No matter how bulletproof an infrastructure is, there can and will be hiccups. Those hiccups need to be rectified quickly and seamlessly or retailers run the risk of disappointing the consumer.
“If a customer is at home shopping online and they lose connection for whatever reason they don’t get upset with the online retailer,” says Orsi. “But if that same glitch happens in a physical store and they can’t complete their purchase, they are going to blame the retailer. Having every store always available might not be realistic, but you have to be able to recover from issues quickly. Without automation that is impossible.”
Under a traditional manual support model, when a technical outage occurs key team members must convene to troubleshoot the situation and resolve it. The process can take an extended period of time, and that slow response can have significant impact on both the user experience and the company’s bottom line.
Automation is essential if a retailer is ever going to approach an always-up environment. For many years there have been tools available to handle simple automated tasks and help technicians monitor their systems for glitches and get the network up and running as quickly as possible when outages occur. However, these systems are slow and clumsy and require human interaction to complete their tasks.
What Loblaw needed was a solution that could not only monitor its infrastructure 24/7 but also troubleshoot and repair it without human intervention. To accomplish this Loblaw and its team of vendor partners turned to artificial intelligence.
Tip of the Iceberg
Loblaw operates its IT support through an ecosystem of partners. As demand for game-changing, experiential technology continues to increase across the industry, Loblaw needed a way to fund its next-gen tech development. The obvious choice for Orsi and his team was to trim their partner costs and reallocate those funds to software development. Ignio is the linchpin of this strategy.
“We have expanded our capabilities by introducing a few new use cases every month,” Orsi says. “We try to automate those things which are either most needed or most disruptive. In many areas, we have seen mean time to resolution reduced from a few days to a few minutes. And we’ve targeted more proactive use cases such as network switch performance and availability with an eye toward auto resolution.”
Currently around 20% of Loblaw’s support tickets are handled by Ignio, and of those 40% are machine solved, requiring no human interaction. While these results are certainly impressive they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Ignio’s potential impact.
When Loblaw decided on Ignio as its AI solution provider, it did it in part thanks to its vendor partners’ recognition of the power of the platform and their willingness to reduce Loblaw’s support requirements.
“There is no way to manage all of these new systems without AI,” Orsi says. “We might be a little ahead of the curve in terms of the implementation of the technology, but the time has come. There is a major transformation occurring now for both retailers and the vendor community and everyone has to get on board.”
Consumers have grown accustomed to a seamless digital experience and are making shopping and purchase decisions based on a retailer’s ability to flawlessly merge physical and digital retail experiences. These next-gen experiences are the key to success now and into the future for Loblaw. Without automating its IT support, the retailer would find it increasingly difficult to deliver innovation at the pace required. By introducing AI into its network infrastructure Loblaw is setting itself up for the future.
“Everyone in the industry is talking about leveraging artificial intelligence to manage IT operations,” Orsi says. “But we are doing more than just talking; we are one of the early ones using AI not only to manage but also to enhance our IT operations.”