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Chat Bots in the Enterprise: Part 2

Chat Bots in the Enterprise: Part 2

Oded_Zilinsky

 In my previous blog post, I discussed how ChatBots are used by individual Consumers, as well as how Chat Bots are used within team collaboration (ChatOps practice).

In this post I'll continue and focus on the use of ChatBots within Enterprise, and Enterprise IT.

ChatBots in the Enterprise

ChatBots provide value to enterprise users both when used by individuals as well as when serving teams. Let’s take a closer look at the role of ChatBots in an enterprise environment.

As opposed to the consumer space, the services that the enterprise chatbots provide or connect to, are usually internal ones – the services provided/endorsed by the enterprise’s IT department. Enterprises commonly run a hybrid mix of IT systems:

  • Some of which are modern yet others are legacy
  • Some are more user-friendly yet others are more of the system-of-record type

The value that ChatBots provide in the enterprise is thus shaped by this common hybrid enterprise landscape.

Accessibility plays a major role where bots help users to easily tap into information that was previously concealed. Enterprise ChatBots are first and foremost a new way of availing internal services to a wider audience within the company in a much simpler and more accessible way. Don’t underestimate this. The magnitude of this simplification can be transformative to Enterprise IT. For example, one of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s customers found that their Service Desk’s saw a 60 percent increase in utilization and logging of high-quality data for major Incidents – due to the easier access that IT practitioners had when it came to updating Incidents via the chat bot.

Artificial Intelligence will gradually provide further value-add for the chat bots—to help make better sense of the untapped insights and knowledge that lies in the mountains of enterprise data. Artificial Intelligence also acts as personal assistants to improve the productivity of the workforce.

Enterprises, however, add their own requirements and constraints for a successful Chat Bot implementation. The Chat Bots as well as the collaboration tool are expected to be secure and adhere to company policies. They are required to adapt and support the scale of the enterprise.

Here are examples of such “enterprise readiness” requirements:

  • The solution needs to be secure
  • Enterprise’s regulatory policies must be complied with
  • A big portion of the enterprises require the entire solution to reside on-premise and will not accept a cloud solution. Some require at least their collaboration and IT data to reside within the same country
  • The user context needs to be maintain from the collaboration tool to the IT systems – so that permissions and access will be controlled on the IT system’s side. Any actions performed on those systems will log the performing user
  • The language that is used to interact with different IT systems or bots should be the same or similar – to reduce the learning curve of the IT practitioners

 When enterprises evaluate Chat Bot solutions, they need to take their specific requirements and constraints into consideration. They need to make sure that the solution that they are choosing (including the collaboration platform) meet their enterprise needs.

Let’s explore ChatOps in Enterprise IT

Enterprise ChatOps – ChatOps applied within Enterprise Dev & IT

ChatOps- Somethings wrong.png

The ChatOps practice described in my previous post (“Chat Bots in teams” section) delivers huge value for enterprises. It can significantly improve the collaborations between individuals and between teams, both within the same organization as well as across organizations. It can help lower the walls between Operations teams, between Development organizations, between Development and Operations teams and more. My colleagues in HPE-IT view ChatOps as a way to accelerate towards DevOps, without having to modify their organization structure.

Applying the ChatOps practice within Enterprises pretty much resembles its application in smaller organization, with two main differences:

  • Must deal with a far greater scale – addressing unique challenges that are magnified with the bigger number of employees and technical components. It can also provide greater benefits to the collaborations in enterprises that are challenged by scale
  • It needs to be “Enterprise Ready” – meaning the requirements and constraints mentioned in the previous section (“ChatBots in the Enterprise”), need to be considered here as well.

Consider this example depicting how IT Operations typically handle major service disruptions and Incidents, prior to the introduction of Chat Bots.

It often plays out like this:

  • Operation Center receives an alert about an application issue
  • The OC staff cannot troubleshoot the issue on its own so they spin up a war-room, set up a phone bridge and start inviting application stakeholders and data-center subject-matter-experts. These collaborations can sometimes involve dozens of people!
  • Each person that joins the discussion needs to be brought up to speed on everything that happened so far
  • Each person does his work on his segregated system, and tries to convey their findings (for example translating performance graphs) over the phone
  • After the service disruption is finally solved, not much data is left as a log to make future issue resolution easier.

 Practicing ChatOps for handing major service disruptions starts by introducing the systems into the collaboration.  Alerts, tickets and additional information from IT systems set the context for the conversation. This is often accomplished by opening a dedicated chat room to handle a specific Incident, inviting the right people, and putting vital information in front of their eyes.  Further, data from the systems powers the conversation and helps drive more informed decisions that cross people, teams and skills. Actions that are performed by conversing with the bots are all logged within the conversation timeline, allowing all participants and stakeholders to gain visibility to everything that has already been tried. When the disruption ends – all information, actions and discussions are captured and logged for any future audit or retrospection.

It might look like this:

 

chatOps - incident created.png

 

When practiced within IT Incident Management, the organizations quickly see improvements to the time it takes to resolve issues (MTTR), as well improved collaborations across teams that were siloed, and in general happier IT practitioners.

While the above is an example from the domain of IT Operations, ChatOps is definitely not limited to that. It is also practiced by teams developing applications, as well as by enterprise teams that practice DevOps.

Yet beyond IT Operations and Development (traditional or DevOps) which are the more prevalent examples of the ChatOps practice, we’re gradually seeing ChatOps introduced to additional functions. For example, within HPE Software we’ve lately introduced a bot that help our Customer Success Managers pull into a discussion certain relevant information about the customers that they’re currently helping (contacts, open cases, etc.), and discuss that with Support, R&D, Presales and more.

Summing up, the ChatOps practice brings huge value to various organizations within the enterprise, as well as across different organizations–significantly improving collaboration and lowering organizational walls. Its application within enterprise is usually done at a greater scale than within medium businesses and startups, and in addition enterprise requirements such as security and organizational policies – need to be met.

 

ChatOps with HPE Software

 At HPE Software, we’ve been practicing ChatOps for about two years, within our product R&D and IT organizations, both in traditional development and operations as well as within our DevOps-practicing teams.

We are so excited by the benefits and value that we’ve seen (see a post from R&D and another post from IT), that we wanted to share with our customers and help them get on-board the ChatOps train. We are creating bots for our HPE Software products, and are making our bots available for free for our customers to use. There are 8 bots already available for you to use, and more will come soon.

All of our bots are based on the widely used Hubot open-sourced bot technology, yet as captured in this post – our customers, enterprises, need an enterprise-ready ChatOps solution. We are therefore extending Hubot and making it more ready for the enterprises, and contributing back as an open-source all our enterprise-ready bot technology .

We are inviting our customers (as well as other vendors) to extend beyond the bots that we are providing and create new enterprise-ready bots based on this technology, as well as to contribute back to it. For bot development, you can start here.

 

In the next part of this ChatOps series, I’ll discuss the journey to maturing the ChatOps practice in the Enterprise.

 

 

 

 

 

  • operational intelligence
About the Author

Oded_Zilinsky

Oded leads the ChatBot and ChatOps Strategy for the HPE Software IT Operations Management business.. His background is in the DevOps and IT Service Management domains.