In 2017, Forrester expanded upon the IT service management market (ITSM) to establish enterprise service management (ESM) as a chosen area of coverage, continuing this research with a 2019 Forrester Wave™ evaluation. Now, we are pleased to announce The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Service Management, Q4 2021.

In 2018, ITSM vendors were still completing the transition to ESM. In 2019, the competitive ESM market solidified, and customers were looking to expand their usage and maturity with more and more out-of-the-box, non-IT modules and functionality to help their customers scale their efforts. 2021 has shown a clear continuation of all of these trends, with continuing expansion of ESM low/no-code platform utilization and AI/machine-learning capabilities increasingly enabled through this market.

The ongoing COVID pandemic has had a significant impact on the ESM market. Vendors, partners, and users of ESM platforms, for example, developed modules specifically for vaccination tracking, and more broadly, the trend toward remote work has increased customer demand for ESM capabilities. ESM vendors have done well in business terms; in 2020, we heard reports of larger deals being deferred, but revenue more than made up for it, with organic growth as existing customers scaled up due to increased remote work.

We explored several priorities in this Wave cycle:

  • Empowering service owners to act as product owners. Leading ESM vendors don’t just allow adopters to assess service demand — they’re also introducing features to enable continuous improvement. Differentiating features include service Net Promoter Score℠ (NPS) views, advanced service performance reporting (including cost), and intelligent recommendations for workflow optimization or flagging missing services.
  • Moving customers from reactive to proactive support. ESM leaders are reimagining how organizations handle support. Rather than acting as facilitators of reactive support, vendors are introducing capabilities to help customers identify problems before they occur and automate their remediation. Integrations or first-party artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) solutions, endpoint management platforms, and end-user experience management (EUEM) tools help execute on this vision.
  • Embedding and integrating ESM across platforms of work. While ESM has been helping service organizations — from IT to finance to lines of business — reimagine how they perform and facilitate work/service fulfillment, it has frequently been an island inside organizations. Leaders are building bridges across platforms of work and building tighter ties to portfolio tooling, DevOps pipelines, and even CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

ESM continues to thrive as a distinct market category. It increasingly represents the entire digital systems lifecycle, and as integrated DevOps philosophy continues to take hold, we look forward to ESM products expanding further into comprehensive coverage of both build and run concerns in the modern digital enterprise.

Acknowledgements: Charlie and Will are grateful to research project coordinator Matthew Fernandes for his diligence and support.