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Pink20 Takeaways: Familiar ITSM Challenges and Stronger Solutions

February 25, 2020

Pink20 Takeaways: Familiar ITSM Challenges and Stronger Solutions

One year after the launch of ITIL® 4, the Pink20 IT Service Management Conference followed up with a Batman theme — appropriate, given Batman is a superhero whose only superpower is cutting edge technology. In today’s climate of digital transformation, CIOs and IT leaders are asked to create their own advantages through business technology, but unfortunately, they normally operate well below the Bruce Wayne budget.

Employees’ dependency on business technology is increasing, which increases the strain on service delivery, but support teams don’t always gain additional resources or headcount to confront these challenges. In addition, today’s employees have increasing expectations for technical support as a result of how they use consumer technology.

Last week, IT pros took to Las Vegas to discuss a familiar but intensified challenge. They need to deliver the experiences that employees expect and support increasingly complex business technology environments—and they need to do it within budgetary confinements. Luckily, there are tools at their disposal, including updated best practices and a competitive market for ITSM technology that, when used effectively, can help IT teams rise to the challenge. Let’s take a look at some of the themes throughout this year’s conference.

Consumer-like Support Has Arrived in IT

At one of the breakout sessions of the conference, Tim Lawes delivered a presentation on employee engagement through the service desk. He conducted an unscientific exercise in which he asked audience members for a show of hands on how they prefer to request support with consumer products.

To no one’s surprise, there was very little clamoring among the hundred-or-so attendees to call their cable companies or phone providers. There was no patience for emailing a support address without context. Self-service and live chat were the overwhelming choices, which begs the question, “why hasn’t internal support caught up with the trend?”

One audience member suggested that employees in his organization would rather ask John (their tech-savvy neighbor) for a solution to a simple problem. Another cleverly referred to a similar phenomenon in his organization as “black market IT support.”

The bottom line is, IT’s engagement methods need to be superior to the black market options. Your neighbor John is essentially a (suboptimal) form of knowledge management. He may know some ways to troubleshoot your frozen laptop or your slow applications, but IT’s knowledge base should be stronger than John’s recall. More importantly, it needs to be as easily accessible.

This is the essence of employee engagement with the service desk. Build the resources, and then provide the avenues that make them easy for employees to find.

A strong service portal with a search function for relevant knowledge articles is a good start. But live chat and mobile access are more important than ever. A whopping 87% of companies expect their employees to use personal devices for work purposes. That’s right, they want people to work from wherever they are on the devices the employees paid for. The least IT can do is connect them to technical support on the same device. It’s time for IT to catch up to your personal banks, cell phone carriers, and airlines. Luckily, the technology to provide live chat and employee mobile access is available to the service desk today, so it’s time to ask your ITSM solution to help deliver that experience.

Using ITIL 4 for Practical Service Delivery

One of the most popular topics for discussion at the SolarWinds booth was the updated version of ITIL. We spoke with a few of the ITIL authors who wanted to know what our community thinks of the new set of best practices.

Among our partners who received ITIL 4 certifications, the feedback has been positive. Overall, ITIL 4 has made strides in applying directly to the ways the modern organization works. As today’s ITSM tools expand the ability to leverage data and improve service in creative ways, the ITIL guiding principles are a crucial component in enabling those opportunities.

For instance, multiple visitors to our booth referenced “keep it simple and practical” in terms of how their service desk configurations have helped increase efficiency. We spoke with one attendee who recently took over a service desk with hundreds of service level agreements, constant breaches, and technicians who pay no mind to the breaches because the system is too complex. Her priority is simplification so that technicians have a practical expectation for service delivery.

Another visitor talked about how simple categorization automates the most important part of their incident management practice: ticket routing. By creating simple, intuitive categories and subcategories, nearly every ticket that enters his organization’s service desk is assigned to the appropriate technician automatically—a practical time-saver for the entire team.

“Optimize and automate” is another guiding principle applicable to many of today’s technology trends. Keeping data clean will allow machine learning to identify trends and make suggestions to technicians and requesters, but optimization is the key. Automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will fail without good data. Same goes for chatbots, which will rely on a robust knowledge base and tracked user behavior. The foundation for all of this advanced technology is enabled through ITIL practices.

Priorities: Change Management and CMDB

What are IT pros asking of their vendors?

Effective change management and advanced CMDB functionality are big ones. The complexity of hybrid IT environments has increased the demand on change managers, especially in larger organizations.

Technology infrastructure can change quickly, and it’s a lot to manage. In large organizations (and even many smaller ones), business applications and software-as-a-service have intensified the need to track technology relationships and rollout business-wide changes effectively. Vetting changes, assessing risk, and rolling them out cleanly includes the need to identify potential impact on configuration items and users. It also includes the need to proactively identify conflicts in time and technology.

Ask your ITSM vendor (as many Pink20 attendees did) what their plans are for these areas, and how to better support the increasingly complex business technology environment that your organization depends on.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the SolarWinds booth at Pink20!


As a Marketing Manager for the ITSM group, Chris works with SolarWinds customers and our internal team of ITIL pros to share best practices and stories of service management success. He leads production of ITSM videos, podcasts, and customer stories with over ten years of professional experience in multimedia content.