In case you don’t know me, I’m a long-time ITSMer. I like to say that I was doing IT service management (ITSM) before I knew it had a name. But over the years, I’ve also become a bit disillusioned about the state of things and I’ve spent more and more of my time focusing on digital transformation and other emerging trends — and trying to determine where all of this change was leading us.
It would seem, however, my worlds have collided a bit, and I believe that what I’m working on today will have a tremendous impact on the world of ITSM. If you’ve read any of my recent work or seen one of my recent keynotes, then you’ll know that I think that we’re in the midst of a fundamental sea-change – a time in which nearly everything we know about how the world works will change.We’re in the midst of a fundamental sea-change – a time in which nearly everything we know about how the world works will change, says @charlesaraujo. #ITSM Click To Tweet
But if this is the case, then the very first question you should be asking yourself is why?
I mean, how can you possibly prepare for this new future if you don’t begin by understanding what has precipitated all of this change in the first place.
So, let’s start there. I believe that there are two macro trends that are converging and that this convergence is the source of all this change.
The Primacy of the Customer. The Primacy of the Algorithm
You’ve probably heard me and others talk about the fact that the industrial age is coming to an end, and that we’re entering a new era. I call it the Digital Era, but you’ve probably heard other terms and phrases as well.
It doesn’t really matter what you call it, but what does matter is that you recognize that the industrial age defined almost everything we know about how organizations are structured and managed, about how we educate our children (and don’t continue educating adults), and how society-at-large works. So, as we come to the end of the industrial age, that necessarily means that many of those societal and organizational constructs will change significantly as we shift to this new era.
But what will define the way that things work in this new era?As we come to the end of the industrial age, that necessarily means that many of those societal and organizational constructs will change significantly as we shift to new era, says @charlesaraujo #ITSM Click To Tweet
This is where these two converging trends come into play. The first trend is what I call the primacy of the customer. Essentially, this trend means that organizations are no longer creating value by delivering a mass product to a mass market as efficiently as possible. Instead, differentiating value is created by delivering a differentiated customer experience. Those that positively transform the experience win.
This idea also has a few associated buzzwords like the experience economy, mass customization, and the market of one. These catchphrases all relate to this idea, but the big difference is that it’s now becoming the primary driver of organizational value.
The second trend is more personal. I call it the primacy of algorithm. Throughout the industrial age, organizations needed workers who could perform work consistently, reliably, and repeatedly. Essentially, they needed robots, so we trained generations of humans to be the robots that would power the literal and figurative machinery of the industrial age.
Today, however, we’re on the cusp of an algorithmic tipping point. Technology has now progressed to the point that machines can do much of the work that we needed humans to do throughout the industrial age – and this applies equally to both traditional “blue-collar” workers and so-called knowledge workers.Here's a sobering realization: anything we can reduce to an algorithm, we’ll automate — and we’ll do so in the very near future, says @charlesaraujo. #Automation #ITSM Click To Tweet
In short, organizations are realizing that they no longer need human robots to do that work when they can have real robots do it instead. You can boil this trend down to this sobering realization: anything we can reduce to an algorithm, we’ll automate — and we’ll do so in the very near future. And the reality is that a LOT of the work we do on a daily basis can, in fact, be reduced to an algorithm.
What These Converging Trends Mean to You
As these two trends come together, I believe they’ll lead to a fundamental restructuring of almost everything, including how we structure and manage organizations, how we compete in the market, and the nature of work itself. And I believe that it’ll usher in a new time in which it will be our very human characteristics that will become the chief drivers of value for us both personally and organizationally, which in turn, will lead us into what I am calling The New Human Age.In the near future you should expect a fundamental restructuring of almost everything, including how we structure and manage orgs & the nature of work itself, says @charlesaraujo #ITSM Click To Tweet
Of course, there’s a lot more to unpack about both of these trends, where they’re leading us, and the impact they’ll have on us. And, that impact will be anything but simple and one-dimensional. If you’d like to dig deeper, I invite you to subscribe to Your Digital Future. It’s free during its launch (and will be forever if you subscribe now), so if you want the full scoop, please sign up! But beyond the personal implications, you’re probably wondering how these two trends will impact the ITSM industry (and, as a result, your livelihood).
The Impact on ITSM
On the one hand, there’s good news. I’ve always seen ITSM as a customer and service-centric approach to delivering IT services and managing the IT operating model. As technology becomes a chief enabler of the customer experience, the need to sustainably and dynamically deliver IT services will become even more strategic. And that means that the fundamental principles that underly ITSM will be more essential not less.The fundamental principles that underly #ITSM will be more essential not less (in the future), says @charlesaraujo. Click To Tweet
Moreover, the need to deliver a rich and adaptable digital experience will permeate into every facet of the enterprise operational model and will demand that the technology stack be flexible and adaptable so that it can continuously adjust to rapidly changing needs. The essence of executional enablement that has always been at the heart of ITSM will become the bedrock on which IT operational models will be built, provided that you can stay away from adopting a rigid and dogmatic approach to it.In the near future the essence of executional enablement that has always been at the heart of #ITSM will become the bedrock on which IT operational models will be built, says @charlesaraujo. Click To Tweet
But while I believe that all of this is good news for the foundational principles at the center of ITSM, the outlook may be slightly less rosy for many of you who consider yourself ITSM practitioners.
While the primacy of the customer will increase the value of ITSM principles, the primacy of the algorithm will have the opposite effect on many of those who operate its machinery. The fact is that much of the execution of ITSM practices is, by definition, algorithmic. Much of the aim of ITSM, in fact, is to identify (or define) repeatable patterns and institutionalize them.
We’re already seeing wild advancements in technologies that can do everything from automatically take support calls and resolve as much as 80% of customer issues, to automatically detect outages and dynamically perform complex activities to restore services. While we’re admittedly at the early stages of this transition, the writing is on the wall.
The net-net: while ITSM will remain a bedrock philosophy that organizations use (whether they realize it or not) to design a sustainable IT operating model, we’ll automate much of its execution, management, and administration in the coming years.While #ITSM will remain a bedrock philosophy that orgs use to design a sustainable IT operating model, we’ll automate much of its execution, mgmt, & administration in the coming years, says @charlesaraujo. Click To Tweet
Your Next Steps
I promise that I’m not trying to be all doom and gloom. In fact, the whole reason that I’m on a mission to help people understand what’s happening is because this is the time that you can actually do something about it.
The first step is to simply understand what’s happening.
The next is to do something. And the place to start is with a bit of a self-assessment to figure out where you stand as you look toward this future. To do this, create an inventory of all the major work activities you perform in a given week. Then, think about each of these activities and rate them, as honestly as you can, on a scale of 1 to 5 on two dimensions:
- Their impact on the customer experience
- The degree to which they can be represented by an algorithm.
The results may surprise you. But whatever they show you, I think that you’ll find that your future will be found in unleashing your humanness — those things that make us uniquely human and that computers either cannot do or which we do not want them to do.
I believe you’ll find that the things that make you unique are your creativity, imagination, and empathy — and that will be the key to your future.
As we automate more and more, it’s these characteristics that will prove most valuable – particularly in the world of ITSM. So, your challenge will be to break free of a focus on those things that we’ll automate and to unleash your creativity, imagination, and empathy on how you see and approach everything you do.As we automate more & more, your creativity, imagination, & empathy will be the key to your future, says @charlesaraujo. Click To Tweet
Note: This article is adapted from one part of a 7-part series introducing my new digital journal. If you found this interesting and helpful, please don’t forget to subscribe to Your Digital Future to get the full series.
Charles Araujo is a technology analyst and internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and Leadership in the Digital Era who advises technology companies and enterprise leaders on how to navigate the transition from the Industrial Age to the Digital Era. Having spent over thirty years in the technology industry, he has been researching Digital Transformation long before it became the uber-buzzword of today, and is now focused on helping Digital Era Leaders prepare themselves and their organizations as the macro trends of the primacy of the customer and the primacy of the algorithm collide, ushering us into what he calls The New Human Age.
Principal Analyst with Intellyx, founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation, author of three books, and most recently the co-founder (with his wife) of The MAPS Institute, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and has been quoted or published in CIO, Time, InformationWeek, CIO Insight, NetworkWorld, Computerworld, USA Today, and Forbes.