“Hi, I’m your IT service management solution, and I’m here to help you.”

No, that’s not the beginning of a bad joke. Nor is it just wishful (or wistful) thinking. It’s an example of what IT service management (ITSM) may increasingly come to look and sound like throughout the coming year and beyond.

The driving force behind such a transformation? Artificial intelligence, or AI. The respected market watchers and analysts at Gartner, for example, have forecast that AI is just beginning a 75-year cycle that will affect every industry, not just IT.

In the shorter term, here is one of the Gartner Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond. “By 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more per annum on bots and chatbot creation than traditional mobile app development.” Bots and chatbots use AI to interact with people in conversational, near-human ways. And they represent vectors by which ITSM will become smarter and more helpful.

AI: Help for ITSM

Ivanti and the Service Desk Institute (SDI) recently surveyed 25,000 service desk professionals about user self-service and self-help. Some 74 percent of respondents use self-service and 58 percent offer users self-help. The largest motivator for both options? Improving services to the end user, cited by 90 percent of respondents offering self-service and 81 percent of those offering self-help.

However, 83 percent of users still prefer calling the service desk to using self-service, while 88 percent prefer calling the service desk to using self-help. Why? Those users prefer the “human touch,” according to 72 percent of survey respondents regarding self-service and 88 percent regarding self-help.

AI, in the form of bots and chatbots, is poised to shift this dynamic considerably. By combining rapid processing and access to voluminous data with conversational interfaces, these AI-powered options are already successfully mimicking human-to-human interaction. They’re doing so in consumer offerings such as Apple’s Siri, Google Home, and Amazon Echo, and are gaining ground in enterprise solutions as well.

How AI Will Improve ITSM

In an article published by Data Center Knowledge in October, “The Future of ITSM: Get Ready for Artificial Intelligence,” Ivanti Systems Engineer Marcel Shaw identified three “key areas” in which AI will likely have positive effects on ITSM – incident request/creation, automated back-end processes, and knowledge management.

  • Incident request/creation – AI-powered chatbots will enable more accurate interpretation of incidents and requests for automated ITSM solutions, improve and personalized the user experience, and make service management more efficient.
  • Automated back-end processes – as ITSM solutions gain more power from AI, those solutions will integrate more seamlessly with other connected technologies, such as those focused on operational analytics or security. This increased integration will extend the reach and effectiveness of back-end processes, enabling ITSM solutions to identify and resolve more issues with less human intervention than is required with many current solutions.
  • Knowledge management – AI-powered ITSM solutions will “remember” historical events and “learn” from them, resulting in more comprehensive knowledge databases that improve reactions to future issues. AI will also broaden the range of knowledge available to ITSM solutions, analysts, and users. Ultimately, AI-powered ITSM solutions will be able to answer questions and make recommendations and suggestions, in conjunction with or even instead of human trainers or analysts.

ITSM and Security: Another Powerful Combination

Beyond AI, ITSM is also increasingly overlapping and gaining synergies with another critical IT function: cybersecurity. After a long history of separate, parallel evolutions, IT and cybersecurity leaders now realize that effective service management requires a reliably secure environment. In addition, effective cybersecurity requires effective service delivery and management.

Kevin J. Smith is Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Ivanti. He is also the author of “The Practical Guide to World-Class IT Service Management.” At the upcoming Pink18 conference, Kevin will present a session entitled “Odd Couple or the Perfect Pair: Security & ITSM?” Kevin will discuss how new processes, metrics, and automation technologies are bringing ITSM and security closer together, and how you and your organization can best prepare.

The Future of Your ITSM Starts Now – With Ivanti

You can read more about Kevin’s session at the Pink18 conference, Feb. 18-21 in Orlando, FL, here. You can read more of his thoughts on the current state and future of ITSM here, and listen to a podcast featuring Kevin here. And you can learn more about Ivanti’s solutions for ITSM, cybersecurity, and other critical IT functions here.

We at Ivanti look forward eagerly to greater synergy and integration among AI, ITSM, and cybersecurity. Together, we can help you and your organization tap into The Power of Unified IT™.