The New Role of The ITSM Professional

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What makes ITSM successful? There’s a variety of answers that exist for this question but I am staunchly in the camp that ITSM success has less to do with strategy, processes, or even technology. It comes down to people.

There might be some argument about this belief within the industry, especially as we become more automated. There is a very real fear among many ITSM professionals that embracing AI means that they will soon be replaced by machines. My unpopular opinion on this is that while some ITSM professionals will be automated out of a job, it doesn’t mean that their ITSM careers are done. I believe that there will be new roles that will emerge for those professionals to step into.

ITSM is evolving. We have new technologies and new methodologies – so it’s time that we look at a new way of defining the ITSM professional. As we enter this new decade in 2020, I’d argue that we must redefine the role of the ITSM professional. I see the role coming down to two crucial parts.

The first part of the new role of the ITSM professional is the importance of understanding the business of the business. While this is perhaps nothing new, it’s because of these new methodologies and technologies that it is imperative that the ITSM professional understands the business of the business.

In other words, how does the business co-create value? What do end-users and customers want and expect from the business? Many ITSM professionals understand how processes and technology work, but often fail to see the bigger picture of how those processes and technology support the value streams across the business and ultimately the bottom line.

ITSM professionals have a unique opportunity. While many within the organization may understand the business of the business, few understand the relationships between value streams and technologies, and how technology supports the business of the business.

By working with their teams to understand the business and its bottom line – and the role of technology and service management – CIOs can enable their team members to become so valuable that they can’t be automated out of a job.

I’ve said it before but AI and machine learning is only as good as the data it is given. If the ITSM professional understands the value streams that flow through the business – that is, the business of the business – then they can ensure that good service management underpins the flow of that data used to make those business decisions that impact the bottom line.

The second piece of the new ITSM professional is soft skills. Don’t be fooled by the phrase. Soft skills are crucial for success and there is nothing “soft” about them. In the new ITSM role, the professional must effectively communicate with others, work with the rest of the organization, and have an understanding of what each department contributes to the bottom line.

Silo mentality can no longer be tolerated. A “culture of no” won’t last in this new paradigm. Communication and collaboration are “must-haves”. If your team is feeling resistant about the necessity of working with the rest of the organization, encourage them to recognize that in order to be seen as an integral part of the organization and not a back-office support team then they must step out from behind their computers and collaborate with the rest of the organization.

With the right mindset, a focus on communication and collaboration, and an understanding of the business, this new ITSM professional will thrive in any organization. Yes, even in a world with automation, bots, and machine learning.

If this shift feels overwhelming or uncomfortable, I encourage IT, leaders, to emphasize the meaning of the word “service” with their teams. We define and create what are called “services”, but too many ITSM professionals think of services in terms of processes, methodologies, and technologies.

The word service can be defined as “the action of a person (or organization) helping or doing work for someone else.” Services are more about people, about working together and helping others than they are about technology and methodologies.

These shifts, whether you view them as large or small, are unavoidable. IT can’t afford to duck their heads behind their computers and hope their knowledge of technology and methodologies will be enough to keep them relevant. They must see the larger picture and work with the rest of the organization to achieve that larger picture.

It’s time to raise the bar.

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