a larger audience.
Taking out the support team from monotonous activities and involving them only for exception handling raises the technical bar of the support team. The chat platform should be utilized to perform routine activities across the infrastructure devices including health and pre/post-upgrade checks. This will help reduce the overall MTTR – mean time to repair.
Storage/server/database administrators can consider using chatbots to perform operations that include spinning up drives/LUN creation/deletion or restarting database instances and creating new databases. While administrators are used to perform these tasks, using native tools and command interference of chatbots in incident management should be considered to help complete the task quickly.
DevOps cycle has individual tools for development of software, networks and servers management, tests, monitoring, etc. However, collaborating and controlling DevOps pipelines in one window has helped developers’ teams work in more efficient and agile ways. The development team can connect the chat platforms to their build systems to get notifications, raise queries and execute processes on their continuous integration servers.
The bots can be used across the CI/CD lifecycle. This includes triggering the deployment jobs and perform deployments across environments, roll back of deployments in case of failures, status checks, perform post-deployment actions such as virtual machine restart. These would be routine activities in devops.
The chatbot can be used by the devops team to provision infrastructure or provision application environments and enable monitoring and restarting of services and servers.
Enterprise Assistant - Adoption success
Any kind of change is susceptible to resistance unless effective change management is done. For successful adoption, concerned teams need to be educated and the communication needs to be done efficiently. Technical support teams are used to performing activities with native tools or commands and they may find it difficult to accept an Enterprise Virtual Assistant unless they are educated on its benefits and potential to add value to human productivity. Such measures will help accelerate the speed of adoption and both employees and enterprises can benefit from the same.