BMC Connect 2023 – The ITSM (and ESM) Opportunity for AI

BMC Connect 2023

BMC Software finished its BMC Connect 2023 tour with a packed customer event in London. This ITSM.tools article shares some of the key IT service management (ITSM) insights, many of which relate to the opportunity for IT organizations to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to improve their operations and the associated business outcomes.

This article by @StephenMann shares some of the key #ITSM insights from the @BMCSoftware Connect 2023 event. Share on X

The BMC Connect event’s focus on AI

The scene was set for the day with an “IT truth” that’s so obvious we can easily overlook it: “It’s hard to have an IT conversation these days without talking about AI.” This early statement by BMC Software’s President and Chief Executive Officer Ayman Sayed brought home the fact that while there are also conversations related to other trends, such as enterprise service management and employee experience, the success of ChatGPT, in particular, has made AI an even hotter topic in the ITSM space.

There was also an interesting insight that, again, while potentially known, is easy to overlook in the rush to add AI capabilities to existing ITSM processes. This is that AI does two things for organizations:

  1. Improves existing workflows
  2. Creates new solutions that weren’t possible before.

We shouldn’t forget the latter of these and the opportunity to innovate by leveraging AI.

'We shouldn't forget that AI creates new solutions that weren't possible before' #ITSM #AI Share on X

Real-world insights into AI adoption

Steve Rempel of the Walgreens Boots Alliance placed AI against a great technology-demand backdrop, “Coming out of the pandemic, everyone wanted everything (in terms of technology enablement).” Such that the potential use cases for AI are in a time of almost unprecedented demand for greater technology and data exploitation to transform business operations and outcomes.

However, Steve offered two great “words of warning” to the audience. First, on the need for data in AI adoption, “AI without data is vapourware. Data without AI is a nice report.” Second, related to all of the “noise” around AI and the need to rise above it: “You can get lost in third parties telling you all that’s possible with AI. You need to focus on tangible use cases that help.” Then, adding, “I don’t want my technology partners working on stuff we don’t need. Separate your wants from needs.”

This focus is demonstrated in the Walgreens Boots Alliance’s approach to AI, where they ensure they “can measure it before they build it” for every use of AI and data.

'AI without data is vapourware. Data without AI is a nice report.' – @WBA_Global #AI #ArtificialIntelligence Share on X

ConnectedDigitalOps at BMC Connect

When focused on ITSM, it can be easy to miss out on some of what’s happening in adjacent IT spaces and the latest and greatest IT acronyms. Most ITSM professionals will be aware of DevOps and AIOps. But what about ServiceOps, DataOps, and AutonomousOps?

Ram Chakravarti, BMC Software’s Chief Technology Officer, shared these “ConnectedDigitalOps” terms as he set out the opportunities where AI unlocks the value in data (which was the third time in a row that the important link between AI and data had been mentioned by the event presenters).

BMC Connect

ServiceOps

Of these five “EConnectedDigitalOps” areas, ServiceOps is likely the most interesting to ITSM practitioners, which Ram’s slide defines as “AI-driven integrated service and operations management.” It’s an approach that helps bring ITSM and IT operations management (ITOM) together, with AI sitting between common services and common data services.

There’s an October 2021 BMC Software blog on ServiceOps here, with it perhaps necessary to use the term “ServiceOps” over “service operations” given the previous ITIL v3/2011 use of “service operation” (without the final “s”) which was frequently incorrectly referred to as “service operations.”

While Ram’s slide calls out “BMC Helix for ServiceOps,” it’s important to appreciate that this isn’t a singular product but a platform-based solution that uses multiple BMC products, including:

  • BMC Helix ITSM
  • BMC Helix Operations Management with AIOps
  • BMC Helix Discovery
  • BMC Helix Control-M
  • BMC HelixGPT. 

Please read the next section if the last of these offerings is new to you.

A clever and nice touch in one of the afternoon’s breakout sessions showed the Gartner ITSM and ITOM Hype Cycles side by side, where there was some area commonality in addition to including service operations halfway up the lefthand side of the line.

Gartner Hype Cycles shared at a BMC event

What’s HelixGPT?

Given the world’s interest in ChatGPT in 2023, I feel bad that I missed the October BMC HelixGPT press release before the BMC Connect 23 events. This communication shared the expansion of BMC’s generative AI capabilities, which started in 2021, with them now embedded into its AI-driven service and operations management portfolio, stating that:

“Powered by large-language models (LLMs), the BMC HelixGPT solution reads data in real time and applies pattern-based decision logic and intuitive reasoning to revolutionize incident resolution and automate interactions supporting valuable use cases, including:

  • Conversational engagement and search—Offers end users the ability to communicate naturally with virtual agents and chatbots by fully understanding queries and sharing responses within a larger context with greater accuracy and speed. It integrates information across the BMC Helix Digital Workplace, BMC Helix Knowledge Management, and BMC Helix Virtual Agent solutions. IT teams benefit from an improved self-service experience, reducing the number of incoming service requests.
  • Event and incident summaries—Integration with BMC Helix solutions for AIOps helps enterprises recover faster from service outages by correlating incidents and applying “chain of thought reasoning” to generate recommendations for quick resolution. This streamlines the process by providing concise, plain-language summaries of how issues were resolved.
  • Resolution insights—Ingests all enterprise data, including historical and current case data, across enterprise service management and IT operations management to determine a more optimized process. The BMC HelixGPT solution learns and stores these insights for future reference and automated remediation, saving teams valuable time. In addition, it can use combined operations and service management ticket data to make best-action recommendations.”

Forrester’s view of Observability and AIOps at BMC Connect

Carlos Casanova presented on the current state of Observability and AIOps at the BMC Connect event. This included sharing the Forrester Observability Reference Architecture and differentiating between AIOps, observability, and monitoring.

Forrester insight shared at BMC Connect
Forrester insight shared at BMC Connect

Carlos spoke to the “misuse of terms” when marketing AIOps, observability, and monitoring solutions or capabilities. The above image has multiple dimensions, but the elements I thought helped best clarify the difference between AIOps, observability, and monitoring are:

  • AIOps – predictive
  • Observability – active/proactive
  • Monitoring – reactive.

But that’s just my “keep it simple” view.

There's a lot of 'misuse of terms; when marketing AIOps, observability, and monitoring solutions or capabilities, says @CarlosCasanova #AI #AIOps #ArtificialIntelligence #ITSM Share on X

Finally, another “picture that paints a thousand words” from Carlos was on the four perspectives of AIOps implementation. For me, it was great to see the area of AIOps elevated beyond the selection of “AIOps technologies.”

Forrester insight shared at BMC Connect

BMC and enterprise service management

I’ve been writing about enterprise service management for a decade and having related conversations for half a decade before this. So, seeing it covered in the afternoon’s breakout sessions was great. First, from a BMC HelixGPT perspective – with the capabilities relevant to both ITSM and enterprise service management (as well as ITOM). Second, in terms of the business-function-specific application availability, as shown in the slide below, that Forrester is keen to pick up on in its ongoing enterprise service management research.

BMC and enterprise service management

A final thought on service management

I’ve been to a few BMC Connect events over the years. However, given BMC’s broad range of product offerings, this was the first time I felt that ITSM – in the guise of ServiceOps – garnered a significant proportion of the event coverage. I might have been the language used, but I felt I was at an ITSM event rather than a broader IT management event (and I appreciate that my choice of breakout sessions in the afternoon will have accentuated this). This has to be a good thing for ITSM.tools readers with careers in the service management space.

Stephen Mann

Principal Analyst and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm ITSM.tools. Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.

Previously held positions in IT research and analysis (at IT industry analyst firms Ovum and Forrester and the UK Post Office), IT service management consultancy, enterprise IT service desk and IT service management, IT asset management, innovation and creativity facilitation, project management, finance consultancy, internal audit, and product marketing for a SaaS IT service management technology vendor.

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