Within an organization, an operations model must be fit-for-purpose and be able to adapt as business needs change. At the same time, changing technology necessitates an advancement in how an organization operates. Small and medium-sized enterprises are faced with the difficult choice of how much to invest in operations and which approach to choose. In light of the numerous possibilities, companies need to identify the right upgrades for their needs. For instance, should a company now using a traditional operations model invest significantly to reach DevOps? Or would AIOps better fit customers’ needs? Is NoOps an option?
There is no “correct” answer. Each option comes with pros and cons and important budget considerations. That is why every business needs to evaluate the appropriate system for its products and its customers with three concepts in mind: cost, goals and experimentation.
Traditional IT operations (ITOps) is the process of designing, developing, deploying and maintaining the infrastructure and software components of a specific product or application. It also ensures the customer experience is delivered through traditional means of support such as tickets and escalated paths for resolutions.
DevOps is a process for accelerating the delivery of features to the application or product infrastructure in a consistent model with less human intervention, while also providing a better quality product through automation in the software development life cycle.
An AIOps process introduces data science into the operating model by learning the behavior of the systems, scaling according to the needs of a platform (both infrastructure and customer usage of the platform). It expands the horizon of DevOps through the introduction of machine learning, focusing on data generated from the hardware and software systems, and allows organizations to grow organically based on demand.
NoOps, although the name suggests otherwise, is an advanced approach to managing IT operations through the mindset that everything is derived as development. This model is best applied with startups and companies with high technological maturity.
Typically, these companies have advanced skill levels to deliver the best experience by adapting to the new industry trends of both software and hardware maintenance practices. NoOps is at the opposite end of the spectrum from traditional operations, and it’s largely a theoretical concept at this point.
NoOps is a fully automated, cloud-based approach that eliminates the operations team, aside from an integrated team focused on life cycle. The self-managed system requires resiliency and a high level of maturity with fail points that have already been addressed. NoOps, or high maturity structures, will also provide quick learning on drawbacks, customer and product needs. However, moving toward a self-maintained system requires upkeep for advances and innovation.
Invest in an Operations Model to Reach Higher Levels of Maturity
The first factor to consider in evaluating an operational approach is cost. Each level of IT maturation is gradual, incremental and expensive. Costs vary depending on the size of the company and the type and number of products. A small company that seeks to move from a level 2 to 4 maturity would need to make a significant financial investment.
Some questions to consider when looking at operations model upgrades include:
- Does this make sense for the business?
- Will the investment allow for scaling?
- Will it increase customer loyalty and trust in the brand?
Next, it’s important to consider overarching goals and brand identity. The appropriate level of maturity might depend on the company’s value proposition. If, in the company’s vision, technology is at the heart of its journey, the company needs to invest, at a minimum, in a DevOps operating model to have the competitive edge to grow the business and meet its needs. If the company’s vision is to retain existing business and gain customers through continued investment in innovation based on the trend analysis of their core business, then AIOps will have the best ROI. If the company’s vision, culture and mission are intertwined with technology, adapting to NoOps is the right move.
Know the Product, Customer and When to Halt
Still, it’s important not to overreach with an operations model that might not fit the customer. To make a sound decision for the organization, it is important to understand the model, the product, customer base and when to halt an operational model and invest in a new one. The leadership team needs to ask how adaptable its end users are before implementing changes. Take, for instance, the poor consumer response to replacing live customer service representatives with automated features. Some end users were not prepared to adapt to the massive change in the platform or service offerings this move entailed.
Product-driven businesses often don’t see investing in new operations models as worthwhile. This mindset can result in continual churn that creates a backlog and increased operating costs for maintaining systems and services. Another important consideration in deciding which operating model meets the company’s needs comes through experimentation. That is because finding the right operating model for an enterprise can’t be done with a cookie-cutter approach. The point is to maintain the existing quality and productivity while investing in outcomes that will garner more trust and confidence in the company. If you do this right, the end user will appreciate the changes, and the company will outperform the competition.
Allow for Operations Failure
Enterprises should expect failures during experimentation with different models and plan to pressure-test an advancing model for the cracks that will emerge. It is important to invest in failure to understand why and how the model did not perform to expectations. Those failures provide valuable insight and important data, result in significant learning about products and customers and help you know what to improve or modify going forward.
An operations model serves as the backbone for any business that wants to grow. Smart operations investments will ensure adaptability, competitive advantage and customer loyalty. But there’s no one-size-fits-all, easy-to-follow recipe for each enterprise. Whether the investment results in AIOps, NoOps, DevOps or traditional operations is unique to each organization and needs to be calculated with the brand, customer and end goal in mind.