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ITSM Year in Review – Told Through 2015’s Hottest Songs

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Illustration Happy New Year in glass balls - vector

And just like that, 2015 is drawing to a close.

It seems like just yesterday the ball dropped on 2014 to usher in the New Year, and here we are ready to do it all over again.

Much like the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve, another time-honored tradition is looking back on the year in the form of a Top 10 List. More than just a popular content theme used to fill out the last few days of the current year (ahem), it’s a great way to reflect on what took place, and use that information and context to predict what the upcoming year will have in store.

When a speaker at recent conference I attended declared “What a time it is to be alive in IT,” I immediately tweeted that he successfully channeled his inner Drake and Future. And while he didn’t proceed to do the Dab Dance as he walked off the stage, the connection between 2015’s hottest ITSM trends and 2015’s hottest songs was forged in my head all the same—and this blog concept was born.

So I present to you the “ITSM Year in Review,” told through the songs you heard in 2015 that you cannot get out of your head.

Tweet this: 2015 ITSM year in review told through chart topping songs 

Adele – Hello (“Hello / It’s me….”)

The song from the video that broke Vevo’s record for total views in a 24 hour span is not only everyone’s go-to karaoke closer for the next 12 months, but also a song that makes us question Adele’s choice of communication channel. You would assume that in 2015, one does not simply call an ex-boyfriend on the telephone out of the blue. And if one commits that transgression, said ex certainly does not pick up to answer. We’d assume that all 25-year-olds communicate with difficult-to-decode acronyms, memes, .gifs and emojis via Tinder-brokered text messages, Facebook, Snapchat, What’s App and Instagram. That’s not how “Hello” works though—if it did, it wouldn’t be much of a song.

Similar to “Hello,” the assumption that a younger, more digitally literate workforce would eventually result in an increase in IT service activities and a decline in phone-based IT support was incorrect. However, according to the 2015 HDI Practices and Salary Report, 52% of tickets were received via phone, up from 49% in 2014. Albeit only a slight increase, when considered in combination with a decrease in tickets created via walk-up support, social media and chat, and the observation that the email channel held steady year over year at 35%, it appears that phone will remain the predominant support delivery channel for the foreseeable future.

What to look for in 2016: Phone support won’t decline sharply in the near term, but it won’t deter the efforts of IT organizations to drive IT self-service utilization that take design, analytics and incentives into account. Furthermore, walk-up support projects will continue to increase. According to Gartner, 50% of large organizations will offer walk-up support by 2018, up from 30% today. Adding to that prediction, I believe IT organizations will better formalize walk-up support roles and responsibilities. In addition, they will improve their abilities to measure IT activities and engagement, which will include ticket capture, productivity improvements and customer satisfaction.  

Taylor Swift – Bad Blood (“You know we used to have mad love….”)

The music video that previously held Vevo’s record for total views in a 24-hour span is one of my not-so-low-key favorites of all time. It’s not just the production quality, or the fact that Kendrick Lamar slayed the remix, but rather the fact that like most T-Swizzle songs, there’s a compelling story behind the well-written lyrics. Bad Blood is about a relationship gone awry and reminds us that “band aids don’t fix bullet holes” and “saying sorry just for show” generally isn’t enough to repair what’s been broken.

This sentiment is very much reflected in the ITSM market, where IT organizations continue to replace solutions at a rapid pace. According to a recent SDI survey, one of the biggest frustrations with ITSM vendors isn’t their inability to provide new features and functions, but rather the lack of ongoing support they receive. Relationships go awry when solutions are oversold and require much more overhead than expected.  And for customers, the relatively recent ubiquity of ITSM subscription licensing models provide the flexibility to replace tools on a more frequent basis at a lower switching cost.

What to look for in 2016: IT organizations will continue to swap out tools, but more often in pursuit of capabilities outside of core IT service management. As the ITIL-based elements of ITSM tools become more and more commoditized, and ITSM tools themselves become more flexible, IT organizations will naturally want to do more with them. When the delta between out-of-the-box versions and the desired future state grows larger, manageability and upgradability typically become a challenge, and solutions that are difficult to configure and customize will be replaced at a much more frequent clip.

Drake – Hotline Bling (“I know when that hotline bling / that could only mean one thing…”)

In more of the more unexplained occurrences in music, Hotline Bling became one of the catchiest tunes of the year as a “b-side” record to the first Grammy nominated diss record, “Back to Back.” Drake also delivered an instant stream of memes in the form of a music video, and the song has become one of the more insidious in recent memory. There’s beauty in the simplicity of Hotline Bling, yet I think I’m the only person alive who hears a pained CIO talking to his business partners when that record plays. Sure, it sounds like jilted ex, but let me explain:

A Brocade global survey of 200 CIO’s found that a whopping 83% had seen “some unauthorized provisioning of cloud services,” a third of whom had policies in place that did not permit such adoption. These business, under mandates to move faster, simply started going out more and spending time with solution providers IT had never seen before.

There was once a time the business called IT to have strategic discussions that took value creation and risk protection into consideration. But those days are becoming fewer and farther between. Yet at the same time, when the business has a technical issue with a cloud solution, the first call is to IT. Yes, when the IT hotline blings, it can really only mean thing.

According to the aforementioned 2015 HDI Practices and Salary Report, 63% of IT organizations reported an increase in ticket volumes since last year (up from 57% last year). The main contributing factor? New applications or systems. This isn’t to assume the majority (or even a substantial subset) of these new applications were unauthorized cloud services; but interestingly enough, “shadow IT” as a contributing factor made its debut on the survey this year at 4% of companies.

What to look for in 2016: IT organizations will look to embrace shadow IT, provided applications and services are simple by nature and non-mission critical. Forward thinking, innovative organizations will encourage and sponsor citizen development efforts, providing sanctioned environments where business users create solutions that solve unique challenges. The business gets the technology they need, and IT gets the visibility they require. We’ve seen organizations have tremendous success with this approach and something we at Cherwell look forward to enabling organizations to do more often.

That’s just a sampling of the ITSM themes and songs that stuck with me over the last twelve months. My “Best of 2015” playlist is rather long, so songs left on the cutting room floor of this blog will be for another day.

Looking back at ITSM trends and the best songs of 2015, what’s your best combo? Feel free to share in the comments section, or send me a direct message on Twitter (@jarodgreene) if you’re shy. I’ll send a $50 ITunes gift card to the top three theme/song combinations and feature them in a future blog post!

  • Thanks for a great article with a nice angle! Here’s the Swedish contribution to the “Worldwide ITSM Song Contest”:

    Avicii – Waiting for love
    This song is about the struggle of constantly wanting something more, to make things better and to be passionate of what you do and where it’s taking you, whether it’s about Love, Life or profession.

    Just listen to the song with your ITSM ears:
    It starts like this:
    “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, kind of beautiful. And every night has its day, it’s so magical. And if there’s love in this life, there’s no obstacle. That can’t be defeated”

    For most of us who work in ITSM, whether it’s tool providers, consultants or IT-Professionals within Customer organizations, I feel that this crowd of people are generally very passionate of their work and always looking to improve processes and business efficiency.

    The bridge in the song is about how things may seem hard to accomplish in the beginning, but by the end of the week you’ve accomplished really amazing things and feeling great about it. And then it starts all over again on Monday with new challenges. That’s Continual Service Improvement in the essence and it’s about the power in never being satisfied and always staying hungry for more.

    A far wiser man than me once said: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

    Merry Chrismas & Happy New Year everyone!

  • Jarod


    That’s awesome! Well played sir!

    We’re never “done” in IT and what’s great about ITSMers is that they are extremely committed to making the lives of their customers easier. The heart of what we all do is customer satisfaction and as requirements and expectations change, so do the deliverables.

    Your $50 iTunes Gift card is en route!