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What Is Enterprise Service Management, Why Does It Matter, And How Can You Accelerate Process Maturity With AI?

 In AI, Enterprise AI, ITSM Tools, IT Service Management Blog

Enterprise service management, or ESM. It sounds great, but what exactly does it mean, and why does it matter to your enterprise? Let’s explore.

Enterprise Service Management: What It Is

Conveniently, enterprise service management is exactly what the words say it is – management of the services that empower the business of the enterprise. It is frequently described as both an analogue to and evolution of IT service management (ITSM), which is management of the services IT teams deliver to the business.

ESM is inspired in part by ITSM best practices such as ITIL. ESM is also influenced by advances in operations management, such as lean manufacturing and Six Sigma process improvement. However, there are currently no industry standards or formal best practices supporting ESM. Nonetheless, vendors are establishing themselves as purveyors of ESM solutions. According to Forrester Research, ServiceNow, Cherwell Software, and Micro Focus are leading the charge, while Atlassian, BMC Software, CA Technologies, EasyVista, Ivanti, and TOPdesk and are considered “Strong Performers.”

Advancing from ITSM to ESM

Notably, most of these companies are established providers of ITSM solutions as well. Conceptually, however, ESM can be seen as a superset of ITSM. Where ITSM has historically focused on IT services and teams, ESM is more focused on the business and its IT users. (ESM is sometimes referred to as “business service management” or “BSM.”)

Enterprise Service Management: Driving Forces

The evolution of modern enterprises is arguably the most compelling driver of the growth of ESM. That evolution has led to the reliance on IT of almost every business function. That growing reliance on IT has endowed the IT team with the most experience implementing technologies to enable and support business processes and goals.

That experience was forged by the creation and continuing evolution if ITIL, originally known as the IT Infrastructure Library. As ITIL became more comprehensive and widely adopted, the concept of service management began to extend beyond IT. And the basic principles embodied in the ITIL guidelines were found to be both applicable and valuable to multiple business functions beyond IT as well.

Today, services are widely viewed as the foundational elements that enable basic business functions. For years now, companies such as ServiceNow have espoused the concept of “everything as a service.” And tools originally designed for ITSM have been readily adapted to functions ranging from onboarding and offboarding of employees to cyber security operations management.

Throughout, the concept of enterprise service management has steadily gained awareness and prominence across multiple industries and types of companies. As ZDNet reported, at its 2016 Knowledge 16 conference, ServiceNow estimated the enterprise service management market to exceed US$40 billion.

Enterprise Service Management: The Benefits

Almost any size and type of enterprise can benefit from implementing an ESM framework. Applying proven ITSM strategies and ITIL recommendations beyond IT can improve operational efficiency and consistency across the entire business. ESM can also improve visibility into and control over the processes on which the business depends, in human resources (HR), facilities, cyber security, sales operations, and other areas.

Adoption of ESM principles and practices can also ease and speed your company’s digital transformation efforts. The advent and popularity of social and consumer applications continues to drive the consumerization of business IT. Enterprise service management can help your business improve IT user experiences, make IT more readily accessible, and increase return on IT investments.

Enterprise Service Management: How To Get There

The Forrester Research report mentioned above offers several specific recommendations to help your business succeed with its ESM efforts. Some of these are summarized below.

  •      Proceed with caution during these early days of ESM evolution.
  •      Treat employee experience (EX) improvement as a strong business case for ESM.
  •      Expand your focus from EX improvement to knowledge work management.
  •      Integrate your ESM efforts closely with your enterprise data management, service delivery, and service  integration strategies.
  •      Use ESM to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into your enterprise.

AI: A Catalyst for Enterprise Service Management

AI is already improving ITSM at a growing number of companies. AI-powered chatbots, virtual assistants, and self-service portals are making IT more accessible and easier for employees to use. AI-enabled predictive analysis of IT incidents is making it easier and faster for support teams to diagnose, prioritize, and resolve service issues and requests. And AI-enhanced process analysis is enabling better and faster decisions about budgets, resource allocation, vendor management, and other important elements of business and finance.

As your enterprise moves beyond ITSM toward ESM and digital transformation, AI’s benefits can be extended beyond IT as well. The Astound AI platform, for example, was designed and is built specifically to enable effective ESM by automating the entire lifecycle of employee service requests. And Astound offers out-of-the-box integrations with enterprise software solutions from partners such as ServiceNow, BMC Software, Cherwell, Atlassian, and Salesforce. (See “ServiceNow and Astound: How AI is improving Service Management.”)

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