Information technology service management (ITSM) is evolving beyond its traditional role as a tool for IT professionals, emerging as a strategic asset for entire organizations.

Centralizing organizational assets and services, managing workflows like incident and change management, and integrating with key systems, ITSM fosters cross-departmental collaboration, enabling a holistic approach to business operations.

As businesses embrace digital transformation, ITSM becomes indispensable for achieving organizational goals and driving innovation.

RJ Gazarek, principal product marketing manager at SolarWinds, emphasized ITSM’s historical role primarily within IT teams for tracking various work-related elements such as infrastructure, servers, services, devices and purchases.

He noted ITSM has traditionally operated as “somewhat of a black box” internally within IT departments, focusing on cost rather than revenue generation for the business.

“ITSM has evolved towards becoming a more integral business partner, aligning with the broader goals of the organization,” he said.

He observed a shift towards transparency and collaboration, with ITSM practices expanding into non-IT areas through initiatives like enterprise service management.

“This expansion involves leveraging centralized tools to track work, assets and people, with the aim of fostering similar efficiency and effectiveness across other departments,” he explained.

From Tool to Strategic Asset

Bob Grazioli, chief information officer (CIO) for Ivanti, a provider of IT management and security software solutions, agreed that across the organization, the common perception is ITSM is designed for just IT professionals and doesn’t offer capabilities relevant to their role.

“As ITSM evolves, it has expanded its capabilities to positively impact various operations such as security, procurement, compliance, and asset management,” he said. “ITSM is no longer just a tool for IT management, but a strategic asset for the entire organization — serving as the command center.”

He explained IT systems interact with all the key processes and activities of the business. By providing a common data repository for assets, systems and services shared throughout the organization, ITSM and ITAM are vital assets to every department, yet the data repository isn’t always leveraged to its full capabilities.

“We need to expand and leverage the data stored in our service management systems for innovation, specifically for AI strategy,” Grazioli said.

Enabling Collaboration, Holistic Business Operations

By improving visibility across the organization, ITSM enables managers, executives and staff from different departments to gain insights into what is happening in other areas of the business via the data repository – helping enable cross-department collaboration.

Additionally, ITSM encourages employees to report IT issues through the incident reporting process, which therefore helps the IT department collect more feedback and data on the performance of applications and services.

Grazioli said to foster a more holistic approach to business operations, the common ITSM framework makes it fast and easy to implement new variations on existing workflows.

“For example, using the basic IT incident structure to manage HR cases,” he said.

Gazarek pointed out various departments, such as product management, engineering, legal and finance, share similar needs in terms of tracking work and assets, leading them to seek ways to adopt ITSM practices within their own domains.

“The reality is that across organizations, every department is both a consumer and a provider of services of some type to each other,” he said.

He emphasized the interconnected nature of departments, illustrating this with examples from various business functions and highlighted the reciprocal nature of service requests within departments, such as legal requesting facilities to set up an office for a new employee.

“It ends up being this kind of full loop where, in almost any case, very few isolated activities occur across departments,” Gazarek said.

He stressed the importance of efficient connectivity between departments, enabling them to actively consume and provide services seamlessly.

Centralizing Data, Streamlining Processes

Grazioli explained ITSM and ITAM provide a common data repository for assets, systems and services shared throughout the organization.

“By having accessibility and visibility into this data, it helps data-driven decision making across the organization,” he said.

This helps leaders make informed business decisions backed by organizational data, which helps propel innovation.

“When companies experience data silos, it stunts innovation because they don’t have a holistic view of business operations,” he said.

For investments in AI and automation, this lack of data accessibility and visibility will cause these innovations to fall short of expectations because the technology doesn’t have the data to make informed decisions.

Best Practices for ITSM Adoption

Grazioli said companies seeking to invest in and harness the benefits of ITSM must consider several key considerations.

First, they should prioritize flexible platforms that can adapt to evolving needs and circumstances, ensuring scalability and agility in response to changing business requirements.

Second, the incorporation of low-code or no-code development tools is crucial for swiftly deploying new workflows, facilitating rapid adaptation and innovation.

Additionally, having a common data repository for shared assets and services promotes collaboration and efficiency across the organization.

“The ability to seamlessly integrate and share data among an increasing number of internal and external systems and processes is essential for optimizing operations and decision-making,” he said.

Furthermore, intelligence and automation capabilities are indispensable for addressing the escalating pace of digital operations, enabling proactive problem-solving and resource optimization.

Finally, leveraging APIs, connectors, business workflows and embedded AI technologies enhances connectivity and functionality, supporting cohesive and streamlined ITSM processes.

“I think we’ve overcomplicated ITSM in some respect as an industry as a whole,” Gazarek, added.

He noted the tendency for ITSM tools to mirror the complexity of business structures, with the ITSM market offering a host of capabilities and features to manage various tasks.

Gazarek pointed to the evolution of ITIL from v3 to v4 as an example of simplification within the industry and emphasized the need for a more streamlined approach.

“Focus on key categories such as incident management, service publishing, change management, asset management and employee experience,” he said. “You’re already in a complex system, and that’s not going to go away. Don’t have the tech stack mirror that.”

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