HEAT Blog

The Future of ITSM: How Are the Roles (and the Rules) Changing?

Both the “rules” and the “roles” governing IT service management (ITSM) are evolving to support a far-broader need for inclusiveness across IT, and between IT and its service consumers. Recent EMA research, “What Is the Future of IT Service Management?” (March 2015), exposed a number of shifting trends that might surprise many in the industry. In our research, we approached ITSM not only as a set of service management processes, but we also viewed it in the context of recent trends in technology adoption and evolving organizational models. The research spanned 270 respondents in North America and Europe—in roles ranging from executives, to service desk professionals, to operations, and even development personnel—all of whom were actively engaged in ITSM in some way. Company/organizational size was a good mix, as well, ranging in size from 500 employees to more than 20,000 employees. Nearly 50% of those surveyed indicated that their ITSM teams were slated for growth. Another 35% were remaining the same, and only 15% were shrinking in size. Probably the first thing that stood out in the survey responses was that there is a growing need to more fully integrate the service desk with operations beyond traditional trouble ticketing. This requirement is changing both the roles and the rules of ITSM, especially among the more successful ITSM teams, where dialog between service management professionals and core operations experts is becoming more multifaceted and more service-aware than in the past. In many cases, the more effective ITSM teams are increasingly helping to coordinate and focus operational experts in support of business needs. Our data showed that the top three strategic priorities for ITSM teams were the following: 1. Improved user experience for internal service consumers (end users) 2. Improved operations-to–service desk integrations for incident and problem management 3. Improved operations-to–service desk integrations for configuration and change management All three data points call out for stronger operations-to-ITSM integrations—in terms of workflow, analytics, and automation, as well as effective role-aware visualization. As an added confirmation, 55% of our respondents felt that “big data analytics for IT” belong equally to ITSM and operations, and 14% believed that big data was primarily the province of the ITSM team. Another surprising finding that supports integrated operations was that, for the first time ever, “performance-related service impact” was the dominant use case for CMDB/CMS deployments—followed by asset and change management—once again emphasizing the need to optimize the delivery of critical IT application services and, hence, improve the end-user experience. Other research highlights show the following trends in rules and roles:
  • Cloud continues to be a game changer . ITSM teams are playing a more dynamic and service-aware role in managing cloud investments through a growing focus on such things as higher levels of automation and more attention to DevOps. ITSM teams are also integrating cloud services into their service catalogs—with SaaS (internal cloud) services, IaaS (internal cloud) services, and SaaS and IaaS services in public cloud tied for third.
  • The move to support enterprise services is also changing ITSM rules and roles. Only 89% of respondents had plans to consolidate IT and non-IT customer service—up from just two years ago when only 75% had plans to consolidate.
  • Mobility is seriously changing the ITSM gamein terms of both improved IT efficiencies and end-user outreach. 85% of our respondents had mobile support for end users, often across heterogeneous environments (tablets, iPhones, and Android phones, as examples). And 50% allowed end users to make ITSM-related service requests via these devices, making ITSM teams, and IT as a whole, considerably more consumer-friendly.
  • In parallel, the demand for more unified and effective endpoint management is expanding the requirements for role-based expertise. The leading requirements/skills here include capturing software usage, software license management, software distribution, operating system deployment, and patch management—across a fully heterogeneous set of endpoint options.
We also looked at success rates in an attempt to understand the chemistry of the most successful ITSM teams. To do this, we contrasted the 18% of respondents who viewed their ITSM initiative as “extremely successful” with the 12% who felt they were only “somewhat successful” or were “largely unsuccessful.” Those who were “extremely successful” were also:
  • Four times more likely to have integrated their IT and non-IT service desks
  • Twice as likely to have a CMDB/CMS-related technology deployed
  • Dramatically more likely to support cloud in service catalogs
  • Twice as likely to be leveraging mobile for ITSM professionals
  • Nearly four times more likely to offer service consumers mobile support for ITSM-related actions
  • Twice as likely to offer users access to corporate applications through mobile
  • More than twice as likely to be slated for growth
Overall, the news seems encouraging for ITSM teams willing to reach out and embrace a growing set of technologies and responsibilities. This means being ready to support new roles and expertise, while promoting more informed dialog, both between enterprise end-users and the service desk and between ITSM teams and the rest of IT—including operations and development. The news is probably not so good for the fainthearted seeking to cling to traditional ways of working in an “ITSM silo.” In other words, both the need and the opportunity for ITSM leadership awaits you—and our data suggests that the time to engage is now.