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I have spent the majority of my working life in IT and picked up a lot of knowledge along the way but wouldn’t really consider myself a technical person. All those years ago sat in Arrow’s HQ on my first day learning the ropes of office admin, I didn’t even know what AI was, (other than from The Terminator) let alone think I would be sat here writing a blog about it and some of its finer intricacies, but here we are.

My experience was predominantly with IBM, from the old X86 business before it was sold off to Lenovo, and their Power and Storage solutions. It wasn’t until later that “software-defined” came into the picture otherwise I would have had zero knowledge of the software. 

So, when I was invited to apply for a role at Digitate a couple of years ago, I was slightly apprehensive but after sitting down with the global head of alliances I was so intrigued by the technology that I knew I had to explore the opportunity. Here is my humble opinion on AI, I hope it gives you an insight into the art of the possible today.

When asked “what is AI?” most people will have a preconceived notion of something they relate it to. Whether that is Siri, Alexa or an all-powerful conscious superintelligence trying to take over the world (or at least someone’s job). It means a lot of different things to different people. The majority of them think of customer-facing applications of AI like chatbots. Whatever people’s views are, you would be hard-pressed to find a board of directors in the country who aren’t asking the question “what can we do with AI to enhance our business?”

I am going to talk about Digitate’s cognitive automation platform that addresses complex business issues on the backend systems, applications and technologies. It has a huge impact on customer experience, but I wouldn’t consider it customer-facing. It is because of this area of focus that our product, ignio, is essentially industry agnostic. The core building blocks of a data centre are the same today as they were in the 1940s when the US army built one for storing defence codes. Storage, compute networking. These businesses may have industry-specific applications or platforms for their customers, but they all face the same issues in keeping the lights on in the data centre. 

Now, from what I have seen in terms of the market, there are a few dynamics that are really driving demand.

There’s definitely an increase in the SCALE and COMPLEXITY of enterprise data centres, we see 1000s of technology components with a huge number of inter-dependencies, with multiple vendors, 100s/1000s of apps, many of which are different versions, AND they’re all across siloed teams, which makes it really hard to provide a correlated view across domains.  And that is a key factor in longer resolution times.  So today, businesses require an average of 6 employees to address each incident, and each incident has an average of 2.2 hours resolution time.

We also have this incredible ACCELERATING RATE OF CHANGE which is forcing IT teams, to try to figure out how to “Future proof” their Data Centres.

AND recently, we could probably add 2 more (which would never have been thought of a couple of years ago) Customers are planning for scenarios where the IT Data Centre can operate at 10% resource capacity and they must plan for a scenario where 90%+ of their workforce works from home.

From a customer standpoint…

AI is increasingly a key differentiator.  Business leaders are asking how are we leveraging AI?  whether that’s to improve CX or lower cost or increase efficiency. Customers are just looking for a better way. They need to be more proactive; they need to be agile, all while improving reliability.

Now, the reality is, IT can take hours, if not days or even weeks to sometimes isolate and resolve IT incidents. This also leads to ‘reactive operations’, firefighting all day, rather than focusing on innovation. Just overall inconsistent quality and there’s always operational risks in terms of both human errors, but also the tacit knowledge that some individuals have, and if they leave, all that knowledge goes with them.

Ignio is prebuilt with decades of domain expertise and thousands of process automations to address these common challenges and manage them autonomously. Its core features include learning context, managing alerts, handling incidents, performing actions, and optimising proactively. I often hear people raise concerns that this technology is taking peoples jobs. Ignio works as part of the team, taking on the huge volume of work which frees people up to focus on high priority incidents or to work on transformation projects and add some real value to the business. We have seen it increases employee satisfaction as ignio takes on all of the repetitive, mundane tasks that often drain the joy out of these individuals and allows them to be creative and innovate.

Digitate has taken those core features and developed additional products which is one of the main reasons our partners choose to work with us. It allows them to apply not just AIOps technology to IT operations, but they can then start discussions with other lines of business. Batch operations, SAP operations, end-user computing, dev-ops & procurement. MSP’s have also shown significant interest in adopting technology like ignio to provide enhanced service levels to their customers and reducing the internal cost of providing those services. Some have even looked at offering new services to their customers as ignio allows them to scale at ease and minimise risk and investment that is usually associated with growing a services business.

Our 6 ignio products are being used by some of the largest enterprise businesses in the world and they are all seeing cost and effort savings in all of these different areas of the business. Cognitive automation isn’t a cost to the business, it’s an investment. We are able to show ROI in a matter of weeks or months due to the products being “out of the box”.

Imagine your retail customers being able to run autonomous, proactive health checks on their estate before their stores open to get a view of where the hotspots are and where the trouble is coming down the line. Typically, it takes 3-4 hours to run these types of checks each time, ignio will run them in 10 minutes all day every day and then go and fix the root causes before they become an incident. Allowing your customer to focus on their business knowing that all their POS systems or eCommerce platforms will be “always-on”.

Manufacturing customers are using ignio to automate the provisioning of DR environments. A task that was taking them 5-7 hours is now managed by ignio in 30 minutes.

We have utility customers who task ignio with onboarding and offboarding employees and contractors. They would be waiting 3-4 days with the manual method which is money down the drain in terms of lost resources. Ignio now handles this autonomously in just a couple of hours and all of our customers have been able to reduce the time to recover from an incident from 2-3 hours down to 5 minutes.

These are very powerful stories that we are enabling our partners to go out and share with their customers. This type of technology is still relatively new to the channel so I often hear “what’s the catch” or “it’s too good to be true” based on the millions and millions we are saving our customers. It’s just a matter of education and I like to think that is where I come in and provide the first steps and insights into what is possible today.

If you are interested in becoming a partner then please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or you can check out our partner page HERE

Andrew will be speaking at the upcoming Disruptive Seasons event, to sign up or just for more info head to our website – https://disruptive.live/virtual-events/disruptive-seasons/ or our LinkedIn Live event group – https://www.linkedin.com/events/6835920817751240704/

By Andrew Sunley

Andrew Sunley is the channel partner director for UK & MEA at Digitate, an award-winning cognitive automation vendor. He has 15+ years of experience working with technology vendors, distributors, VAR’s and MSP’s across the globe. Andrew is currently working with some of the largest services and solutions providers in the market to deliver AI solutions across a multitude of industries within IT operations, Batch Operations, ERP, DevOps, End User Computing and Procurement.

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