Niels Bohr once joked that “prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” Though the Danish physicist probably wasn’t referring to ITSM, his observation still fits. Businesses’ ITSM strategies—or the ways in which they purchase, connect and use their IT—are always changing, making trends hard to identify and predict.
Prediction is difficult, but not impossible. In this article, we show how smaller businesses can often predict— and prepare for—their own future learning from larger enterprises.
In this article, we’ll do two things:
- Show how SMBs and enterprises in the ITSM space have more in common than you think.
- Offer three quick lessons that SMBs can use to deliver ITSM strategy, along with examples of products that can help.
Enterprise & SMB ITSM Buyers: More Alike Than You Think
Lesson 1 from Salesforce Service Cloud: Treat Employees Like Customers
Lesson 2 from Samanage: Get All Departments on the Same System
Lesson 3 from ServiceNow: Maintain Control While Expanding Services
ITSM Software Trends Begin With the Enterprise
Enterprise & SMB Buyers: More Alike Than You Think
To paraphrase another early physicist: “To make accurate ITSM predictions, SMBs only need to stand on the shoulders of the right giant.”
By observing the trends and strategies affecting enterprise-level “giants” with similar business models, SMBs can learn about the challenges they’ll soon face themselves.
But don’t enterprises face a different set of ITSM challenges than SMBs? Not necessarily.
While enterprises face more complex challenges, at the end of the day, all IT departments share the same two goals:
1. Stay within budget, and provide employees and departments the IT tools they need to perform their duties effectively and efficiently.
2. Make sure these guidelines don’t harm the necessary flow of information within the company, reduce interdepartmental cooperation or fragment IT infrastructure to an unmanageable degree.
These two goals are somewhat incompatible. The less customization an IT service structure has, the easier it is to manage and share information across departments. On the flip side, those with many per-department customizations are harder to manage.
But balancing conflicting goals is nothing new for IT service managers. The real challenge is when new trends disrupt the department’s balancing act.
1. Treat Employees Like Customers
Salesforce is often credited with getting the cloud software industry off the ground. Its popular Service Cloud platform took this deployment model to new heights: It gives IT service departments the same kind of always-available access to customer information that sales departments have enjoyed for years.
The screenshot above not only looks like a CRM interface, it acts like one, as well. It centralizes a variety of contextual information—including geolocation data—to give agents more insight into each employee’s situation.
This allows the agent to better understand and resolve their request.
Service Cloud is a great example of a service platform that offers internal employees the same kind of individualized attention a CRM platform provides to outside customers.
Service desk agents can see a range of previous interaction information—including ratings of past services and projected LTV/LCV—at a glance. They can then use this information to give each service request a more personal treatment.
As one user says in a review of Salesforce Service Cloud: “Managing customer needs on another interface is typically difficult, but this software simplifies the customer relationship process. It makes interactions more seamless for both customer and provider alike.”
2. Get All Departments on the Same System
Samanage is another cloud-based platform enabling help desks to prepare for the future in a polished, user-friendly way. One of the most highly rated service platforms, Samanage, has been shaking up more than just service desk software, fueled by its combination of advanced functionality and ease of use.
That overall combination of product capabilities and the polished Samanage user experience has opened many new doors. We often find ourselves in the midst of managing service delivery for multiple departments with differing customer types.
Steve Stover, vice president of product management for Samanage
The applications and processes used to manage a company’s IT can often be adapted to manage the interests of other departments, Stover explains.
“One of the first departments we’re often asked to help is human resources, with processes [such as] onboarding.” says Stover. “Initially, the IT department might be brought in to see what hardware resources are needed by the HR department for onboarding.” Once the HR team learns to use Samanage to request IT services and devices, he continues, they often finds they can use Samanage for their own workflows, too.
Since Samanage lets administrators set role-based rules and give employees in different departments different degrees of authority, it’s easy to get multiple departments using the same system.
Remember the second goal mentioned in the first section, about company-wide coordination? Because of its adaptability and cross-departmental functionality, the Samanage approach can improve a company’s internal flow of information, boost cooperation between departments and prevent fragmentation of a company’s software ecosystem.
3. Maintain Control While Expanding Services
Vendors of service desk platforms don’t often tout their cross-departmental capabilities—at least not at the SMB level. But in the enterprise space, this is mentioned more and more often. Importantly, they’re mentioned in earnings calls by successful ITSM software market leaders—often as explanations for their success.
ServiceNow is one of these market leaders. In its recent (Q4 2015) earnings call, CEO Frank Slootman attributed some of the company’s financial success to its expanding range of coverage.
A key value proposition is the institution of a shared workflow between IT and security teams.
Frank Slootman, CEO of ServiceNow
This value proposition holds more weight for enterprises than it does for SMBs. Still, it represents a strategy that more SMBs will seek down the road. So, what does the process of implementing a cross-departmental workflow look like? And how do companies know when the timing is right?
Slootman describes one customer that “was in the midst of a corporate transformation. … Instead of focusing on just on an ITSM rip and replace, [our] team showed them how IT could support the company’s long-term transformation. As a result, we worked alongside the customer stakeholders to build the strategy, roadmap and architecture for IT and a new business process service center.”
Slootman explains how ServiceNow will eventually replace seven of the customer’s systems, starting with IT and moving on to other departments. As the scope of service expands, the company will be able to add more user-friendly options for its employees.
Instead of, for example, needing to email or call to request service, employees visit a digital “storefront” and order equipment and services, similar to how they shop online.
With an easier-to-use request process that more clearly displays and explains all the resources available, employees are less motivated to use unsanctioned IT tools, or “shadow IT.”
ITSM Software Trends Begin With the Enterprise
While we’ll never be able to predict the future of ITSM strategy with exact precision, it doesn’t mean we can’t make some educated guesses.
Remember that many common ITSM applications, such as omnichannel support and self-service portals, made their debut at the enterprise level—and with enterprise-level price tags. Within just a few years, they became available and affordable to SMBs.
Having trouble maintaining balance in your own IT department? Curious what software tools are available to help you? Give our Software Advisors a call at (855) 998-8505 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. We won’t be able to predict your future, but we can show you how to prepare for it.