The rise of ChatOps — and how to get adoption right

ChatOps in enterprise CSC Blogs

With the rise of cloud services and the growing importance of productivity and collaboration in the workplace, enterprises are embracing messaging apps and incorporating “ChatOps” into their workflow.

ChatOps is a powerful way to facilitate faster decision-making and problem-solving. The trend has been fueled by the popularity of tools such as HipChat, HuBot, Slack and others that offer chat-style, collaborative project management. These tools also execute scripts, automate tasks and get workflow approvals to deploy code, kick-off software tests and more.

As an added bonus, the chat application keeps a clear record of all discussions and scripts executed – something very handy for root- cause analysis and troubleshooting.

With all of that in mind, how are enterprises embracing chat?

Chatting down silos

“At Threat Stack we’ve long embraced Slack as a collaboration tool that removes silos within the organization and helps busy operations teams to move quickly and have a fully informed view,” says Pete Cheslock, senior director of Ops and support at Threat Stack. “We’re seeing this migration toward ChatOps with our customers.”

Bhaskar Roy, head of growth at Workato, sees chat being embraced at companies that range from small businesses to Fortune 500 firms.

“There are groups in large enterprises who are adopting different chat products and are always looking for what they can do to make chat the center of all communication. When we talk to these companies we find that they believe that chat is a more natural, human, fast way to communicate — which can help in getting things done faster,” Roy says.

He adds that chat is becoming a “command center for business apps.”

“(Organizations) are using chat to get information from various applications and are looking for ways where they can easily interact with the application from the comfort of their chat/conversational interface,” he says.

Getting the most out of ChatOps

With the tremendous growth in ChatOps, some best practices are emerging. Three essential steps will help organizations implement ChatOps successfully:

1 Inspire adoption

“The main problem that enterprises have in chat penetration internally is adoption. People are resistant to change, and it is usually difficult to change user behavior especially in the way people work everyday,” says Narain Muralidharan, a market analyst at online customer support and helpdesk software-maker Freshdesk.

He recommends starting small with pilot teams, getting buy-in, and creating evangelists within the company. Buy-in from management is also crucial, he adds.

2 Tune the system

Chat alerts can be nagging distractions throughout the day, sucking workers’ concentration and clamoring for their time. Too many notifications can result in a loss of productivity.

Roy recommends tuning the system so “people are notified only for things that are urgent, relevant and something that they need to act on right away.”

Eric Sigler, head of DevOps at PagerDuty says, users should be able to customize their notification preferences. “By personalizing notifications, it ensures that they see the most important chats and are accessible when it matters, but still have the ability to focus without being disrupted by constant pings.”

In addition, intelligent bots should learn and adapt based on user interactions.

3 Embrace a DevOps mentality

Sigler says success ultimately requires a DevOps mentality, where individual teams are responsible for — and empowered to maintain — their own services. Without this, it’s too easy for teams to “throw things over the wall,” he says.

Infrastructure teams need to understand how their engineers and user base want to interact with the tool and find ways to make “the easy things easy, and the hard things possible,” he adds.

How’s the future look for enterprise chat?

Bright, according to most of the experts we spoke with.

“In an age of digital transformation, where slow is the new down, conversationally driven interaction with software is going to play an important role for collaboration and increased agility,” says Sigler.

“Overall for founders, hackers, and investors, there’s room to innovate when it comes to humans and bots, and there’s a lot of really poor user experiences and bad workflows out there that can be improved by thinking about them through the constraints chat provides,“ he adds.

Has your company adopted ChatOps tools? What best practices have you learned?


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