This blog presents the need to reimagine IT based on realization of a NoOps operating paradigm and business outcome oriented automation (than just focused on labor reduction).

Across value chains such as Farm to Fork, businesses are attempting to reimagine the execution of business functions and processes. The reimagined business processes use automation to address the need for heighted quality of services at frugal price points, addresses issues associated with lack of labor, etc. to deliver value over-and-beyond the obvious and obligatory. Increasingly such examples proliferate:

  • Automation / Robots are used in farms, in warehouses for precision picking packing and shipping, for image analysis to detect stock depletion at retail outlets; for greeting customers as they walk-in, for servicing in restaurants using drones, etc.
  • Robots / automation / Artificial intelligence are used for mining in dangerous conditions, supporting the military in hazardous conditions (in use for over a decade), exploring Mars in view of its hostile conditions, proactively identifying plots of terrorists from seemingly innocuous communication, automating cabin baggage screening at airports, transporting time-sensitive organs transplants using drones, etc.
  • Artificial intelligence / Deep Learning is also used for aid physicians with potential diagnosis, enable a rapid single view of customer, enable effective Marketing Campaigns and Customer Service actions, support Churn Analysis, support Fraud Analysis, aid multi-lingual human communication, etc.

In virtually all of the above efforts IT has stepped forward to support the attempts to reimagine business functions and processes. However, when it comes to implementation of IT Solutions and Operations, IT seems to content with throwing Robots, Artificial Intelligence, Deep learning, etc. to LARGELY JUST reduce labor or make labor more effective, and is coming with new coinages of terms to support these constructs – candidly a lot of this is akin to “patient dead but operation successful!” spiral!

IT instead should be looking to eliminate all LABOR ORIENTED tasks based on the quality of the underlying IT system and IT landscape implementation which should include reimagined business functions and processes, linked value chains / customer journeys, associated need for information to create value, etc. The IT systems and landscape should be suitably informed by the Organization’s Target Operating Model, Organization Structure, Product Structure, Customer Journeys, incorporate powerful and simplified workflows and effective integration (not necessarily the strengths of a few COTS products!) to deliver high-levels of straight-through-processing, flexible on-the-fly information analysis to aid decision making, etc. These IT systems should minimize use of intermediate / staging constructs, incorporate powerful document management capabilities, support auto discovery and deep diagnosis of failing services and transactions to drive automated remedial actions, use of Agile and DevOps based teams (that also use run-time insights to improve products and services), enable intuitive and simple self-service for remaining repetitive functional and technical tasks in a manner integral to the value chain or customer journey, etc.

The opportunity to eliminate all LABOR ORIENTED tasks is a moving target with additional possibilities emerging as the field of IT advances. This approach needs to the cornerstone for all IT system implementation efforts, be they bespoke or COTS / On-Premise or SaaS based (latter is not the elixir to all ills). When applied well, the approach described leads to the realization of NoOps – an Operating Paradigm in which the inherent need for IT Operations and Business Process Operations is substantially eliminated; and roles are transformed to focus more on high-end business contribution!

Even in the NoOps operating paradigm or the journey to get there, repetitive tasks will remain, where Robots, Artificial Intelligence, Deep learning, etc. can be applied to reduce labor in-line with organizational context. However, even in this situation, the focus should be on both labor reduction AND automation to secure business outcomes in the execution of business transactions. As an example, a Discrete Manufacturing organization applied automation across:

  • High volumes of repetitive technical and functional activities, and
  • Sales Orders, Shipments, Invoices, etc. that were experiencing issues with a view to minimize the revenue leakage and negative customer experience

The organization found that the business outcome oriented automation contributed to six times the cost reduction that was realized based on just automation of repetitive technical and functional tasks!

Credit for the coinage of NoOps is due to a client, albeit in a different connotation.