5 Key ITSM Trends for 2020

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

As the new decade quickly approaches, it’s time to reflect on 2019’s achievements and then what your IT service desk and wider IT service management ITSM teams need to focus on in 2020. In many ways, the year 2020 seems special and not simply because it’s the start of a new decade. Along with the year 2030, it has – in recent years – been the horizon for much of what has been predicted for the future, ITSM-related or otherwise.

So, now we’re here. Probably much sooner than any of us thought. And, while the future predictions for 2030 will no doubt continue to come, what are the key areas that your IT service desk and wider ITSM efforts need to focus on next year? Please keep reading for my thoughts related to:

  1. Employee well being

  2. Employee experience

  3. Value focus

  4. Artificial intelligence (AI)

  5. IT employee res-killing in light of the other trends

Trend #1 – Employee well being

For an IT-related blog, it might seem strange that three of my five 2020 ITSM trends are people, or more specifically employee, related. Hopefully, once you’ve finished the blog you’ll appreciate why. It might also seem odd to start my list of 2020 ITSM trends with “employee well being.” Let me explain why.

Despite all the technology that we already apply to ITSM, plus the additional technology that 2020 will usher in (see Trend #4), ITSM is still very much about people helping people. Yes, technology can speed things up. It can reduce costs. Plus, it can even improve the customer or employee experience. But, ultimately, your people are an important ingredient in the overall mix of “people, processes, and technology.”

Hopefully, you’ll agree that your people are really important to your current and future ITSM capabilities and the business outcomes they help to deliver. But what if you couldn’t recruit enough of the right kind of people, with the right attitude and skills? What if you couldn’t hold onto those that you do recruit? And what if people didn’t want to work in your IT department, or in IT at all?

To get you thinking, a recent ITSM well being survey found that:

  • 86% of survey respondents think that working in IT is going to get harder in the next three years (at least for some roles). With only 9% thinking not.

  • 35% of the survey sample feel that their personal efforts aren’t recognized, and another 48% state that it sometimes happens but not enough – equaling a total of 83% of survey respondents feeling undervalued in their jobs. Leaving only 17% of respondents that feel valued.

  • 71% of survey respondents state that working in IT has adversely affected their well being to some extent.

Employee well being is a nettle that the ITSM industry finally needs to grasp to ensure that people want to, and continue to want to, work in ITSM roles. If it doesn’t, then surely working in IT is only going to get even harder.

Trend #2 – Employee experience

Employee experience relates to both the business employees that are served by the IT department and those that work within it. And both groups demand and deserve an employee experience, with IT, that meets their needs and expectations. Forrester Research nicely captures the essence of employee experience in an early 2019 employee experience blog, stating that:

Psychological research shows that the most important factor for employee experience is being able to make progress every day toward the work that they believe is most important.”

In 2020, this is going to be a big challenge for IT departments, and ITSM teams, to deliver better service and support such that the available technology makes everyone’s lives easier (and definitely not harder) and that the impact of employee IT issues is minimized. And in order to do this, ITSM performance measurement needs to factor in metrics that truly measure the employee experience, including lost productivity, and not simply customer satisfaction.

Trend #3 – Value focus

I feel like the ITSM industry has spent the whole decade talking about the importance of “value” while not doing enough to understand what it really is in a business, rather than IT, context. Especially within all that IT-business alignment talk.

Hopefully now, 2020 will be the year that ITSM teams finally turn their focus from simply IT service delivery and support to how they will create, or co-create, value for their business. With, at the tail end of this, performance metrics elevated from the mechanics of ITSM – such as volumes, speed, and costs – to measurements that better show how IT service delivery and support activities have contributed at a business level.

The fact that ITIL 4 is now built around the ITIL service value system and service value chain has to be a good start, with more detailed guidance now needed to help organizations with what’s a particularly tough nut to crack. If it wasn’t, we’d all be doing it already!

Trend #4 – AI

What can I say about AI that hasn’t already been said in 2019? In some ways, it has been the new digital transformation, despite digital transformation still being a live initiative or ambition for many organizations.

I know I’m going to repeat the words of others with the following points but for me these are some of the key areas of attention, required in 2020, related to AI:

  • Recognize that AI-enabled capabilities for ITSM are no longer a “future thing,” they’re already here and being adopted – possibly by your competitors

  • Some AI capabilities will take you longer to deploy than you think, so start planning ASAP

  • The introduction of AI is a people change as well as a technology change, hence organizational change management tools and techniques are required

  • As with existing ITSM capabilities such as self-service or chat, employees will expect any AI-enabled capabilities to match those that they experience in the consumer world

  • While AI can be seen as a cerebral thing, the reality is that AI-facilitated, or intelligent, automation is where many of the early AI benefits will be realized – as organizations employee it to free their skilled people up from high volume, low-value tasks and activities.

So, as we enter 2020, it’s important that you’re doing something in terms of AI, even if this is simply planning for what you’ll eventually do.

Trend #5 – IT employee res-killing in light of the other trends

Finally, I’ve a third people-related trend.

No matter whether we consider well being, employee experience, value, or AI adoption, what we expect of our ITSM employees needs to change. From how they’re treated in their role, through their attitude and focus, to the skills and capabilities they’ll need to work in an IT service delivery and support world where employee experience and value are important drivers (from strategy through to operations and performance measurement). With their future work done in partnership with intelligent automation that either augments people’s capabilities or undertakes the monotonous tasks to free people up to tackle more interesting and higher-value tasks and activities (which is also likely to also require a new skill set).

In 2020, your IT department will need to focus on ensuring that its ITSM people are re-skilled as needed. Otherwise t will face a rising disconnect between the work that needs to be done and the people available to do it.

So, that’s my position on ITSM in 2020. What do you think? Please add your thoughts and opinions in the comments.


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