The Vital Third Part of Digital Transformation

by Stephen Mann
Date Published August 23, 2018 - Last Updated December 13, 2018

While enterprise service management—the use of IT service management (ITSM) principles, best practice, and technology outside of IT—has been around for well over a decade, its time is very much now.

Why? Because digital transformation isn’t only the introduction of new technology—and data-driven products and services and the use of technology to improve customer engagement. It’s also the transformation of the organization’s back-office operations to support better business outcomes.

It’s a pan-business need that’s well suited to enterprise service management and the capabilities of modern ITSM, in particular ITSM technology.

Understanding the Enterprise Service Management Opportunity

Hopefully the above sounds logical, but you probably have a number of related questions. For example:

  • “Is enterprise service management actually happening, or is it just vendor-marketing hype to get me to spend more?”
  • “Where do you start with enterprise service management? Or, more importantly, where do the most-successful organizations start?”
  • “How do I know if our current ITSM tool is up to the requirements of enterprise service management?”
  • “Where is the future of enterprise service management thinking and technology heading?”

Thankfully HDI is helping to provide the answers to these and other enterprise service management questions. More on this in a minute, but first there’s a need for some underlying explanation.

Understanding the Spectrum of Enterprise Service Management Activities

As with ITIL, where “We’ve adopted ITIL” can mean anything from the use of incident management best practice (only) through to the unlikely adoption of all 26 ITIL ITSM processes, the term “enterprise service management” can mean different things in reality.

If one looks at the origins of enterprise service management, this was initially the use of ITSM tools by other business functions such as human resources (HR), facilities, or even complaints management teams. It was very much about using a proven solution to help with the efficiency and effectiveness of work operations in these business functions.

There’s still a version of this in 2018—let’s call it “tactical” enterprise service management. Where the ITSM tool is exploited—for both greater tool-investment and business value—by using it in other business function scenarios. It’s a reactive and piecemeal approach that works. With it by far superior to the early days of enterprise service management thanks to the improvements in ITSM technology that range from multi-departmental use cases to modern service delivery and support capabilities such as self-service.

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“Tactical” Versus “Strategic” Enterprise Service Management

However, the growing interest in and marketing of enterprise service management opportunities has offered up a more complete approach to it. Let’s call it “strategic” enterprise service management, where a very deliberate decision is made and proactive approach is taken to systematically share ITSM best practices and technology across the organization. The potential use cases are prioritized, weighing up the benefits and costs.

Thus, when a company is questioned about enterprise service management adoption, or the use of their ITSM tool(s) in other business function scenarios, there’s probably going to be an unquantifiable mix of tactical and strategic use cases (unless, of course, the question asks about the execution of enterprise service management strategies). This needs to be borne in mind with any enterprise service management statistics.

There’s also another lens to look at enterprise service management through, what enterprise service management means in terms of scope. As with the earlier ITIL adoption example, is enterprise service management really “ITSM for the enterprise” or is it actually “IT service desk for the enterprise?” Why? Because much of what has been achieved through enterprise service management relates to the improved handling of requests for business-function-specific help—what ITSM would call incident and change management and request fulfillment.

There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s just important to understand the common focus areas and scope differences.

Research into Enterprise Service Management

In 2014, HDI undertook an enterprise service management survey and delivered an associated report called Service Management: Not Just for IT Anymore. This was an interesting snapshot of how far enterprise service management had come. HDI ran the survey again this year, and the results are interesting: 

  • In 2014, 68% of respondent organizations said they were using a service management solution (i.e., tool). In the 2018 study, 84% said they have a tool. Now this could be a sample-based change, but it’s more likely that it really does reflect a big uplift in organizations appreciating that they can benefit from a fit-for-purpose ITSM tool. This rise in ITSM tool adoption means that there’s now even more scope for enterprise service management adoption (either tactically or strategically).
  • HR is the area outside of IT where the adoption of service management principles and practices showed the largest increase between the 2014 and 2018 studies. In the earlier study, 38% of organizations identified HR as an adopter; in the current study, the number has risen to 52%.
  • Organizations have been able to quantify the benefits of enterprise service management. In those organizations that have expanded service management to non-IT areas and that measure employee satisfaction and/or productivity, employee satisfaction (ESAT) has increased in more than half and productivity has risen in two-thirds of those organizations. Thus, enterprise service management is proving its worth.
In organizations that have expanded service management to non-IT areas, employee satisfaction has increased and productivity has risen.
Tweet: In organizations that have expanded service management to non-IT areas, employee satisfaction has increased and productivity has risen. @stephenmann @ThinkHDI #ITSM

You can download the reports, to see additional findings. And no doubt Roy Atkinson will be blogging about some of the key survey findings soon.

But what about getting access to enterprise service management good practice (to answer the related questions)?

Sourcing Enterprise Service Management Good Practice

As with anything related to emerging ITSM good practice, the ITSM tool vendor community holds many of the answers thanks to their customer engagements. I’ve written about this before and the fact that vendor people, such as solution consultants, are a great source of ITSM knowledge thanks to their accumulated experiences. So, who better to question about how to “do” enterprise service management right?

The same applies to ITSM and enterprise service management technology futures. The tool vendors are well, if not best, positioned to advise based on both technology futures per se and customer wants and needs.

As the latest HDI research shows, the interest and investment in enterprise service management continues to grow despite the very-limited availability of agreed (enterprise service management) good practice.

Hopefully, we’ll soon see something more formal—maybe via the new VeriSM or ITIL4 publications. For now, the ITSM industry will need to make the most of the guidance made available by successful ITSM tool vendors and their partners. And if you can’t find anything suitable to read or watch online, then get to the regular ITSM events where the vendor sponsors (and exhibitors) will be available to answer your burning enterprise service management questions.

Stephen Mann is Principal and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm He is also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals. Stephen previously held positions in IT research and analysis (at IT industry analyst firms Ovum and Forrester and the UK Post Office), IT service management consultancy, enterprise IT service desk and IT service management, and IT asset management. Follow him on Twitter @stephenmann.

Tag(s): supportworld, service management, ITSM


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