Most businesses need a strong technology stack to support their activities, even if they’re not tech companies. IT service management remains one of the key approaches to delivering business value for companies, to both their end customers and employees. And, as we could see in 2020, ITSM tools and processes enable businesses to respond efficiently to major disruptive events by supporting remote teamwork and cooperation.
Efficient and scalable IT service management (ITSM) processes are a key priority to nearly all organizations: the global Cloud ITSM market is expected to grow from $4.7 billion in 2020 to over $12 billion by 2025, averaging a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.2%, according to a report by Markets and Markets.
In this article, we’ll look into the top seven ITSM trends in 2021, and see how companies are leveraging ITSM to speed up the delivery of value and improve their core offerings.
- Digital transformation
- People first
- AI-enabled ITSM solutions for smart automation
- ITIL 4
- Enterprise service management
- Integrated IT tools and environments
Let’s dive in.
1. Digital transformation
The complete digital transformation of businesses is one of the obvious trends for both 2020 and 2021. The big actors in different sectors can no longer continue using a “business as usual” approach, as they risk losing relevance and being displaced by younger, more agile companies that are eager to adapt. As an example, the logistics sector comes to mind: disruptive technologies, such as autonomous robots, are quickly taking over the last-mile delivery sector, while major actors find it difficult to adapt.
ITSM tools and processes, along with their successful integration with other systems, are key in building the stable basis of digital-first businesses. Working from home made companies’ digital transformation not just nice to have (and to deploy gradually in the next few years), but absolutely crucial for their survival. IT departments are working hard to enable this.
How can software integrations help speed up your digital transformation?
To embrace this trend and achieve complete digital transformation, you need to find the most suitable ITSM tool for your business and connect it to the rest of your software ecosystem. Integrations allow you to do this: they give you a full overview of your operations, and allow you to connect the dots effortlessly.
2. People first: ITSM for improved collaboration
Another key theme for tech companies this year (similarly to last year), is the realization that people are more important than anything else, as BMC puts it. The “people first” principle has two main iterations:
- Customer experience can (and will) make or break your success
- Employee experience and relationships are just as important.
Investing in the satisfaction of both your employees and your customers is, therefore, one of the best strategies for growth, and you cannot replace it by simply having a stellar product or a super competitive service offering. Human relationships are just as important in the age of automation as before—if not more. But working from home has put a strain on those relationships. Communication is now more difficult than ever and employees easily get frustrated if things aren’t going smoothly.
How can you solve this? ITSM tools can support this by improving communication between team members (especially when they’re working from home), and also by keeping response time low, and solving customers’ problems as soon as possible. As the pandemic has shown us, change can be quick and dramatic, and being able to count on people helps you go forward. Atlassian also draws the same conclusion in their guide to ITSM, by saying that for them, teams come first in all IT processes and practices.
How can software integrations help you support your teams better?
Most businesses have needed to implement WFH procedures during the pandemic. Besides that, more and more companies hire remote workers, and big teams are often spread out across the globe. As a result, streamlining and simplifying collaboration between teams and departments becomes crucial, and integrating your ITSM tools with the rest of your applications helps you achieve just that.
3. AI-enabled ITSM solutions for smart automation
The business world is not yet making full use of artificial intelligence, although AI’s potential to simplify and automate a sizable chunk of the tasks of the service desk is enormous: think chatbots, automatic incident resolution, and ML-enabled security threat detection.
In fact, one of the key factors slowing down the transition is not the technology itself, its complexity or its features, but company culture, according to Tim Fountaine, Brian McCarthy, and Tamim Saleh for Harvard Business Review (although their article is from 2019, this continues to be the case).
Many companies are not yet using AI technologies in all their day-to-day operations, or are only doing pilot experiments with AI-enabled tools, but the shift towards AI-enabled ITSM is already happening. Similarly to transforming your business to make it digital-first, AI and smart automation become not just nice to have, but crucial for your survival.
Smart automation is closely related to the capacities of AI-enabled tools. Reducing the need of human intervention in ITSM can be done on a few different axes:
- The automation of mundane, repetitive tasks
- Real-time alerts and incidents
- The analysis of big data sets with machine learning algorithms
- Smart notification and alert management to reduce noise
- Automatic end-to-end data transfer
As you can see, smart automation in IT service management relies on a few different technologies: AI, data analytics, machine learning, workflow automation, and software integrations.
How can software integrations help you automate your processes in a smart way?
Software integrations help you automate your workflows and enable a real-time data transfer in your company. They eliminate the risk of human error and allow each team to benefit from the features of all the software tools you’re using.
This helps companies enhance the detection and resolution of incidents and defects in complex IT infrastructure and act before issues affect their end customers. As a result, they can increase productivity, reduce response times, and save money by avoiding costly downtimes.
4. Adaptability: choosing an agile ITSM system is a must
Adapting to multi-factorial demands has been key for IT departments in 2020 and 2021, in order to ensure business continuity. They need to balance and prioritize between different demands:
- The technological challenges of remote work
- Employee needs and requests
- Security threats, especially with the raising use of different devices and applications
- Management requirements.
CIOs and IT managers need to react quickly to changing circumstances, while simultaneously phasing out outdated ITSM tools and solutions and replacing them with more agile ones.
How can you select the right ITSM tool that is both lightweight and agile, and that will help you be more adaptable? Here are a few tips:
- Figure out your specific IT needs. Do you simply need to track and solve incidents, or do you also need a CMDB? Modern tools come with a broad set of functionalities, and can help you adapt to lots of new challenges.
- Involve your people. The choice of an ITSM tool will affect not only your service desk, but other teams as well. Involve other teams in the discussion to see what they have to add to it.
- Think about your company’s needs as a whole. What do other teams need when they’re in touch with the service desk? Are your communication processes simple to navigate? An agile tool should improve communication, not slow it down.
- Prioritize compatibility and enterprise readiness. Is this application easy to integrate with your entire system? Will you be able to connect it to all the different endpoints you have? Is it enterprise-ready and capable of supporting your future growth?
Once you select the top 2 or 3 tools, you could try them in a controlled environment, before settling on the right solution. Most vendors will be happy to offer you a free trial or a demo.
How can software integrations help you be more adaptable?
With the right software integration platform, you can enhance the functionalities of your ITSM tool of choice by connecting it to your other tools, and therefore make adaptability a priority.
When ITSM, DevOps, and monitoring are in sync, you can react with speed and agility to new challenges. Besides that, if you need to switch from one ITSM tool to another, or if you need to use two tools at the same time (for different aspects of the management of your IT infrastructure), an integration platform can help you connect the two in minutes.
5. Switching to ITIL 4
Switching from ITIL 3 to ITIL 4 was one of the hot topics of 2020, however, the pandemic has somewhat displaced ITIL 4 as a top trend in favor of digital transformation, as ITSM Tools notes. Nevertheless, for companies relying on the ITIL framework, the shift is still ongoing, and more and more companies will adopt ITIL 4 in 2021.
ITIL 4 defines 34 key management practices that allow companies to align ITSM with DevOps, Agile, Lean and Cloud technologies. This is achieved by using a value-driven and customer-centric approach to IT service management, instead of a product-oriented one.
How can software integrations help you make the switch to ITIL4?
By integrating all of your tools and workflows, you’re much better prepared for implementing ITIL 4’s holistic approach to the four main dimensions of companies’ processes:
- Organizations and people
- Information and technology
- Partners and suppliers
- Value streams and processes.
ITIL 4 goes beyond IT service management and helps you use service management practices for everything, therefore enabling you to transition to enterprise service management (which is also the next point). With a powerful software integration platform, you can redesign your processes to support these changes quickly, and modify them as needed.
6. Enterprise service management
Enterprise service management (ESM) is extending the principles of service management beyond IT to the entire organization. It gives companies complete visibility into their service processes via different databases, systems and software tools, and allows them to track all business resources, customer requests and service commitments.
External resources are also easier to coordinate when you have a birdseye overview of your processes via ESM. Basically, ESM means taking ITSM’s best practices and applying them to your company as a whole.
How can software integrations help you implement ESM?
Implementing ESM is achieved by integrating all systems together, in order to connect teams and departments and enable end-to-end data exchange. How can you integrate your systems easily? By syncing your tools with the help of a software integration platform.
7. Integrated IT tools and environments
Software integrations are another hot topic for 2021: companies need to integrate their systems and environments quickly and efficiently in order to
- stay competitive, and
- enable their teams to work together in sync.
ITSM doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In most cases, it’s tightly interconnected with several other critical business processes and approaches, such as DevOps, which puts a strong emphasis on agility and shortened delivery cycles; but also with IT operations management (ITOM), APM, and more. For this reason, integration between ITSM tools and other software applications is now more important than ever.
You can check out the top ITSM tools according to Gartner here. Among them, you can see ServiceNow, Cherwell, SolarWinds, Jira Service Management, and more. We’re offering integrations for nearly all of them.
Integrations solve the equation
Software integrations help you implement these improvements effortlessly by connecting your ITSM tools with the rest of your software systems. This allows you to speed up your digital transformation and simplify your workflows.
Because in 2021, seamless connectivity is everything: it keeps your teams and business processes in sync, and allows you to prevent, detect and resolve issues in real time, without needing to work with (and switch between!) 5 different tools simultaneously. Software integrations help extract all the relevant info from each tool to provide you with a birdseye overview of your operations, and automate your processes in a smart way.
This way, you can transition to ITIL 4 and apply the principles of enterprise service management effortlessly, in order to create a better connected work environment. This, in turn, helps you boost your customers’ and your employees’ satisfaction, and allows you to be more agile and better prepared to react quickly to everything, from downtimes to global disruptive events. And not just stay afloat, but grow.