With so many industries moving to autonomous operations, from self-driving cars to smart factories, the next CIO needs to think about also moving IT to an autonomous, self-driving operation. A big obstacle are the processes that span siloed management tools like employee offboarding, which today are mostly done manually. This creates all sorts of cost inefficiencies, human errors, security vulnerabilities and issues come audit time. These siloed management tools also create data hygiene issues, as they frequently store inconsistent data regarding the same assets.
In The Next CIO, I discuss how CIOs can overcome these challenges on the journey to realizing an autonomous IT operation through a new category of application called Enterprise Technology Management or ETM. As essentially the CIO’s application, ETM would be akin to how sales relies on CRM and HR utilizes HRM.
If there was an ETM application built to provide the CIO and IT with higher-level visibility and control into enterprise technology (ET) processes that touch the entire enterprise technology portfolio, what would it look like?
Without trying to provide a formal product requirements document, let’s take an architectural view of the potential ETM application.
ETM application architecture
Before we lay out the ETM architecture, let’s start with the existing enterprise technology landscape, seen in Figure 1. This landscape encompasses the company’s enterprise technology portfolio, including endpoints, networking, infrastructure, applications and accessories, which are described in more detail in the ETM Framework.
Moving up the stack, the management of this technology is provided by the ETM application sitting on top of and interfacing with existing technology management tools.
It’s imperative that an ETM application not require a “rip and replace” approach regarding a company’s existing technology management point tools. Rather, it’s best to integrate with whatever a company might already have in place. This would also provide flexibility for operators who can use, replace, or introduce new tools as needed.
To the right of the ETM application is the ET Process Maturity Framework, which provides a way to determine where each ET process stands on the maturity journey to becoming more efficient with more secure data.
With that background, let’s explore at a high level the ETM architecture (as seen in Figure 2):
- Integration and connectors: An ETM application would need to help address integration challenges by providing connectors between the siloed products and the ETM application itself.
- Data: Ultimately, these connectors provide a mechanism for data to be exchanged between the ETM application and the point products.
- Automated and optimized processes: The ETM application would then enable the creation of automated and optimized processes operating at the highest level of process maturity. These processes would consume and communicate data to the point products through the connectors.
- Software-defined workflows: Workflows would likely use a low- or no-code, drag-and-drop interface. This way, workflows can not only be created by any part of the business, but they can be designed to adhere to any compliance regulations and provide the data necessary to pass audits.
- Real-time monitoring and alerting: This is important to identify, visualize, assess, and trend condition changes, and to trigger events, significantly reducing the time spent troubleshooting workflows, supporting auto-remediation workflows, and making it easier to optimize existing processes.
- AI/ML driven to provide intelligent automation: This would enable proactive alerting of possible issues, as well as alert filtering to minimize false alerts and prioritize responses based on the importance to the organization, ultimately improving SLAs and XLAs.
- Connectivity: To take process automation and optimization to the next level, connectivity to other customer ETM applications is vital. This would enable collaboration and the sharing of data and best practices.
- Open APIs: Having open APIs into the ETM application database provides a way for third-party tools to directly access the “single source of truth” data managed by the ETM application.
These ETM application attributes would help the CIO and IT organization more efficiently automate and optimize the ET management processes to ultimately deliver more value back to the business.
Dashboard, KPIs and Notifications
Ultimately, the objective of process automation and optimization provided through an ETM application is to centralize and streamline enterprise technology processes, such as technology lifecycle management, improving IT efficiency and productivity. To further this objective, the interface into an ETM application would need to be through a self-service portal that provides a configurable dashboard.
This dashboard would inform and measure KPIs that the CIO and perhaps other users like board members, CIO’s staff, and heads of lines of business want to monitor. The dashboard would also capture notification of prioritized events.
An ETM application would help the CIO and IT to better manage the ET processes that deliver the experiences and outcomes that the business requires to succeed. This means an ETM application needs to help the CIO better manage enterprise technology by enabling more automated and optimized processes that utilize this technology, improving ET process efficiency, enhancing security and compliance, and delivering broader business observability.