ITSM in 2020: Five Trends to Watch

ITSM Trends
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How will IT service management (ITSM) change in the coming year? As others have pointed out, most changes in service management are not quick to come to fruition. Developments, including artificial intelligence (AI), won’t take the field by storm, as has been proselytized. Instead, they steadily find their place in the ITSM landscape.

This is the reason we see many ITSM trends from 2019 continuing forward throughout 2020 and possibly beyond. Likewise, there are new trends to explore, of course.

Please keep reading to discover five ITSM trends that may indeed change service management in the year ahead.

This article, via @TOPdesk, looks at five trends that may indeed change service management in the year ahead. #ITSM Click To Tweet
  1. AI solutions begin to focus toward augmented intelligence

For most service organizations, solutions based on AI remain an interesting consideration or added value, rather than a specific game-changer that some promised it would be.

Now, don’t get me wrong. AI has tremendous power in the long run, but not everyone is ready for it. Thus, not all AI technology is mature enough for all organizations to realize any benefit.

AI has tremendous power in the long run, but not everyone is ready for it, says @TOPdesk. #AI #ArtificialIntelligence Click To Tweet

One AI technology use case receiving enormous hype is chatbots, but we don’t yet see a massive adoption rate. Why? For the most part, chatbots are successfully adopted by larger organizations. The reason for this is because, in large part, these types of organizations have enough data and calls to train their chatbots to recognize trends and the anticipated need of the end user. Thus, the more repetitive the calls your organization receives, the easier and more productive it becomes for an organization to implement a chatbot.

Smaller organizations, however, usually don’t have the call volume to make chatbot technology useful. Therefore, there’s little benefit for many small businesses to consider implementing the technology.

That said, AI is shifting towards small innovations. So, in addition to being a viable asset for large organizations, the current trend of AI is to look at how it can help agents do their work better. This includes reducing the time spent on registration, improving incident prioritization, and automating task assignments. This alternative approach to AI is called augmented intelligence or, sometimes, intelligence augmentation (IA).

  1. Smart automation solutions will popularize as AI catches up

If AI doesn’t yet offer the technology you’re hoping for, but you still want to increase your service desk’s efficiency, where do you turn? Automation is a great place to start.

While automation has always remained a relevant topic, it bonded with AI, its smarter sibling, in 2019. AI and automation were frequently mentioned together in blog articles and presentations at industry events. And organizations are increasingly seeing the relevance and instant benefits of smart automation.

If #AI doesn’t yet offer the technology you’re hoping for, but you still want to increase your service desk’s efficiency, where do you turn? #Automation is a great place to start. #ServiceDesk Click To Tweet

A specific form of smart automation gaining popularity is robotic process automation (RPA), which involves programming a (software) robot to carry out a series of repetitive tasks, like handling orders or expense requests that were received via an intranet form.

RPA can allow your service desk staff to spend more time doing what they’re good at – offering excellent customer service. We expect more and more service desks to explore and implement smart automation solutions this year.

  1. Employee experience will drive enterprise service management in all shapes and forms

We predicted that 2019 would bring the rise of employee experience (EX) and the increased prominence of enterprise service management (ESM). Well, we weren’t far off.

In October 2019, industry analyst firm Forrester published their second The Forrester Wave report on ESM which included quite a few vendors that used to be known as ITSM vendors – it’s a significant shift.

Forrester noticed the market showed an increasing ambition to improve collaboration between service departments, and ESM seems to be the new domain tackling that challenge.

This increased focus on improving collaboration is where EX enters. Since the war for talent is growing fiercer, organizations are looking for more innovative ways to attract new employees. Offering an excellent workplace is one of the ways in which you increase your appeal as an employer.

In 2020 employee experience will drive enterprise service management in all shapes and forms, says @TOPdesk. #ITSM Click To Tweet

Breaking down silos between service departments is vital in establishing excellent EX. That’s why collaboration between service departments will intensify in 2020.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll merge into one large supporting department. In most cases, this is one step at a time, while for some organizations this means introducing a shared self-service portal. For others, this means a joint effort to improve the onboarding process.

  1. ITIL 4 fights to stay relevant

We thought 2019 would be the moment of truth for ITIL 4. At present, in my opinion, it isn’t very easy to draw many conclusions about the relevance of ITIL 4.

The direction the ITIL 4 Foundation took in its introduction early last year seems beneficial. ITIL 4 shifts to a more holistic, pragmatic approach to the framework – moving away from a sole focus on process descriptions and putting more emphasis on the foundation’s seven guiding principles. These principles are comparable to the four values from the Agile Manifesto. It’s my hope that these guide the decisions service management teams make on how to organize and deliver services.

We also like that ITIL 4 stresses the importance of factors beyond processes, like the organization, people, partners, and suppliers.

However, most of what ITIL 4 offered in 2019 is the theory, but it contains little about putting it in practice.

We believe that ITIL 4 will have a difficult time staying relevant – @TOPdesk #ITIL4 #ITSM Click To Tweet

For example, how should you align ITIL and DevOps (software development and information technology operations)? Additionally, where does collaboration with other service departments fit into this framework?

I can’t predict whether the publications of ITIL 4 that have been announced for 2020 – such as ITIL Managing Professional and ITIL 4 Strategic Leader – will offer answers to practical questions, but at TOPdesk, we believe that ITIL 4 will have a difficult time staying relevant.

  1. People and culture become vital to the success of the organization

Whether you call it “culture,” “ABC (attitude, behavior, and culture),” or “organizational change management,” it’s undeniable that service management is a people industry.

On the one hand, there’s the increased importance of EX and customer experience (CX), placing humans at the center of the service experience unlike at any other time. On the other hand, there’s the wellbeing of your service staff: You must determine if they’re happy at work and if you have the right people in the right place. Do they have what they need to help users in the best possible manner?

The past has likely made clear that your team needs the right mindset to make any initiative work. Want to work in a more agile way? Agile is a mindset. Want to break through the silos within your service departments? ESM requires collaboration. Want to make AI and automation a success? It’ll only work if your team knows that doing so won’t make them redundant. And that, too, requires a change in mindset.

Changes in thinking are how trends like ESM, AI, and Agile continue to push the people aspect to the forefront of service management. How is your organization driving such changes? Please let me know in the comments.

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Ruben is the president of TOPdesk USA a leading global provider of innovative enterprise service management solutions.

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