I recently authored some guidance for IT departments – Smart Guide: Brex-IT – How will public sector IT cope in 2020? – which highlighted that, on a like-for-like basis, UK Public Sector departmental spending is more than £40 billion lower in 2018–19 than it was in 2009–10. Although the UK government announced an end to austerity in September 2019, uncertainty over Brexit and the economic implications of leaving the EU have cast a dark shadow over the promise of long-term increased public spending.
This article takes the challenges outlined in the Smart Guide to look at service management per se in 2020.
Digging deeper into Brexit
While the threat of a hard Brexit has diminished, the House of Commons briefing paper – Brexit: the financial settlement – expects that the UK will be paying the Brexit “divorce bill” of £32.8 billion well into the 2060s, with around 70% of that cost coming within the first four years.
The general election promises of the main political parties to substantially increase investment in public services must, therefore, be balanced with the harsh realities of an uncertain UK economic outlook and the looming specter of a global economic recession.
It looks as though it’s going to be a rough ride for businesses and the IT departments, especially if they haven’t successfully addressed the challenges I outline below.
6 key challenges for service management in 2020
- Although it focused on the public sector, the service management challenges outlined within the Smart Guide are equally applicable to the private sector. It explains that 85% of citizens expect the same or a higher standard of quality from government services than they do commercial organizations. In today’s digital age the bar has been raised, and across private and public sectors alike, these liquid expectations are accelerating demand for frictionless service experiences. This means personalization, access to new services, ease of consumption, collaboration, and intelligent automation – all delivered with the same or fewer resources.
- While public and private sector businesses are tackling the digitization of citizen-facing services, their back-office operations remain largely analog. The flow of work is managed in departmental silos through disparate, legacy systems.
- Customer-facing services are supported by back-office operations and tackling one without addressing the other is akin to painting the facade of a house, while continuing to allow the plumbing, electrics, and fixtures to corrode and decay. In 2020, the ongoing cost of inefficiency and the waste associated with siloed processes, manual tasks, and repetitive activities can no longer be ignored.
- While some IT organizations may choose to spend their time and money on “AI magic,” others will take a more pragmatic view, applying enterprise service management tools and techniques to solve real challenges in other areas of the business.
- First-generation SaaS tools and their dependency on implementation partners and technical gurus have held organizations back. However, cloud-native SaaS tools with low/no-code, point-and-click configuration, and seamless upgrades have made enterprise service management easier to deploy, and more cost-effective to configure and maintain.
- IT service delivery teams have traditionally been swamped by activities that they shouldn’t be doing, which means that they struggle to scale and have less capacity for higher-value work. Automation will be huge during 2020 and low-value interactions, such as password reset, user account provisioning (joiners, leavers, and updates), software deployment, and standard changes, are perfect targets for the elimination of manual effort. When automation and integration are combined, it creates a powerful mechanism to improve the flow of work and deliver a much smoother service experience, while creating capacity for higher-value interactions, such as enabling other business units to tackle the same challenges that IT has, to the greatest extent, already resolved.
Automation offers many solutions for service management’s challenges
At Hornbill Insights19 (our annual customer conference) in June of this year, Marc Littlefair, IT Services Manager at BTG Plc, explained how automation and integration are saving his organization thousands of hours every year. Following the event, Marc kindly agreed to share his experiences, and you can access the podcast on the Hornbill Blog. Summing up the value of automation, Marc says, “Adding value to the business, suddenly makes IT look a whole lot better. We’re not just delivering a service, we’re a partner that’s enabling the business to work as effectively as it can. When the business is doing something, they want IT to be involved.”
Isn’t that how it should be? In 2020, enterprise service management, collaboration, automation, and integration are what practitioners need to focus on if they want to add value.