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How Automation is Transforming IT Service Management

IT Services – Focused on Business Needs

As technology has become more embedded into business processes, organizations have commonly embraced IT service management (ITSM) to improve customer service and help IT services align with business goals. ITSM is a set of policies, processes and procedures to manage the support of customer-oriented IT services throughout their lifecycle. ITSM activities, including problem/incident management, change management, and asset/configuration management, can be used to improve customer service and enable digital transformation initiatives.

With its emphasis on optimizing IT service operation and improvement, ITSM is essentially a framework for supporting business needs. As such, it should evolve and adapt in tandem with enterprise technology requirements. In fact, ITSM has become a key resource for transforming and modernizing IT services.  

ITIL vs ITSM – How Do They Differ

A framework of best practices for delivering effective IT services, the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) sounds a lot like ITSM, and they’re related but not the same thing. ITIL is just one of several popular frameworks within the ITSM discipline (other ITSM frameworks include COBIT, Six Sigma, and Microsoft Operations Framework). But as one of the most popular ITSM frameworks, organizations use ITIL defined processes and standards to optimize IT service management. ITIL 4, the most recent version introduced this year, emphasizes the value of automating processes, improving service management and integrating the IT department into the business.

ITIL 4

ITIL 4 is an evolution of ITIL v3 concepts, not a replacement according to Beyond20, a FixStream business partner and expert ITSM consulting firm. The table below, provided by Beyond20, includes a summary of three key differences between ITIL version 3 (also commonly referred to as the ITIL 2011 edition) and ITIL 4:

ITIL 4’s Guiding Principles are as follows:

  • Focus on value: Everything an organization does needs to map to value for stakeholders
  • Start where you are: Do not start from scratch and build something new without considering what is already available to be leveraged; investigate and observe the current state directly to ensure it is understood
  • Progress iteratively with feedback: Do not attempt to everything at once; continuously gather and use feedback—before, during, and after—each iteration to ensure activities are appropriate and focused on the right outputs, even when circumstances change
  • Collaborate and promote visibility: Working together across boundaries produces results that have greater buy-in, more relevance to objectives, and increased likelihood of long-term success; avoid hidden agendas, promote transparency, and share information to the greatest degree possible
  • Think and work holistically: No service, or element used to provide a service, stands alone; outcomes will suffer unless the organization works as a whole, not just on its parts
  • Keep it simple and practical: If a process, service, action, or metric fails to provide value or produce a useful outcome, eliminate it; use outcome-based thinking to produce solutions that deliver results
  • Optimize and automate: Resources of all types should be used to their best effect; eliminate anything that is truly wasteful and leverage technology to its greatest capability

A push for automation

The last point of the guiding principles is a focus on leveraging technology for optimization and automation. 

Why the focus on automation? The digital economy has changed business processes and priorities, and IT service management, including ITSM and ITIL, is changing as well. For example, ITSM/ITIL best practices are being adapted for cloud computing environments. As enterprise IT departments move from legacy systems to cloud-based solutions, they are also looking to automate ITSM processes, incorporating AI-powered functions such as machine learning and natural language processing.

And why not? ITSM automation can help organizations move toward a consistent IT service management practice, eliminating many redundant manual processes that add cost and increase the risk of human error. For example, automating help desk tasks such as ticket routing and change requests can improve accuracy and speed of response, as well as increase employee productivity and satisfaction. Other examples of AI-led ITSM use cases include automated problem-solving, infrastructure provisioning, self-service systems, finding/resolving threats with anomaly-detection algorithms, and better management of dynamic cloud configurations.

An Opportunity to Improve Business Processes

With all the benefits inherent in IT service automation, it’s tempting to jump right in and get started. But, according to experts, that might not be the best approach. ITSM automation is not about speeding up legacy IT services, it’s about improving service delivery processes and meeting the priorities and needs of your user communities. For example, you might consider new ways to structure your IT teams and work modes to facilitate collaboration across siloes and enable agility. 

An ITSM automation project is a great opportunity to modernize IT service delivery and strengthen the link between IT service providers and their cohorts. Before launching such a project, take time to finetune processes as needed to optimize workflow, remove redundant steps or complexities, and identify needed improvements. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the same outdated, faulty processes – just done more quickly. 

Beyond20 agrees with the need to proactively plan for an ITSM project, starting with a clear vision of the desired results. They recommend taking time to examine IT processes to ferret out hidden problems and implement best practices. Recognizing the complexities involved, Beyond20 offers a free ITSM Assessment Readiness Kit to help clients clarify objectives in order build an actionable roadmap for ITSM automation.

FixStream AIOps and ITSM Transformation

FixStream, a leader in AIOps solutions, sees the synergy with bringing ITOM domains closer to ITSM automation with AIOps capabilities to further enrich the core ITSM capabilities for root cause analysis, change management, asset management etc. AIOps solutions help with dynamic discovery and correlation of on-prem and public cloud application and infrastructure entities, correlation of massive amount of events and metrics collected from existing ITOM tools or infrastructure devices, and detecting the root cause of incidents, identification of impacts from changes and anomalies and feeding this insights into ITSM tools uplifts the value of ITSM automation framework to the next level. Without the insights from AIOps tools, it’s is difficult and almost impossible to implement ITSM automation due to the volume, varieties and velocity of dynamic information collected from modern hybrid IT.

Enzo Signore, CMO at FixStream, points out the value of AIOps-based automation in a recent article. He notes “it’s extremely hard to correlate events across the IT stack, and the amount of data involved makes it impossible for humans to do it. Companies need to automate the process to correlate event data across all the IT domains so that they can quickly locate the problem and avoid disasters. This is the foundation of AIOps solutions.”

Learn more about how FixStream’s new AIOps+ platform can help modernize and automate your IT Operations.

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