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Benjamin de Moncan | November 23, 2021

What is self-healing IT and how does it go beyond self-help?

IT service desks are facing more tickets than ever in recent years with the growth in digital workplaces and data. In fact, in 2020, every person generated 1.7 megabytes of data in just a second – much of which is generated at work and contributes to the growing number of incidents to be resolved. While all of this data is being created, there is a shortage of IT talent and a recent survey by Gartner found that 63% of senior executives considered this a top concern.

To help combat this growing disparity between the number of growing incidents and the shortage of IT service desk agents to handle them, many businesses are turning to self-healing IT. In this post, we will break down the basics of self-healing IT and how this technology is expected to expand in the future.

What is Self-Healing IT?

Self-healing IT is a futuristic buzz-word that you have likely heard a few times this year. The general idea of self-healing IT is that a combination of self-service technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, remote monitoring, and human agents can identify and resolve problems before the end-user is even aware that something was wrong in the first place. Self-healing IT also means that the issue or future issue is identified by a monitoring system potentially coupled with AI. The result of the qualification will trigger an automated script executed by the system that will fix the problem on its own.

This sounds like something from the Jetson’s – essentially it amounts to a machine equipping someone with the ability to see the future and prevent incidents, or treat them before they have the chance to wreak havoc on productivity.

Self-heal takes into account several factors: process automation, remote access and monitoring of not only downtime but of weak signals, IT infrastructure management, accurately creating an IT forecast, current tickets, and past incidents with connections to problems.

Self-heal is intrinsically tied to self-help or self-service IT because it works in the background to alert users and agents of the problem, prompting users to find common resolutions before escalating to the agents. This will ultimately enable IT departments to diagnose and resolve incidents and problems using automation, self-service, and an integrated ITSM tool.

Benefits of Self-Healing IT

Self-healing IT sounds too good to be true, but the benefits are very real. Benefits of self-heal include:

  • Better agent and employee experience
  • Optimized costs because of the reduction of downtime
  • Lower cost per ticket and cost per contact
  • Increased productivity as organizations no longer face lengthy outages or system errors

When you get down to it, self-healing IT takes the pressure off overworked service desk agents and frees them up to focus on more big-picture processes and resolutions.

How Does Self Heal Relate to Self Service and Shift-Left?

We often hear self-help or self-service technology is brought up in connection with self-heal, and a big reason for that is their shared connection to the shift-left movement.

Self-service IT support has been a trend on the rise for the past several years, in part because of the shift-left movement. But self-service on its own can fall flat. In fact, a recent survey from ITSM.tools found that 82% of the companies who responded offer a self-service portal, yet only 21% of those report the expected ROI on self-service initiatives.

To help companies get a better ROI on self-service technology, many are turning to self-healing IT as the answer to self-service success. Both function as part of proactive self-service, but self-heal takes self-help a step further.

Self-service enables shift-left (moving Level-1 tickets to self-service, Level-2 to Level-1, and so on) by allowing employees to find answers to their questions and solve simple actions through a self-service portal. Self-healing monitors both the ITSM tool and the self-service portal, as well as the greater IT infrastructure, in order to detect and diagnose problems and alert agents or automate script execution. Self-heal then moves to support agents with remote actions to solve the incidents or problems and prevent or reduce system unavailability. Further, self-heal may have the ability to solve issues with no human interaction.

By reducing system unavailability and resolving issues before they effect the employee, you create the ultimate shift-left because the tickets that do come in can move to self-help and the larger issues will already be in the resolution process.

Elements of Self-Healing IT

Self-healing IT is comprised of several technological elements that fit together like puzzle pieces, including:

  • AITSM - AITSM is ITSM driven by intelligent automation to assist with tasks, requests, and actions in the IT service desk. (And no, the AI in AITSM doesn’t stand for Artificial Intelligence). You might be thinking that AITSM encompasses the rest of the elements on this list, and you’d be right. It’s all about the way you use these elements to detect and resolve issues in a proactive way, rather than their individual traditional uses.
  • Machine Learning (ML) – Machine Learning works by feeding large amounts of data into a computer/software so that it can detect patterns and learn from behaviors, effectively creating predictions based on those patterns and learned behaviors. This is important in proactive service management and self-healing IT because it creates the ability to predict those patterns without a human analyzing the data. In short: ML analyzes and predicts problems while AI suggests a solution.
  • IT Infrastructure Monitoring – Sometimes called enterprise architecture, infrastructure monitoring gives your IT team the ability to look at a comprehensive and exhaustive end-to-end view of all IT services from infrastructure to endpoints while providing the ability to fix issues proactively before they have a chance to impact the business.
  • Remote Access – To serve the customer without disrupting their workflow or day, remote access is a must. This allows you to take the analysis and suggestions made in the ML and AI phases and implement them on the back end.
  • Process Automation – Process automation is a way to take all of these puzzle pieces off of the plates of the overworked service desk team and still give users resolution in a proactive way. Process automation can take the form of automated workflows, automated tasks, and automated ticketing, but that’s just the beginning.

Best Practices for Self-Healing IT

Like I said before, all of the elements we just mentioned work together like a puzzle, but that puzzle won’t work without a solid strategy and a few best practices.

The strategy of self-healing IT is arguably the most important part because it will lay the groundwork for which processes will be automated, who will handle the overall monitoring of these processes and infrastructures, and how to keep the machine of self-healing running smoothly with minimal human intervention or effort.

Once you’ve created your strategy, the following best practices can help you find self-healing success:

  • Make small changes over time: It’s easy to get excited about something as advanced as self-healing IT, but, as Bill Gates once pointed out, automation applied to inefficiency will only further magnify that inefficiency. Instead, start by looking at your current processes, cleaning up the data, and little by little working toward your overall self-healing strategy goals.
  • Train staff on the shift to self-healing: Self-healing technology and process automation will still need the human touch to monitor. As much as we love technology we can set and forget, it’s crucial to train your team on what to look for in remote monitoring and IT infrastructure monitoring, and to fully understand what red flags will look like (especially as technology and processes change). The staff will provide the element of human intervention which is just as important as the technology.
  • Don’t try to replace humans with AI: AI should, at its core, augment and enhance the human experience. It should NOT be a replacement for humans. If you attempt to fully replace your people with technology, you’ll run the risk of creating an even more stressed-out service desk.
  • Get the entire IT organization on board: This best practice works with the previous because it’s important to make sure everyone is on board and nobody feels that they’re being replaced. Fully explain the technology and strategy to the team to make sure it’s clear what the goals are and you’ll have better success during implementation.

What’s Next for Self-Healing IT

At this stage, self-healing IT is growing and changing every day. Although in many areas it’s more of an abstract goal or concept, self-heal is the way of the future. To learn more about how you can pivot your current service management and self-service strategy to include self-healing IT, get a demo from one of our experts today.

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Benjamin de Moncan

Benjamin de Moncan has more than 15 years of experience in the customer experience industry. Currently acting as Senior Director of Product Marketing at Easyvista, he also played a role as a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting and COO of Knowesia, which was recently acquired by EasyVista. He has spent the last several years optimizing customer care for large financial and services companies, developing expertise in building digital organizations, and developing a passion for design thinking methodology and customer journeys' optimization. Outside of work, he spends all of his time with his family, playing guitar and piano.