IT service management, as both an industry and a critical support infrastructure for modern business, has an uphill climb ahead of it. For many businesses with traditional "waterfall" IT schema, meeting the challenges of the future requires a switch to more agile operations.
By agile, we don't simply mean "quick," though that is a major component. Agility in ITSM is more a measure of responsiveness, not merely how fast IT technicians process tickets or release changes. Rather, true agility includes how completely an IT team resolves service requests while still adhering to optimized labor-related costs. In short, true ITSM agility is achieved by implementing intelligent processes that work smarter and more efficiently.
Today's IT-driven workplace demands agility
So, what specific trends pushed IT down the path toward more agile service management? Really, it's an ongoing confluence of things, starting with the most obvious: the movement of modern enterprise from physical processes into virtual environments. When businesses rely on applications and SaaS-based products, it's only wise to develop a means by which to ensure their reliability. As those technologies advance, so too must the systems governing their integrity so they can effectively mitigate the inefficiencies caused by complexity and stay competitive within the marketplace.
Other less apparent factors challenge ITSM professionals to seek out ways to enhance their agility. According to a survey from HDI, two-thirds of IT departments making changes to their service management processes do so to provide "a better customer experience." As service desk and help desk offerings connect businesses to their users and customers in more meaningful ways, these connections naturally accelerate lead time perceptions.
With innovations in self-service and new efficient service desk processes, customer support response times have recently shifted to meet the demands of the modern end user. Today's customers expect near instant feedback for their requests, and expect to be engaged at every touch point in the support cycle. Automation is key, and end users must feel like their incidents are prioritized and treated with the right quality assurance. Nearly 8 out of 10 people believe that when customer service representatives value their time, that's the greatest show of support, according to Forrester research.
Furthermore, agility also implies scalability. ITSM built on ITIL infrastructure offers technicians the flexibility needed to respond to higher volumes of customers, users and service requests, depending on the growth of the business. Agility and the stability provided by scalability go hand in hand. When service desks maintain their speed even when volumes grow, that's true ITSM agility. When a few small changes disrupt the whole support network, you're not agile - you're fragile.
Getting a sense of agility in the real world
Now that we understand the importance around ITSM agility, what does it look like in a practical sense?
First, agile ITSM processes assist businesses as they transition between technologies. Across industries, cloud-based enterprise IT has taken pole position from dedicated, on-premise assets for a number of valuable reasons: lower upfront costs, subscription model, outsourced technical support on equipment like servers, etc. ITSM agility helps maintain a high level of customer and user support as companies migrate resources to the cloud without sacrificing gains achieved thereby.
Additionally, the incorporation of automation and customization into ITSM demonstrates yet another dimension to agility. Self-service and intelligent knowledge base management powered by machine learning act not only as value propositions for the companies that integrate these tools into their processes - these resources actively mitigate per-technician ticket volumes. Customers or users with low-tier requests that require only basic troubleshooting can resolve issues themselves with enhanced self-service functionality. Gartner believes self-service could cover as many as 4 out of every 10 service desk tickets, a hefty sum when you consider volume increases spurred by the Internet of Things and automated service requests.
ITSM change management suites with automated features also play key roles in balancing agility with stability. In the past, IT departments could be one or the other. They could release changes quickly with a high risk of human error, or they could inspect every prospective change with a fine-toothed comb and take forever to release. But when ITSM change management solutions include an automated CMDB and dependency mapping capabilities, ITSM understands the full weight of changes before they make them. And because computers do all the double checking, ITSM chugs along at break-neck pace.
In summation, the importance of agility should not be underestimated in today's digital-first industries. Speed can only get you so far, but agility can take you where you need to be.