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Autonomic offerings set to transform IT, but outsourcing customers beware

Stephanie Overby | Aug. 29, 2016
IT leaders have more automation options that ever, but not all robotic systems are created equal.

The potential opportunity lies in delivering more value to customers and winning new business. But will a provider be willing to potentially cannibalize existing revenue by proactively proposing an autonomics initiative to a customer? Increasingly, the answer is "yes," and the marketplace is driving that answer. Providers are recognizing that there's no alternative; if they don't aggressively offer an autonomics solution to their CIO customers, that customer will gladly find it elsewhere. How has automation impacted IT services pricing and contracting?

Augustin: The impact of autonomics has been significant. Over the past 18 months or so, we've seen downward [pricing] trends of 40 to 60 percent. While a number of factors are involved, automation is the primary driver, especially for areas such as problem ticket handling.

In terms of impact on contracts, we're seeing more gain sharing agreements. If a provider implements automation, there may be provisions included to ensure that both the client and provider benefit from the improvement. It's an incentive for the provider to reduce costs and cannibalize their revenue. How similar or different are the various autonomics solutions?

Augustin: it's hard to know what the capabilities of the different tools are. They're all trying to be similar in the sense of being advanced, adaptive platforms with machine learning capabilities. Some that we've seen do have cognitive aspects, while others are more static and to a large extent involve the repackaging of existing tools without adding new functionality. Does it make sense for CIOs to seek these solutions from traditional IT service providers?

Augustin: There are really two options. One is to work with a tier one outsourcing provider. The other is to work directly with a smart tool or automation platform provider. If you go that route, however, you would need to be very specific about requirements. Which types of autonomic solutions are most mature and beneficial?

Augustin: The two areas of focus are infrastructure and applications. In infrastructure, there's a lot of focus on ITIL and incident/problem management. In the applications space, we also see a significant increase in automation in the area of testing. What advice would you offer IT leaders navigating this new market?

Augustin: There's still a lot of confusion around automation technology, and terms like "artificial intelligence," "cognitive" and "machine learning" get tossed around a bit too freely.

The key is to get an objective perspective and to thoroughly investigate and vet the offerings -- and do so in the specific context of your business requirements. Providers face enormous competitive pressure to sell their solutions, and frankly will be biased and inclined to overstate the capabilities of their offerings.


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