The world we live in (or on) will soon be another year older and, despite what we see in the news, hopefully another year wiser. The same is true for the IT service management (ITSM) community, in that I’d like to think that the industry has moved itself forward in 2018. But what does 2019 hold for ITSM, and what should ITSM practitioners be focused on in the months ahead?
It’s why I’ve written this blog – to help you to understand what could be important for your IT organization (because, after all, there’s no “one size fits all” in ITSM).
But first, a quick check on what happened (in ITSM) in 2018.
2018 in Review
2018 seemed to be a very busy year for ITSM – at least in terms of the available help and guidance – with changes all around, including that:
- VeriSM continued to market the need for a “service management approach for the digital age,” and its second publication – “VeriSM: Unwrapped and Applied” – was launched. More people seem to be hearing about VeriSM thanks to the clever idea of using its many contributors as “global ambassadors,” especially at international ITSM events.
- The Open Group continued to spread the word on IT4IT as an “IT framework for delivering value to the business.”
- AXELOS continued the build up for the new version of ITIL in 2019 (although originally announced in 2017). It’s now called ITIL 4, but there are no fixed delivery dates yet though beyond: “the Foundation level, is currently scheduled to be launched in Q1 2019, with the following levels due for release in H2 2019.” And, what’s included in this blog from ITIL 4 author Stuart Rance.
- COBIT 2019 was published towards the end of the year – the successor to 2012’s COBIT 5.
- ISO/IEC 20000 has been revised, with it now called: ISO/IEC 20000-1:2018.
- There’s a new North American ITSM event from HDI – SMWorld – and a new Middle East event from the Service Desk Institute (SDI) in Dubai. Look out for repeat performances in 2019 and perhaps other geographical variants.
However, not everything was sunshine and rainbows in 2018. I don’t want to dwell on the negatives of 2018, but the following deserve a mention.
The ITSM community sadly lost Rob Stroud, who was an inspiration to many (in both the ITSM and then DevOps communities) and was always available to help out those wanting to improve either personally or professionally. Rob will be greatly missed by all that knew him.
AXELOS’s ITIL Practitioner Guidance again failed to make the waves that it should have. The content is great but, for some reason, too many people still seem unaware of its existence (and it will be three years old come March 2019). It’s a real shame, especially when you know many of the smart – and experienced – people who wrote it. Perhaps the future arrival of ITIL 4 took the focus away from it?
There was a lot of media and marketing hype around artificial intelligence (AI). I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s what our industry does best – and sometimes the topic is worth all the shouting, and sometimes the firework just goes out limply with a muted fizzle. But, while I call out the AI hype – and much of the confusion and missetting of expectations it no doubt brought – I’m certain that AI is going to change ITSM, business operations (and products), and our personal lives forever.
And finally, the ITSM industry collectively continued to be more excited about its processes and new technologies than its people. I’m hopeful, yet still somewhat realistic, for 2019 – and the need to place more emphasis on “the people.”
A Quick Check on My 2018 Predictions
Last year (although it was published January 3rd this year) I wrote: “2018: More of the Same, with a Few Step Changes.” My blog included the following six “predictions”:
- Most Computers Will Be Invisible – to reference the Internet of Things (IoT) and the critical need to control such devices in light of security in particular.
- There Will Be More Major Security Breaches – and if security wasn’t at the top of corporate IT’s agenda it surely is now.
- Greater Adoption of DevOps, with More Focus on Culture – and the concepts of DevOps have definitely continued to make headway into the mainstream at pace.
- Increased Use of AI and Automation in ITSM – AI was probably the most talked-about ITSM (and IT) topic in 2018 (although not necessarily the most acted-upon).
- More Focus on Value and Customer Experience – it has been great to see the increased focus on both of these areas in 2018, and I expect there’s a lot more to come.
- More Enterprise Service Management – statistics from HDI show the growth in the use of ITSM principles, best practices, and technologies outside of IT. I share some of these below.
Hopefully, you’ll agree that all of the above were important in ITSM in 2018. But what did I miss? Feel free to add your ideas in the comments at the end of the blog.
2019 ITSM Trends and Predictions
Remember all those “ITSM in 2020” predictions”? Well, we’re only a year out now. Let that sink in for a moment.
Have we come as far as many had predicted? Unfortunately, not. But the opportunities of AI certainly seem to be coming at us much faster than expected – I guess technology change moves significantly faster than best practice and people change. It’s probably a logical place to start.
- AI will move beyond the hype to help with specific ITSM, and especially IT support, tasks. I deliberately mentioned tasks here – because AI will be helping with discrete tasks in 2019, not replacing roles. These seeming small first steps will then open the AI floodgates for machine learning in particular to help ITSM pros with tasks – from those that are repetitive (and mind-numbingly boring) to those that could never have been done without the technology augmenting human capabilities (and minds).
- Words and phrases such as “value,” “customer/employee experience,” and “business outcomes” will be a bigger part of the ITSM lexicon (and approaches). Okay, I mentioned this last year too. But I think we’re now at the point where all of the “forward-thinking talk,” and early-adopter efforts, get baked into the status quo. And not just because it’s a “good thing to do” or even “the right thing to do” – it will be demanded of IT organizations and ITSM teams.
- The many people challenges (and opportunities) in ITSM will finally start to be addressed. How long have people like Paul Wilkinson been shouting, and pointing, about the need to address ITSM’s people-based issues (not just those related to process and technology)? Far too long. I’m hopeful that the time is now right for “people” to get a far greater focus in ITSM. With the driver coming from a perhaps unexpected direction – through the lens of “wellbeing” rather than the usual lenses such as operational efficiency and effectiveness, or people’s skills and capabilities.
- Much of what I called out for 2018 will continue at pace. Security is an obvious one, and ITSM pros definitely need to know the security basics as well as understanding how what they do (or don’t do) helps or hinders corporate IT security efforts. Enterprise service management is another. The latest HDI enterprise service management statistics show that 62% or organizations already use their ITSM tool outside of IT and another 21% plan to do so. It very much ties in with prediction #2 – because the main driver for this extension of ITSM beyond IT is to “Improve the customer experience” (at 77% of survey responses, and where “customer” is viewed as both internal and external consumers of service and support services).
- ITIL 4 has one shot to get it right. As mentioned in my “2018 in Review” section – there’s a lot of competition for ITSM eyeballs, hearts, and wallets (when it comes to books, training, and consultancy spend) right now. If the ITIL 4 content is already “outdated,” difficult to consume, or doesn’t go far enough into the “how” – it will struggle. And, as shown by ITIL Practitioner, if the associated marketing is under par, then it doesn’t matter how great the content is. The good news is that ITIL is a massive “brand” but, especially after such a long wait for something new, modern consumers show little respect for seasoned brands and businesses when their needs can be better served elsewhere.
Finally, I’d have loved to have made a prediction around DevOps, but in my opinion it’s so hard to call it from an ITSM perspective. Not that DevOps has anything to worry about – it’s going great guns right now. My hesitancy is more about whether the ITSM community is finally able to embrace the concepts and successes of DevOps (and, after all, they’re part of the Ops of DevOps). And whether the App Dev – now DevOps – community wants or needs the ITSM community to play too.
So that’s my five predictions for 2019 (and one deliberate fence sit). What would you call out for the year ahead? Please let me know in the comments.