ITSM trends for 2018 suggest that companies will shift focus from installing platform capabilities (behind the scenes) to the digital transformation of (highly visible and impactful) operational processes – forever changing a company’s service management experience.
The past couple of years have set the stage for the changes that are about to occur. Companies (large and small) have been implementing modern IT service management platforms, upgrading infrastructure to leverage cloud-based capabilities and embracing a service-centric perspective on the business-technology ecosystem. Simultaneously, technology service providers have made tremendous advances in the underlying technical capabilities (such as machine learning, discovery and data management) that will enable service management to interact with the broader IT environment in new and dynamic ways.
Key ITSM trends of 2018
1. Business processes orchestration beyond IT
At the core of modern service management platforms are robust business-rules engines capable of continually scanning the enterprise environment, identifying events and orchestrating automated activities to respond to them. While originally designed to orchestrate IT processes, companies are finding these capabilities can be easily re-tasked into general automation engines to orchestrate business processes, such as those found in sales, finance and HR functions.
The scenarios most likely to be addressed first are those related to self-service diagnosis and provisioning – repetitive workflows with a strong dependency on data and traditionally supported through (costly) manual help-desk type functions. The orchestration capabilities will likely include a combination of process automation, monitoring, troubleshooting and rudimentary corrective actions.
2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning-enabled discovery and data audits
Advances in AI and ML capabilities integrated with ITSM platforms will have a tremendous impact on the IT Configuration and Change management functions during 2018. Companies will rapidly move from manual data collection and verification activities to automated discovery and component self-registration capabilities. This will allow IT departments to manage larger volumes of configuration items (such as cloud components that change frequently); to achieve higher levels of data quality in the CMDB; and manage a more robust and complete set of dependency mappings.
The result of this shift in approach will include:
- Higher quality data to support decision making
- Lower costs to capture and manage configuration data
- Real-time insights to changes in the eco-system
- The ability to support large-scale business change better
3. IT Asset Management focused on consumption
IT asset management will significantly shift from focusing on what a company owns to managing the technology components the business consumes, and upon which it depends. With the proliferation of cloud infrastructure, SaaS services, user-provided devices (BYOD) and more complex business models (involving ecosystems of suppliers and partners), the proportion of the overall technology environment that a company directly owns or controls is becoming insignificant compared to the overall technology footprint that must be managed to ensure security, privacy, risk management, user experience, etc. As more companies recognize this change, traditional IT asset management will be replaced by a much more holistic focus on technology dependencies that are critical to business success.
Related to the overall Asset Management trend, IT organizations, during 2018, will need to change their approach to software asset and license management – tying the software instance to user and/or business process, not the device where it is operating. This change will enable greater transparency of software usage and tighter controls on licensing costs by paying only for actual usage (versus what is expected).
4. Supplier Ecosystem Management
As companies embrace more cloud and 3rd-party components, IT departments will need to extend and virtualize their ITSM processes to their broader ecosystem of suppliers and partners. Because users and business decisions are primarily driving the technical dependencies with suppliers – instead of under IT’s control – traditional contract- and SLA-based approaches to managing supplier interactions will not be scalable and effective for most companies.
During 2018, ITSM trends suggest that companies are likely to develop a need for configuration transparency across the business-technology ecosystem and seek supplier interoperability standards, particularly in the areas of SLAs, financial management, configuration, risk and incident/problem management to help ensure their company’s service-level expectations can continue to be achieved.
5. Service catalog consolidation and curation
During the past few years, an increasing number of service catalogs have appeared, creating sub-ecosystems surrounding major technology platforms. During 2018, the industry is expected to reach a tipping point wherein users and companies will begin to demand greater interoperability amongst services and the consolidation of service catalogs into a “single-stop shop” for IT hardware and software services. The key drivers will be free-market economics, the ability to manage all technology purchases and subscriptions in one place and ease of use for end-users. This change will have a significant impact on simplifying ITSM processes and likely be the starting point for a greater shift towards universal plug-and-play IT components.
As these ITSM trends reveal, 2018 is projected to be an exciting year for IT Service Management, with companies building on past platform investments and harvesting transformative value through the application of new technology to support their business and IT operations.