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2020 Vision – What the Future of ITSM Holds

Posted By Stephen Mann, 05 October 2017

This is a guest post, contributed by Stephen Mann, Principal Analyst and Content Director at

There’s so much business and technology-related change surrounding IT service management (ITSM) right now, that it’s easy to feel like a small feather being blown around in the wind. Your long-term direction might feel both random and unknown – as different industry “winds” push you in different directions – and your relative elevation can change at a moment’s notice. Or, alternatively, you might be holding on tight to the status quo, refusing to let the winds of change take you anywhere just yet.

With so much change (and wind) at hand, it’s good to get wider opinions on what’s happening and will happen. And, while understanding (and perhaps predicting) the future has its risks, it’s usually not as risky as allowing the winds to continuously blow you and your organisation about – with “hope” the only strategy employed.

Looking to recent ITSM survey stats

So, what are ITSM professionals currently focused on (and perhaps a little overwhelmed by)? The easier question could almost be “What aren’t ITSM professionals thinking about right now?” as there are so many future-affecting jigsaw pieces in play.

To start, IT organisations don’t operate in a vacuum – with greater business demand for IT and higher customer and employee expectations, driven by consumer-world experiences, two key pressures on current and future IT services.

Technology advances – from cloud, through better IT management tools, to the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) – all have a part to play in helping IT organisations to better meet these changing business demands. But how well-armed are ITSM professionals to leverage new technologies and new approaches to IT service creation, delivery, and support?

Recent survey data shows that we’re still running towards public cloud with no signs of growth slowing down, even when high-profile cloud outages make the news. And we see AI as more “friend” than “foe” – with it a way to make ITSM and its outcomes better for all involved, from end users to ITSM professionals.

However, this is the good news. There’s other stuff to be concerned about:

  • 82% of survey respondents believe that working in IT will get harder over the next three years
  • Only 24% of respondents think that existing ITSM best practice has kept up with the changing IT and business landscapes
  • 70% of respondents think that there has been insufficient involvement of ITSM personnel in their company’s DevOps activities and ambitions
  • 77% of respondents think that there is still more to be done to meet the expectations of Millennial employees.

These and other things offer a wide spectrum of future challenges for ITSM professionals that make it more difficult to deliver against the aforementioned increasing business demands and expectations. But such challenges aren’t only future-facing.

Never mind new things, we still struggle with "old things"

IT self-service is a great example here. It’s long been touted as THE solution for a variety of IT-support woes in particular. But, even after many years of trying, IT departments still struggle to get self-service capabilities right – only 12% of organisations have received the expected ROI on their self-service investment. Usually because many still see it as a new technology-solution rather than the eliciting of employee change (in terms of their way of working).

So, money is still being spent on self-service technology, while employees continue to avoid using it. If you keep reading, I include some of the things you can do about this at the end of this blog.

Find out more at ITSM17

If you want to find out more about, and to get involved in discussions related to, the opportunities and challenges the future holds, Scarlett Bayes of the Service Desk Institute (SDI) and I will be presenting on “What the Future of ITSM Holds and What Should You Do About It” at the itSMF UK annual conference (ITSM17) in Manchester 20-21 November.

We’ll be reporting on the survey results and what they mean – tying in complementary SDI statistics where appropriate – plus, importantly, outlining what your IT organisation should be doing in light of these. In addition, we’ll be providing practical advice in line with the survey topics, for example with regards to low self-service ROI and how to instead succeed, including:

  1. Don’t focus on cost reduction above all else. Cost reduction could instead be viewed as an aspirational outcome driven through less tangible value-based motivations. Organisations with a higher ROI achieved other motivations and, in the process, have reduced cost.
  2. More successful organisations have a greater degree of focus on specific motivations, the ones that provide the most value to them.
  3. The most successful organisations are those who benefited from a self-service solution designed with the customer at the heart of the service and thus realised higher use rates.

Piqued your interest?

If you’re planning on attending ITSM17 then please attend our session to:

  1. Understand what your ITSM peers think will happen in terms of topics such as future working environments, the ability to recruit suitably skilled staff, cloud and AI adoption, the applicability of available best practice, and providing a high-quality service experience in the long shadow cast by end users’ consumer-world-driven expectations.
  2. Receive opinions and advice on what this all means and what your IT organisation should be planning to address and when.
  3. Takeaway a number of practical to-dos that will help you to futureproof your organisation’s ITSM operations.

We hope to see you there.

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