Looking on 2018

Key Changes in ITSM in 2018 and What We Should Learn

What happened to 2018? It’s probably my age – I’m older than I look – but we seem to be clocking up the years in IT service management (ITSM) far quicker than we used to. Or it could be that the rate of change we now experience, from both an IT and business perspective, is more rapid. It also probably helped that we saw more change in 2018 than we have done in recent years (although I appreciate that some of this has been the talk of future change). Making it worthwhile for us to stop for a moment, to take stock of 2018, before leaping forward into the knowns and unknowns of 2019.

So hold onto your hat, or seat (depending on your preferred idiom), as I quickly run through many of the ITSM changes we saw in 2018 and comment on what these will, or at least could, mean to ITSM professionals.

ITSM Best Practice Updates

Okay, let’s not get into a debate as to whether there’s really any best practice out there, only good practice. While ITIL is still using the term, people are Googling it, and I always like my blogs to come up in Google search results!

Here’s my view on ITSM best practice in 2018 – it’s almost as though everyone with a finger in the ITSM best-practice pie got together and said: “Let’s all push out new versions in 2018.” So, what changed in 2018 (or will change in early 2019):

  • A second VeriSM book was published (and more related exams made available). In my opinion, in the same way that VeriSM originally announced itself in October 2017 (and with a new book) ahead of the new version of ITIL (announced in the November), it has again delivered ahead of ITIL 4.
  • ISO/IEC 20000-1:2011 was revised (interestingly, it has a stated five-year review schedule) to ISO/IEC 20000-1:2018. You can read about the changes to this service management standard here.
  • COBIT 2019 is replacing COBIT 5 – you can read more about this in this recent blog from me.
  • The new version of ITIL, announced at the end of 2017, was christened ITIL 4 but it won’t start to hit the streets (and bookstores) until 2019. If you want to know more, then the best information source that I’ve seen (to date) is my good friend Stuart Rance’s blog: “What’s Coming in ITIL 4?”. Stuart could probably tell you more, but I believe he would then have to kill you.

My tip on this for 2019:

While it’s great that so much ITSM best practice has been updated – to finally reflect the changing times (whether this be new technologies, new approaches, customer experience, or anything else) – it’s easy to get lost (or at least confused). Either in a single body of best practice or among the multiple source-options now available to you.

It’s therefore important to start with what you need to achieve – for instance, with your organization’s pain points or opportunities to improve – rather than with page one of a best practice book (or books). Once you know what needs to be addressed, then start to dip into various sources of best practice for guidance.

In situations where you’re unsure where to find suitable best practice – in particular where you know little about a particular best practice source – then seek help from other humans, for instance in the Back2ITSM Facebook group, rather than personally trying to understand the detail of each and every source.

New ITSM Industry Events

Each year we often see the same global ITSM industry events come and go. In 2018, however, the FUSION of old was split in two. There was still FUSION but there was also a new event: SMWorld. With the key US ITSM events rounded off with Pink and HDI.

Plus, the Service Desk Institute (SDI) now has three key global events – adding a new Dubai event to the original UK event and the newer Mexico event. And there’s a new event for customer service/support staff too, with Support Driven adding a European event to their existing annual North American SD Expo.

Then the majority of the internal itSMF chapter conferences are still running every year. You can find out what’s happening near you using the itSMF International event listing. And there’s the UK-based Service Desk and IT Support Show which is a free-to-attend event that’s part expo and part educational.

So, there’s a lot of potential event-based ITSM learning out there, including at the events I haven’t mentioned, if you can justify your attendance to “the powers that be.”

My tip on this for 2019:

I appreciate that it can be difficult to justify the expense of ITSM events – from the entry fee, through travel costs, to the “opportunity cost” of your time. It’s therefore important to make the right choice, or choices, based on your required learning needs and maybe your preference for popular speakers – such as Stuart Rance – versus the available seminar topics. It’s not easy, especially when great speakers, and their slots, collide. I also believe that we need better marketing of the key educational sessions at events, which – and I’m sure many will agree with me – can be more beneficial than the advertised keynotes.

But it’s also important to demonstrate the benefits of your event attendance, and quickly, on returning to the office. Not only does this impact your chances of attending future ITSM events, but also those of your colleagues. So, have a plan to do this even before requesting your attendance – make it clear that you, and others, will all benefit from your attendance; and give tangible examples of how.

Technology Became a Lot Smarter

You can’t have failed to notice all the hype around artificial intelligence (AI) in 2018. Thankfully, in 2019 I expect that we’ll see a lot more examples of ITSM, and especially IT service desk specific, AI technologies being made available. Plus, more importantly, the case studies that show how ITSM tool customers have benefitted from the available AI.

One thing that stands out for me, in relation to AI, is just how far the technology has developed in recent years. Probably far quicker than many of us would have expected. And we should expect this to speed up even further.

We need to be careful though. Especially given the mistakes that the ITSM industry has made with both knowledge management and self-service. Thus, our ITSM use cases for AI need to be designed and enacted with people in mind, such that we don’t (again) end up with great-looking technology that doesn’t get used as much as it should. And low adoption equals no ROI.

My tip on this for 2019:

I expect 2019 to be the year when the ITSM “early adopters” take the AI opportunities by the horns. It’s already becoming visibly prevalent in business-to-consumer (B2C) scenarios, especially via chatbots – from Amazon to utilities companies. Employees will expect to see similar capabilities internally (and not just from IT) but this doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically use them. And our collective IT self-service adoption experiences are a great demonstration of this.

So, start 2019 by understanding how AI could help your ITSM and IT support activities (to deliver better business outcomes). Understand how your ITSM tool vendor can help, then – most importantly – invest time and resources in understanding how the technology and use cases need to reflect the wants and needs of the people who will use them. This will be both IT staff, whose capabilities will be augmented by AI, and other employees who will be served and supported by AI.

And finally, don’t forget that the AI will need to be enabled by the status quo. So, ensure that existing capabilities – such as knowledge management, operational processes, and people skills – are such that the new technology isn’t victim to what’s already there. You can read more about this in: “Is Your IT Support Chatbot’s Weakest Link Your People?

There were of course many other things that happened in ITSM in 2018, but you’ll never make it into 2019 if I keep on writing. So, what do you remember most about ITSM in 2018? Please let me know in the comments.


Posted by Joe the IT Guy

Joe the IT Guy
Joe the IT Guy

Native New Yorker. Loves everything IT-related (and hugs). Passionate blogger and Twitter addict. Oh...and resident IT Guy at SysAid Technologies (almost forgot the day job!).


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