By Dick Stark
Last week RightStar was asked to answer a question for an RFI, “Please describe your views on industry trends and developments that you are expecting to take place in the next 12 to 18 months.” My answer was the standard answer that one might hear from BMC or ServiceNow: ITSM products are being enhanced and developed with context-aware capabilities, as well as better front-end UIs for business users, via IT self-service for request management and knowledge management and other channels such as IT support, live chat, walk-up support and virtual support agents.
BMC is rumored to be investigating adding AI front-ends, such as those offered by Next IT to allow for virtual answers to complex questions, along with the right solutions and outcomes. Indeed, ServiceNow in May bought Qlue, a virtual agent technology startup that enables better communication between companies and their customers and prospective customers. It combines customers and agents for the most expedient solution, with either virtual or live agents, from any platform including messaging or voice. But is this really the near future? What is hype and what is reality?
AI is clearly at the innovation stage for those early adopters willing to take a chance on new technology. See the just published Gartner 2017 Hype Cycle, above. Just beyond the innovation trigger is customer experience, with BMC offerings like MyIT/Smart IT and Digital Workplace clearly in that camp. Cloud, Mobile and Social are on the upswing, or slope of enlightenment.
Most of RightStar’s customers have barely moved beyond basic incident/problem/change, and configuration management. While virtual agent technology may offer an attractive, ROI, I can’t see virtual agents making much progress anytime soon. Here are some more near-term future ideas for improvement.
Digital Transformation. Although this is a broad category, it is important to begin somewhere. What are employees most pressing needs? At a large government agency, it was the digitization of 45 pages of manual PDF forms. Now, thanks to RightStar’s consulting effort, the agency, using BMC’s Digital Workplace (formerly MyIT Service Broker), now has a new service catalog to request products such as cell phones, laptops and VPN services, while providing a modern easy-to-use Amazon, look and feel. This system will soon expand to include employee on-and off-boarding.
Knowledge Management. KM projects are often quick and produce a significant ROI. For example, at another government agency, RightStar was involved in an agency wide knowledge project to ensure that employees, not just IT employees have a knowledge system to provide specific support for departmental issues. The objective is to “shift-left” by reducing calls to the service desk and making people more efficient.