ITSM Statistics: The 2023 State of ITSM Process Adoption

Sophie Danby October 31, 2022
- 8 min read

The IT Service Management practice is very much extended across countries, industries, and types of businesses. After all, every organization wants to have the right capabilities to deliver value to its customers. However, in order to understand the true state of ITSM process adoption, we need to take a look at the ITSM statistics.

In H1 2022, AXELOS created an IT Service Management (ITSM) Benchmarking Report for its myAXELOS subscribers. This blog post takes some of the report data and considers it through an ITSM process adoption lens. 

In this article, we’ll go through:

  • The most common adoption challenges.
  • Success levels.
  • What happens when we look at the ITSM expansion beyond IT.

But before we start, we have a short disclaimer. While this blog’s title refers to “ITSM process adoption,” ITIL 4 no longer uses this terminology. “ITSM processes” are now known as “service management practices” to reflect ITIL’s broader corporate use cases and the need to look beyond processes to consider the required capabilities that involve people, processes, and technology. This blog, therefore, uses the term ITSM capabilities more than it does ITSM processes.

What are the key ITSM challenges for its adoption?

Before getting into the relative adoption and success levels of different ITSM processes (or capabilities), it’s worth sharing the overall state of ITSM adoption first, and what commonly prevents success and improvement.

The AXELOS survey found that 48% of organizations felt that their ITSM capabilities are “great” or “good.” 27% were “getting there,” and 22% had “still much to improve upon.” 

This means that there’s a roughly 50:50 split between (self-assessed) ITSM success and the need for greater improvement of ITSM capabilities. 

But what’s causing this success-to-improvement ratio? The AXELOS report also highlighted the key challenges organizations face when trying to improve their ITSM capabilities. Interestingly, the question only allowing for the respondents’ primary challenge meant that the range of chosen challenge option selection was wide:

ITSM statistics: key challenges organizations face when trying to improve their ITSM capabilities.

While it’s unsurprising that the lack of senior management buy-in continues to be the primary obstacle to ITSM success, it’s also good to see that the lack of adequate tools is low down the challenges list. And this might mean that 4% of respondents had no ITSM tool or were using an ITSM tool that didn’t meet their ITSM needs (and perhaps made service management harder than it needs to be).

ITSM capability success

The AXELOS survey also asked respondents to state the level of ITSM capability success across the following options:

  • Working well
  • Needs improving
  • Will add
  • Considering
  • Can’t afford
  • Not needed
  • Don’t know

For the purpose of this blog post, we’ll focus on the first two options and their combined percentage equating to the adoption level. This ITSM statistics data is shown in the table below, with “working well” and “needs improving” percentages scaled to reflect 100% of those organizations that had adopted the capability.

State of ITSM process adoption: the AXELOS survey also asked respondents to state the level of ITSM capability success across several options.

This perspective of the survey data offers excellent insights for organizations. First, the levels of ITSM capability adoption are as expected, with IT service desk capabilities being the highest. 

There are some capability adoption levels worth pointing out, though. Asset management ranks higher than some might expect, but it makes sense from cost reduction, risk, and compliance perspectives. Meanwhile, continual improvement and service catalog/self-service are perhaps lower than expected. Although the latter might be caused by the inclusion of a service catalog in the option, self-service adoption alone may be higher.

However, the relative level of ITSM capability success is likely lower than people would expect. For example that 61% of organizations with service request management capabilities (85% of all organizations) perceive that they need to improve them. Or, worryingly (but not unexpectedly), 80% of the organizations with knowledge management capabilities thought they needed improving. 

ITSM process success differs across demographical factors

The AXELOS survey data also identified demographics-based differences for ITSM process success. For example:

  • The largest organizations (with 5000+ employees) were most likely to have incident management capabilities in place, but the smallest organizations (with 1–49 employees) were slightly more likely to have them “working well.”

  • The largest organizations (with 5000+ employees) were most likely to have change enablement capabilities in place and for them to be “working well.” They were also most likely to have their problem management capabilities “working well.”

  • The larger the organization, the more likely they were to use asset management capabilities.

On a positive note, these capability success percentages might offer reassurance to organizations struggling or yet to adopt specific ITSM capabilities, highlighting that they are not alone in their need for improvement. 

ITSM statistics: processes relate to operations, but what about the outcomes?

One of the hottest ITSM trends right now is employee experience. The AXELOS report took a snapshot of the industry’s interest, with this something that should be influencing current and future ITSM capabilities. 

The survey found that 67% of IT organizations already understood the need to deliver a better employee experience, with another 18% expected to during 2022. Only 9% thought never to see the need to improve the employee experience.

There was an interesting report correlation with this data that the organizations with “great” or “good” (overall) ITSM success were more likely to understand the need to deliver a better employee experience. In contrast, the organizations with “still much to improve upon” were the most likely to not see the need. 

Plus, later analysis of the employee experience interest data found that organizational size appears to make a difference in employee experience interest, although not in the way many would have expected. The survey data showed that small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are on par with enterprise organizations when it comes to “understanding” – at 72% and 73%, respectively (versus the 67% average). This is interesting because it shows that SMEs are not waiting for larger organizations to prove the ITSM trend’s validity first.

Using ITSM capabilities beyond IT

Enterprise service management (or back-office digital transformation) has long been an ITSM trend, with ITSM capabilities employed in other business functions to improve operations, services, experiences, and outcomes.

The AXELOS survey found that 70% of organizations had either already started with enterprise service management or planned to do so. In contrast, only 22% of organizations had no plans for it. 

The report correlations found that the organizations with “great” ITSM success were the most likely to have advanced enterprise service management success, and over 90% had in-flight enterprise service management initiatives. 

Later analysis of the report data also found two insights that will be helpful for organizations looking to both improve their ITSM capabilities and extend them to other business functions:

  • As with employee experience understanding, SMEs are just as likely to have adopted and succeeded with enterprise service management as large enterprises.

  • Organizations with enterprise service management strategies don’t have better ITSM capabilities than those that don’t. On the one hand, ITSM maturity is not a barrier to enterprise service management. On the other, it also means that many organizations share ITSM capabilities that they think need improvement.

Returning to ITSM tools in the context of ITSM success

While not strictly ITSM process related, the suitability of ITSM tools does positively or negatively impact the success of ITSM capabilities. For example, knowledge management or asset management (well, in fact, most ITSM processes) are hard to operate without an ITSM tool or other technology. Hence, it seems appropriate to call out the success of ITSM tools when considering the current state of ITSM process adoption.

The AXELOS survey found that 46% of organizations thought their ITSM tools to be “great,” while 24% wanted to replace theirs. This finding supports the ITSM tool churn the industry has seen over the last two decades. Surprisingly, 11% of respondents stated that their organization still doesn’t have an ITSM tool.

While this data is interesting — and perhaps helpful in the context of the perceived suitability of your organization’s ITSM tool — what is even more interesting from the survey information is that the organizations that reported “great” ITSM success were not only happier with their ITSM tool, but “they were also at least twice as likely to have used it for more than two years.” The organizations not reporting ITSM success also made up the majority of organizations either without an ITSM tool or planning to replace their ITSM tool soon.

Final thoughts

The AXELOS ITSM Benchmarking Report data and insights paint a picture of the state of ITSM process adoption that is both good and bad and potentially ugly. The key takeaway from this ITSM statistic is that far more organizations think they need to improve their ITSM capabilities than think they are working well, with knowledge management being the worst example.

On the face of it, it’s a poor “school report” for all the hard work that organizations have invested in adopting ITSM capabilities to improve IT service delivery and support (and, ultimately, business operations and outcomes). 

However, there is an argument stating that this admission of needed improvements is good. That all of the organizations that can see opportunities to improve their corporate ITSM capabilities a good (not bad= thing. After all, we can all complete a survey stating that things are great when they’re not. Or have no ambition to improve continually across operations, services, experiences, and outcomes because we can live with the status quo.

So, take the data shared in this blog and use it to inform your ITSM decision-making and improvement. It’s good to know that your organization is not the only one struggling with knowledge management, and it’s also good to see that it’s possible to succeed with it (and the other ITSM capabilities).

Read other articles like this : ITSM, Incident Management, Change Management, Problem Management

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