How Intelligent Automation Prevents Future Issues

How much does IT downtime cost? A staggering $700 billion a year, according to a 2016 IHS Markit study. And, that’s just for North America. By comparison, the U.S. spends about $670 billion a year on Medicare and Switzerland has a gross domestic product (GDP) of merely $659 billion. IT downtime has an almost incomprehensible financial impact – both on individual businesses and on the economy as a whole.

So, here’s the question. How do we stop bad stuff from happening, whether that’s in IT, Security or – increasingly – with the Internet of Things? How do we prevent future issues, rather than reacting after the fact?

The answer is intelligent automation.

Drowning in Events

To understand why, let’s look at how things work today. A typical large enterprise has to deal with millions of events from IT equipment, monitoring tools, and other sources. Most of these events are noise – drowning out real service issues. Traditional event management tools try to reduce this noise by filtering and correlating events. They do this using manually configured rules that are incredibly labor-intensive to build and maintain. At best, these rules make it easier to identify issues once they happen but they don’t learn from the past, and they can’t predict future failures.

From Reactive to Proactive

Now, imagine a system that intelligently analyzes these events – automatically learning which event patterns and anomalies lead to service failures down the road. The system doesn’t just tell you that a service is broken – instead it predicts that the service will fail in a few hours or days. That’s exactly what intelligent automation does, cutting through the noise so you can fix the issue before the service goes down. And, you don’t have to build static rules. Intelligent automation discovers thousands of these patterns all by itself.

Intelligent Automation in Action

Here’s a simple example. An application raises an event when it has too many worker threads. This is normal behavior, so the event is low priority and typically ignored. However, if this happens too often, it’s an indicator of an impending CPU overload. With traditional event management tools, you only get a critical alert when the CPU overloads – by which time the service is already seriously degraded. With intelligent automation, you don’t have to wait. It detects the worker thread pattern based on past experience, and immediately issues a critical predictive alert – and even tells you the probability of that CPU overloading.

Beyond IT

Intelligent automation can dramatically reduce IT downtime. That’s why we’re building intelligent automation into the Now Platform. However, the potential reaches far beyond IT.

For example, think about security events. What if we could automatically identify indicators of compromise and automatically block them in advance of a threat ever reaching an organization? We could proactively stop attacks before they happen – and even share attack patterns with other members of trusted industry communities.

The Internet of Things is another case in point. As the number of connected devices explodes, the IoT will become mission-critical. And, these devices are going to fail – creating disruption and high servicing costs. If we can use intelligent automation to predict device failures, that completely transforms the picture. Instead of carrying out emergency fixes, we can avoid the impact of failures and shift into a cost-effective preventative maintenance mode.

The Future Is Bright

We’re just at the start of intelligent automation but it’s already delivering enormous value. By predicting and preventing issues, intelligent automation dramatically improves service quality and delivers game-changing economics. And, this is just one of the many uses of intelligent automation. The potential benefits are almost limitless. That’s why I’m so excited about the future and why ServiceNow is committed to leading the intelligent automation revolution.

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Pablo Stern
Pablo Stern is the General Manager of ServiceNow’s IT Operations Management (ITOM) business unit. Prior to joining ServiceNow he held CTO, engineering, and business leadership roles at Microsoft, Symantec, Veritas, and Radius. Pablo holds dual degrees in Engineering and Computer Science with High Honors from Dartmouth, and has completed the Stanford Executive Program.

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