Separating hype from reality: Exploring AI in IT service management

IT service teams are under continuous pressure to do more with less while also delivering superior customer service and reduced downtime. Complexity is also increasing by leaps and bounds. Artificial intelligence and machine learning offers many opportunities to address these challenges and help improve IT service management overall. Let’s examine how IT managers and directors can implement AI to improve their operations.

ITSM is improving but still needs work

IT operations have evolved greatly and adopted new technologies as they come. Organisations are using more and more IT management systems and automation to develop, implement, manage and optimise IT domains, IT services and finally the end-user experience. The real driver for the change in IT operations is the ever-greater business dependence on IT. In essence, IT customers have imposed an irresistible necessity on the department.

The IT team is still facing a high degree of pressure from its stakeholders. The “delivering more with less” mentality can sometimes be viewed as a variation of the concept of “faster, cheaper, better – pick any two.” Users want IT services or operational improvements faster and with greater flexibility.

Doing things cheaper is about not just reducing operational costs and realising efficiencies but doing so with a focus on value over cost and adding business value wherever possible. Being better means improving IT service quality, including availability, and meeting the end-users’ high expectations of IT services, support and customer service.

Because faster, cheaper and better are equally important, ITSM needs a solution that doesn’t force organisations to pick two of the three. Fortunately, AI and automation are available today to make it possible for IT departments to demonstrate all three qualities.

AI and automation will change the game

AI, machine reasoning and automation are quickly gaining traction when it comes to IT management – for good reasons. It’s not just hype. AI is already helping different business functions across verticals to replace or augment existing manual processes, adding “heavy thinking” capabilities alongside the “heavy lifting” that automation brings.

From early application of machine learning (like pattern matching) there is a movement toward digital agents that use Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine reasoning to add intelligence to IT management tasks. This, in conjunction with automation libraries, will provide end-to-end automation where up to 50 percent of repetitive, manual tasks can be resolved instantly. Applied correctly, these innovations can free up IT service employees to focus instead on bigger and more important issues and provide employees a 24/7 “consumer-like” IT services. Understandably, this increases employee engagement and productivity. AI and automation increase speed of execution and task or process adaptability. They also reduce costs, human error and human intervention. Collectively, these positives improve customer experience and, therefore, customer satisfaction scores (CSAT).

Examining specific use cases of AI and automation

A few use cases that demonstrate concretely how AI and automation will transform ITSM are:

  • Digital agent with auto-resolution: End users interact with a digital agent through chat and voice conversations. The digital agent understands the intent of the conversation and auto-resolves up to 50 percent of end user requests
  • Self-serve resolution: It is now possible to implement an automation solution that increases end-user productivity optimally in a cost-efficient way by enabling end users to find pertinent information and solutions to their problems instead of filing tickets. These articles may also be served by digital agents on request
  • Catch and auto-dispatch: Too much time is lost waiting for the ticket to be assigned to an agent or fixing a mis-characterised ticket. AI enables intelligent ticket routing that optimises ticket assignment, considering factors like priority of the request and the knowledge, availability and past performance of IT agents all based on past data and continuous learning
  • Advanced agent assist: A lot of “tribal knowledge” is generated in the operations team that is not formally captured. A knowledgebase that incorporates customer tribal knowledge and that makes available the right knowledge articles and information about similar past incidents to IT operations staff (L1, L2, L3) while troubleshooting goes a long way to reduce mean time to resolution (MTTR)

The time is now

The pressure is on for IT service teams, striving to meet the needs of increasingly demanding users in a time of increasing complexity. But at the same time, AI and automation are finding their way into the IT department to help save the day. AI is already helping organisations with external customer support, so IT teams should expect AI to be equally valuable internally to support not only customers but processes and the IT teams themselves. AI will soon be a must-have for overburdened IT departments. Organisations that want to differentiate themselves and remain competitive should begin their AI journey now. Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located AI & Big Data Expo events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more. Co-located with the  IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo so you can explore the future of enterprise technology in one place.

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