ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Innovating Support: A New Mindset Transforms the Employee Experience

Let’s face it: we still mostly do things like we’ve always done. Consider these comments heard around the IT break room…

…it’s too hard to build a CMDB

…we’ll train our users to avoid known security risks

…our manual account provisioning process works for us

…we meet our incident resolution SLAs 90% of the time

This common way of thinking is almost 25 years old! After the Y2K remediation, IT service management was the “shiny new thingy” in the US while gaining traction in Europe.

ITSM taught us about incident and problem management, two practices that would revolutionize how IT supports end users. And in 2001, keeping services up and running 99% of the time was an improvement. Having service restoration SLAs met 90% of the time was fantastic.

But it’s not 2001, and technology has changed tremendously since then. So why are we still doing incident management and request fulfillment like in 2001?

So why are we still managing incidents instead of preventing them?

Why is self-service just logging request tickets, not actual self-service?

Many organizations cherry-pick the ITSM practices they implement and fail to make the most of modern technology and capabilities. Automation and AI are the keys to shifting this: using technology to perform tasks humans cannot scale effectively.

Here's What to Automate This Year and next

A diagram of software management

Description automatically generated

The CMDB is Still the Holy Grail

The CMDB forms the basis for all automation activities, as automating support revolves around knowing what’s in the enterprise and how the pieces connect. Today's CMDB should include every device with different models and configuration options. Yes, that’s right: every device. That means personal computers, phones, tablets, and other items we might have considered assets but not configuration items.

If there’s more than one brand, model, or configuration available, it is a configuration item that must be managed to be appropriately supported. The fear that this is too much to manage is based on years-old thinking and technology. Today’s ITSM tools can be equipped with automated discovery or integrated into monitoring systems to learn about every device on the network and its configuration information.

Taking this one step further, new features use AI to look for duplicates and incomplete information, map relationships using transaction data, and perform automated tasks that help with CMDB creation and refinement.

Automated Support for Employee Productivity

With a CMDB in place, remote management tools can help automate patching, software updates, security vulnerability remediation, and device health. These tools use policies and scripting tools to search for and address device configuration variations and anomalies affecting device health. These tools scale support, enabling technicians to manage hardware problems and exceptions while providing proactive incident management by solving minor problems before they escalate into device outages.

Employee downtime can be virtually eliminated using a standard laptop configuration and remote tools such as these. When downtime is needed for hardware repairs, the employee can be provisioned with a fully configured duplicate, and their device can be collected for repair, eliminating their loss of productive time.

Manage Access Effectively

Requesting access for new hires and role changes is a terrible user experience. Automating access provisioning eliminates this need and helps secure the enterprise by ensuring people have the proper access and only enough access to perform their roles. The most effective way to automate access provisioning is by working with business units and HR to streamline the organization’s titles and roles and document the access needed for each role.

Integrating an identity management system with the HR or human capital management system automatically delivers access for new hires and job changes. It also ensures that access is promptly terminated when people leave the organization.

Software Provisioning

Software provisioning is automated with the adoption of the remote management software mentioned previously and can be refined by tying software into the role-based access initiative. This latter approach will automatically provide any software defined as part of a role. When someone needs additional software or utilities, the same concepts can be used to support an app-store approach to software fulfillment. Even if a product needs manager approval, automation can deliver the software once approval is granted.

With this shift, software requests become true self-service and are delivered within minutes after approval instead of days when deployed manually. It also provides the same experience people have when buying software at home: once paid for, it can be easily downloaded.

Service Fulfillment for True Self-Service

Any service that is fulfilled using repeatable steps can be automated with scripting. Consider some of these ideas:

  • Managing shared folder access
  • Whitelisting websites
  • Creating and managing shared mailboxes
  • Small phone system changes, like line appearances on additional phones
  • Voice mail resets
  • HR tasks like employment verification
  • Password resets

    This starts by examining the most common service requests and how they are fulfilled, then by examining the process of automatically delivering them. Once this is done, employees can access the service catalog and enjoy a true self-service experience.

The Business Value of Automation

Automation enables organizations to move beyond infrastructure to complete device management and support. While humans can accomplish this, we focus on infrastructure only because we don’t have enough technicians to do this manually, causing the organization to prioritize its efforts. This is old-school thinking. Automation and the effective use of AI are critical to success in modern business operations and are vital to delivering on the promise of experience management.

There are several reasons it’s worth investing in the tools needed to automate device and request fulfillment management in any medium to large enterprise:

Efficiency: Automation reduces manual effort and speeds up processes, allowing IT support teams to handle more requests efficiently. It can also provide instant delivery of many requests or true self-service.

Cost Savings: By automating routine tasks, organizations can reduce labor costs associated with IT support and minimize errors that can lead to costly downtime. These savings can fund more significant automation initiatives, ultimately scaling IT support and lowering costs.

Consistency: Automated systems ensure consistent responses and actions, avoiding variations in support quality that can occur with human intervention, lowering risk, and increasing audit success.

Scalability: Automated IT support can scale quickly to accommodate growing workloads without a proportional resource increase.

24/7 Availability: Automated systems can provide support round-the-clock, improving responsiveness to user needs and reducing downtime.

The most important aspect of automation is its positive impact on the employee experience. Eliminating or substantially reducing employee downtime is not about keeping infrastructure up and running; it also involves keeping the employee’s equipment up and running. Preventative incident management leverages automation to fix small configuration and software issues and equipment swaps for hardware repairs. When done before the end user knows there’s an issue, it increases productivity and employee satisfaction and helps employee retention efforts.

This type of approach changes the business’ opinion of IT. It demonstrates that IT is focused on delivering value by providing better support without continually adding staff.