There’s no doubt that the IT service desk environment is changing rapidly but does this mean that there’s no longer room for ITIL, the popular IT service management (ITSM) best practice framework?

The trend towards IT self-service, and the adoption of omnichannel approaches for customers to engage with IT, are having a significant impact on the way service desks work. In part, these changes are due to IT service providers trying to improve – for example, customer self-service portals, combined with strong knowledge management capabilities, provide an ideal opportunity to encourage ticket deflection, reducing the demand on the service desk. Plus, self-service is also viewed as a conduit to exploit opportunities for automation, enabling a customer to raise routine requests that are fulfilled without the requirement for human intervention.

But it’s not all supply-side change

The change is also driven by a progressively sophisticated end-user/customer community that’s demanding more of corporate IT service providers. Customers now regularly use chat when dealing with online retailers and the chat tools in use are increasingly powered by bots. And, thanks to consumerization (employee personal-life service experiences driving their workplace expectations), it’s no surprise that these customers have an expectation that the IT services and service-engagement tools they use at work are on par with those they can access from the comfort of their own homes, whether shopping on Amazon or dealing with an insurance company.

And, in response to the demands of corporate IT service providers and their ever-more-demanding customers, ITSM toolset vendors are increasingly employing machine learning and omnichannel capabilities, such as chat, as part of the standard offerings in their tools. Importantly, these are no longer viewed as nice-to-haves, but as essentials for modern-day IT support.

But avoid the ITSM equivalent of “all style and no substance”

The prospect of delivering such exciting, new capabilities to customers can easily seduce the unsuspecting and under-pressure corporate IT service provider but it’s important to recognize that, while these new means of enabling customers to engage with IT are important, they’re not an end in themselves.

It’s still essential that IT gets the basics right and that means ensuring the technology is underpinned by sound processes, tools, and appropriate support capabilities. And for this reason, IT still needs the benefits delivered through appropriate alignment to ITIL.

ITIL still has a role to play in 2017

As the de facto approach for ITSM, this makes perfect sense. ITIL is long-established and it works.

ITIL provides a structured framework that, if not followed slavishly, allows the organization to flex and incorporate changing technologies and business processes. As the ITL mantra states: adapt and adopt.

Plus, ITIL still forms the basis of the majority of ITSM tools on the market today. It provides an environment for software companies to create technology that allows their customers to build clearly defined, repeatable processes that all members of staff know and understand. This then ensures that service delivery becomes efficient and effective through the consistent application of the processes.

For customer-facing IT self-service and any process automation to work, the underlying process needs to be clearly understood and defined, with predictable outcomes identified. For chatbots to be effective, knowledge content must be well-sourced and managed. The knowledge must also be kept up to date, kept appropriate to the audience and, most importantly, it must meet customer requirements. It’s yet another opportunity for ITIL best practice to be employed.

Thus, as we move into a new paradigm of customer engagement by corporate IT, ITIL is still as relevant now as it has ever been. Obviously, given the word-count constraints, my blog only skims the surface of where and how ITIL is still relevant for modern IT support – so, where would you point to as being a key continuing requirement?