Advances in automation technology have changed the way many companies manage their IT services and conduct their business in a digital-first landscape. If your organization hasn’t invested resources to explore ITSM automation, you need to do so, and quickly.
Jump to the main takeaways:
As far as mainstream reporting goes, automation and AI have been tagged with a somewhat bad reputation in recent years. This is thanks in part to studies, like this one from McKinsey, that lead with the fact that hundreds of millions of jobs could be lost to automation.
Unfortunately, there’s been little to no light shed about the positive effects that automating your ITSM processes can have on your business, from taking mundane data-related tasks off your employees’ to-do lists to enhancing service ticket and onboarding workflows.
These benefits, along with many others, all add up to an improved quality of life for both your organization and the consumers that engage with your IT services. As the automation industry continues to grow, so too will the opportunities that new technology affords your team and your brand.
In this blog post, I’m going to highlight the 5 biggest reasons that your company should be investing in ITSM automation. Throughout, I’ll also be exploring how each section ties into topics I’ve discussed previously on our blog, including ITSM best practices and how to plan and execute an agile change management process.
Let’s dive in!
While they might not be tales of fictional tales of the human race perishing at the hands of robot overlords, the current consensus in the business world is that robotic process automation (RPA) is here to stay.
According to Forrester, the RPA industry will be valued at $2.9 billion in 2021, compared to just $250 million in 2016. This is because of the massive ROI that is to be gained from adopting and scaling automation technology to suit your business’ needs and goals.
For example, Everest Group claims that top performers earned 4 times on their automation investments, while NASSCOM reported cost savings of up to 65%, with some organizations recouping their automation expenses in as little as six months.
While the benefits are clear, not all businesses are dipping their toes into the automation technology waters, much less jumping into the deep end of the pool. However, as competition for consumer attention and loyalty in the digital marketplace becomes even more intense, the logic behind investing in automation is becoming harder and harder to ignore.
Adnan Khan of Towards Data Science explains:
“Companies are beginning to understand that increasing business efficiency and employee productivity is of supreme importance to thrive in a highly-competitive digital environment. Automation through software is of utmost importance for corporations to stay competitive and achieve operational excellence by meeting (or surpassing) Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
This is especially true of IT professionals, managers, and support agents, as automation can open up completely new process optimization options. Harnessing that power is crucial when introducing context to your ITSM practices, which in turn can reduce human error, your median time to resolution, and attain the flexibility you need to grow and scale over time.
As this blog post from The Startup makes clear, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to ITSM and business process automation:
“[Automation] supports your knowledge and that of your workers. It also helps minimize operational costs, freeing up personnel to perform higher-level tasks which add value to the company. Clients become happier when you can assist them immediately and cut down on human error.”
The best, most efficient versions of IT service management practices rely on high-performing staff members working in harmony with automation triggers and information that updates and syncs automatically on a platform like Jira Service Desk. Getting your ITSM to function at this level also facilitates procedures like reporting, incident management, and IT governance.
For an example of how one of the world's biggest food sellers became a tech giant by embracing change and investing in ITSM technology, check out our blog!
Another huge reason that your organization needs to consider investing in ITSM automation is simple: It will minimize the time-wasting tasks that shouldn’t clutter an employee’s daily schedule.
Consider it, if you will. A future version of your IT services where manual data manipulation, from service tickets to software license renewals to change management initiatives, is kept to a minimum. Pretty idyllic, isn’t it?
However, this reason has also been met with resistance recently. Even the biggest players in the ITSM have underscored the imminent job loss that looks to flood the IT community as a result of automation tool implementation.
Here’s Atlassian voicing a version of this point of view:
Forrester predicts that by 2025, technologies like robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% (or 22.7 million) jobs in the US alone. It won’t just be blue-collar jobs operating factory machinery, either [...] As bots hit the front lines of IT, it will be increasingly hard to justify spend on large IT support headcount. The good news? AI and automation will eliminate the most mundane tasks, freeing IT to think more strategically. The bad: They eliminate or reassign jobs.
While I’m not going to debate the numbers presented or deny that there will likely be at least a few "Office Space" moments because of automation, I believe that more talent will be reassigned or “reborn,” through the acquisition of new skills or training, to bridge that transition.
In fact, with the productivity enhancements that automation brings to the table, coupled with the cost savings organizations can enjoy once redundancies are removed from the equation, some of those extra funds can be used to help strengthen existing team member profiles.
There are plenty of examples of how cutting mundane processes loose through automation practices can be a godsend to businesses looking to maximize their potential. Deloitte’s David Schatsky points to the financial industry as a poster child for implementation and execution success:
“[A] large consumer and commercial bank redesigned its claims process and deployed 85 software robots, or bots, running 13 processes, handling 1.5 million requests per year. As a result, the bank was able to add capacity equivalent to around 230 full-time employees at approximately 30 percent of the cost of recruiting more staff. Additionally, the bank recorded a 27 percent increase in tasks performed ‘right first time.’”
Those same benefits can be translated to your Jira instance or any other platform that you use to manage your IT assets and services. Once those practices are set in motion, your IT pros can spend more time on projects that create value instead of tasks related to fighting service-related fires.
If you're looking to create the best Jira asset management process for your IT team, read our blog and discover everything you need to know!
Even if your ITSM practices manage to reduce the mindless and the mundane, the sheer complexity of most modern IT systems can still be a burden to your service desk team. If workflows aren’t streamlined and crucial ticket information isn’t readily accessible to agents, then productivity and customer satisfaction will take a nosedive.
Historically, IT service desks and support teams have been slow to adopt automation. MetricNet notes that the average service desk spends only 9.3% of its budget on tech despite a 5100% cost increase between tickets that can be resolved using automation technology versus needing a human agent to do so.
This blog post from Ramexsoft sheds some more light on the reality most IT service desk teams face efficiency-wise:
“The ‘golden’ end user to IT service desk worker ratio is 70:1 [...] However, [few] businesses manage to adhere to this standard. In fact, some service desk managers report having an 800:1 ratio [...] The median IT service desk to user ratio is 200:1 [...] So instead of growing your team and growing the overhead costs, consider increasing your staff efficiency with the help of technology. And that’s where service desk automation comes to the fore.”
The author goes on to note that IT service desk automation serves a two-fold purpose: to speed up resolution time for simple incidents, and reduce the frustration and stress felt by your staff. As the old saying goes, happy employees are productive employees.
As per this Gartner press release, virtual customer assistants (VCA) and other automation initiatives are reducing employee workload while also enhancing the consumer experience:
Organizations report a reduction of up to 70 percent in call, chat and/or email inquiries after implementing a VCA, according to Gartner research. They also report increased customer satisfaction and a 33 percent saving per voice engagement. ‘A great VCA offers more than just information,’ said Gene Alvarez, Managing VP and Gartner. ‘It should enrich the customer experience, help the customer throughout the interaction and process transactions on behalf of the customer.’
Whether you’re using custom fields, automated service ticket information updates, or chatbots in conjunction with an online knowledge base, implementing different automation technologies in your IT service desk operations is nothing short of a game-changer.
Discover how you can leverage customizable features in your Jira Service Desk environment using Insight by visiting our website!
Automating customer-facing facets of your IT services is one thing, but what about intricate processes that cater to your employees? Can automated systems complement the human element for tasks like employee onboarding and change management?
The answer is a resounding yes. Similarly to setting up automated notifications when a software license is about to expire, IT teams can set up different sets of triggers to help staff prepare for the arrival of a new team member. This includes partitioning a new laptop, installing requires programs, creating a new email account, and so on.
Claire Wiggill, VP of Strategy and Business Development at PMG, further demonstrates how automation can get a new employee off to a good start on or even before their first day:
“Although they don’t see it, employees benefit from automation before they walk in the door. Using a process automation solution will ensure that everything a new employee needs [will] be ready when they start work. From a single point of data entry and a few initial clicks, the entire process is orchestrated, and each department knows exactly what it needs to contribute and when."
She goes on to say that automation can even help your business up its employee retention rate over a longer period of time:
"Automation helps you improve your onboarding processes, and in turn, improved onboarding processes deliver productivity and retention [...] Furthermore, when you provide new employees a more thorough onboarding process, you avoid employee frustration caused by poorly defined job duties and inadequate training – two precursors of turnover."
Change management is arguably the most difficult part of any business automation project, since it requires a unilateral commitment to integration, training, and flexible implementation. The Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence echoes as much in their blog post on change management automation:
“In order to make sure new automation solutions have the high-level backing to be implemented successfully and that employees actually use them, companies should follow change management best practices and tailor their approach to the unique challenges presented by automation. This means working closely with key people at all levels of the company, addressing major challenges and focusing on the benefits that the new solutions will bring.”
For more on how your organization can observe the best ITIL change management practices, check out our blog!
At the end of the day, your IT services are critical to helping you build, maintain and grow a customer base. The way your company incorporates technology into its daily operations, as well as client interactions, will influence how well or not you meet ever-changing consumer expectations.
Zach Morvant of SurveyMonkey, a leader in customer experience automation, sums up why consumer expectations are more important than ever:
“With the ubiquity of smartphones, consumers’ expectations for a fast, seamless customer experience are higher than ever. Your team needs to be able to not just react, but anticipate customer needs and wants.”
Inadequate ITSM practices are often fraught with avoidable IT-related issues, including downtime, a backlog of ongoing service tickets, and more. Automation can help minimize incidents that negatively impact a customer’s opinion of your business. As a result, you’ll avoid having clients up sticks to a competing organization or service.
In satisfying those consumer expectations, companies strive to create what they would consider a “unique customer experience.” On some level, this includes access to IT services that is either the first of its kind on the market or the best of its kind when compared to competitors.
However, the truth behind unique experiences or brands is that it doesn’t come from human-to-human exchanges. As Forbes contributor Daniel Newman points out, automation is really what helps give customers the user experience they crave (emphasis mine):
“Ironically, the ‘personalization’ many customers so badly desire is being made possible by massive automation and Big Data. This is more than just personalizing your drip campaigns and landing pages. This means proactively providing the information your customers want before they ask for it; answering questions before they ask them; knowing they’re unhappy—and fixing it—before they run to your competitor’s arms.”
That last line is a great summation of how automation technology creates the brand-to-consumer relationship that helps IT services and the brands thrive. By using automated processes to complement the human element of your ITSM practices and anticipate questions and issues before they even happen, you’re far ahead of the curve.
As we’ve seen, the benefits of automating your ITSM processes are as far-reaching as they are long-lasting. They not only include ways to eliminate the drudgery of mundane daily tasks but also allow for IT professionals within your organization to stretch their creative and strategic thinking muscles. This devotion to innovation and growth is extremely valuable to any business.
Even for processes like employee onboarding and change management, ITSM automation saves you a lot of time, money, and frustration. That said, you need the right automation tools to help you take your ITSM practices to the next level. That’s why I’d recommend giving Insight a try.
With customizable database-building features to in-depth reporting techniques, every part of your Jira Service Desk ITSM strategy can be streamlined with automation, ensuring that you get the most out of your technical and human resources. To find out more or to get started for free, click below!
Originally published Aug 8, 2019 8:00:00 AM