How will ITSM change in the coming year? Just like we did last year, we collected the 5 most relevant ITSM trends for 2020 that will change service management.

Looking for the trends for 2021? Find them here

As ITSM guru Stephen Mann once pointed out, most changes in the service management field don’t go that fast. New developments like AI don’t take the field by storm, but steadily find their place in the ITSM landscape. That’s why we see a lot of ITSM trends from 2019 continuing in 2020. There are also new trends to research and explore of course. So keep reading to discover the 5 most relevant trends that will change service management in 2020.

1. Artificial Intelligence solutions will focus on Augmented Intelligence

Last year, it became clear that AI was not going to revolutionize ITSM just yet. For most service organizations, AI-based solutions remain an interesting perspective, or a nice added value, rather than the game changer some promised it would be.

To be sure: we fully believe in the tremendous power of AI – in the long run. But not all organizations are ready for AI. And not all AI technology is mature enough yet for every business to reap the benefits.

Chatbots, for instance, are an enormous hype, but as of yet we don’t see a huge adoption rate. Why? Chatbots are mainly successfully adopted by larger organizations. They have enough data and enough calls to train their chatbot on recognizing and dealing with specific types of calls. The more calls your organizations gets, and the more repetitive these calls are, the more interesting it becomes for an organization to start implementing a chatbot. Smaller organizations often don’t have the call volume to make a chatbot effective.

What we do see in AI, is a focus shift towards small innovations. The current trend is to look at how AI can assist agents to do their work better, or more efficiently. Think of reducing time spent on registration, improving incident prioritization and automating task assignment. This shift in focus is called Augmented Intelligence – or, to avoid confusion, Intelligence Augmentation (IA).

This is what the service desk of the future will look like

2. Smart automation solutions will popularize (while waiting for AI to catch up)

So AI’s promise can’t always be capitalized just yet. This has an interesting side-effect. If AI does not yet offer the technology you’re hoping for, but you do want to increase efficiency at your service desk – where do you turn next? That’s right: good ol’ automation.

Automation has always remained a relevant topic, but in 2019, it bonded with its smarter sibling AI. Last year, in blogs and at events, ‘AI and automation’ were mentioned in one breath. We could spend hours discussing where smart automation ends and where AI begins, but let’s not. The fact is, more and more organizations see the relevance and instant benefit of smart automation.

One specific form of smart automation that’s gaining popularity is RPA: Robotic Process Automation. This means programming a robot to carry out series of repetitive tasks, such as handling orders or expense requests that were received via an intranet form. (To see RPA in action, check out this 3-minute video from KPMG.) So your service desk staff can spend their time on what people are good at: offer great customer service.

We expect that in 2020, more and more service desks will explore and implement smart automation solutions.

3. Employee experience will drive Enterprise Service Management – in any shape or form

Last year, we predicted the rise of Employee Experience (EX) and the increased prominence of Enterprise Service Management. Well, we weren’t far off.

In September 2019, Forrester published their second Forrester ESM Wave, including quite a few vendors that used to be known as ‘ITSM vendors’. This is a significant shift. Forrester noticed the market showed an increasing ambition to improve collaboration between service departments, and ESM seems to be the new domain to tackle that challenge.

Why are we seeing this increased focus on improving collaboration? That’s where Employee Experience comes in. Since the war for talent has gotten fiercer, organizations are looking for ways to attract new employees. Offering a great workplace is one of the ways you can increase your appeal as an employer.

Breaking down silos between service departments is vital in establishing a great employee experience. That’s why in 2020, collaboration between service departments will intensify. This does not necessarily mean they’ll merge into one huge supporting department – in most cases, it’s a matter of one step at a time. At some organizations it will mean introducing a shared self-service portal, at others it will mean a joint effort to improve the onboarding process.

Another shared project between service departments might be sustainability

4. ITIL 4 will have to fight to stay relevant

Last year, we predicted 2019 would be the moment of the truth for ITIL 4. Well, turns out that so far, it’s very hard to draw any conclusions about the relevance of ITIL 4.

Sure, we like the direction ITIL 4 Foundation took in its introduction early 2019. ITIL 4 shifts towards a more holistic, pragmatic approach to their framework. Instead of focusing solely on process descriptions, ITIL 4 puts more emphasis on their 7 guiding principles. These principles, comparable to the 4 values from the Agile Manifesto, should guide the decisions you make on how to organize and deliver your services. In addition, we like that ITIL 4 stresses the importance of factors other than processes, such as Organization & People, and Partners & Suppliers.

That said, most of what ITIL 4 has offered in 2019 is theory. Not much has been said about how to put it into practice. How does the Service Value Chain help you to design a process for, say, Incident Management? How to align ITIL and DevOps? Where does collaboration with other service departments fit in the framework?

We can’t predict whether the publications of ITIL 4 that have been announced for 2020 – such as ITIL Managing Professional and ITIL 4 Strategic Leader – will offer answers to practical, day-to-day questions like the one we just mentioned. But we do know that if these questions don’t get answered, ITIL 4, despite its promising direction, will have a hard time staying relevant.

Call it culture, ABC or organizational change management – it’s undeniable that the realization is sinking in that service management is a people industry.

5. People and culture will be seen as vital

Call it culture, ABC or organizational change management – it’s undeniable that the realization is sinking in that service management is a people industry.

On the one hand, you have the increased importance of Employee Experience and Customer Experience, placing the human service experience at the center like never before.

On the other hand, there’s the well-being of your service staff. Are they happy at work? Do you have the right people in the right place? Do your team members have everything they need to help your customer the best they can?

The past has made clear that, for any initiative to work, your team needs the right mindset. Want to work more agile? Agile is a mindset. Want to break through the silos that make up your service departments? Enterprise Service Management requires a collaborative mindset. Want to make AI and automation a success? This will only work if your team knows this won’t make them redundant. This, too, requires – exactly, a change in mindset.

This is how trends like ESM, AI, and Agile continue to push the people aspect to the forefront of service management.

Curious which other ITSM terms you should know about? Find an overview here