Leeds Building Society banks on better service performance with Dynatrace AIOPs

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels January 19, 2023 Audio mode
Summary:
The Society has used the platform to move from reactive support to a proactive approach to service management.

Leeds

Leeds Building Society is using Dynatrace AIOps technology as part of its efforts to boost the reliability and performance of the digital services it provides to customers. 

The financial services organization previously used a range of monitoring tools to manage reliability and user experience across a distributed technology stack. This disparate approach meant it was difficult to identify and understand the cause of problems and to resolve any issues quickly, according to Mark O’Brien, Senior Platform Manager at the Society:

The challenge was that we were only seeing things when they'd gotten to such a state where the technology was already broken and we were too late to be pre-emptive. The approach also meant that we were focusing more on the technology than the people who were using it.

A lack of responsiveness due to technical issues could mean mortgage funds were not released on time or customers were unable to withdraw their savings. A different, more proactive approach was required, centering on Dynatrace’s Software-as-a-Service AIOps capability. The platform allows supports teams to manage issues proactively. O'Brien explains:

What we're trying to do is prevent things going wrong rather than reacting to things happening. We're starting to see potential issues much earlier, which allows us to go in and investigate and fix issues before the response time manifests itself as something breaking and then stopping.

With Dynatrace’s AIOps capability, Leeds Building Society has reduced the number of service incidents by identifying problems earlier. The team can also understand the impact that any change to the organisation’s technology systems has on service provision, says O'Brien:

All the data is fed into an AI platform that creates an automatic baseline, which constantly calculates what normal should look like and starts telling you if something doesn't look right. If it detects something, it will instantly tell you how many people and services are impacted.

The Society looked at a number of vendors before selecting Dynatrace. The organization’s management team wanted to ensure any service delivered great value cost effectively. After a proof-of-concept study in early 2022, the business believed Dynatrace could provide the support it needed at the right cost. O'Brien recalls:

The other services we were looking at involved more configuration. I needed something where the technology did all the heavy lifting, and the team could pick up and slowly start to learn and build value. With Dynatrace, it was already starting to give us insight on things that were going on within two to three weeks.

Users can access the Dynatrace dashboard to see where a proactive approach to service will pay best dividends. One example of digital experience monitoring on the organisation’s e-commerce platform is that people across the business can use the dashboard to see which products are popular and can ensure support is prioritized. O'Brien says:

Say we’ve got a good savings product and the number of accounts opened over the last 30 days had been trending upwards. That means we know we need to jump on any issue much faster because of the impact it’s likely to have. Instead of just looking at CPU and checking whether a server is OK, we now have the business context alongside what's actually happening with our technical systems.

Future directions

The building society is still at early stage of its AIOps journey. Right now, O'Brien's team is feeding the platform with data, so they can provide recommendations for operational service. The next stage, which is something that they’re looking towards in the future, would allow automatic service resolution based on AI detection:

So, the AI thinks, ‘Well it’s a Sunday morning and you've got less people using your e-commerce platform than normal. Is that right?’ And then, when it finds the root cause, it automatically knows what the response should be, whether that’s to restart the service, increase the number of containers, or whatever the solution might be.

Having used Dynatrace across key business areas, including e-commerce platforms, payment systems and mortgage services, O’Brien says the organisation will be able to move quickly when it finds other use cases. With regards to the current implementation, he says Dynatrace has led to a series of benefits, including a change in behaviors:

Sometimes in technology it's very easy to see things as just numbers and forget that there are colleagues and customers at the end of everything that's going on. Having the visibility means that, when an incident comes up, you can see exactly how people are impacted. 

There’s been a quantitative impact from using Dynatrace, too. Previously, it would have taken longer for support teams to identify and resolve the root cause of a service issue, but with Dynatrace they have reduced that time down to an hour. The support team can also monitor the performance of a new service and ensure it’s working correctly, adds O'Brien: 

We’ve started using it in non-production environments. We can make sure everything’s performing as it should. We're looking at individual response times across lots of services and thinking about what the feeling will be for the person who's going to use the service when it goes live.

During the next year, O’Brien says the team will continue to boost the professional skills of people using the AIOps technology, including through courses and accreditation via the Dynatrace University:

That's about making the team more comfortable with the product and being able to build on all the stuff that comes out of the box. Because although you get immediate value straightaway, there’s always more complex things that people are going to ask for and that the team are going to be responsible for delivering.

The Dynatrace platform has now cemented itself as part of the Leeds Building Society’s operational world. For other IT leaders who are thinking about going down the AIOps route, he suggests selecting the services you’re going to support via proof-of-concepts, O'Brien recommends: 

Think about the end-to-end journey of a given service and then work out where to deploy it rather than just applying it widely. Put customers at the heart of how you're planning to deliver the technology because that's how you'll get the most value.

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