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Trends in the ITSM market

During the June 2017 Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS) in London, TeamUltra, EMEA’s leading ServiceNow partner undertook a survey of attendees. This has been combined with the survey from 2016 to identify a number of market trends.

Corporate IT departments have been under pressure to reduce costs since the global financial crisis of 2008, in particular IT service desks which have often seen team sizes cut and salaries remain static under the business mantra of “doing more with less”.

Costs, however, are just one part of the business “holy trinity” of cost, speed, and quality; and the 2017 TeamUltra SITS survey highlights a number of additional challenges that respondents expect to face during the next 12 months.

Financial Pressures Are Still Rife but People and ITSM Tool Challenges Are Improving

Unsurprisingly, post-Brexit, budget availability is still the most commonly expected obstacle/challenge for the next 12 months – having been selected by just over half of survey respondents (see Diagram 1), a five percentage rise on 2016.

Diagram 1: Which of these obstacles and challenges will you face in next 12 months?

This focus on costs is reinforced by the results of another survey question, shown in Diagram 2, where 56.1% of respondents have business objectives to increase efficiency, and 44.6% to reduce costs.

Three other obstacles/challenges in Diagram 1 also stand out due to them being less prevalent than in 2016:

• The lack of specialist skills at 26.7%, down three percentage points from 30.0% in 2016
• The constraints of the current ITSM systems at 22.6%, down 2 percentage points, and
• Access to internal resources at 18.4%, down 7 percentage points.

The Continued Importance of Customer Experience

In the 2016 survey, when asked about the importance of a number of business objectives over the next 12 months, respondents rated two customer-centric objectives higher than both reducing costs and improving service levels.

In 2017, “improve customer service” was again the top “very important” business objective at 69.7% (up three percent), with “improve end user experience” second again at 61.3% (up one percent). Efficiency was third, again with a small rise (see Diagram 2).

“Improved end user experience” also came top in a survey question that asked about the most important outcomes for planned digital transformation. This is shown in Diagram 7.

Diagram 2: How important are the following business objectives over the next 12 months?

All other business objective choices, bar the top three, saw a drop in importance, with “drive innovation” dropping an incredible ten percentage points. Which is somewhat worrying in light of innovation returning to the management buzzword vocabulary in conjunction with the now ubiquitous “digital transformation”.

Finally, artificial intelligence was added as an option for the 2017 SITS survey. In line with the growing importance of this area in the ITSM space, it was rated “very important” by 6.6%. With ServiceNow’s acquisition of AI company DxContinuum a machine learning start-up, it is clear that the ITSM tool vendors are incorporating intelligent AI and machine learning into the core functionality of their systems.

Machine learning can ultimately predict outages, automate routing and workflow, predict outcomes, and benchmark performance. The rise of chatbots will help to raise automation levels for front line call management freeing up staff from time consuming activity. I believe that we’ll see a sharp increase in the percentage of respondents planning AI projects in future years.

You can download a full copy of the White Paper: “The State of UK IT Service Management in 2017” from TeamUltra  here.