BT interview: simplifying the service… – Features

BT has partnered with ServiceNow and Dynatrace for better services management, with the latter now BT’s sole provider of full stack observability across its estate

BT is a major operator in the telecommunications industry with around 30 million customers in the UK and serving almost 180 countries.

Along with other telcos, BT is thriving in a changing society where there are constant innovations, new technologies and more network capabilities than ever before.

The operator is developing new ways to improve the customer experience, and working with different companies to enable it.

Mobile News spoke to enterprise architect for BT, Alex Bell, who shared how the company is simplifying service management through automation and AIOps (Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations).

Change of operations

“We’re really keen to make sure BT always focuses on delivering ‘always on’ services that are highly reliable,” Bell said.

“Things like 999 services have to keep running. In a world where you get all the growth in data and applications, that becomes more complicated.

“What we’ve found is the number of systems we use to manage has grown exponentially.

“If a customer calls a company and informs them of a problem- that’s logged as a ticket. We have 56 different tools for managing tickets, and about 65 tools that monitors things like the operation of our IT and network services.”

He explained that having 56 ticketing tools was unsustainable because of the growing amount of data and that they had to go through many different systems to address a customer’s problem.

Ticketing and monitoring tools needed to be condensed and managed in one place, and this is where software companies Dynatrace and ServiceNow got their start.

BT Digital announced in May that it would consolidate BT’s legacy service management platforms into a single system, ServiceNow.

Bell said the system “replaces 56 ticketing tools and we’ve shut down 15 so far.”

BT Digital also announced in June that it will integrate its application monitoring with the Dynatrace Software Intelligence Platform as part of a new management stack to help simplify and automate service operations in a new AIOps model with BT and ServiceNow.

“If you think of a web page that has 20 servers in a chain behind it and one of those has an issue, it could be any one of those causing the problem,” Bell said.

“With Dynatrace, we’re able to monitor from front to back and it will know where the problem is, get to the root, tell you what the cause is, and send one ticket instead of 20.

“It gives us visibility that we’ve never really had before and that’s what makes Dynatrace different.”

Benefits of automation

Bell said that BT intends to use zero ops, which means no operations are used so that an IT environment can be automated.

“Our next phase is zero ops which not only means we get a notification telling us that a particular server is down, but we also create automation to fix that so it clears the queue or i -reboot the server or take an appropriate remedy to fix those problems wherever they are in the cycle.

“We come from a world with all this data, all these tools telling people so many different pieces of information that they need to put together- into one tool that can detect a problem, automatically fix it and alert the situation agent when it is resolved.

“That’s the journey we’re on and Dynatrace is key to root/cause analysis.”

The reduction of 56 ticketing tools to one and 65 monitoring tools to three or four benefits BT and its customers due to cost savings, according to Bell.

“So if you reduce 56 to one and you have capex (capital expenditure) and opex (operating expense) that would have been spent on those services, that can now be put back into something more effective – product development or new automation service or whatever it is.”

He went on to say that there are also sustainability benefits as consolidating ticketing tools into one greatly reduces the energy footprint and this is something that BT is focusing on.

The service customers receive will be greatly improved as having 56 tools requires more effort, delay and manual keying.

“Bringing it down to one means agents will get a better experience because the ticket will be raised once, probably by the customer, and it’s happening through a self service portal,” Bell explained.

“The status of those tickets can be seen immediately when they’re resolved because you’re all in the same system- meaning you get a response to the customer faster.

“So better customer experience, lower costs and higher levels of retention.”

Improvements in services

“For tracking, what we get with Dynatrace is a much faster view of the root cause,” Bell said.

“The way things used to be you had to call 10 people to diagnose a more complex issue, or you might not know what the fault was.

He revealed that in some cases, the ability to identify the cause of the issue improved by 90 percent.

“Getting to the root cause is that now, it’s faster for you to get the right person on the call at the right time, there’s less ambiguity about whose problem to solve and that leads to bigger, faster solving of problems .”

“This means a better customer experience as well as reducing the costs of fixing problems and getting more of an accurate understanding of the root cause to prevent things from happening. “

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