Services-driven state of the IT nation - from reactive, to proactive, to predictive

Paul Hardy Profile picture for user Paul Hardy January 18, 2018
Organizations must move from reactive, to proactive, to predictive. The state of their IT nation determines whether they can, writes ServiceNow's Paul Hardy

Reactive-proactive-predictive use only for ServiceNow
There’s a question that seems to come up in every meeting I’m involved in at the moment

With the growth of the Internet and all the devices, cloud services and data analytics intelligence out there, what’s the real state of business and technology?

People want to know what the state of the nation is in technology terms and how it will impact their business. But the best way to explain the reality of IT today is to look at what the business is demanding.

If you look at how we have been working with organizations throughout this last year, the focus is on helping them to action transformative steps that reduce risk, cost and complexity.

This is modernization-to-innovation happening in real terms. As we break down the innovation journey of today’s organizations, we are helping companies get to the point where they are using intelligent automation to drive predictive technologies that deliver business innovation and change that really impacts the bottom line.

If companies fail to embrace the opportunity to digitize in every aspect then they will fail to grasp their own customers attention and, perhaps more importantly, they will lose first-mover advantage in this age of connected business.

Organizations in different industry verticals all typically face the same kinds of business challenges. Sharing knowledge across our customer base ensures that every organization achieves its desired business outcomes and targets much sooner.

Change goes three-up, three-down

The aspects of operational change that any business wants to influence basically fall into six categories. Three trends need to go upward and become more ubiquitous. Three trends need to go downward and become less of an issue.

On the downward side, the business wants less risk, less cost and less complexity in all systems, processes, work methods and organisational channels.

On the upward side, the business wants more velocity, more agility and a greater appreciation for user experience in all systems, processes, work methods and organizational channels.

The crucial things that a business is working towards here is an improved bottom line.

Reactive, to proactive, to predictive

What we need to look at is how these six categories play out inside any given organization, and that depends on the maturity of the technology function — moving from ‘reactive’, to ‘proactive’, and then ‘predictive’.

It’s important for organizations to understand what level they are actually operating at and accept that this presents the state of the IT nation inside their current business model. As organizations then look to map out their journey — whatever their given state — they can work to strategically evolve through the maturity stages, from reactive to, ultimately, predictive.

Reactive mode is a state of not if, but when. We are often fire-fighting risks and hemorrhaging costly resources in a climate of uncontrolled chaos and complexity. Velocity is poor and so the firm is slow — or last — to market. Agility suffers and it is tough to bring about real change. There is practically zero customer experience.

A firm in proactive mode fares better. We can now manage security and reputational risk. There is scope to control and maintain both costs and complexity. Velocity improves due to better-connected processes and systems. New levels of agility mean we can drive demand through to delivery. User experience is also good — applications and services are available anytime, anywhere and on any device.

In predictive mode, risks are massively reduced due to predictive insight and anomaly detection controls. Costs are transparent, controlled and benefit from predictive forecasting and complexity is minimized through the use of standardized, connected technologies. It’s upwards for velocity as the firm starts to become an innovative market leader with enough agility to become self-healing where needed. User,  customer and stakeholder/employee experience is maximized all round.

Time to move the needle

Of course, as technology changes it typically necessitates a change of workplace culture, one that is brought about and enabled by new levels of intelligent automation and predictive engineering. There will inevitably be change, but this change is a disruption that is a positive disruption. As we know by now, automation ultimately creates new types of jobs, allowing humans to focus on bigger, value-add activities.

Any organization — whether it is 10 people or 10,000 employees — will know that a reactive ‘waiting for it to happen’ scenario in business is never as good as being able to work more proactively, and nowhere near the ultimate goal of working in a predictive capacity. So, in a sense this is an approach that is totally scalable from the smallest level of operations.

Real world predictive actions — how to get there

What kind of predictive actions are we talking about in the real world? In practical terms it could mean being able to predict if a server is about to run out of memory, or knowing whether a website will crash due to traffic spikes. Equally, it could mean knowing that a particular service might often crash due to end of month activity. Fundamentally, it’s always about knowing what happens next.

However, moving from reactive, to proactive, to predictive, is very much about taking one step at a time. Organizations need to take a holistic view and realize that this is not a process that will, or can, happen all at once. Take one business unit at a time, one department at a time, one application stack at a time, one service at a time … and within that service it is one data stream or type at a time.

This approach will move any business model in any market vertical from reactive, to proactive, to predictive. We can now react to proactively predict it.

A grey colored placeholder image