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In recent years, the rise of customer-focused service delivery has put a strain on the IT service desk. This change lends itself to rising use of IT service delivery automation to alleviate some of that pressure. But post pandemic, IT service delivery automation means something very different than in past years.
In this post, we’ll dive into what you need to know about IT service delivery automation in 2021 and how to put service delivery automation into action in your service desk.
To start, service delivery automation (SDA) is an umbrella term for a series of human actions that are automated by technologies in business or IT processes. SDA requires the coordination of multiple processes to create an end-result. In the IT service desk is often referred to as ITSM automation.
ITSM automation refers specifically to programs and digital methods of use and delivery of ITSM and ITIL processes and best practices. These processes can include creating and tracking tickets, providing self-service answers to simple requests, and works to support enterprise-wide digital transformation.
For a practical example, you have probably encountered service delivery automation any time you have interacted with a chatbot to resolve a problem. Think of the customer who needs help resetting a password. Their first step is to send a message to a chatbot, whether through a dedicated portal or integrated into a platform like Teams. Perhaps they send: “Hello chatbot, I need help resetting my password.” The chatbot replies: “Certainly, I can help with that. For which platform do you need to update your password?” and the human answers “Outlook.” The chatbot then sends a link to update the password in a dedicated portal. The customer changes their password, and the transaction is complete.
This example is just one of the many ways that service delivery can be automated. Notice that there was no need for human interaction in the chatbot example, because the human processes were automated. The human who might have otherwise had to handle that password request is free to work on helping the customer who had repeated errors preventing them from doing their job, or to work on backing up important system information before maintenance.
SDA is all about removing small, routine tasks and areas that can take away from the bigger picture on the human side of things.
The big question to answer when considering any automation method is the why. Why automate when current service delivery practices are working just fine?
The following five benefits of IT service delivery automation make it an effort worth pursuing:
Improving the agent experience directly translates to a better customer experience, and one way to improve that experience is through automation. Automation creates a more streamlined experience for everyone, because it removes a layer of redundancy and repetition for both the customer and the agent. Automating service delivery means that agents have less on their plates, while still making good on the promise of streamlined service and results.
As previously mentioned, service delivery automation leads to a greater shift-left, meaning that redundant or lower-level tickets are moved into a self-service portal. This all leads to better efficiency. Automation also helps connect incidents to indicate the greater problem – for example, if multiple users are experiencing the same incident, it can be automatically flagged to connect to a greater problem, while simultaneously documenting and sharing the solution in the workflow for agents.
Business processes, not just IT processes, can be connected through ITSM software to automate, and subsequently optimize them. Because SDA requires a variety of interconnected processes, there is an opportunity to streamline and optimized several at once. Further, automated service delivery through a service management platform can increase clarity and visibility between teams, creating lean processes.
Let’s face it, humans are great. But humans make human errors. But with automated service delivery, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can lower the instances of human error. It should be noted, automated service delivery should never replace humans, but should augment them and make their lives easier.
In the end, all of the benefits previously mentioned boil down to one major factor: optimized costs. The cost savings doesn’t have to be limited to the IT service desk but can expand to any business unit. Automation implemented on a wider scale, especially automated service delivery, creates an enterprise-wide cost optimization that has major implications for the business as a whole.
We’ve already discussed the benefits of IT service delivery automation, but the impact on IT service management can’t be understated. Automation is transformative for service management.
For example, automated processes become more streamlined with time, and when the element of machine learning in ITSM is introduced there can be a reduction in steps and added clarity as the users input data.
Further, IT service delivery automation boost self-service adoption, and with ITSM can boost efficiency by as much as 30% while reducing costs by up to 50%. As if these weren’t enough ways automation is transformative for service management, it also boosts knowledge sharing through easier access to important information.
But, there is one pitfall to be aware of: automation simply for automation’s sake. Ambitious automation projects might aim to automate processes that are best handled by a human. You don’t want to throw out the processes that are working well by humans with the intent of automating for no other reason than it is “the thing to do”. Automation should add value to human agents and customers.
IT service delivery automation works through the use of an ITSM software which uses stored structures and knowledge. This can also incorporate elements like AI technology, including chatbots or virtual agents with Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML), which can remove the need for humans to handle Level-0 tickets altogether.
Service desk and service delivery automation starts by evaluating areas in which automation can easily be put into place. This doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing project. Rather, you can automate the areas that are the most used or obvious and then continue adding automated processes as you go.
For example, one area to automate is ticket routing. Routing the right ticket to the best agent can be easily programmed and will increase productivity and reduce ticket-resolution time. You can also automate workflows and leverage intelligent knowledge management.
With the benefits of automation, you might be tempted to dive right in. Certainly you are right to be excited – but knowing where to start is another story. To learn more about how to start successfully executing an automation strategy, download a complimentary copy of the Gartner report here.
Andrew Reynolds joined EasyVista in 2013. He is currently serving as Director of Professional Services responsible for successful EasyVista solution delivery across the customer base, optimizing overall services efficiency, and developing new product services offerings. Reynolds previously served as Senior Manager of Professional Services & Support where he oversaw the development, implementation and training of ITSM and Self Help solutions designed to meet complex customer requirements. Before EasyVista, he held multiple roles at the ITSM software company, Hornbill, with whom he spearheaded their expansion and growth into the North American market.