If you think that ITSM is static and old hat, think twice. A huge number of innovations are just emerging—some have been a long time in coming; while others are unexpected surprises—as analytics and automation are changing the ITSM game dramatically.

Here are some trends that I’ve seen in 2014 that I expect will grow in importance in 2015. Some may explode into prominence, but I expect most will continue to rise more gradually into industry consciousness, which is typical of the more profound transformations versus those that enjoy a chic but shallow industry cachet.

· As the role of IT is changing to become a more front-office (as opposed to back-office) presence, ITSM will become a yet more critical part of that transformation. Why is this? ITSM can become a new center for IT insights, governance, automation, and analytics to come together with a fully human voice, capturing vital perspectives on real user experience and sharing them with development and operations. But to do so, ITSM will have to change in its technology adoption priorities, as indicated in the following discussions.

· Mobile, wireless, and social IT will become a yet more important part of that transformation—as end-point awareness becomes ever more critical in delivering, sustaining, and optimizing IT services. Critical “areas to watch” in 2015 include: managing and optimizing endpoints as performing assets while cultivating the powers of enhanced GUI designs, mobile and social IT to promote improved service interaction.

· Automation will be one of the biggest game changers for ITSM, with the potential to impact virtually every other “game-changer” here. While ITSM is traditionally viewed in terms of “service desk,” as it evolves it will reach out through automation and analytics to include operations, and even development, far more proactively. This is true whether we’re talking about configuration automation, more advanced workflows, runbook or IT process automation, or other automation investments.

· Perhaps nowhere will automation become more conspicuous than in the changing role of change management (including release and configuration management) from slow, laborious, and fragmented manual processes to more streamlined and yet more service-aware capabilities. In 2015, I predict that automation, service modeling, and analytics will begin to come together in new ways, with far less overhead than in the past—transforming not only ITSM but service management even more broadly. This will be one area in 2015 where agile, DevOps, and ITSM will begin to converge.

· None of the above will work, however, without attention to governance, process, dialog, and business alignment. Fragmented, piecemeal automation can result in train wrecks, while cloud computing is adding ever more options that need to be assessed for performance, usage, capacity, and costs. ITSM will begin to play a role as an interactive center for that dialog in 2015, at least in some IT environments, with a new face and a new look.

Does all this sound like wishful thinking?

Maybe, but I’ve already seen good evidence supporting everything here.

I’m also holding myself accountable, as we’ll be doing some unique research beginning in January—looking at the future of ITSM. If the data proves me right, or even if it proves me wrong, I promise you’ll hear from me when the results are in some time in February.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to disagree (vehemently, if need be) or cheer me on. Or otherwise add or comment. I very much welcome the conversation.