Have you been hearing the news?
There’s a brand new rising star in the Service Management world.
She’s tech-savvy, has fantastic people skills and is extraordinarily productive.
Her name is Alexa. But I hate to break it to you- I don’t think she’s going to be as revolutionary as everyone says.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m not talking about a “real” person. I’m referring to Alexa, Amazon’s much-loved voice assistant. While Alexa has been in the consumer market for years, she’s now making the move into service management. There have been many signs that Alexa is about to become the hot new tool in service management.
- Amazon has already outlined Alexa for enterprise and business solutions
- ServiceNow is showing partners how to build and integrate Alexa Skills with the ServiceNow platform
- FreshService is already outlining ways Alexa can assist ITSM
There’s no question that AI, machine learning and digital assistants, including Alexa, will play a role in the future of service management. I’m not here to argue that. However, I will argue that we shouldn’t be focusing on the technology but the environment where the technology will play a role. If you put Alexa in the right environment, she can thrive (and so can your organization) but if you implement Alexa with the hope that she’ll make the environment a better one, then you’re going to have useless technology on your hands and you’ll still have a long line of tickets, frustrated users and stressed out service desk technicians.
So let’s discuss how you can put Alexa (or any voice assistant) in the right environment.
What Role Will Alexa Play?
Let me start by saying that the idea of AI in ITSM is a fantastic concept. Natural language processing (NLP) can make it easier for users to find the content they need to fix their problems. Machine learning looks at data, identifies patterns or conditions, and develops new actions in response. Virtual assistants combine the two to automate tasks for technicians, providing faster solutions for end users. This allows service desk technicians to have more time and energy to focus on bigger, more complex issues.
It’s exciting to think we can live in a world that could nearly eliminate the need for manual opening, closing, and management of support tickets. It’s thrilling to someday see a sales rep saying “Alexa, open a support ticket for a broken printer,” and then Alexa quickly assigns the ticket in the correct way to the correct person. And in the not far off future, Alexa may be able to provide context for possible solutions for more complex problems using past cases, making it even easier for technicians to troubleshoot. Just imagine how remarkable that would be!
And while all of this is exciting, there’s something to remember: Alexa doesn’t come “out of the box” with this capability. She’ll never replace the humans who currently work on the service desk because she can’t gain any knowledge or accomplish any process without guidance from them.
Who is The Future Star of SM?
Like any new service desk technician, Alexa won’t be ready or able to do any of those things without the proper training, frameworks and an accurate and relevant knowledge base. She’s not the rising star of Service Management. In fact, the star of Service Management is something you already have: the foundations provided by your service management implementation.
I know what you’re thinking. Knowledge management, frameworks, and communication aren’t as exciting as AI. Who wants to pay attention to that when you can say “Alexa, tell me how many tickets are open”?
But, Alexa won’t know how many tickets are open unless she can access that information. She can’t access that data if it is not set up for her. Simply put, without the foundations of Service Management. AI won’t work in your organization. You must have proper frameworks, the right data, and inter-department communication in order to enable Alexa (or any voice assistant) to work properly.
If you’re not sure if your foundations can be put to the AI test, check on these three things.
1. Knowledge Management
AI can’t work well without good data. You need to document, gather, record and store all your knowledge into an easy-to-read knowledge base. According to Gartner, “Through 2020, 99% of AI initiatives will fail due to a lack of established knowledge management foundation.”
It takes time to optimize a knowledge base system that is all-encompassing and easy-to-access. You already have a great knowledge base: it’s your team. Use this as an opportunity to engage your team and begin preparing them for AI. No one understands what needs to be in a knowledge base quite like the people who field tickets and solve issues every day.
2. Create flexible frameworks
There’s no space for rigid approaches to the use of frameworks. Flexibility is key to success with AI. Are your frameworks and methodologies capable of adjusting to keep up with evolving projects and services? Luckily, in recent years there have been updates to traditional ITSM frameworks, such as ITIL® that allow for such flexibility. There have also been new approaches introduced, such as VeriSM™, which allows for flexibility in delivering service management. If you haven’t updated your approach to using frameworks or offered your team the opportunity to achieve new certifications in these frameworks, now is the time to do so!
3. Extend Service Management outside of IT
The success of Alexa and other voice assistants doesn’t just depend on IT. It depends on an organization of self-service, shared processes and communication. Alexa won’t have the capability to change her process depending on the context who is requesting support – unless the entire enterprise works together to manage data, share information and create effective processes that work for everyone.
Enterprise Service Management is now gaining steam. As more of these technologies are introduced, I predict ESM will become more and more commonplace. Innovative leaders are jumping on the bandwagon now and you should too.
I am just as excited about the possibilities that Alexa and other digital assistants can bring to service management as everyone else. I share these thoughts because I want a world where AI plays a major role in delivering good service management. That’s why I want every IT leader to know and master these foundational pieces for AI enablement. Because they will pave the way for massive success with Alexa or any other voice assistant or AI technology that comes your way.Share