When writing about IT service management (ITSM) trends for the year ahead, in some ways it’s hard to get past what will likely be the biggest ITSM trend for 2021 – that’s digital transformation. It seems to have been a long time coming, with the concept of digital transformation now at least ten years old. But now the initial and ongoing adverse impact of the global pandemic has pushed it up business agendas, including for the organizations that have so far avoided its opportunities.
Of course, there are other ITSM trends for 2021 but there’s no doubt that digital transformation is the one that’s at the front of the minds for many right now. To help you think beyond digital transformation – and it’s important that you do – this blog outlines two additional ITSM trends that will likely be relevant to your organization and its priorities in 2021.
1. There’s no doubt that digital transformation and increased automation are 2021 must-haves
I might have “stolen my own thunder” by the early mention of digital transformation. But who wasn’t expecting this to be called out in every single ITSM trends list?
The global pandemic has severely affected business operations and continues to do so in the many countries that are still struggling to contain the virus. You know the drill by now – there’s the need to enable and support the new ways of working caused by social distancing and remote working. With technology needed to both maintain operations (for business survival in some instances) and to create competitive advantage moving forward. Plus, ITSM also plays a big part in the creation of new (customer-facing) products and services and the improvement of customer engagement mechanisms (through the exploitation of technology and data) that make up the three elements of digital transformation.
While the employment of digital workflows is the crux of what’s currently needed by the many business function teams with dispersed personnel within your organization, there’s also the opportunity to automate within these workflows whenever possible. A simple IT example is an employee requesting new software via a self-service portal and an automated workflow that employs the automated checking, authorization, and provisioning of the need. Not only does this free up IT staff to concentrate on greater value-adding tasks it also provides a quicker and better service experience for the employee. This can, of course, be extended to other business functions using enterprise service management and service orchestration and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies to invoke capabilities in business function tools as needed.
2. Enterprise service management adoption levels will grow dramatically to enable digital transformation
For me, an important aspect of meeting the need for the digital transformation of business operations is recognizing that what’s needed for the creation of digital workflows and facilitating digital engagement is already available in ITSM tools. This is what the IT industry has labeled “enterprise service management” for at least the last half-decade – the sharing of ITSM thinking, capabilities, and technology with other business functions to improve their operations and outcomes.
Enterprise service management was already digitally transforming operations in business functions such as human resources (HR), legal, facilities, finance, procurement, sales, and marketing before the pandemic. Now the new ways of working, with people in multiple locations, has increased business demand for the digital workflows that enterprise service management provides. A key point to recognize here though is that while we might call it “enterprise service management” within IT, the name will mean nothing to the other business functions that simply want and need new digital workflows and other technology-based differentiators.
3. Employee experience will continue to rise in importance
Customer experience (CX) is now at least a decade old too and the progression of this experience-based thinking into the workplace, in the form of employee experience, has started to gain real traction in the last few years.
In 2020, the ongoing impact of the pandemic on employees and their ability to work raised the “experience” stakes in both IT service delivery and IT support terms. Now in 2021, not only do employees expect more from their corporate IT services thanks to their potentially superior consumer-world experiences (of service and support). Their increased reliance on technology to work, and to deliver the outcomes required of them, makes employee experience an ITSM trend that IT service desks, in particular, can’t ignore. So, expect the measurement, management, and improvement of employee experience to be on any list of key ITSM trends for 2021.
However, I can’t move on from employee experience without talking about the “elephant in the room.” The fact that improving employee experience costs money. Something that might be unwanted while the organization as a whole is looking to minimize business-as-usual expenditure as it recovers from the adverse economic impact of the pandemic. Here it’s important to appreciate that employee experience is inextricably linked with employee productivity, with a better experience improving productivity and the associated business outcomes. Done right, employee experience improvements will provide a much-needed ROI for your organization.
There are, of course, other ITSM trends for 2021 that might be more applicable to your organization than these. The important thing is to ensure that whatever you choose to invest your limited improvement time and money in delivers the best outcomes relative to strategic business wants and needs.