The Top ITSM Takeaways from SITS17

Posted by on July 07, 2017


The annual Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS) is done for another year. We came, we saw, we chatted, and we demoed — but most importantly, we learned advice and stats during the many SITS educational sessions.

This year, there was a lot of educational content on hot topics such as digital transformation, artificial intelligence, DevOps, enterprise service management, and service integration and management (SIAM). There were also sessions covering ongoing IT service management (ITSM) and service desk challenges, including IT self-service and metrics, which are two areas where some IT departments continue to struggle.

Here are our key takeaways from SITS17:

Insight into Digital Transformation 

The panel debate entitled “Don’t call it ‘digital’ transformation — it’s organization and people” offered a number of interesting insights:

  1. If IT departments are solving IT issues to simply make IT better, then they’re setting themselves up for failure — instead, IT departments should focus on better business.
  2. IT needs to better understand who its customers really are — not the end users but the ultimate customers of the business.
  3. A digital-first mentality means that IT departments need to stop asking “Who can approve a change?” and instead ask, “What approves a change?”
  4. IT departments have a lot of data but not many insights. Breaking down organizational siloes can help garner better insights.
  5. How can you expect customers to trust your business if your internal processes aren’t up to scratch? Digital transformation also relates to internal business processes.

Reasons to Embrace Artificial Intelligence

A different panel debate called “Artificial Intelligence (AI) — positive opportunity or job risk?” started with an audience show of hands as to who was worried about the impact of AI on the service desk and who thought it would help. The audience was overwhelmingly in favor of AI being a positive thing for service desks.

The session then followed a positive path, with five of the most memorable points being:

  1. There’s an old IT adage: “You can improve on time, quality, and cost — choose any two of the three.” The advantage of AI is that it allows you to improve on all three areas.
  2. AI isn’t stealing jobs — it’s instead enabling people to focus on other tasks that create even more value.
  3. Don’t think of AI as “us” OR “them/it.” Think of AI as “us” AND “them/it”.
  4. “How are we going to use AI?” is the wrong question. “How are we going to deliver a better customer experience?” is the right question — with AI being part of the solution.
  5. Customers will push back on AI technology if IT departments deliver AI technology. So, it’s important not to deliver the technology, and to instead, deliver customer solutions that are improved through AI.

Self-Service Trends for 2017

The Service Desk Institute (SDI) was at SITS sharing its statistical love, with David Wright presenting new SDI research data in his “Service Desk trends in 2017 ” session. Here were some insights from that session:

  1. The benefits most associated with taking a DevOps approach are:

The benefits most associated with taking a DevOps approach are

Source: SDI (Service Desk Institute)

On the flip side, resistance to change, getting all parties involved, and stakeholder buy-in were cited as the main challenges associated with DevOps adoption.

  1. SDI bullishly estimates UK enterprise service management adoption to be circa 85 percent:
SDI bullishly estimates UK enterprise service management adoption to be circa 85 percent

Source: SDI (Service Desk Institute)

While this figure might appear high, it’s worth comparing this stat to generic stats around the level of ITIL® adoption — as this will include organizations that merely use some elements of incident management best practice, say, through to those that have adopted far more of the 26 ITIL processes and four functions.

Thus, when we consider the level of enterprise service management adoption, it will no doubt include organizations that range from using an IT service desk tool to manage complaint tickets, say, through to those that have business-wide enterprise service management strategies. And, within these, there might be more organizations that don’t know they are “doing” enterprise service management than there are that know they are.

  1. More than half of organizations state that their IT self-service initiatives failed (in particular in achieving a positive ROI):

More than half of organizations state that their IT self-service initiatives failed (in particular in achieving a positive ROI)

Source: SDI (Service Desk Institute)

A ;common cause of these failures is viewing of self-service as a technology project rather than a people-change initiative.

To succeed, IT departments need to create self-service capabilities that people actually want to use — where it’s easier to use than calling — and use organizational change management techniques to help, and to encourage, them to do so.

How to Implement SIAM Successfully 

Steve Morgan presented on 10 tips for a successful SIAM implementation. There were lots of takeaways, five of which were:

  1. SIAM is much more than a process improvement program, a tooling program, or a sourcing program.
  2. When defining your SIAM scope, use ITIL and COBIT® as a reference point to build a process/control-based operating model.
  3. SIAM tooling-strategy thinking shouldn’t be confined to ITSM tools. There’s also a need to define ownership and interoperability data-exchange principles.
  4. The important thing to remember with SIAM is that it’s about behavioral and cultural change.
  5. SIAM key performance indicators (KPIs) should encourage innovation, collaboration, business focus, and service awareness. And, remember that metrics drive behaviors.

The Importance of ITSM Metrics

James Finister first presented his session “Make metrics matter” many years ago, but it hasn’t lost any of its relevancy for IT departments. Five of James’ key points were:

  1. Metrics too often: state the obvious, look to the past, reinforce preconceptions, don’t measure what we think we do, don’t contextualize, and aggregate not integrate.
  2. Keep metrics relevant: “Yesterday’s target is today’s millstone and tomorrow’s redundancy package.”
  3. Measure outcomes not effort, and don’t mistake the two.
  4. The “metrics that matter” aren’t found as an easy-to-use list in ITIL.
  5. Use metrics to predict the future not to relive the past.

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