From the mosh pit to the stage – the rock ‘n’ roll of ITSM

ITSM - service delivery

No more just keeping the lights on, it is time for the fourth revolution and for IT to take centre stage.

The headlines being written by analyst firms such as Forrester seem to indicate that organisations are seeking an advantage by leading with Customer Experience (CX) to fulfil their digital transformation and compete. Some analysts are even referring to the digital age as the fourth industrial revolution, and it is time, therefore, for ITSM to manage change within the business.

Gartner also places high on the CIOs agenda data management as a foundation for digital experience. Data-centricity needs to drive customer centricity.

“Data and analytics, coupled with machine learning, have as much potential to impact society as the entire internet has over the past two decades. In this year alone, global business intelligence and analytics software sales will grow by 7.3% to reach $18.3 billion (£14.11 bn)”, according to Gartner analyst Kurt Schlegel. “It’ll be budget well-spent, enabling companies to classify customers into more granular segments, use analytics to allocate resources more effectively, and comparatively benchmark operations to identify outliers.”

That’s great, but CX is an outside/in view on how a business performs in the mind and sentiments of the customer, so why is the ITSM community making so many rash claims about the role it should play? Don’t confuse the subject, stick to what you know and think about service delivery.

The Forbes Insights survey reveals that 56% of IT executives recognise that the pace of IT change and transformation is increasing. Many IT and service delivery professionals have already faced requests for the implementation of the next innovations in technology – whether they are relevant or practical is another matter.

ITSMF UK’s Annual Conference in November is even leading with CX as one of its key themes, which will be a curious situation. I wonder who will be keeping the event score (will they use NPS or CXI to measure advocacy), who will talk about the challenges of customer detraction due to omni-channel failure and who will back into a cul-de-sac of mixing apps and interfaces as DevOps collides with ITSM in pursuit of CX?

Not since the fake news of Y2K have IT and ITSM solution providers had such a transformative moment and there is a key difference. Y2K was about managing and “securing” IT assets against a non-event. Digital transformation is about how the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile and social media fundamentally change the way business is run. Consequently, IT should orchestrate so much more, to finally become the services broker it always wanted to be. IT’s issue is that it is doing this against a backdrop of creeping business cynicism, where they are no longer seen as a trusted partner.

There is an imbalance between the growing requirement for digital upgrades throughout the enterprise and where IT budgets and priorities are being channelled. The same Forbes study reveals that “many organisations still spend most of their IT budgets—and a good deal of staff time—keeping the lights on”.

Gartner’s 2017 CMO Spend Survey suggests that, for 2016, CMOs allocated 3.24% of revenue to technology spending, which is very close indeed to the 3.4% of revenue CIOs earmark for IT. Shadow IT does seem to have been replaced by an acceptance that this is the norm for technology spending but, if anything, IT should at least be the champion and influence the expenditure even if a business leader is now the economic buyer and decision-maker.

Service delivery – what the audience wants

For so long IT has been in the mosh pit of the back office, looking at and supporting the business. Now they need to jump up on the stage to fulfil business functions’, employees’ and customers’ demand for a different experience of IT services. In short, ITSM professionals, and their third-party providers (MSPs, data centres, cloud solutions etc.) need to concentrate on orchestration and here are the reasons why:

Data will be key – the greater needs of accessing and consolidating customer data will drive a critical requirement to manage storage, availability and capacity. This is big data and it needs to be federated and available to the array of applications required across the business. More to the point, data will be both structured (system-generated) and unstructured (feedback, voice, text, SMS etc.). The need to deliver data management and the use of analytics will move to another level as end-user and frontline staff require on-demand, online decision support to meet customers’ service expectations.

End-user management – This will not lessen but increase due to an ever-mobile, remote-working staff. Identity Access Management and Access Policy Management will be critical if workforce productivity is to be immediate in the face of the customer and their omnichannel interactions with the business.

Self-help/self-desktop – Choice and preference arrive at the desktop, reducing low-volume, high-demand change requests for devices and apps. Enter Knowledge Management. A recurring killer theme in ITSM was how best to author knowledge, but this has now been replaced with the need to capture, edit and re-present knowledge as authored by highly “consumerised’ end-users.

Service integration – Brokering and integrating services provided by SaaS/PaaS vendors will become both a contractual management and monitored capability of IT. High availability and capacity will be fundamental to the data-federated integration of applications and processes. More will be done off the corporate network, so the management of these key metrics becomes imperative for Digital Transformation to be realised as cost-effective and service-effective.

Service catalogue – This is ever-changing as business transformation increases its digital and omni-channel structures. Transparency of services through portals and “stores” will position IT as a true provider, allowing users to self-commission new services and application access.

Application support – Regardless of how the business designs and launches customer apps in pursuit of DX and CX, infrastructure support and/or cloud services will be in higher demand to calibrate their free use across the organisation and beyond to the customer.

Mobile – Providing mobile as the remote device of choice, will demand higher levels of governance and compliance in areas such as data and network protection through every application and service provided.

Finally, IT has had a raft of best practice frameworks at its disposal to build customer service in support of online services. This will need to be a smorgasbord of the practical, the trackable and the agile. Many organisations have already seen ITIL and DevOps collide, SIAM is on the rise and eTOM is gathering pace. These frameworks are not prescriptive but should be referenced by every CIO crafting their own best practice and service delivery process

ITSM vendors should not need to make rash statements about CX, because it is outside/in, beyond their sphere of influence and the concluding frontier of DX; just let IT play a greater role in transforming the fortunes of their business.

IT must provide the infrastructure and orchestrate the services that enable DX but the design of omnichannel and the mapping of customer touchpoints, belongs with the business. The business owns DX and, ultimately, it will be its influence that either delights customers or diminishes the company and its brands.

IT and its ITSM partners should not lose sight of the role they play here. But, rather than be hard-wired into assets and infrastructure, how they now broker the services required to successfully run the business will fuel a business’ healthy obsession with EX, CX, CEM and DX.