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4 Big Benefits—And Hurdles—of Artificial Intelligence in ITSM

It’s clear that IT service management (ITSM) will only become more automated as we continue our journey into the future. Not only will users increasingly expect—and demand—instant resolution to service-related issues, but for the business and IT departments alike, automation will further reduce human errors and unplanned outages, as well as increase efficiency and service quality. This automation will unquestionably take the form of artificial intelligence (AI), manifest through technologies such as natural language processing, machine learning, and virtual support agents.

We spoke with Jan-Willem Middelburg, Regional Director, APAC, Pink Elephant, and Roy Atkinson, Senior Writer and Analyst, HDI, about the benefits that automation and artificial intelligence offers to ITSM, and some of the hurdles that IT departments will need to overcome in order to achieve those benefits.

4 Big Benefits Offered By Artificial Intelligence

“Organizations that are now focusing on service automation will become tomorrow’s leading companies,” says Middelburg. That’s a bold statement, but being an early adopter of new technology comes with its advantages.

Here’s what organization can expect to gain with artificial intelligence:

  1. More data-driven decisions. For Atkinson, this benefit is clear: Artificial Intelligence (AI) can provide real-time insights into the technology environment that humans simply cannot, leading to instantaneous decision-making. “These capabilities will make a very large difference in information security as well, since they are ever-vigilant, 24/7, and can be ‘tuned’ to be extremely sensitive to unexpected changes or intrusions,” Atkinson points out.
  2. A boon for end-users. Atkinson’s second prediction: end users will answer their own questions—faster. Atkinson’s thinking here: “AI will assist end users in finding and applying information, such as locating specific information in a knowledge base, or routing a call or chat to exactly the right person so that the issue can be resolved as rapidly as possible.”
  3. A boon for IT staffers, too. Automation can sound like a job threat to employees. But Middelburg points out that it will actually lead to more interesting work for everyone in service support and delivery. “In most organizations, the majority of time is still spent on resolving questions and issues that happen over and over again,” says Middelburg. “And the truth is that nobody really likes to do these kinds of tasks. By automating repetitive services, time will be freed up to focus on service improvement initiatives.”
  4. A rock-solid IT environment. Artificial intelligence will significantly improve Incident Management, from discovering and logging issues to fixing the root cause. The result? Automation will “stabilize the IT environment and give businesses a better foundation for digital transformation,” says Atkinson.

Automation and artificial intelligence offer benefits across an organization—naturally, the IT department will benefit, but other departments and end users will see the advantages of a solid technological backbone as well. “IT itself will move from spending 60 to 80 percent of its time firefighting to becoming more of a proactive business unit,” predicts Atkinson.

Before You Dive Into AI

The benefits of intelligent automation are impressive. But there are still hurdles to overcome, namely:

  1. Resistance to change. Implementing service automation and AI, says Middelburg, will require organizational change management, which can be very difficult. Between changed responsibilities and learning to work with new technologies, your IT department—even IT leaders—may be slow to adapt to new workflows.
  2. Lack of trust in AI abilities. “Most people know that [automation] exists, but they are unaware of the benefits involved,” says Middelburg. Atkinson adds to that: “Trust in the AI tools must be established. Too often, business decisions are made despite what the data says. Service managers and executives must learn to trust what the AI says, and act accordingly.”
  3. Fear of being replaced. Yes, AI will be a boon to IT staff. But fear of lost jobs still is rampant. Atkinson has some reassuring research to offer there. “What we find in our data is that the work is shifting, not disappearing. Headcount has been reassigned to other tasks in 45 percent of respondent organizations since introducing automation according to HDI research. IT Staff has increased in almost 12 percent of organizations, and decreased in only about 8 percent.”

If the thought of artificial intelligence and automation still seems like something from the far future, think again. As Middelburg comments, early adoption can lead to a significant competitive advantage—one that will take your competition years to catch up with. “The first organizations who are able to deliver automated services have better insights, increased service levels and higher customer satisfaction.”

Next Up: Prepare for the transition now with our eBook on AI and the service desk.