LAS VEGAS: IT service management (ITSM) is never going to be the most exciting aspect of the technology world, despite the banners, beers and bikinis at industry events.
ITSM is effectively the logistics and processes that govern the delivery of IT services, and lacks the glamour of topics such as machine learning, wearables and the Internet of Things.
V3 noticed at Knowledge 15 in Las Vegas, an event run by service management technology firm ServiceNow, that the company's chief executive, Frank Slootman, (pictured), did not speak about the approach to ITSM with the same vigour as Microsoft boss Satya Nadella when he explained the company's empowerment ethos.
But ITSM and wider service management might just be an area where technology can really transform a company under the surface.
Requests such as wanting a bulb changed, booking a meeting room or getting a laptop requires employees in many enterprises to send an email request or phone the appropriate department.
This often leads to being bounced around the business if the request is not immediately straightforward and can be handled by one department.
Single point of service
The idea behind ITSM is to create a single point of contact that links separate departments, often known as a service desk.
This is what ServiceNow's business model is based around. The company offers a cloud platform that delivers software-as-a-service to power the back-end systems and processes of a service desk.
With such a platform in place, service management can be carried out more effectively and with more automation, cutting out email and the time wasted finding the right person or department to get something done.
This might not cause an IT manager's pulse to race, but a well thought out service desk with the right technology can make the day-to-day running of a business much more efficient.
This can in turn free up people to be more productive and innovative, which can bolster a company's bottom line.
ITSM can automate the dull IT department requests for standard hardware and software, allowing IT staff to concentrate on developing clever apps or integrating cutting-edge technology into the business.
Slootman believes this approach is a necessity given how consumer technology is raising the expectations of people who want to use the same automated service technology, such as Amazon, in the workplace as they do at home.
"On the consumer side, we're not talking to people anymore, we're talking to machines, we're talking to clouds and we're talking to computers," he said. "It's how we shop, it's how we travel, it's how we do almost everything, even socialising."
But Slootman said that this is not happening in the business world, and that workplaces are "stuck in the 1970s".
"We're so behind in terms of innovation and productivity inside our workplace," he said, offering ServiceNow's cloud platform as a way to change this situation.
ITSM in action
Slootman has an expected bias towards his company's offerings, but V3 heard from several well-known companies that have used ServiceNow's platform to overhaul ITSM processes and systems.
For example, Netflix has an approach to IT that allows its employees to ‘self-service' through the use of Service Now. This enables staff to choose and use the technology they want without needing clearance from various IT managers and departments.
Harley-Davidson also opted for Service Now's platform to overhaul its legacy IT assets and run a more modern company with cost-effective and efficient IT asset management.
Perhaps the best example of the impact of good ITSM can be seen at European nuclear research organisation Cern, which uses Service Now to support a desk that connects and manages the organisation's entire suite of services, both IT related and beyond.
Reinoud Martens, service manager at Cern, summarised the service desk's objective, telling V3: "The idea is that physicists come to Cern to find Higgs Bosons and other things, and we don't want them to waste time looking for which number to call to fix a certain problem."
Extending ITSM processes into other departments of a company, such as finance and human resources, is very much Servic Now's objective.
"Because [ITSM] is just a flavour of service management that is very strong and very mature, everybody has one. There is no IT organisation on the planet doesn't have one," said Slootman.
"But there is no IT about this [management process]. This is a very generic request/response workflow process, and our customers have started to apply it to many things."
ITSM may not be exciting on its own, but innovation and bottom line profits could be strengthened if time can be saved and productivity increased by using cloud platforms. And that's something few enterprises can afford to ignore.
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