Equinix Prioritizes AI Investments Amid Pandemic

Equinix CIO Milind Wagle offers an update on the firm’s AI initiatives and how they assisted for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster.

Even though eating places, professional airlines, and gyms have seen company grind to a halt for the duration of the peak of the coronavirus shutdown in unique areas of the globe and IT scrambled to help new company designs, other industries appeared to be having fun with a little bit of a boom, driven by the need to have for consumers to keep at property, nevertheless related.

Online video conferencing is the apparent illustration, with software program providers these kinds of as Zoom and Microsoft Teams having fun with enormous progress as staff have stayed in contact with consumers and colleagues, and as families and good friends tried out to keep in call the only way they can.

Image: Ken_Wolter - shutterstock

Picture: Ken_Wolter – shutterstock

Other tech parts you could anticipate to see developing include cloud vendors and details center firms. Equinix falls into that category as a world details center and company co-location enterprise with 220 details centers across 26 nations and 11,000 workforce and contingent staff.

Read through all our coverage on how IT leaders are responding to the ailments induced by the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic strike two decades into Equinix’s system to apply AI to aid the firm’s company desk that supports consumers and workforce. CIO Milind Wagle offered InformationWeek with an update to the AI plan that was just at its commencing section in 2018, and an overview of what else the enterprise is executing in the wake of COVID-19.

CIO Milind Wagle

CIO Milind Wagle

“At one particular stage we contemplated growing our Degree 1 help,” Wagle said, speaking about options to make certain that top quality aid desk help continued as the enterprise grew. But that was not an perfect resolution. Wagle most popular to commit these resources on teams and applications that are building new abilities for the company.

Which is why Equinix begun hunting to AI to aid with help. Wagle said it matches in with his four foundational principles/technologies for IT that he tries to use when doable. They are AI, automation, cloud, and Agile.


These days, when Equinix workforce have an issue they can change to E-Bot for aid. E-Bot is Equinix’s implementation of an AI chatbot process developed for IT company desks and established by a enterprise known as Moveworks. One particular of the good reasons Wagle preferred Moveworks was that it supplied a conversational engine that could combine into well-liked collaboration software program, which include Slack and the one particular Equinix employs, Microsoft Teams. E-Bot seems as part of Teams and workforce can entry it from there. The company went live in April 2019 and yielded some unexpected positive aspects. For instance, Equinix was in the procedure of shifting from Skype for Company to Microsoft Teams. “Our adoption was decreased than we predicted,” Wagle said. “We begun executing extra awareness campaigns all around E-Bot and what it can do for workforce. As individuals begun using E-Bot extra, adoption of Teams greater.”

E-Bot in Microsoft Teams

E-Bot in Microsoft Teams

Wagle can’t quantify how much of the adoption was owing to E-Bot, but he said that for the reason that workforce were being equipped to get their troubles settled relatively immediately via the conversational interface, the enterprise has seen extra engagement on the Teams system. At this time 30{fb741301fcc9e6a089210a2d6dd4da375f6d1577f4d7524c5633222b81dec1ca} – 35{fb741301fcc9e6a089210a2d6dd4da375f6d1577f4d7524c5633222b81dec1ca} of tickets are automated by way of the E-Bot practical experience. What’s extra, Wagle said that the crew has calculated that E-Bot is now executing the work of 4.4 comprehensive-time workforce.

However a further unexpected payoff came when the sudden coronavirus shutdowns began in March. Equinix operates a Degree 1 aid desk company center in the Philippines that is made use of to help and triage newly submitted troubles. But one particular working day the governing administration shut down all of Manila, sending all the staff property. Most of Equinix’s staff in the town lacked entry to the infrastructure they would need to have to work from property.

Equinix necessary to broaden E-Bot’s repertoire to cope with concerns these kinds of as “What’s the reimbursement policy if I purchase a headset?” and “Can I purchase a monitor and get reimbursed?”

To tackle the issue, Equinix set all of the related know-how content into the E-Bot process.

“That drove engagement and action on the E-Bot system,” Wagle said. “It was satisfying for us to see how individuals were being engaging with that.”

Following on that good results, Equinix is monitoring the concerns workforce are inquiring, how they are engaging with the system, and no matter whether their troubles are obtaining settled or not. The target is to be equipped to automate extra tickets to manage Equinix’s aid desk headcount.

Earlier this thirty day period, a member of Equinix’s HR crew despatched a extended email to the firm’s help alias to get help for a Surface pill functionality issue, Wagle said. 

“Ahead of this would have been browse by an agent in a queue. E-Bot was equipped to interpret intent and give the man or woman with a know-how write-up in just 10 seconds,” he said. “That man or woman was equipped to solve thie issue.”

Pivoting for the pandemic

Over and above E-Bot, Wagle said Equinix was very prosperous with its pivot to work from property for its thousands of workforce devoid of any glitches.

“I attribute that to tactics we adopted with cloud and collaboration resources we had now adopted devoid of a pandemic in intellect,” he said. “But these tactics drove worth in a circumstance like this.”

As for all round IT priorities for the insane 12 months of 2020, Wagle said the enterprise has “deprioritized possibly 15{fb741301fcc9e6a089210a2d6dd4da375f6d1577f4d7524c5633222b81dec1ca} of what we were being intending to do for 2020. Not for the reason that of expense good reasons. But largely we felt the useful resource capability to work on them is constrained ideal now.”

In other terms, individuals are operating really hard now, they are occupied, and they are seeking to stability personal and qualified priorities for the duration of a pandemic.

Nevertheless, Wagle said, Equinix is doubling down on some other electronic and automation tactics that are related to AI or make the business extra agile or simplify procedures.

For instance, the firm’s cloud acceleration technique is almost entire, and will continue on as planned. Equinix is also in the procedure of refreshing its details analytics and details administration.

“The amount of money of intelligence we were being equipped to use from our individual company systems to make conclusions for responding to COVID strengthened our belief that details and intelligence are seriously important,” he said.

How will Equinix emerge from the disaster? Wagle said that scheduling procedure is underway, as well, but just at the brainstorming stage.

“How need to we rethink what we do? An illustration is robots in our details centers or contactless entry systems or electronic entry mechanisms,” Wagle said. “How do we give extra self-company abilities for our consumers?”

Jessica Davis has spent a vocation masking the intersection of company and technological know-how at titles which include IDG’s Infoworld, Ziff Davis Enterprise’s eWeek and Channel Insider, and Penton Technology’s MSPmentor. She’s passionate about the useful use of company intelligence, … Look at Comprehensive Bio

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