By 26 February 2024 | Categories: news


News sponsored by Vodacom Transformation of Work:

By Mandy Duncan, HPE Aruba Networking Country Manager, South Africa

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations dominating the news, you’ve likely already heard how AI for IT Operations (AIOps) is set to revolutionise almost everything. Like many other local business leaders, you probably have high expectations of the benefits AI will bring to your IT department. Indeed, almost 50% of South African organisations say this is the most important area where they expect to see performance improvements. Not surprisingly, for most, elevated customer experience is the top anticipated outcome.

To benefit even further from advances in AI, the next thing that should be on your radar is something called AI Networking, which will be particularly relevant if you’re responsible for wireless, wired, and wide area networks (WAN).

Before we explore this new facet of AI innovation, let’s take a step back. Reviewing a few definitions will help you better understand the key characteristics of an effective AI solution, and provide clarity around how AI, machine learning (ML), and automation can help your retail organisation.

What AIOps can do for your IT team

AIOps, a term coined by Gartner, is a solution that uses big data and ML to automate IT operations processes such as anomaly detection and causality determination. It’s like DevOps in that it consolidates service and performance management, teaming this with automation to deliver continuous insights that enable improvement.

So, where do networking, storage, and support services fit into the equation? Gartner clarified these roles in a new term: AI Networking. A subset of AIOps, AI Networking is considered a more efficient way to manage Day 2 network operations – the phase after design and implementation, when your team is analysing and optimising the modern networking system.

To reiterate, AIOps refers to the broader infrastructure managed by your information and operations (I&O) teams. AI Networking, on the other hand, sits within the broader infrastructure, but is specific to work around your wired, wireless, and WAN networks. AIOps — and, more specifically, AI Networking — provides you with intelligent automation, so that you can quickly see and respond to connectivity issues, or even prevent network outages. Given the sheer volume of cloud-based services, digital users, and IoT devices across the various locations your retail network supports, it enables you to handle this work far faster than is humanly possible.

Use cases for AI Networking

Recently we’ve seen major local retailers like Shoprite draw on AI-powered solutions to elevate a wide range of operations, from predicting trends to optimising inventory, reducing waste and boosting customer experience. Already, intelligent AI-powered solutions are also helping IT pros solve today’s biggest retail networking challenges. A few examples of business use-cases are listed below.

·       Remote management of multiple stores. Today, it’s standard to see centralised IT teams managing dispersed locations. With this in mind, AI Networking features provide near-real-time visibility into network activity wherever it is taking place. This includes determining which devices are being connected to networks, identifying sites that are struggling with LAN or WAN issues, and collecting essential data logs automatically. You also receive AI-powered alerts that help you triage the most urgent troubleshooting issues.

·       Accurate identification of issues. In the same way that ML models are designed to point out patterns of behavior and deviations from them, AI Networking insights and alerts help you uncover wireless, wired, and WAN gateway issues that traditional tools miss. For instance, AI Networking can help you see the difference between a device that’s misbehaving due to a hardware failure or something intermittent that a firmware upgrade can fix.

·       Improvement of user journeys. Modern customers not only expect products that meet their needs; they also demand high-quality in-store experiences. Subsequently, IT departments need to find ways to deliver exceptional guest and employee access, in an environment where technical expertise is often sparse and on-site troubleshooting can be difficult. The most advanced AI Networking features address this challenge by recommending how you can boost network performance, without costly upgrades, while delivering on operational expectations and customer experiences at the same time.

When you’re deciding on a suitable networking solution, you should be exploring how AI plays a role in it. Today, always-on networks are a competitive advantage in the retail landscape, so it’s important that you consider how AIOps can provide you with actionable insights, help you automate tasks to free up IT resources for higher-value projects, and give you the ability to improve business and competitive outcomes overall.


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