What is the Future of the IT Service Management (ITSM) Analyst?
Many years ago, when I worked as a help desk frontline analyst, I remember a small device that connected to our phone system. It displayed how many people were on hold waiting for help, in addition to how long they were waiting on hold. Sometimes, when we were busy, I noticed that some folks were on hold for up to an hour.
Over the years, frontline support demands have increased while associated budgets have decreased. Unfortunately, it appears that these trends will continue in the foreseeable future. As a result, organizations are turning to technology as a way to meet the increased service management demands with limited resources. In 2019, we will see a renewed interest in chatbot technology with an expansion of self-service offerings.
As self-service portals and chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) mature, we will see the frontline human ITSM analysts, as we know them today, fade away. Chatbots and intelligent process automation will help ITSM organizations meet increased demands fueled by the rapid expansion of self-service offerings, thus allowing the human analyst to focus on major incidents (one-to-many), problem management, and change management.
With Agile, Unified IT, DevOps, and Digital Transformation on the radar of most organizations, we will see ITSM solutions evolve by integrating into other technology solutions on the network, thus eliminating technical silos we have been accustomed to in the past.
Network issues will be handled by integrated service management processes that will trigger complex sub-processes to automatically detect, then resolve network issues before they are observed by a human analyst.
Requests for IT services will be handled by chatbots and self-service portals which then use integrated automated processes to fulfill the request, eliminating the involvement of a human technician.
Eventually, all service management processes will be satisfied from start to finish by intelligent automated systems that will not require human intervention. As a result, the role of the IT analyst will have to change.
Skills That Will Be Required by the Future ITSM Analyst
Service management employers are beginning to seek out talent with a new set of skills in preparation for modernizing their ITSM solutions. These skills include knowledge of technologies such as AI, Unified IT, Agile, and DevOpps. ITSM Analysts and administrators that do not acquire these skills will be considered old-fashioned, and as a result, they might be viewed as impeding the progress of their organization’s ITSM objectives.
In a Gartner Trend Insight report titled Applying Artificial Intelligence to Drive Business Transformation, Whit Andrews states:
"To marry AI with advanced analytics will require new data and analytics best practices. Human expertise and skills will be a major limiting factor for AI ambitions. IT leaders should address the human capital needs for AI at the outset."
Future ITSM analysts will be responsible for managing automated processes instead of performing the processes manually. Analysts with a deep understanding of their customers’ business and business objectives will continue to be valued by their organizations. Analysts and administrators that do not acquire these skills will be replaced.
Modernizing an ITSM solution with chatbots, AI, and integrated automated processes will not be easy. Most organizations will rely on their ITSM analysts and administrators to provide direction and advice to fine-tune the solution and enhance the customer experience.
Eventually, ITSM solutions will have the ability to make decisions. However, for the near future, decision-making responsibilities will not be handed over to AI without a human analyst involved in the process. ITSM analysts and administrators that are able to manage processes and new technologies, such as AI, will be critical for service management teams to be successful.
As organizations venture into unknown territory by implementing new ITSM technology while disrupting traditional service management methods, it will be vital for ITSM Analysts to earn the trust of stakeholders. With service management processes spanning the entire organization, it will be important that analysts have good relationships with non-IT stakeholders in addition to IT stakeholders.