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Utopia in IT Service Management

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As the average organisation’s IT stack becomes more and more complex, well-delivered IT service management (ITSM) is increasingly mission critical to the business. ITSM gives an IT department a way to improve internal processes, address and understand the individual needs of different business units, provide more value to its customers, and ultimately move the organisation forward. It is usually the primary point of interaction between an IT department and the rest of an organisation, and as such is vital to get right. In this article, we’ll take a look at what’s coming round the corner in service management, and how you can benefit today.

Where do cognitive capabilities fit into my business?

Imagine a service desk with embedded cognitive capabilities that allowed you to automate repetitive, mundane tasks and free up expensive resources for innovative and people-focused work. The future of service delivery is one where enterprises make full use of intelligent systems to achieve new levels of agility, productivity, and efficiency. Enterprise IT specialist BMC have dubbed this the “Cognitive Revolution” and predict a joined-up, centralised infrastructure that intelligently makes the leap between multiple clouds and on-premise environments, as well as moving adeptly between channels and devices. This paves the way not only for customers to choose their channel of choice when engaging with an organisation, but also its employees to work and communicate in the way that feels most natural to them - without having that dictated to them.

However, cognitive capabilities built into applications are no longer futuristic.  An IDC FutureScape report predicts that 75% of workers will be interacting with intelligent digital assistants by 2019, and that by 2020, productivity gains made by the integration of artificial intelligence in the workplace will amount to US$60bn per year. Consider, for instance, enterprise chatbots powered by artificial intelligence that allow smart querying through natural language processing. Their applications span multiple departments - not least the IT service desk, where the advent of chatbots capable of showing emotion means that you can now outsource and automate the human side of IT service delivery, where soft skills and empathy are required in order to pave the way for a successful resolution of an issue. Or the AI-powered virtual assistant currently bundled with certain levels of the Sage accounting software that enables small business owners to ask questions like “Am I on track to hit payroll next week?”, or “Will I have enough cash to hire an extra person next month?”. These innovations are already here, and it is beholden on us to explore the possibilities they open up.

 

Is it all about technology, though?

Whilst new technologies are always going to be at the front of discussions about revolutionising IT service management, there remains a lot of scope for transformative change in the way that IT teams interact with the rest of an organisation. There is a strong argument that in today’s world, static, hard-baked SLAs are outdated. Think about it - with increasing dependence on cloud services, the adoption of Agile and DevOps methodologies, or crucially, the transference of consumer expectations of services and support into the workplace, the way IT services are procured, delivered and consumed has changed radically, and with it the positioning of an IT department. So is it time for a rethink?

At the very least, SLAs ought to be seen as living documents, constantly revised with new changes to processes, resources and technology, to keep them up-to-date and accurate. At best, they should be viewed as respect-based, with stripped-back templates to gather requirements, with systems, software and processes tested iteratively against those requirements, and feedback constantly sought from end-users throughout testing and use, in order to constantly revise requirements and any resulting SLA(s). What would our IT teams look like if this were the approach we took with the rest of the organisation?

 

Make sure you’re not left behind

As will be evident, emerging technologies have transformative potential in the service management space. The hallowed combination of improving service whilst simultaneously delivering at a lower cost really needn’t be seen as futuristic utopia anymore, and many company boards are expecting CIOs and heads of IT to be exploring and innovating in these areas. Whilst large-scale transformation takes time, borrowing the iterative DevOps/agile approach means even small steps are valuable to experiment and test concepts. The cognitive revolution is coming, and those who move quickly will reap the rewards.

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