In this IndustryVoices piece, Venkat Balasubramanian, Vice President of Product Management at Freshworks discusses how industries can best integrate automation in the future of IT service.

by Venkat Balasubramanian
Date Published August 31, 2022 - Last Updated January 20, 2023

An IndustryVoices article

We live in an era when digital transformation has progressed rapidly and continues to advance with time. Because of this, many IT frameworks and practices considered best and most effective just a few years back are already being replaced by modern solutions.

The application ecosystem shift from on-premise to cloud defines how modern ITSM tools are evolving. For CIOs to modernize and reap the benefits, they need to look for right-sized and mature tools.

Present Challenges

The road to IT modernization can be bumpy. The top reasons organizations are not seeing growth is because of competing priorities and a lack of a clear roadmap or strategy. Other causes included data security concerns, inadequate in-house expertise, poor preparation, and outdated processes or tools.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation investments for ITSM tools seldom deliver anticipated value due to poor data and process maturity. Legacy IT applications and infrastructure are still holding organizations from capitalizing on the potential of new technologies.

Employee resistance to change is a commonly-ignored factor in technology-based change. What’s more, many businesses are not able to envision a comprehensive strategy for the deployment of new technologies.

Take chatbots, for instance; one of the main causes of reality falling short of the chatbot hype was the lack of AI ability available to the bots. They were a lot less “smart” than people thought. Instead of intelligent conversation, customers met a brick wall in the form of confused chatbot error messages. The problem was that, due to this misassigned intelligence, chatbots gained too much responsibility too fast. Businesses often deploy their shiny new chatbot as a standalone service option. And as a standalone contact channel, chatbots simply weren’t functional enough.

While the uptake of new technologies may be slow at the moment, looking back at how the last two years have panned out, I believe organizations will see why they should develop strategies for modern tech to have a genuine day-to-day impact. Their first step in doing this is to ensure each technology they have adopted has a specific purpose, a strategy for deployment, and a knowledgeable team behind it to ensure it reaches its full potential.

Salient Features of a Future-Proof ITSM Solution:

1. Shift left - A modern ITSM support shift-left initiative where knowledge sharing happens through the knowledge base, and the self-service portal makes it easier for the agents to respond to queries.

2. Automation and AI - Delivering efficient service and operations management and customizing workflows consistently through automation, orchestration, and AI/ML capabilities. Automate mundane, repetitive tasks like password reset, application access requests, and employee onboarding/offboarding, thus freeing resources from mundane tasks.

3. Integrations - The tools that can integrate easily with other applications natively save a lot of time and effort for both admins and agents. Integration can happen via hundreds of applications like OKTA, AWS, etc within the modern ITSM tools.

4. ESM and Service catalog - The ability of the tool to expand itself to non-IT agents who are technically less knowledgeable. ESM spans HR, finance, legal, facilities management, and customer service functions. The tools' ability to display service requests in the form of a service catalog enhances employee satisfaction and makes it easy to use.

5. Advanced Incident management - Tools that are proactive in incident remediation and leverage AI for incident response help in saving critical incidents.

6. Intuitive - Delivering end-to-end, consumer-grade, end-user and employee experience.

7. Intelligent - Providing agility through AI to create contextual and intelligent service delivery.

8. Extensible - Enabling enterprise-scale integrations with a marketplace approach, built on an open and secure platform.

9. Partner-like engagement model - Drive customer success by focusing on feature adoption and value realization

7 best practices critical for success

When it comes to the integration of automation, here are some things to keep in mind:

Stay open-minded.

To innovate, you must be brave and experiment with new ideas. They may initially feel unfamiliar or come from unlikely sources, but there is a huge performance potential just out of reach. New structures lead to new behavior, which leads to new and better results. If you’re worried about mistakes, don’t be—they happen, and that’s okay.

Don’t expect everything to happen overnight or all at once.

The required agility from you, your team, and your tech stack will be simultaneous, but reliability won’t be immediate. Approach the necessary changes at regular intervals, incorporating feedback every step of the way. Ensure you provide space for everyone to come along with you while making the required changes. If you find yourself getting frustrated, remember that this is all part of the process and cultural changes take time.

Throw out the phrase, “This has always worked for us.”

It’s the most dangerous sentence you can use as an argument against change. You must wreck this status quo from where you are to where you want to be.

Remember that improving your work is just as important as doing your work.

Focus on value, collaboration, and promoting visibility with the rest of your business. What behaviors do you want to see that demonstrate your focus on value and innovation? Practice those behaviors, gather feedback, and coach them until they’re embedded in how you and your team do things.

One way that organizations appear to be looking to improve IT modernization is through governance strategies and processes.

This means building a framework for IT decision-making that standardizes who is involved and what and how choices are made. Meaningful updates must be made to support new IT environments that extend from the data center to the edge.

Ensure IT–business partnership.

Modernization is a collaborative process. There must be a strong alignment between the tech­nology organization and the rest of the business. Modernization strategy dis­cussions should include not just the CIO, but also employees from IT and other business functions together on cross-functional teams jointly responsible for delivering new technology.

Put people at the center.

Leaders can lose focus on what’s important during a transformation. When they put tools and tech ahead of people, initiatives can derail.

Final thoughts

Let’s understand that technology never stands still, and no two organizations are alike in their preferences and goals. It’s about understanding where you are and where you need to go, and then moving incrementally. Tackle transformation in bite-sized chunks, driving progress through mini-initiatives and projects. Assess your level of organizational maturity and look at the most critical aspects you need to go after.

Before diving into modernization efforts, define your organization’s priorities and how you can best address them. Consider your biggest priorities, and then examine how technology can help you tackle those challenges rather than the other way around.

Venkat Balasubramanian is Vice President of Product Management at Freshworks. He is the business unit head for Freshservice, the ITSM suite of solutions from Freshworks. Venakt has over 20 years of industry experience and is adept at building world class products for IT teams.

Tag(s): supportworld, culture, automation


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