At the dawn of each new year, we make resolutions for what we’re going to do differently to make these 365 days better than the last. In the IT service management space, resolutions center on delivering better service to end-users in an efficient, cost-effective manner.
This year, keeping those resolutions involves moving beyond ITSM. IT service management requires taking a proactive approach – read on to learn about ESM, automation, AI, machine learning, and chatbots.
What Is ESM?
ESM (enterprise service management) is a logical extension of ITSM. ITSM has long promoted the service catalog – a single channel or portal for enterprise services. Putting a common request platform in place (to ask for such things as application access or a new device) simplifies the management of IT resources.
However, ITSM falls short in a critical aspect. Let’s say you need to change your home address with the HR department after a recent move. You would send an email to a shared inbox, where your request could be ignored for days or even weeks. ESM allows departments other than the IT team to manage such requests quickly and easily.
“ESM represents the next step in meeting customer needs”
ESM isn’t just a passing fad. Research from Forrester has shown that companies report 50% of the tickets coming through their ITSM systems aren’t related to IT. With ESM, they can improve their demand and execution management. Forrester researchers also predict that ITSM tools will continue to expand their scope into ESM, thanks to the spur of digital transformation.
Automation: Shrinking Process Gaps
It’s sad but true – there are gaps between processes in ITSM. Those gaps have a few negative effects: they slow things down, cause errors, lead to processes having to be repeated, result in requests getting lost, and adversely affect business outcomes as well as raise their cost.
Automation, if properly implemented, can fill those gaps. When you automate processes, you increase the speed of execution, improve customer service, cut costs, reduce the amount of human intervention necessary to accomplish a task (which in turn lowers the number of errors), and you affect real, lasting change in a way that’s cost-effective and effectual.
“Automation can fill process gaps”
What does effective automation look like? We’ll use the example of Jack, who is having a problem accessing a software application. Jack enters a self-service portal through which he opens a ticket. Instead of a human assessing the problem (and determining what the appropriate solution is), automated IT service management processes check for pre-approval to fix the problem or even makes a decision based on what humans have previously done.
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If the problem requires an IT department fix, automation can invoke a software distribution tool which will solve the issue. Afterwards, the automated IT service management software will send out a survey asking Jack about how satisfied he was with the process. Once Jack fills out the survey, the software closes the ticket.
AI and machine learning make automation possible. Chatbots are an application of AI and machine learning, and they allow automation to work smoothly.
AI: A Linchpin of Automation
The concept of AI isn’t a new one; the term was coined by American computer scientist John McCarthy in 1956 to describe the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. AI gives machines the capabilities of learning, reasoning, and self-correction.
AI enables IT automation because it can figure out what needs to be done next and carry out the task without human intervention. Computer intelligence can adapt to changing situations and circumstances as well as determine exceptions to the rules. Machine learning is one of the concepts that powers AI.
Machine Learning: Enabling Smarter ITSM
Let’s go back to the earlier example of Jack, who had a problem with accessing an application. Machine learning made it possible for the IT service management software to fix the problem quickly and easily.
What happens during machine learning? The machine assimilates information on its own, without the aid of humans. Later, it will apply this information to perform a task.
“Machine learning makes it possible for ITSM software to fix the problem quickly and easily”
In Jack’s case, machine learning allowed the ITSM software to evaluate the problem on its own, without the need for a human to step in. Moreover, the software used machine learning to determine what the appropriate solution would be; it reviewed previous actions undertaken by humans and assessed what the best solution would be in context.
Thanks to machine learning, the IT service desk saved time, money, and human resources. The ITSM software was able to handle a relatively simple problem on its own so that employees were free to take care of more difficult and/or valuable tasks.
Chatbots: At the Front Lines of IT Service Management
Chatbots are a crucial component of proactively addressing end-user needs. They are an application of AI, specifically of machine learning. These computer programs answer end-user questions by finding information on their own and providing it to the end-user.
We’ll illustrate with another example. Let’s say Jack wants to book a room for onsite training. His company has implemented an ESM solution, so he doesn’t need to approach the facilities management department directly. Instead, Jack can go to the online ITSM portal, and a chatbot comes up.
“Chatbots are a crucial component of proactively addressing end-user needs”
Jack types his request into the chatbot. The chatbot checks the facilities management calendar to see if there are any conflicts. If there aren’t, it will book the room Jack wants on the date and at the time he requested. Should there be a conflict, the chatbot might suggest alternate rooms available on the same day and time.
ITSM was the first step in delivering excellent customer service to end-users. However, in 2018, it’s time to evolve: ESM represents the next step in meeting customer needs. It takes a proactive approach to answering unmet end-user demands. To learn more about how ESM helps you go beyond ITSM and into a new generation of customer satisfaction, download the ebook and learn how to transition from reactive to proactive IT.