FUSION 17 recap: artificial intelligence is accelerating the shift from service management processes used in IT to other lines of business
On Oct 31-Nov 3, 2017 team Neva joined ~700 other ITSM enthusiasts in Orlando FL, for the annual FUSION conference. The news that this would be the last jointly hosted HDI and itSMF FUSION sparked some lively conversations regarding the future of the conference and, more importantly, ITSM in general.
While the ITSM community is no stranger to change, during this year’s FUSION, many agreed that change is now happening faster and its impact is more profound than ever before. New workplace technologies and use cases are requiring IT service managers to more rapidly evolve their people, processes and tools in order to sustain business value.
Likewise, several event keynotes and sessions focused on how IT should target initiatives such as expanding ITSM into lines of business, implementing new/modified process frameworks and deploying AI technologies to help ensure the future value of service management.
ITSM is not just for IT anymore:
The concept of enterprise service management (ESM) is not new, organizations have long been configuring ITSM tools for use within departments like IT, HR and facilities. However, today there are more flexible, user friendly, out-of-the-box service management solutions available for supporting non-IT use cases. This has fueled enough momentum and mainstream adoption to make ESM top of mind for many ITSM leaders. Thus, ESM was a key theme at FUSION. IT leaders were keenly interested in how they can effectively leverage ITSM technologies such as self-service portals, service catalogs, knowledge bases, chat capabilities and mobile apps for multi-departmental use.
That said, starting with a broad-based approach to ESM is not typically recommended. In fact, a key piece of advice shared at FUSION was that IT service managers must help themselves before attempting to help others. Meaning they should first ensure that ITSM principles, practices and technologies are delivering desired outcomes before implementing them enterprise wide. Conducting a detailed assessment of IT’s service delivery processes (via operational metrics, surveys and customer sat scores etc.) allows IT to both determine and demonstrate its ability to drive efficiencies in other departments and greatly reduces the likelihood of stalled or failed ESM initiatives.
ITSM frameworks must evolve:
The increased popularity of DevOps and agile-based process frameworks has placed tremendous pressure on ITSM practitioners, leveraging traditional frameworks like ITIL and COBIT, to reduce bureaucratic processes and move faster.
This shift has not gone unnoticed by the creators of service management industry frameworks. During FUSION, AXELOS announced the planned update of ITIL, which will offer new content focusing on the integration of ITIL with complementary practices, such as DevOps, Agile and Lean. The development of the updated framework will take place in 2018 and will involve contributors from the global ITSM community. AXELOS also encouraged the FUSION audience to join its Global Research Program to contribute to this latest evolution of the framework.
Also showcased at FUSION was VeriSM, a new service management framework aimed at delivering service management best practices across the entire organization. According to VeriSM, “When the focus changes to look at service management from the organizational perspective, service providers can start to see how to use all organizational capabilities, from IT to marketing, finance to customer service, to deliver value.”
There was no shortage of debate regarding which of these frameworks will ultimately “winout”. However, most agreed that, for the foreseeable future, they will co-exist with organizations applying elements of each to the unique needs of their operations.
AI Automation takes center stage:
FUSION’s Day 1 keynote opened with speaker Amber Mac presenting “Artificial Intelligence: A Day in Your Life”. Mac highlighted how AI can improve our personal and professional lives by providing real-time access to knowledge and services. She also pointed out the risk associated with AI, and technology in general, when it lacks proper governance and control. Mac used the paperclip maximizer thought experiment, originally described by Nick Bostrom, to illustrate the possible unintended consequences of systems performing actions autonomously.
Similarly, how to effectively utilize and manage workplace AI was front and center of several sessions and conversations at FUSION. IT leaders were enthusiastic about how artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can help them automate mundane tasks and enable more efficient approaches to service management. However, at the same time, they expressed the need to ensure that customer experience is just as, if not better, than working with human agents.
As IT organizations seek to address the entire service delivery lifecycle with AI, many view chatbot technology as just one piece of the puzzle. Thus, capabilities such as incident assignment, categorization, prioritization and enriching incident records with related knowledge are essential. Additionally, IT organizations need the ability to clearly demonstrate the business value of AI. This can be accomplished via real-time and predictive trend analytics related to how AI automation is increasing the adoption of employee self-service, reducing support costs and improving customer sat scores. These insights also help IT organizations better position themselves for driving successful ESM initiatives.
Amber Mac’s use of a Graeme Wood quote summed up FUSION 2017 perfectly, “Change has never happened this fast before and will never be this slow again”. I’m excited to see what’s in store for FUSION 2018.