by Roy Atkinson
Date Published February 12, 2019 - Last Updated December 17, 2019

HDI’s SPOCcast is your single point of contact podcast for service management and technical support insights. For Episode 10, I interviewed Stephen Mann via Skype to discuss why implementing new technologies seems difficult, what to consider when looking for tools capable of Enterprise Service Management, and much more. What follows here is excerpted; for the full impact, I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast.


RA: One of the big questions that people in our community always have, and it’s something they cite as a challenge, is about implementing new technologies. It’s always high on the list of concerns, and a lot of times it’s at Number 1. So why is this so difficult, and does it have to be difficult?

SM: In terms of why it’s so difficult, the first thing that I normally talk to is the fact that when people talk about issues with implementing technologies…that almost gives you the answer in the question, in that they’re trying to implement the technology. They’re not trying to do something differently, to create better ways of working—well they are, but it’s not necessarily implicit in terms of their focus. They’re not necessarily trying to deliver better business outcomes…. I think the fact that the focus could be fundamentally wrong—probably not deliberately (it makes it sound as though I’m being mean about people or organizations)—but we can start off on the wrong foot and that over-focusing on the technology itself can be problematic.

Over-focusing on the technology itself can be problematic.
Tweet: Over-focusing on the technology itself can be problematic. @stephenmann @ThinkHDI #ESM #ITSM #techsupport #SPOCcast #podcast

I always like to point to self-service, for instance. That’s a great opportunity…that many organizations have taken. But then you do hear a lot of war stories; you do see statistics related to low levels of adoption, etc. And it all comes back to the fact that they’ve implemented self-service technology. They haven’t tried to create a self-service capability that employees or external customers are eager to use, that they find beneficial, that they’re offering something that is superior to sending in an email, or calling up, or accessing chat. I think that really is one of the biggest issues: talking in terms of technology rather than what can be achieved through the technology.

The second thing—it’s interesting actually—I was chatting to somebody last week about the Enterprise Service Management report (available with a free membership to HDIConnect) that you pushed out at the…start of Q4 last year. The stats showed that a lot of organizations had adopted an Enterprise Service Management strategy, or they’d used their ITSM technology in other parts of the organization, and they’d reaped some significant rewards. But the question that talked to whether organizational change management tools and techniques were employed didn’t seem to reflect the level of success in that you would have expected there to have been a heavier investment or a higher frequency of adoption of organizational change management.

So, I would normally point to that being one of the reasons why new technologies are implemented and they don’t necessarily meet up to people’s expectations or the promises that they’ve been sold in with. But I don’t push it so much now since reading your report from the end of last year. I don’t know whether that surprised you as well, Roy. Is it a case of…maybe we’re a little too focused on that, or maybe it’s a case of—with IT service management tools now—that more and more of them are very intuitive, very consumer-like in their operation…

I still think that if you’re going to get people to change the way that they work, then you really do need to focus on how best to get them to move from where they are now to where they need to be, and a big part of that is the “What’s in it for me?” as well as trying to suppress what is going to be the only natural feeling of…a level of…trepidation as to whether the change is going to be adverse or negative to the people involved…

And then the third thing…I would go for RFPs [requests for proposals]. The list of requirements…larger organizations have that potentially cumbersome tendering process. “Here’s 500 things just related to change management that we need the new IT service management tool or solution to do.”

I’m still of a mind that it really takes people—or takes their focus—off from what’s important, and really it ties into my first point about understanding what needs to be achieved. We can get bogged down as to whether, from an incident management point of view, tickets can be opened once closed—that sort of thing. Ultimately—I’ve said it so many times over the last decade—that if we ask the wrong questions, we’re going to get the wrong answers.

So, is it the implementation of the tool that is wrong or problematic, or is it actually the tool selection that is wrong or problematic?

RA: Enterprise Service Management…If this expansion is in the plans…what mistakes do organizations make when they’re looking for service management tools?

SM: I think the first thing to do is try to elevate oneself from the bits and bobs of IT service management. So, the capabilities are important; the minutiae of what you do with different incident statuses, not so much.

So, it’s a case of understanding what we actually do with Enterprise Service Management—and just as a brief sidestep to that—we call it Enterprise Service Management, but if we look at what a lot of organizations actually adopt, it’s the use of the common IT service desk, or IT help desk capabilities in other parts of the organization.

The first thing for me is…understanding what you want to achieve rather than getting lost into the weeds as we might do with a traditional IT service management RFP.

If you’re trying to encourage an HR organization to adopt your IT service management tool, they’re not going to want to see screens that talk about incidents…. Incidents are things like burglaries or security incidents.

When you’re looking at your solution and having it adopted by HR or facilities or legal or marketing or security or any other part of the organization, or even external customer support, a tool or a solution that really is easy on the process-managing user, as well as on the customer, is going to be beneficial.

We don’t want to take people to portals anymore. We want to bring the information or the help to them…whether that’s a mobile app, or something that you can swiftly access from the task bar on your PC or Apple device. Just make it easier for people to access; it might even be voice-based. But we don’t want people to have to choose one of five apps…

About Stephen Mann
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.

Roy Atkinson Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as senior writer/analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson.

Tag(s): supportworld, podcast, service management, ITSM, technology


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