People who work in IT service management (ITSM) and service desk roles always seem to want (and appreciate) information – sometimes to help improve and sometimes just to confirm that what they’re already doing is right. But what do they really, really want (please don’t say a zig a zig ah)? Which are the key areas for help-providers – such as us here at ITSM.tools – to focus on in 2018 (and beyond)?

Of course, we could all take a guess – and we’d get some of the trends and topics right. But, as with establishing how well an IT service is performing, we’ll never truly know until we ask the customer. Thus, we asked ITSM.tools readers to vote – to select up to five of the following topics that they felt would be the most important for us to cover in 2018:

  1. Agile
  2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
  3. Automation
  4. Business relationship management (BRM)
  5. ITSM "basics"
  6. ITSM "advanced"
  7. Cloud
  8. COBIT
  9. Customer experience (CX)
  10. DevOps
  11. Digital transformation
  12. Enterprise service management
  13. Internet of Things (IoT)
  14. IT asset management (ITAM) and software asset management (SAM)
  15. IT4IT
  16. ITIL
  17. ITSM tools
  18. Knowledge management
  19. Metrics
  20. People (including attitude, behavior, and culture (ABC))
  21. Security
  22. Self-service
  23. Service integration and management (SIAM)
  24. VeriSM
  25. Other

And the survey said…

There was a clear winner – automation – which surprisingly beat off two of the hottest “IT media” topics – AI and digital transformation. These and the rest of the top 5 (which is actually a top 9) are covered in detail below, but it’s also worth a quick look at the tail end of the table – at those topics that drew little interest.

Looking from the bottom up:

  • The lack of interest in IoT and ITAM/SAM is disappointing but not unexpected. We’d love to have greater demand for content related to the better management of IT (and business) assets – plus better financial stewardship – but these topics continue to be low on the learning (and doing) agenda for ITSM pros. Something will have to give though – and probably helped by AI – with the volumes of IoT devices making ITAM/SAM (plus security) harder to ignore.
  • The three approaches in the bottom half of the table are at different stages in their lifecycles. IT4IT and VeriSM are both relatively new, but COBIT is very mature. In many ways, it’s a mystery as to why COBIT continues to be such a poor relation to ITIL – if you have never considered its merits, this 2012 IT Skeptic blog is a good advert for COBIT.
  • I guess no one votes for ITSM “basics” when there are so many newer ITSM challenges (and opportunities) to address. We’ll continue to publish on the basics though as it’s often what people tend to be looking for via Google.
  • Joining the dots (and maybe incorrectly), the fact that security is so low down the table is probably symptomatic of the ongoing disconnect between ITSM strategies/activities and business wants/needs. Security has to be a top 3 business concern and should definitely be an operational concern for more than just the corporate IT security personnel.
  • People and BRM are touching on mid-table performance but, in a modern ITSM world where we continue to promote the need for better people-y capabilities, why are we not focused on these two topics? Maybe they are tier 2 topics, with the plan being to sort out the technology stuff first before addressing the people issues and opportunities? And we know how well that has worked for the last 30 years!

So, that’s the bottom half of the table covered – now onto the top 5.

Hot Topic #1 – Automation

Automation is nothing new. IT management and ITSM solutions have been sold for decades based on the ability to automate previously manual activities for speedier and better outcomes, plus lower costs.

And now, in addition to traditional IT automation capabilities – such as scripts, process-workflow automation, and third-party system orchestration – AI, and in particular machine learning, is capable of extending and enhancing automation capabilities.

Automation is not only a valued topic for ITSM.tools readers, Service Desk Institute (SDI) research also shows it to be a key influencer of new ITSM tool selection.

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular automation-related topics you would like to see covered on ITSM.tools. In the meantime, please check out:

Hot Topic #2 – AI

It’s surprising that this wasn’t in pole position, but then again the phrase “AI and automation” is becoming more common. There’s no doubt that ITSM tool vendors will be increasingly creating and sharing content related to AI in 2018 – whether it’s native AI capabilities (home grown or acquired), integrations with third-party solution providers, or newer ITSM tool vendors that start with AI as a unique selling point (USP).

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular AI-related topics you would like to see covered on ITSM.tools. In the meantime, please check out:

Hot Topic #3 – Digital transformation

There’s no doubt that a key ITSM challenge for 2018 will be 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 corporate back-office operations into the 21st century.

There’s so much overlap with digital transformation – from better designing, delivering, managing, supporting, and improving IT/business services to helping to improve business back-office capabilities potentially using ITSM principles, thinking, capabilities, and technologies as a blueprint (think enterprise service management).

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular digital-transformation-related topics you would like to see covered on ITSM.tools. In the meantime, please check out:

Hot Topic(s) #4 – ITSM "advanced" and CX (in joint 4th)

At first sight, these two topics aren’t connected. But of course, they are.

While organizations continue to move on past the ITSM “basics” – related to service-desk operations in the main – to more “advanced” capabilities, the CX will suffer. If only because ITSM activities are bogged down in reactive activities rather than maturing to be more proactive.

Much will be written about CX (or end-user or employee experience) in 2018 by default. It’s the direction the industry is moving in thanks to consumerization (of service not just IT). ITSM “advanced” is a trickier topic to cover though.

Firstly, what does “advanced” really mean? Once person’s advanced might be another’s basics, and vice versa. Also, given that ITSM is now 30 years old, if a high proportion of IT organizations have still to tackle more than the basics, then will they ever? Either because of costs, capabilities, or the fact that they don’t need to (at least in their own opinion).

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular advanced- and CX-related topics you would like to see covered on ITSM.tools. In the meantime, please check out:

Hot Topic(s) #5 – DevOps, ITIL, metrics, and self-service (in joint 5th)

Nothing new here. Well, OK there is with DevOps still. And, importantly, ITSM pros still have the opportunity to play a much bigger role in their organizations’ DevOps initiatives.

Getting more from ITIL is hopefully something that the “ITIL 2018” lead architect team at AXELOS will address with its forthcoming update (and I’m confident that they will). And finally getting self-service and metrics right continues to be a challenge even before considering the moving goalposts – where both CX and new technologies will change the dynamics and up the pressure on ITSM pros to get these right.

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular DevOps-, ITIL-, metrics, or self-service-related topics you would like to see covered on ITSM.tools. In the meantime, please check out:

It has been a long blog, so thank you for getting this far. ITSM.tools was, and continues to be, created with the ITSM-pro reader front of mind – so please continue to let us know which topics will best help you in your day (and future) jobs.

Plus, of course, if you have knowledge, opinions, and expertise you wish to share, then please submit an article.

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ITSM Marketing Consultant at Socommunity Ltd.

Sophie is a freelance ITSM marketing consultant, helping ITSM solution vendors to develop and implement effective marketing strategies.

She covers both traditional areas of marketing (such as advertising, tradeshows, and events) and digital marketing (such as video, social media, and email marketing). She is also a trained editor.

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