Who could have predicted what would happen to IT Service Management over the last five years? IT leaders certainly didn’t see COVID when they looked into their crystal balls. At the back end of 2017, the challenge of rolling out DevOps was on everyone’s lips, self-service started to gain real momentum and the ITSM model took hold across organisations under the guise of Enterprise Service Management. By bringing development and operations together, DevOps brought unprecedented levels of speed in developing and deploying apps and software. Words like ‘rapid delivery’, ‘reliability’, ‘scale’ and ‘improved collaboration’ were just some of the ways people described this now industry standard way of doing things.

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In every aspect of our lives, inside and outside the workplace, self-service has become the dominant culture. It saw us swap bricks for clicks when it came to shopping. We ditched visiting the bank for an instant online alternative and even bypassed the grocery checkout for a faster self-scan alternative. As employees or leaders, we lapped up the ability to self-serve on our terms! But five years on since those trends took hold, what does ITSM look like now? What are the big challenges that we must take on today?

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Come March 2020, the world was spinning as nations around the world fought to contain and respond to a new global pandemic. Global lockdowns meant an almost instant switch to remote working, accelerating IT and work trends more in a matter of months than could have been expected in years.

Hats off to the people who pulled it off. In what was the most audacious ‘moment of truth’ - organisations mustered all their courage, strength and brainpower to keep the lights on, feed people and keep the show on the road. You could say that thanks to the cloud and the already well-oiled wheels of ITSM approaches, it wasn’t too difficult to have people work from home. They’d been doing that part time already - working in the office, from a coffee shop here and there and even on a laptop in the lounge. Some fared better than others. Some progressive companies already had a semi-hybrid workforce, but in many sectors, there was a strict office culture.


So, as we sit here in the new normal, a number of new ITSM challenges need to be dealt with. Hybrid and remote working have ushered in a new approach to flexible working. It’s not just the physical location - it’s the time when work takes place. COVID proved that even when it comes to sophisticated knowledge work - great work can happen when teams are distributed across the world, working different hours across time zones. The plethora of video conferencing, chat and project management tools bring order to what could be chaos. The average company might now have an IT back office in the Ukraine and a Sales team based in Auckland. Meanwhile the marketing team is spread all over the place. So how on earth do you provide an IT service that is always on, 24 hours a day? There was a time where you literally run to the IT department and tap someone on the shoulder. Problem with passwords? — someone you’d worked with for years was in a cubicle just two rows away. Let’s face it — 9 to 5 no longer cuts it when it comes to ITSM.

As time has gone on, the level of sophistication of business software and the entire employee experience has changed for the better — dramatically! Meanwhile, extraordinary consumer apps and experiences have made us expect the same type of on-demand, instant and seamless experience in the workplace. So, you might be wondering:

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  • How do we support employees and users in the new normal?
  • In this new era, how can we innovate? - how can we deliver new services that are noticeably better for our people?
  • How do we support people who could be needing help or assistance, 24/7, anywhere in the world?

Artificial Intelligence to the rescue?

Well partially. In some of their latest thought leadership, Forrester has shared insights about the way AI is helping to do some of the heavy lifting, moving service users from reactive support to proactive support. Traditionally, ITSM and ESM has been about responding to requests from users. Now, vendors are introducing capabilities to help customers and service users identify problems before they occur, even automating their resolution in some cases. This has been made a reality thanks to the integration of AIOps solutions, endpoint management platforms and end-user experience management platforms (EUEM). Maybe the new normal isn’t so bad after all!

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If we look at the evolution of the IT service desk itself, it’s evolved to better serve the needs of the always-on, anytime, anyplace user. AI and much improved UX interfaces are making it easier to find the information we need quickly. It means getting to the right knowledge base articles faster. It also gives IT service desk agents better insights about multiple incidents that are related, thus being able to close more tickets, faster. The collection of data over time means that intelligent ITSM platforms understand the ‘tendencies’ and real-world of users better, so they receive a more personal, customised experience.

Looking to further boost overall employee experience, Enterprise Service Management remains just as relevant as ever. Departments across businesses and enterprises have had to adapt to serving a large part of their user base off-site. This has meant providing easy and uncomplicated access to services of all kinds - whether for IT, provision of HR and even a menu of wellbeing services. It means that multiple departments now need to collaborate much more closely to deliver a holistic employee experience. Take meeting rooms. Pre-COVID this was largely the responsibility of the IT and Facilities Teams who provided the physical space, the booking, the technology and any services such as refreshments or food. With the greater number of people accessing remotely, the availability and quality of video streaming platforms has taken on a significantly higher level of importance, along with the need for remote workers to have access to great kit that doesn’t let their work or productivity suffer.

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Finally — cost has become an urgent and critical factor. In Q1 2022, inflation is a now a global problem of epic proportion. People around the world have seen energy, food and petrol prices skyrocket. This has been exacerbated by the supply-chain issues that built up during the global pandemic. This inflation is also an unwanted side-effect of global economies opening back up and the competition for limited food, energy and oil resources. Organisations of all sizes are feeling the pinch of increased costs. The need to deliver outstanding employee experiences will need to be balanced with pragmatism and a focus on delivering innovation that lowers cost and delivers better user value. The truth is, the expectations of IT are increasing, yet budgets either need to stay the same or be cut. You’re having to do even more, but with fewer people.

This is leading to ‘process hacking’ in ITSM and ESM, searching for transformative practices that are ‘low effort’ and low-cost to implement but have significant impact. Think about how standardised processes can lower costs. How fewer suppliers means less administrative overhead. In 2022, ITSM will favour agile solutions that work out of the box, requiring little heavy lifting and customisation to get them making a big difference. These solutions will need to hit the ground running and fast…

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