IT service management embraces business stakeholders

Stretching IT and service management (ITSM) practices and technologies beyond the IT perimeter fence to business units is becoming the norm as organizations increasingly rely on data, technologies and innovation to deliver services across all departments.

ITSM is fundamentally a strategic approach to creating, delivering, managing and enhancing the way business uses technology to gain maximum business value, centering on customer needs and IT services rather than on IT per se; in other words: people, processes and technology. Expanding ITSM into the enterprise can help standardize how work gets done to improve productivity, for example. It can help HR, facilities and legal better manage their services and use data for smart decision making.

The widely used ITIL framework (formerly known as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library) provides a set of best practices for building an ITSM management solution. ITIL ultimately adds value to existing frameworks as they are applied across organizations, such as adapting services to meet the needs of customers, while allowing for operational differences. It could be as simple, for example, as digitizing paper requests in the logistics dispatch department or creating a central request management system for HR to quickly on-board new hires, including creating new email addresses in an automated way and decommissioning those of employees who have left.

ITSM has traditionally, as the name suggests, been focused solely on IT. However, more recently there has been a trend toward expanding the practice to benefit the wider organization. Cloud computing, for example, has dramatically altered the way organizations operate and changed operating models. Workflow automation, self-service and a single database serving multiple business units, designed to break down data silos, are some of the capabilities that ITSM and emerging service management platforms offer. The technology, however, is the easier part of the puzzle. ITSM can be used more broadly to assess customers’ needs and their pain points, enabling the enterprise to focus on the right solution, IT service model and owners from the outset.

ITSM also has the potential to significantly cut business costs by establishing common processes and workflows, such as providing better incident and problem management, reducing resolution times.

ITSM – central to change

Digital transformation is putting the spotlight on ITSM. Organizations’ ecosystems are growing as they transform, which means a greater vista to manage. A solid ITSM strategy is imperative in ensuring that operational excellence is maintained throughout the enterprise, while addressing customer expectations.

Digital transformation requires a change in service management capabilities as agility becomes part of the overall business model. This means using ITSM principles to meet the digital transformation efforts of organizational departments across the board from sales to HR and finance.

Some organizations have set up so-called ITSM Centers of Excellence to achieve this. CoEs provide a structure for best practice around quality of service and users’ overall satisfaction – and one where continuous improvement is made to align with business requirements.

As Ovum points out in its report: “How service management can help modernize the workplace,” organizations need to be able to recognize opportunities offered up by new technologies in relation to business and have the people and processes in place to move quickly to adjust to new demands and trends coming down the pipe. CoEs can help to address these needs.

The role of ITSM professionals

With service management becoming integrated into all sectors of organizations, ITSM professionals will need to adopt a proactive and visionary approach to drive positive business change, according to AXELOS, the organization that runs the ITIL standards.

In a recent survey by AXELOS, 92 percent of ITSM professionals agreed that they will need a much stronger strategic vision aligned with that of the wider business. They believe they will also need to take a holistic view of the services their organization offers and better understand the threat landscape for wider business. Ninety percent of survey respondents acknowledged that new technologies will create new security risks that need to be very carefully managed.

In addition, 89 percent of respondents said they believe increased automation will take over many of the repetitive tasks of IT, creating more time for service managers to focus on delivering business value to organizations. This will be enabled by AIOps, which Gartner defines as platforms that “utilize big data, modern machine learning and other advanced analytics to directly and indirectly enhance IT operations functions with proactive, personal and dynamic insight.”

AXELOS maintains that with the extended reach of ITSM across organizations, ITSM professionals will have a much greater influence on business, as the digital economy increases organizations’ reliance on technology and innovation. This will require ITSM professionals to hone new business skills, such as critical thinking, negotiation and relationship development.

ITSM is an ongoing journey

ITSM, significantly in business relationship and service-level management, “plays a valuable role in helping organizations improve communications between different business units and in helping businesses make sense of the digital transformation puzzle,” explains Ovum. It also provides visibility into employee behavior and how the organization may, or may not, be supporting their needs, while providing a flexible and secure working environment.

ITSM isn’t a one-off project, however. It is a continuous process and one that needs to be continually refined and tweaked to optimize business value across the organization.

Find out more about how AIOps can help transform IT operations management (ITOM) and IT service management (ITSM).


Jan Howells

Jan has been writing about technology for over 22 years for magazines and web sites, including ComputerActive, IQ magazine and Signum. She has been a business correspondent on ComputerWorld in Sydney and covered the channel for Ziff-Davis in New York.