by Roy Atkinson
Date Published May 26, 2020 - Last Updated December 10, 2020

As we expanded further into the field of service management back in 2014, HDI began researching and publishing about Enterprise Service Management (ESM). We revisited the topic with follow-up research in 2018, and have continued to follow and discuss ESM widely.

There are many ways to describe what ESM is—or is supposed to be. The simplest description is that it is the use of service management practices, processes, and tools like those we have been using in IT for many years, but across other business units outside IT. Another way to describe it is to roll it into the term Digital Transformation, as Elina Pirjanti does in this article on

…from an end-user’s perspective, ESM is more about consumerization and user experience than it is ITSM. From the service provider’s perspective, ESM is about managing, optimizing, and standardizing the flow of work better, which is often close to impossible if the existing processes are manual with work tasks “hidden” in emails and little insight available on true performance.

Analyst Stephen Mann calls ESM “The Vital Third Part of Digital Transformation:”

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.

The wise Stuart Rance cautions against diving headlong into ESM without doing an assessment of where IT stands in the mix reputation-wise:

If you want the benefits of ESM, then you’ll need to think about how people in your organization already view IT, what their current experiences are telling them, and what training they might need.

In a recent article, Susan Salgy posted a roundup of thoughts on how to get started with ESM for TechBeacon, including some specific ideas on where to start in your organization:

Look for a department that is known for being progressive, with managers who are not afraid of the uncertainties that come with trying new technologies and practices.

Avoid spinning up your initial project in a department where teams are afraid to make mistakes.

If that’s how and where to begin, what are the parts of the equation we need to pay attention to? In The A–Z of Enterprise Service Management, the mythical but highly respected “Joe the IT Guy” literally goes through the alphabet of areas we should be paying attention to, as well as benefits the organization can derive from the ESM approach:

A’s entry is:

Automation takes away painfully-boring manual tasks and allows staff to focus on more important, engaging work. Helping to create a working environment where everyone feels that they are adding value.

C is for Communication, says Joe:

When the business becomes more aligned, communication between departments improves dramatically. The use of enterprise service management technology will further help here too.

G is for Governance Improvements:

When your organization adopts enterprise service management, you’ll see improvements in governance. This is because the organization can now see “the whole picture” making it simpler to understand whether departments are adhering to company procedures.

That last statement hints at one of the biggest advantages of ESM, and one that helps tie it securely to business transformation: Data. If the technology or technologies chosen can work from integrated data (and Joe does mention integration for the letter I), the organization has a much clearer picture of what’s going on, who its customers are, where the weaknesses and faults are, and how better decisions can be made.

To circle back to home ground, one post you should read on our own site about ESM is about an easily-overlooked but essential component of ESM: The culture of the organization. I explored this in the SupportWorld post Enterprise Service Management: Assessing Your Need for Cultural Change:

There is a reason for the order in which we list the Big Three: people, process, and technology. Spending large sums of money on a tool to enable new ways of doing things does not equal new ways of doing things.

We need to think about and research the ways the organization and its culture need to transform.

Once we have a clear picture of how all those parts make up the whole, we can seek to be understood about how the practices and principles of service management will assist in the achievement of the business goals and vision.

And achieving business goals is, after all, what all of this is about.

Achieving business goals is, after all, what all of this is about.
Tweet: Achieving business goals is, after all, what all of this is about. @RoyAtkinson @ThinkHDI #ITSM #ESM

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 Group Principal 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): service management, supportworld, ITSM, business value


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