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IT Service Management Trends for 2017

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Two months into 2017, we already know that ingenuity and cooperation will be words to reckon with over the next eleven months.

2016 was quite a year. Revolutionary, stupefying, unprecedented, harrowing but hopeful.

The IT service management industry had its own share of excitement last year. From the changing dynamics of technology to theories of collaboration and support to the increasing trend of user-centric employee experiences. I’ll go into detail on each in this post.

With the growth cloud computing, acceptance of SaaS-based models, and need to transform the employee experience in organizations, the cloud-based ITSM industry will see growth. BusinessWire predicts that the industry will grow from $4.4 billion in 2016 to $8.78 billion in 2021.

IT service management

As a customary “beginning of the year” post, this article is an ode to what inspired us in 2016, from technology trends to industry research, and covers what 2017 holds for the service desk. It’s time to look back.

1. The chasm is still wide open. The silos are still functioning.  

The challenge for IT to work in tandem with business has been discussed, strategized, documented, and is still a problem to reflect over; 78% of CIOs interviewed in the 2016 global Deloitte CIO survey see alignment of IT to business strategy and performance goals as the top IT capability essential to success.

The survey of 1217 technology leaders also shows 55% of CIOs having yet to tap on the capabilities of IT to deliver customer experience. Another piece of research by the Axelos community in 2016 shows the same trend – 92% of the 350 ITSM professionals surveyed agree that they need a much stronger strategic vision, aligned with the wider business.

IT has to stop working in silos. And businesses need to align these two units – combining the agility and technical expertise of IT with the long-term vision and strategic acumen of business. One of the ways to do this is by adapting a business-driven approach organization-wide and steering clear of the “them vs us” culture; Business relationship management (BRM), explained in detail in trend no. 5 can help bridge the fissure.

“Think of #ITSM as a career option with doors up to the CIO’s office. Think of it as a place to make change.” –  ITSM strategist, James Finister

2. The digital delirium continues. What next?

The ITSM industry has been adapting to the changing technological dynamics of cloud, BYOD, IoT, AR, and VR – bringing many new technologies in-house to better manage them. A report by IDC predicts that by 2017, over 50% of organizations’ IT spending will be for so-called “third-platform” technologies (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) and services, rising to over 60% by 2020.

New and improved technology is fascinating, and payoffs like gaining a competitive edge and reducing churn rates, by providing user-centric experiences, are motivating adoption. But using third-party platforms raises concerns around cyber attacks and misuse of crucial information. In the study by the Axelos community, 90% of ITSM professionals agreed that new technologies will generate new risks.

Concepts like ‘Bimodal IT’ saw promotion by Gartner in 2016 to promote digital transformation in organizations. With two discrete IT modes for agility and traditional IT, the vision lies in drawing advantages from both schools of thought.

The CEO of Axelos, Peter Hepworth, has made a strong point here, “The fundamental principles of ITIL is about adapting to your culture and your organizations. Change is the only constant.”

3. Time is money. Self-help might not be for all.

Faster resolution, preemptive and immediate responses. This is what employees and service desk users look for while raising a request. IT service desks are going beyond IT to provide a holistic service management experience to all the business units in an enterprise.

Self-service is pitched as a feature where users can help themselves, by reaching out for solutions from a knowledge base or ordering from a user-centric service catalog. This eliminates the dependency on agents, the related delays in response, and the occasional inconsequential back-and-forth.

According to Intelliteach’s Sherry Beaven in the white paper, The Service Desk: 2017 & Beyond, it’s hard to successfully adopt self-service in a law firm, where lawyers are heavily compensated for their time. They would rather  save time by speaking to an expert on a service desk than spend time seeking answer themselves. Self-service usage and adoption, she says, depends on the time-sensitivity of the job and how heavily compensated it is.

“Whilst self-service is popular from a use perspective, it’s not necessarily popular from an adoption perspective.” –  ITSM Analyst, Stephen Mann

4. Consumerization is here to stay.

“The service desk and support staff will have to have clear-cut criteria to determine what is supported by IT, what is supported by a third party and what is the responsibility of the employee in relation to BYOD.”

There is a dramatic shift in the environments we work in today, from traditional bureaus to cloud-based environments where we are not tied to geo-fenced workplaces. The number of external devices brought to the workplace is only set to increase with wearables and AR also percolating through the space.

Another significant shift lies in the shiny, user-centric interfaces employees are used to – apps that look beautiful and are highly immersive and functional. For service desks to fit in the jobs-to-be-done framework for the end user/employee, apps needs to look and feel intuitive, be modern, and integrate with the third-party apps end users already use. It could be something as simple as Slack for messaging, Google Calendar for meetings, or even DocuSign for e-signatures.

According to Karen Ferris, Macanta Consulting, “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is on the rise in 2012 and set to drastically increase over the next 5 years. Organizations have to face up to the fact that employees want to use and will use their own devices in the workplace.”

She also points out that, “The forward-thinking organizations are using methods such as virtualization, security control such as ‘wipe and lock,’ GPS tracking and fencing, anti-malware and firewalls, device encryption, device fingerprinting solutions, etc. along with a good BYOD policy to overcome the security challenges.”

Another trend to mull over here is how consumerization is driving support to become the product; transcending beyond a channel or touchpoint and evolving into an app for itself.

You are not just fixing a piece of hardware anymore,” says Worldwide Tech Services’ Keegan, “You are keeping a home or small business connected.”

“Few consumers or small businesses today have an IT pro on their cell-phone’s speed dial — though they might have the pool guy, a housekeeper, accountant, and yard worker there. That is very likely to change. I see this as a real new opportunity where consumers will want someone to come to their house to keep everything connected,” says Keegan.

5. Dashboards will consolidate

“Frameworks are important but the biggest buzz word is people” and “the best way of getting things done is person to person contact, it doesn’t matter what we call it.” – ITSM Analyst Barclay Ray on BRM

Business relationship management has evolved as a riveting topic, finding a space in most of the IT service management conferences’ 2016 agendas. The session by Simon Kent at The Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS 16) showed how, by categorizing incidents in terms of issues impacting specific departments, stakeholders can get an unabridged picture of where the focus in their organizations needs to be.

“Imagine calling your sales director because the you see a spike in incidents relating to order management.  By asking what they are trying to do and ultimately achieve, you can really begin to focus on services that deliver value.”

6. IT will go beyond fixing printers and taking new password requests

The findings from the study by Axelos showed that 77% of ITSM practitioners agreed that non-technical business units will be more involved in service governance, service strategy, and service design. Employee on-boarding, facilities management, legal policies, payment requests – it’s about time to take your service desk beyond IT.

7. Email is passé. Really?

Email has grown as a channel for reporting incidents from 16% in 2006 to 30% in 2011. But before we arrive at any conclusions, let’s look at the lifespan of tickets. According to SDI, tickets created via email have a lifespan six times longer than live telephone calls.

If you’re not sold on replacing email, check out the Harvard Business Review’s take on  “Replacing the chaos of email with a structured workflow”. You will be converted.

The bottom line here is that each channel is built to address a distinct context. From an incident ticket to help attach large files and screencasts, service catalog to immediately request for an item, chatbots for preemptive responses, and knowledge bases to find quick answers to common problems, each channel has its own unique appeal. Email is still not passé.

8. You’ll need to know your data

A survey of 361 ITSM companies by LOGICnow had a series of compelling data points on embracing data-driven automation. The study points out that 85% of companies believe data-driven automation will given them a competitive edge, also showing that 54% of IT service providers collect and store data on customer’s IT performance to gain that edge. Also, 52% of companies believe they will lose out to competition if they don’t adopt automation.

“Robots aren’t coming to take over in the future. Automation and integration are.” – Ollie O’ Donoghue.

9. You’ll need empathy

You remember the technical glitch, erm, debacle by British Airways that led to passengers missing flights and spending long hours to check-in? The check-in system crashed during an upgrade, but the empathy of the front-line personnel saved the day. Empathy, over everything in support.

Looking for IT Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best IT Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Shruti Khaitan

Shruti is a product marketer at Freshservice, the refreshing IT service management (ITSM) solution from the fastest growing B2B company, Freshdesk. She focuses on building a community for the brand through industry events and conferences. In her free time, you can find her writing for the Freshservice blog. You can connect with her on Twitter here.

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