ITSM in 2018 – My Three Predictions
You have probably come across numerous predictions for the ITSM market for 2018 already, trust me I have, however as we tick off the first month of the new year, I wanted to re-group my thoughts and share with you what I think is in store for ITSM in 2018, and what we as ITSM professionals should be thinking about in the year ahead.
Cloud is not a commodity – yet
A commodity is defined as a ‘substance that can be traded, bought or sold’. In the world of technology services this has other connotations; commodity generally refers to something that has a lower perceived value, often readily available from a number of sources, can fulfil it’s function inherently and can easily be substituted from one supplier to another with minimal impact.
The opportunities that cloud computing offers a business aligns, in theory, to many of these qualities. It can be as easy to spin up a service in AWS as it is in Azure; compute services, storage and databases are all selectable from a list or provisioned via an API. Scale is seemingly limitless and there are a plethora of suppliers ready and waiting. However, as many organisations who have declared ‘cloud first’ as part of their business strategy are finding, all is not equal in the cloud.
In a recent engagement with a Gartner analyst, we were told that the most frequent questions asked of Gartner about the cloud were how do customers identify which services can be most effectively transferred into the cloud, how do they manage cost, data and governance across multiple clouds, how to manage automation and orchestration across hybrid cloud environments. These problems manifest themselves in many ways from decisions to remain on-premise (to avoid complexity) to ‘sticker shock’ when the monthly invoice lands (as a result of significant over-provisioning). None of these attributes are ones that you would associate with, for example, which paper supplier you chose for your printing needs.
As cloud becomes more prevalent, and organisations understand better the challenges and how to overcome them, then cloud computing will become increasingly commoditised. However, it is most definitely not there yet.
Data is the new king
The relentless drive to acquire data continues. Look at the incredible data opportunities that Google, Facebook and Microsoft (with their acquisition of LinkedIn) have. There is more data about more people than ever before. Within IT Service Management and IT Operations Management, the use of data to drive genuine insight has been lacking. There are very few organisations who are sufficiently mature to look beyond basic reporting needs, and take actions over and above those that form part of their BAU operations. In 2018, data analytics and science will come to ITSM and ITOM in a meaningful way.
As the technology to drive automation and orchestration is now proven, the question is what needs to be automated? Which are the most meaningful integrations, and to what degree does data need to flow between applications? The answer lies in the data available – both historically residing with existing applications and as data analytics itself matures, real time.
Consider some simple but attainable quick wins. Analysis of service request and incident data can clearly define the most impactful service requests to build into a service catalogue (noting that these may not be the most frequent, nor the most complex). Tracking end user adoption of self-service portals can determine the most likely knowledge articles, presented in the correct manner, to drive down the volume of calls into a service desk. Analysis of business data can determine when cloud capacity needs to be provisioned, to what degree, and to what cost, in line with seasonality.
All decisions made by the end of 2018 about the use of service management tooling should be, and will be, made using data science techniques.
Domain expertise remains critical in 2018 and beyond
Despite the temptation to believe that everything is best when based on vertical sector alignment (as expounded by some software vendors), in some key areas domain expertise remains crucial. ITSM and ITOM remains one of those areas. The ubiquity of ITIL has of course had a significant impact on the standardisation of core IT services and their management, but as the landscape changes because of the cloud and because we are able to make more use of data, there needs to be effective governance over the way in which these technologies are used. In addition, the impact of, for example, data driven insight means change in business process, support structures and tooling, all of which benefit from existing knowledge.
This is not to say that experience cannot bleed across domain lines. Take the case of customer service (case management) vs IT service (incident, change, service request etc). Clearly there are similarities and there is no doubt many principles of ITIL that could be used within customer service, as well as perhaps many customer service principles that could improve IT end user experience.
UK Sales and Marketing Director
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