In 2017, Forrester expanded upon the IT service management market (ITSM) to establish enterprise service management (ESM) as a chosen area of coverage. Creating new market spaces is not easy, nor is it something that analyst firms can or should do on a whim.

In this case, however, there was clearly momentum for the change in terms of customer behaviors, vendor priorities, and an increasing consensus among industry thought leaders. I am gratified by the response and support of both vendors and end user organizations for our foray into market making and am pleased to announce “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Service Management, Q4 2019.”

In 2018, ITSM vendors were still completing the transition to ESM. In 2019, the highly competitive ESM market has solidified, and customers are looking to expand their usage and maturity beyond initial use cases such as HR and facilities. To meet this demand, vendors are developing out-of-the-box, non-IT modules and functionality to help their customers scale their efforts.

At the same time, customers are looking to increasingly leverage self-service options, speed up service delivery, and enhance their own ITSM capabilities to meet the challenges of the changing technology landscape. To address these needs, ESM vendors are rapidly increasing their utilization of machine-learning systems and weaving them throughout their platforms.

As a result of these trends, I&O pros should look for ESM providers that are:

  • Expanding supported non-IT use cases.
  • Emphasizing service management intelligence.
  • Innovating in core ITSM.

Although ITSM is a well-established area, ESM vendors are finding ways to push it forward. In adapting to the pressures from DevOps and cloud-native, leading ESM vendors are increasingly improving their support for processes such as configuration, change, and incident management; the long-taken-for-granted IT service desk continues to evolve. Vendors are introducing new features such as kanban-based work management systems (essential as I&O organizations pivot to product-centric operating models), increased change intelligence (reducing the need for formal change advisory board approvals), and incident management collaboration/swarming capabilities.

The concept of a unified enterprise service portal remains compelling. I’ve been digging into the new technology of service mesh recently, and one of the most important things a service mesh does is enable service discovery. I view the ESM portal as similar at a logical, human-to-human level — it enables the employee on a daily basis to identify and engage the internal services she needs to get her job done, whether it be hiring a new employee, getting a contract approved, or requisitioning new office space.

What is the future for ESM? We’ll be investigating that more in some active research in progress; look for an updated ESM general overview and buyer’s guide soon. We will also be updating our guidance on change, incident, and configuration management, bringing our outlook on these topics even more firmly into the new cloud-native, DevOps-based, resilience-seeking consensus.

Acknowledgements: I am grateful to all the folks on the Forrester team who assisted in the production of this report, including researcher Will McKeon-White, research project coordinator Matthew Flug, and VP and group director Stephanie Balaouras.