You could argue that the most valuable resource for any company in any industry is data. However, to unlock the value hidden in that data, you need to refine disparate data points into actionable insights.
Data analytics are often referenced in relation to customer experience as a method to predict healthcare outcomes or reveal purchasing patterns. But big data is increasingly entering the CIO’s domain.
IT departments need to develop a system for collecting, storing, and preparing data so it can then be used as the foundation for an IT strategy.
Service Desk Data Mining
If you have a large, distributed network, pinpointing the source of a problem can be almost impossible.
The data mining process consists of sorting through information gathered from different users and devices. Then, drilling down further, identifying problems and trends based on asset type and location.
The patterns found using data mining applications help IT teams quickly identify problems like poor network response times or problematic users.
Providers might begin the process by getting an organization-wide view of the network’s incidents.
Then you move into subcategories like laptops or security threats. Or, issues with email, Microsoft Office, or likely, some ongoing trouble with the printers.
Then—how many incidents per category? Who is requesting assistance and which tech handled the situation?
With this information, you can answer questions like which departments are experiencing a majority of performance problems? Which devices are the source of the problems being reported? Is one type of device an ongoing issue? If that’s the case, what can be done?
If one type of device keeps breaking down, then it may be time to use a different solution. If one department has the same problems over and over, perhaps they aren’t using the right tools for the job — or maybe the staff needs additional training.
Big Data and IT Lifecycle Management
Proactive IT departments are continually looking for areas for improvement, designing better service solutions, and aiming to keep operations run smoothly.
A big part of providing that service is through asset lifecycle management. From a security standpoint, bringing this process into a cloud-based central hub means you’ll never forget to install a software update that could compromise the network.
Improving the End User Experience
If your network is small, fixing issues one at a time isn’t that big of a deal—there are fewer variables in the mix, compared to a large company, and it’s easier to keep on top of aging equipment, network slowdowns, and so on.
With a large network, you’ll need an analytics package to ensure the best possible experience for your end users.
Let’s say you have a school system with 40,000 different computers. A single peripheral on a single computer model could be causing issues across the entire network, and IT managers are left trying to spot a needle in a haystack or addressing complaints on an individual basis when there’s one component causing widespread problems.
Which Tools Should CIOs Use to Track Network Performance?
There are a number of these workspace management solutions built for monitoring performance within larger organizations—particularly in healthcare, education, or government settings, as well as large enterprise organizations with thousands of devices.
Here are a few of the key providers in the space:
Splunk is an enterprise data analytics platform designed for large private sector companies, government agencies, and the healthcare industry. Key features include server monitoring, cloud monitoring, predictive analytics, lifecycle analytics, event analytics, and virtualization monitoring.
Splunk is a good choice for CIOs looking for a solution that allows IT service providers to see across silos and make predictions about when to anticipate outages, all while monitoring uptime, performance, and response times in real-time.
Liquidware is a company that offers monitoring for physical, virtual, and cloud-based desktop deployments.
For example, healthcare teams can use the platform to manage printers—ensuring that only certain groups can print from selected printers to ensure patient privacy, whereas government agencies and military groups can use the solution to provide field personnel with portable, secure workspaces.
Liquidware also offers user experience monitoring, application layering, user environment management, root cause diagnostics, capacity planning, and more.
Elastic Search is a fast, flexible system that allows you to query just about any search you can imagine, and leverages machine-learning technology to detect anomalies. Like Splunk, Elastic allows users to monitor uptime, infrastructure, and containers–and explore metrics in a way that works for your organization.
What’s special about Elastic Search is that you can gather all of your data, then examine it on a holistic level. The open-source Elastic Common Schema or ECS securely analyzes logs, flows, and other data sources and uncovers patterns across even the most disparate data sets.
How We Data at Lockstep
Our process begins by taking raw network data and combining it with raw desktop data. From there, we parse that data out into site-specific information, putting together lists of units associated with each department.
All of that data is run through a custom process and merged into a report, so you’ll see asset records broken down by department, device, category, number of incidents, and so on.
This way, our clients can say: “the issue is here; it’s in this department; it’s in this cluster.”
For instance, if you look at the report below, the system searches the data to find which sites are experiencing latency problems. The performance is recorded in the data center, then run through several views.
So, here, you’ll see one of our custom reports looking at client network performance. Organization-wide, network latency is about 15 seconds.
But then, you might look at latency by program. Below, we have a Citrix latency report—and the average log in delay shoots up to 71 seconds.
So, if you’re reviewing something like this, you can quickly move from this wide lens view–to spotting this correlation with one particular program.
Without the ability to collect data and review it in this visual manner IT managers would be in the dark about the source of the real problem.
Bottom Line: Data Analytics Helps CIOs Solve Problems Fast
When you’re working with a number of data points, there is tremendous value in the ability to analyze the data and quickly identify a problem.
When organizations receive constant help desk calls and struggle to identify the source of the problem, it’s clear that something needs to change.
At Lockstep, we gather your data, correlate that information, and uncover the insights that inspire action. We know that IT is no longer about installing appliances and fixing them when they break—it’s about using data to manage end-user experience.
It’s time to take a proactive approach to IT. Schedule a consultation to learn how our approach to data will save time, money, and create a better experience for all.
Lockstep Technology Group is an IT consulting firm that partners with IT leaders in planning, developing, and implementing enterprise-class technology solutions.