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Automation is delivering big value for businesses of all sizes, especially as it relates to IT service desk operations. Why is the service desk so important? If you’re in IT, you know the answer: The IT service desk is the hub of business operations. Finely tuned IT operations mean greater operating efficiencies, delivering amazing employee experiences enabled by the technology they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, happier customers receiving better customer experiences, and improved bottom line results for the organization as a whole. While all that is great, the implementation of service desk automation isn’t in and of itself a home run. Why? The problem with service desk automation isn’t the technology, it’s in selection of the vendor, the product, the implementation, adoption, and use of whatever technology solution an organization selects that can often be problematic.
For those of us immersed in the digital transformation space, this comes as no surprise. Technology alone is never the answer when embarking upon a digital transformation journey — the answer, or the ability to successfully transform, is always in the people part of the equation. Service desk automation is no exception. Why is automation so important? Let’s take a look.
Digital Transformation and The State of Automation
No matter what your industry or vertical, successful digital transformation relies on integration of technology into the workplace and an adaptation of culture within the organization to embrace change, a data-driven mindset, and a commitment to work alongside technology. Automation is an important part of the equation, and it plays a key role in successful digital transformation. Why is that? Speed and efficiency rule. The pace of business today is faster than ever before and, as a result, the pressure we put on our IT teams is greater than ever before. That’s where automation comes in. When your IT team can lead the charge to automate the low-value, mundane, repeatable tasks, it frees up your entire team to work on things that not only deliver greater business value, but which are also more interesting to them as a whole.
In our recently-published research report The State of Automation 2019 — RPA, AI and Intelligent Automation, we found that over half of businesses in North America have already implemented some kind of automation solution like RPA or Intelligent Automation. In addition, one in four organizations who have not yet implemented automation solutions are in the process of doing so. It’s clear that organizations are finding value in automation in various parts of the organization, and IT service management is leading that charge.
The Evolution of IT Service Management
IT Service management is literally the hub of all business operations. Why? Smooth IT operations keep every other part of the organization running. The IT service desk is responsible for every part of the organization running smoothly, more efficiently, and more productively. That’s not news—we’ve long relied on our IT teams to make everything work. But with advancements in technology and digital transformation underway, our IT service management operations have undergone an evolution, and one that is largely fueled by automation. Like automation anywhere within the organization, service desk automation can improve IT operational efficiency, which means happier, more productive employees, delivering better work product and improved customer experience, in a shorter period of time, all of which can make a definitive impact on the bottom line. If you’d like a deeper dive on maximizing service desk efficiencies, check out this ebook developed by the team at Cherwell Software 5 Proven Strategies to Maximize Service Desk Efficiency — The IT Practitioner’s Guide to Working Smarter Not Harder.
What to Look for in IT Service Management Systems
So, what do you look for when selecting an IT service management system? The best IT service management systems are easy to use and easily customizable. Whether it’s managing incidents, change management, release updates and management, configuration management, asset management, a best-in-class option has you covered, especially when major incidents occur. As any IT practitioner knows, major incidents take time and eat away at productivity. When you can reduce those incidents and/or reduce the time spent on dealing with them, it’s a win all the way around.
Today’s best-in-class integrated solutions allow organizations to innovate rapidly, and no-code, low code workflow automations are pretty much table stakes. They also focus on collaboration, providing cross-functional service delivery and easy partner integration, with dashboards that allow end-to-end visibility and reporting along the way. Real-time data drives real-time business decisions, all of which are critical when it comes to delivering world class customer experiences.
Why It’s Critical to Look Beyond the ITSM Technology Itself
Successful digital transformation relies on selecting the right technology solutions, but it also relies on working with the right vendor partners, and therein lies what I believe is one of the greatest challenges for businesses. In our State of Automation 2019 report, our data showed that the third most common reason organizations have thus far failed to implement automation (22% of survey respondents), is the inability to connect with the right technology partners. This may speak to a general inefficiency of solutions vendors to clearly articulate the value of their solutions and connect with potential customers during the early stages of their search and selection process. Note to solutions vendors: Pay attention and do better. Messaging matters. Note to customers searching for the right vendor partner: They are out there. Be patient and do your due diligence. Look for vendors who lead with the services part of their offering, rather than those who are focused on simply selling a one and done technology solution. The services part of the equation is going to play a large role in your overall success.
Service and support matter a great deal when it comes to success with any technology solution implementation. In fact, it was a key challenge we identified in another recently published white paper, How Intelligent Process Automation Can Change Everything About Your Business Journey. As we explored the state of RPA in the enterprise and the role process automation can play, it was clear that while they might want to adopt automation, in many instances, customers reported difficulty scaling RPA solutions and/or automation implementations that fail altogether. This is another area that both vendors and customers need to pay close attention to.
What are the barriers to effective scaling of IT solutions? Our data shows the top things customers struggle with are a lack of trained employees, a lack of clear vision, or a lack of resources. In addition, more than 40 percent reported they don’t fully understand the different deployment options available. In fact, as simple as automation technology might seem on the outside, the reality is that about half of implements fail to see results.
Setting Yourself Up for Success With a Service Management Technology Solution
So how do you set yourself up for success with a service management technology solution? Work with a vendor who can help you from the earliest stages and who is in it with you for the long run. That vendor can help you develop a strategy for your IT service management solution, help you develop a roadmap for process identification and management, solution implementation and internal adoption, training, ongoing support, etc. The thing about digital transformation is that it’s a journey that’s really never done. Your technology needs and your resource needs will always be in a state of continuous evaluation, changing and adapting as the needs of your organization change over time. That’s why it’s important to find and work with a vendor partner who’s interested and able to be in it with you for the foreseeable future. Someone who just wants to make a sale? Not really worth your time.
I was inspired to write this article following an event I attended in Nashville as a guest of Cherwell, a leading ITSM vendor and, IMO, a company to watch. I had many conversations with Cherwell’s senior leaders during my couple of days at their event and two things were immediately clear. First, every senior leader I had the opportunity to spend time with, from the CEO on down, was genuinely nice. Don’t laugh. There are many vibes you can get from a company, and for me “these people are a really nice group” is one of the best. In my world, ‘nice’ is evocative of sincerity, honesty, passion, commitment, and people possessed of a bonafide customer-centric mindset. Trust me, that’s not all that common. Secondly, time and time again our conversations turned to the service part of the equation, what a challenge that is for companies of all sizes, and how Cherwell’s customers and prospective customers struggled with getting their arms, and their teams, around all that’s involved in an ITSM deployment. I walked away from that event knowing that Cherwell would come up with a solution to that challenge, and sure enough, they have. Want to know more about that? Of course you do. Stay tuned.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
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Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”