Journey to Cloud: Step 6 - Augment IT Skillsets with AI and ML

In this sixth segment of a 10-part Tech Barometer podcast series, Nutanix CIO Wendy M. Pfeiffer explains how artificial intelligence and machine learning solved issues and raised the skillset of the engineering team.

By Jason Lopez

By Jason Lopez February 05, 2021

Having a clear purpose can help any IT team focus on what’s most important. Wendy Pfeiffer, Nutanix’s CIO keeps her team focused on enabling the business to thrive and enabling employees to be productive.

In this sixth segment of a 10-part Tech Barometer podcast series based on the ebook Charting the Course to Cloud. Nutanix CIO Wendy M. Pfeiffer explains how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solved issues and raised the skillset of the engineering team. These are directly enabling the business to thrive and enabling employee productivity.

The deployment of AI and ML took problematic issues off IT’s plate. Automation also helped eliminate routine operational tasks, leaving the engineering team to use its deep skills. Pfeiffer explains why her team is translating their expertise into code by using low-code tools and no-code tools to capture operational expertise. It’s contributing to continuous improvement.

She said every quarter, the team prioritizes the worst-ranked services and automates them through machine learning. Over time, IT resolves issues through automation. Currently, about 35% of IT services are handled autonomously. This is necessary as her team leads Nutanix into the future of hybrid IT operations.

“It's not about multi-things, it's about hybrid things,” she said. “It's about this optionality of operating on any hardware, in any cloud, any application or combination of applications via multiple access methods and being able to do all of this as autonomously as possible so that we can scale efficiently.”

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She said her team has become more of a consultative body inside the company, as sort of trusted partner when it comes to implementing and leveraging new technologies. “This confluence of operational expertise, technical expertise, and people skills is the IT magic that companies need to be productive,” she said.

More from the Podcast series:

Transcript for Journey to Cloud: Step 6 - Augment IT Skillsets with AI and ML

Wendy Pfeiffer: Now we're at step seven. There were no instructions. Right away you could figure out how to start catching Pokemon. It was instantly compelling. It was fun. It was dare I say, delightful.

Jason Lopez: The journey to cloud with Nutanix CIO, Wendy Pfeiffer,

Wendy Pfeiffer: Let's say the next time that we interacted with our corporate enterprise environments and our corporate enterprise apps, if those enterprise applications were as accessible and as easy to use and as compelling as say, Pokemon go, what an amazing level of productivity we'd have in our companies.

Once we start to do these autonomous things, the potential is that the work that we're doing and the service that we're providing becomes sort of two dimensional for our users. Um, if you think about the way that you interact with Siri or the way that you interact with Google assistant, sometimes those interactions kind of fall flat. We had a lot of focus on finding tools and technologies, including natural language processing tools and technologies that matched the ideal interaction design and the ideal workflows that these different groups of users required and wanted.

We used a couple of tools to measure our baseline operating model. We used a quantitative tool called FTR means first-time-right. And we use that to measure the optimal workflows and interaction designs that we were delivering to our users. And then we used net promoter score to gauge sort of how people felt about what we were delivering to them. In the beginning. Oh my goodness. Um, we had very, very poor FTR scores and very, very poor NPS scores when we were operating in standard IT mode. But as we've undertaken this journey to autonomous operations and machine learning and natural language processing enhanced operations across about 35% of the things that we're doing, what we've discovered is that our FTR score has increased tremendously. But way more impactful. Our NPS score is among the highest IT NPS scores in the industry. Today. We often operate at an NPS of around 90, which is just enviable. There's almost no one else that level and industry. And so it's a real, a real advantage for us.

Now, ultimately I have a very small team that supports a multicloud infrastructure with multiple workloads, multiple applications that can run interchangeably across lots of different hardware, several different clouds, but because I have this foundation of a single code set that spans all of those things, and I can call that code via very simple automation that my expert team members have developed. And we can refine the way that we operate through machine learning and natural language processing tools and technologies. We have this very efficient mode of operation that is also highly satisfying to our employees. And ultimately, what does that, what does that translate to? Well, what that translates to, and when you have happy employees, those are productive employees. And so we're back to IT's original charter.

Our charter is to enable our business to thrive and to enable our employees to be productive. And so when we get to the point where our IT team members are, have stopped focusing on all of the different vendors and modes of operation and keeping the lights on and maintaining all of these diverse environments. And instead, we focus on enabling our employees to be productive, to be dare I say, happy in the way that they're working. And we can provide that optionality efficiently with a relatively small team in ways that are cost-effective to the company. Well, then we're starting to truly operate in this mixed mode, this hybrid cloud model, because it's not about multi things. It's about hybrid things. It's about this optionality of operating on any hardware in any cloud, any application or combination of applications via multiple access methods and being able to do all of this as autonomy as possible so that we can scale efficiently.

Jason Lopez: Wendy Pfeiffer is the chief information officer of Nutanix. This podcast series of 10 steps to cloud comes from her ebook, Charting the Course to Cloud. This is the Tech Barometer podcast from The Forecast.

Jason Lopez is executive producer of Tech Barometer, the podcast outlet for The Forecast. He’s the founder of Connected Social Media. Previously, he was executive producer at PodTech and a reporter at NPR.

© 2021 Nutanix, Inc. All rights reserved. For additional legal information, please go here.

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