Working From Home Is Only The Beginning: What is the Future of Service Management?

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I have said before that we are entering into a service management renaissance. Now that we are 9 months into the whirlwind of 2020, I’m even more convinced.

IT has been in the spotlight this year and for good reason. When the pandemic caused organizations to send employees home to work this past spring, IT was faced with a herculean task – and it stepped up. IT had to do most of the heavy lifting when businesses rapidly shifted to a work from home (WFH) model. IT organizations across the globe scrambled to equip their organizations so it could continue operations. 

Not enough laptop computers or product licenses to support WFH needs?  Buy some.  Not enough VPN or cloud storage capacity?  Buy more. 

Many IT organizations have experienced huge wins this year.  IT was appreciated – even cheered – by many, as technology-enabled organizations to continue operations as close-to-normal as possible in a completely remote environment. 

But as the novelty of WFH has started to wane, the full impact of this new normal has become more real.  Many organizations, faced with the significant costs associated with the shift to WFH, coupled with significant declines in revenues, had no choice but to reduce budgets.  Included in these budget cuts were reductions to the IT budget – the very organization that kept those businesses in business. 

The question now is “what happens next?

How do organizations successfully adapt to doing business in a WFH world? How do employees get the support they need when that support is no longer a quick trip down the hall?  How do organizations turn the unanticipated technology expenses resulting from the pandemic into investments that co-create value?

Enter service management.  Or perhaps more appropriately, it’s time to up your service management game. 

Admittedly, it is not the scenario that I had envisioned as the basis of the renaissance.  But if ever service management must become an organizational capability, the time is now. 

Here’s my prediction for the future of service management in a post-pandemic world:

Employee Experience is Now Non-Negotiable 

There is no returning to the previous “normal”,  but this isn’t just about organizations working remotely. It’s about leveraging the technology to create an exceptional employee experience. Users might not be able to simply stomp down to the IT department demanding assistance from the service desk. 

Organizations must step up their service management games to enable and deliver products, services, and workflows that result in frictionless, positive employee experiences. 

Collaboration and communication between service providers (not just IT, but other parts of the organization as well, such as HR and others) and consumers are going to be essential for success. Leaders will need to make sure their teams have in place communication structures so they can work with their team members to understand how technology is enabling the employee experience and identify any gaps in that service. 

The technology will matter less than how the technology is being used

In the past, many organizations invested in technology with the hope that it would be the savior for whatever business challenges they faced.  But one of the lessons from COVID-19 is that technology alone doesn’t deliver the long-term value organizations need.  In other words, technology is useless if it is not managed appropriately, with sufficient structure, processes, competencies, and a clear understanding of how the use of technology results in valuable business outcomes

Technology has always been looked upon as a quick fix and that is especially true in the case of the pandemic. Throwing technology at the problem worked at the beginning of the pandemic because we were looking for short term solutions, anything that would get people up and running quickly.  Now, IT organizations are dealing with tight budgets and an increased demand for technology. The easy answer may have been to  simply invest in more technology. But just adding more technology is just a band-aid for the problem. 

The successful use of technology depends significantly on the people using it and how it’s being used. The future of service management is going to rely on not just providing the technology but more importantly, truly understanding how that technology contributes to business outcomes. 

In many ways, this is a win for organizations because it’s always easier to develop existing capability than develop new. Now is the time for IT leaders to begin cataloging the technology already in use, the services that are provided, the processes in place for it, and what’s working and what’s not. Begin to leverage what you have so you can identify opportunities for growth. 

Service Management Processes Must Become Business Management Processes

Now, the truth is that if you are already taking a holistic approach to service management, you already know this. 

If you’re only using service management for managing the IT parts of a value stream, you’re missing the real opportunity for IT.  And even worse, you’re probably leaking value.

How value flows through an organization matters more than ever. Times are tight and they might be for a while. We are paying for the pandemic and we will probably be feeling the impact of that for months and perhaps years to come. 

Every part of the organization has to drive value. IT cannot do that without working holistically with every other part of the business. This requires a huge uplevel from IT. IT must integrate itself with the business (whether it’s in person or remotely), understand the role the services and technology it provides plays in driving and co-creating value.  

It’s not just about collaborating to provide technology to complete an initiative, it’s about integrating so that initiative is as successful as possible. IT must begin to recognize where and how value flows through the organization and most importantly, how it flows to the service consumer! 

Leaders can start to integrate service management processes with business management processes by identifying how value flows through the organization and how technology assists in that value reaching the consumer. By paying attention to the larger needs of the consumer and the goals of the business, IT will be able to seamlessly combine both processes so each supports the other. 

The new world for service management 

I think my view of the future of service management might come as a surprise to some.  Perhaps my holistic view of service management is different than how you’ve viewed it.  But I am convinced that if you take this approach, then you’re better positioned not only to deal with the fallout from the pandemic but also better lead your organization into the future.  

Are you looking for assistance in adjusting your service management approach to this new world? Book a free consultation.  

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