It’s that time of the year (again) when everyone and their dog (or cat, if you’re more of a cat person) writes their IT service management (ITSM) predictions for the new year ahead. I’m not knocking them (well I do a little later on), because they’re good things in that they allow us all to reflect on the year gone by, and to regroup for the challenges that lie ahead.

In this ITSM-in-2018 predictions blog, however, I want to take a slightly different tack – focusing more on doing the things that help your organization, rather than getting excited about the new opportunities (and often the sexy, enabling technology) that lie ahead.

So, what does 2018 hold for ITSM professionals? And what should they be focusing on as they strive to improve IT service delivery and support, and the value that the annual investment in IT delivers to the organization?

In 2018, it’s time to wake up and smell the increasing pressures on IT

Where do you start with this one? It’s a can of worms that shouldn’t really be opened in a single blog, let alone in a single blog “section.” There’s so much for IT and ITSM pros to contend with right now (and then going forward into 2018) that starting a list – as I’m foolishly about to do (with the bullets listed in no particular order) – is potentially demotivating to those that read it:

  • The continuing financial pressures on both staffing and technology investments – delivering against greater business needs while being squeezed to reduce operational costs (or to get better at budgeting and prioritization) isn’t going to be easy
  • Difficulties in people/skills recruitment and retention for both old and new technologies, plus the new ways of working that demand different skills
  • The need to continue removing costly and inefficient manual activities, exploiting automation – for both “heavy lifting” and “heavy thinking” – wherever possible
  • Meeting the growing demands of employees and customers, as “customer experience” (CX) continues to drive improvements in services, support, and customer service both inside and outside the organization
  • The management issues that come with cloud adoption, especially effective financial stewardship of cloud costs and the management of multi-supplier cloud sourcing scenarios
  • The annual drive for improvement – whether new ITSM capabilities and/or greater ITSM maturity, or IT service or operational improvement. With this now made more interesting and potentially easier (or possibly more complex) – there’s greater interest in taking the best from multiple ITSM approaches and two new ITSM approaches landing for 2018 – VeriSM and a new version of ITIL (disclaimer: I have had a limited involvement in both and know many of the authors)
  • The ongoing “thinking” and working “disconnects” between DevOps and ITSM pros, and the micro and macro-level impacts of this on both IT and business operations
  • Challenges that relate to more complex supplier-management scenarios (service integration and management (SIAM)) on the one hand, and then enterprise service management on the other – as ITSM principles, best practice, and technology are shared across other lines of business such as HR, facilities, and customer services
  • Security risks – something that has escaped the realms of IT to now also be a serious concern of most boards. In fact, it’s probably going to dominate 2018 for many IT pros
  • Increased technology adoption – from the “old” such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, through serverless and artificial intelligence (AI) – with the opportunities, challenges, and risk that these bring (including focusing on value-adding use case scenarios, management, and security)
  • Efficiently dealing with growing levels of technical debt
  • Meeting new business and regulatory needs such as GDPR in a timely fashion
  • Delivering against the business need for “digital transformation” – from generating new revenues (driven by technology and data), providing better customer engagement capabilities, and the need to bring back-office operations into the 21st Century

I did warn you, and I could keep going, but hopefully you get my drift on the wealth of things to consider and address as needed.

Plus, let’s not forget the ongoing need to “keep the lights on” and to finally get some expected “basics” – such as IT self-service – right.

Your required ITSM focus for 2018

Now if this were a traditional “Get ready for 2018” ITSM blog then you would currently be reading a “5 things you must do”-type list. But how dangerous is this? Are they likely to be the most important and valuable 5 things for your organization? No, of course not. Some will of course be relevant, but the danger is that the limited (and aggregated) list “distracts” the reader, and possibly provides a false sense of security that everything is now in hand for the year ahead.

And, consequently, will you end up investing time, effort, and money in the wrong things? Or, possibly more importantly, will you neglect opportunities, challenges, and risks that your organization really must address (or start to address) in 2018?

So, forget about the 2018 “5 things you must do” lists (other than for adding to my quickly-written list above) and create a more-personalized 2018 to-do list that looks something like this:

  1. Consider the full scope of IT- and ITSM-related risks, challenges, and opportunities your organization is facing now and going forward into 2018 and beyond (feel free to use the above list, and other 2018 lists, as a sense check)
  2. Prioritize the “long list” based on organizational relevance and capacity (eliciting additional resources when needed and possible)
  3. Start the “doing,” based on the agreed prioritization, dependencies, and the outputs of any feedback mechanisms introduced

Hopefully, this three-point list doesn’t come across as a consultant-like “It depends”-type answer/solution. But, for me, it really is the better list to start with – for 2018, your organization’s ITSM priorities will depend on what’s most important to it and its stakeholders. Are you ready to start “the doing”?