Automated Trouble Resolution: Changing the IT/Network Management Game Proactively

Brian Washburn
Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Expert systems have transformed into an IT/network outsourcing alternative for larger enterprises.
  • Specialty provider IPsoft is both natural partner and potential competition to adjacent CRM and BPO sectors.

Current Analysis subscribers to our IT/network services content, and attendees to our year-end trends webinar, know that I’ve been pounding the table for months now about industry trends that will come together and change the way service providers do business. I’ve whittled my obsession down to five major industry vectors: One of those trends is a combination of evolved expert systems and analytics, with big data support. Today I’ll just look at the expert systems element, and what it alone is doing in the industry.

The core of an expert system is a service logic framework: Give the software information feeds, instruct the software on what that information means, and tell it how to respond based on its observations. The software makes decisions based on the information it sees. There are lots of places where making the right decisions in near real-time is valuable. Fraud prevention is one area; another is managing compute and network resources.

Old school expert systems used in WANs were immensely valuable for handling root-cause analysis. An outage in one part of a network could set off dozens of alarms across the network stack. An expert system could pinpoint and tell the NOC administrator what circuit or device was the culprit. Such expert systems were a major undertaking to deploy, and once set up remained relatively static.

Newer expert systems can add three components: First, they can ship with lots of pre-built profiles and connectors, to hook into customers’ IT and network platforms easily; second, they can ship with lots of preconfigured service logic, so they already know what common service issues look like, and how to respond to them; third, if they come across an unfamiliar problem, they can “learn” by observation – that is, an engineer can inform the system what the problem looks like, and how to solve it, without involving programmers.

End result: Old expert systems were expensive to deploy, limited in focus, and static in their approach. New expert systems are less expensive, can adapt to many more types of devices, and are flexible to changing circumstances. That makes these systems extremely useful as an automated IT/network outsourcing alternative for larger enterprises. It’s a natural synergy for network providers, and a growing list of these providers have entered the space, usually with IPsoft as their partner.  IPsoft itself is a specialty provider, offering both an expert systems platform and array of services, selling direct to enterprises, partnering with major service providers, and also counting many service providers among its customers.

IPsoft’s business squares off against two adjacent sectors. On one hand are some customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, which use automated service logic to resolve problems, to keep them off of manual help desk procedures and save clients money. On the other are people-intensive business process outsourcing (BPO) organizations that prefer to bill off payroll. But notably, neither sector is a direct competitor: Each can benefit just as much by partnering with a company such as IPsoft for platforms and automation, instead of treating this sort of company as a direct rival.


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