business executives have high expectations when it comes to digital initiatives,

ITSM Will Play a Key Role in Digital Transformation Initiatives

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Objectives are to drive employee productivity and improve innovation

Advancing how employees collaborate, as well as recognizing and acting on improvement initiatives, and improving productivity are key objectives of any digital transformation effort. A recent survey (September 2015) of digital transformation conducted by McKinsey reported that just over half of respondents identified improving existing business processes as a top digital initiative priority, providing evidence that enterprises must balance the need to identify and act on new transformation opportunities, with the need to strengthen and optimize existing processes.

However, the McKinsey report also concluded that while business executives have high expectations when it comes to digital initiatives, multiple challenges make executing against any initiative difficult. A lack of leadership and talent in executing against such a strategy currently represent the biggest challenges identified, and while investments in digital initiatives look set to increase, there is a disparity between what business executives are expecting will be achieved from a digital initiative, and the reality of what can actually be delivered with the resources currently in place.

IT is in a privileged, centralized position within the organization, and this should be exploited in helping deliver against a digital initiative. Enterprise service management (ESM) practices and technology are a good example of how IT can capitalize on this opportunity. ESM strengthens integrations between business units, and can help organizations improve collaboration and heighten productivity through wider automation of cross-departmental processes that support a defined outcome. In addition, this approach can deliver a vast amount of data and information to a wider variety of employees, helping increase the value derived from such data, while also reducing work duplication.

Adopting a human-centric approach to digital transformation is vital

A key outcome of a digital transformation effort should be to empower employees throughout the business with tools that enable them to contribute and consume valuable insight and knowledge. Employee productivity is affected by the feedback delivered by employees, and the modern enterprise has more ways of delivering feedback than ever before. However, many organizations are not exploiting these mechanisms to an optimal level.

In addition, new technologies are transforming business and IT processes, and the roles fulfilled by employees will evolve as a result. It is important that organizations acknowledge this impact and examine the activities and tasks undertaken by employees in looking for the friction or inefficiencies that digitization can eliminate. This should be done not with the sole objective of analyzing how advanced technologies may eliminate manual tasks, but in how technology can help organizations to realize greater levels of employee productivity.

Immediate focus should be on identifying opportunities to improve the service experience delivered

In 2016 digital trends will require IT strategies to be in a constant state of adaptation in order to realize value from new opportunities. However, one high-level constant will be in how IT can more effectively support customer needs. From an ITSM perspective, the service desk is actually a very good place to start when embarking on an effort to execute against a strategic digital transformation effort. The service desk is often the bridge of human interaction between those consuming IT services and those developing and delivering them, with roles such as the service level manager and business relationship manager also supporting these objectives. Key areas of focus for the service desk will be in optimizing request fulfilment and incident management practices. User needs driven by the digital era will require a fluid and responsive approach to resolving incidents and fulfilling requests. Restrictions that might hinder reaching this ideal should be eliminated if possible, and technology advancements can help.

Self-service capabilities will continue to improve and extend beyond only offering an automated request catalog in 2016. Automation advancements, coupled with machine learning have the potential to further self-service capabilities in meeting more complex user needs. As opposed to interacting via a generic, universal self-service portal, users will increasingly have access to services and support via a dynamic, role-based portal that is specific to their needs and responsive to their patterns of business activity. From this portal, users can request services, or be automatically prompted of services available that could better support their professional needs. Collaboration opportunities also become more prevalent, because contextualized discussion with peers around a specific project or task can be undertaken, the outputs of which can be automatically recorded and fed back to participants.

Beyond the operational aspects, it is important that IT embarks on strategic activities that will help in recognizing and acting on new and transformational opportunities, where continual service improvement efforts and service portfolio management practices will be invaluable. How IT must adapt, and how the portfolio of services offered by IT must evolve in supporting changing needs represent two very important areas of consideration. The dynamic nature of the digital era means that new needs and opportunities arise on a more frequent basis. For organizations to act on these opportunities, it is important to ensure that the service portfolio is reviewed on a more regular basis. This is not with the intention of solely identifying new services to add to the pipeline, but also to identify services that are no longer delivering the intended value and could be retired, releasing resources in the process.

Mobility continues to transform how people work

A key IT support function objective is in how to enable people, regardless of the device they are using to interact with IT services. In the past, and because users now utilize an increased amount of different devices, support functions have had to work with a variety of tools to support the mobile workforce. However, in 2016, the utilization of a dispersed set of tools will change as service management solutions improve the mobility capabilities offered. Experience here is not only reliant on how mobile devices themselves are supported. New services are being offered, and existing services are being transformed in response to the needs of the mobile workforce. Self-service portals, developed natively with mobile in mind, are becoming more popular, with BMC software in particular embracing this movement.

As mobility becomes a much more strategic consideration for organizations, many are beginning to understand how it can help transform and evolve both business and IT processes. A process can be defined as an activity, or set of activities, that will accomplish a specific goal. Fundamentally, what the proliferation of mobile devices gives organizations is a greater wealth of data and information. For example, location data can be gathered that could be used to make a business process more efficient, or a greater amount of contextually relevant customer and employee information can be gathered that provides a wealth of opportunities for organizations to transform and better personalize the services they deliver.

One of the most obvious opportunities is the ability to transform and improve employee and customer interactions through mobile end points. In the context of IT, this is helping organizations realize some new opportunities, especially relating to processes such as request fulfilment, and the experience delivered by IT is improving as a result.

Mobility goes beyond the smartphone

The impact of mobility is, however, extending beyond only smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Sensors are increasingly being integrated into a variety of devices, making them smarter and broadening the value of event monitoring practices and technologies to departments beyond IT. For example, facilities management departments will have increased amounts of data to leverage in helping them work more productively, delivered by sensors installed in enterprise assets. As more and more assets become connected, having a system and technology that can help manage and support them will be important.

There is no standardized approach to the way in which an organization embarks on an enterprise mobility strategy. The opportunities mobility will provide organizations to transform will vary, but it is important that businesses recognize the opportunities and act on them appropriately. Failure to do so may result in them missing an opportunity to improve organizational efficiencies and innovate and differentiate.

Mobility is a key component of the digital era, but challenges still restrict many organizations from realizing value from an enterprise mobility strategy. Risk and security concerns certainly represent key challenges that are well documented, but recruiting and engaging talent to help execute against an enterprise mobility strategy is also a barrier. Needs relating to enterprise mobility will extend far beyond device management. Mobile app provision, mobile app development and management, and mobile content management are other enterprise mobility components that ITSM will need to consider into 2016 and beyond. Recruitment of people skilled in these areas and in technology and service integration will accelerate.

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Adam Holtby

Adam Holtby is responsible for researching and developing Ovum’s research on IT service management and enterprise mobility. Adam is involved in the planning, coordination, and development of various ITSM and enterprise mobility research deliverables, including: enterprise case studies, detailed technology audits and assessments, and insight papers developed to help practitioners in refining and developing their IT and digital transformation strategies. Adam recognizes that people are ultimately the drivers of successful IT operation and transformation efforts. Throughout his professional career, understanding and applying practices that can help better enable people has been a constant value to Adam.
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