The update to the Benchmarks report for Forrester’s Service Management & Automation (SMA) playbook is now live and with its publication marks a change in how we at Forrester – and you – should look at SMA.  

Past efforts in IT service management have brought some changes, but as our survey done in conjunction with itSMF USA indicates, not much has changed. Service management has focused too much on internal infrastructure and internal operations (IT), and while this is still important, the demands for technology to acquire and retain customers, which Forrester calls business technology (BT), must be addressed to leverage and apply technology to advance, not hinder or stifle the business we enable.

The world we support is progressing exponentially while ITSM is progressing linearly, arguably statically – please see the report for further evidence. Being linear is being human; the exponential comes from harnessing technology, and radically shifting our focus towards service management and automation topics essential to being partners with our business teams.

In lieu of data, here are three concepts from the report that promote a new way of thinking:

  • Psychology over technology. As we must first change the way we think before we can change the way we act, Forrester recommends ITSM professionals drop the “IT” from their name and add “automation” to reflect progress, not stasis. Psychological shifts drive technological change, and there’s a new kind of social psychology forming, of humans interacting amidst technology, evolving faster than we’re able to define it. With this change come opportunities service management professionals can harness by focusing on the human element. When we measure customer experience we’re really quantifying human connection – how can we win, serve and retain customers with the help of, not because of, technology. The future will not so much be about the technology and the content you as an IT shop provide, but the psychology and the context behind it. Make it personal.
  • Agility over maturity. The question to ask ourselves is whether maturity assessments and their outcome measure or strive for the right thing? Maturity is an ideal end result, but in today’s age of constant change, are end results what we should be striving for? Is “maturity” even attainable in the wake of constant flux? Or is the ability to respond to change a more apt measurement and focus? Forrester believes that agility, flexibility, adaptability are key areas to direct attention to when understanding and measuring the current state of key service management processes. 
  • Fuel over framework. There’s no denying that ITIL and other best practice frameworks impact the business positively in terms of productivity, cost savings, service quality and reputation. Now, we must build on this. No more ITIL for ITIL’s sake – it’s time to use it as the foundation it was intended to be, and think more strategically around the service design and transition areas.  One key focus area is to standardize and simplify, so you can automate. While you automate and ensure quality and agility you can left-shift much of your attention towards innovation. 

Do we know what the future will look like? No, we will never know for sure, but we can guess, and we can prepare for it.

I leave you with a quote from the Glass Menagerie; one that’s stayed with me long after I saw the play during its brief stint here on Broadway because it reminded me of ITSM:

Amanda (to her son, Tom): You are the only young man that I know of who ignores the fact that the future becomes the present, the present the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don't plan for it!

We cannot ignore the future and of its discomforts anymore by allowing our organizations to become glass menageries, static and fragile. Rather, we must be innovative and agile. The future is becoming the present at an ever-quickening pace. Revolution is nigh. Change is paramount – embrace it. Be bold. Be courageous. Or be disrupted, obsolete… and full of everlasting regret.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and opinions,