Digital transformation may offer huge rewards, but it can create unparalleled complexity, especially for an IT service desk in stuck in the middle. The answer is automation: When done right, it can break down IT siloes, reduce mean time to repair (MTTR) and costs, and free up teams to be more innovative. In doing so, it helps drive agility and speed, but also the security and compliance that are crucial to successful digital transformation.
A prerequisite for success
The term “digital transformation” is used so commonly today that you could be forgiven for dismissing it as another management consultancy buzzword. But the truth is that it’s changing the way organisations do business across the globe. A recent KPMG study reveals that 44% of CIOs expect to change their product/service offering or business model in “a fundamental way” over the next three years thanks to digital disruption. Crucially, this is happening among firms of all sizes.
Why? Because digital change is no longer a nice-to-have that could help an organisation to pull ahead of the competition – it’s crucial just to maintain parity with the rest of the market. Cloud computing, IoT, AI, big data, mobile, and more are helping to improve operational flexibility and enable firms to respond quicker to changing customer demands. Agility and innovation are everything in this new digital era.
Yet this also means IT complexity like never before, complexity which can only be tamed with a greater focus on automation. But how? As a key enabler within IT, service management has a crucial role to play.
Drowning in requests
The service desk faces numerous challenges in supporting these new digital-driven demands. The first is a heterogeneous IT environment comprised of multiple vendors, standards, protocols and frameworks – some legacy, some cutting edge. In the cloud space alone, they may be running SaaS, PaaS and IaaS environments from multiple competing vendors, and different operating systems and applications on top of them.
IT service desk teams are also being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of modern IT operations. This can be seen in the explosion in the volume of enterprise endpoints that has emerged with the growth of the IoT. According to a 2018 study, 30% of IT professionals don’t even know how many endpoints exist in their organisation. A large number of disparate, remote working staff adds to the service desk challenge.
Other areas of the IT infrastructure are presenting new challenges, as well. For example, Gartner attributes increasing IT operations complexity to rapid growth in data volumes generated by IT infrastructure and applications (a two- to three-fold increase per annum), as well as the increasing variety of data types and velocity at which the data is generated.
Without a doubt, IT teams are inundated with data, alarms, service and change management requests, so they are in a constant state of firefighting. This wouldn’t be a challenge with large budgets and IT teams. But, in most cases, organisations must do it without any significant increase in financial or human resources. In fact, 67% of global firms told KPMG that IT skills shortages are preventing them from keeping up with the pace of change.
As a result, service desk teams end up chasing down problems that don’t exist, while real incidents take too long to resolve. End users are unhappy, change requests are painfully drawn out and there are too many escalations. Compliance is nearly impossible and there’s no time to innovate because too much of it is spent on simple tasks. Mistakes inevitably happen, and issues can get stuck between IT siloes. This could mean the difference between finding and patching a serious vulnerability and being left exposed to a potentially catastrophic breach – just ask Equifax.
The beauty of automation
Automation is the key with which service desk teams can finally unlock value for the organisation. But organisations must pay more than lip service to the concept. IT teams need an expert partner that has successfully navigated the journey to automation many times and has the right ingredients for success, ranging from the ability to identify which automations will deliver the greatest ROI to delivering pre-built process templates that can be quickly and easily combined to automate complex workflows for quick wins. They need enterprise scale and automation designed for seamless compliance. And they need a solution that can integrate not only with key service desk technologies but across the compute, network and security infrastructure to overcome siloes and effectively automate entire processes that involve all of these IT domains, like provisioning, patching, and incident response.
By automating everything from the simplest task to the most complex process, service desk teams can rapidly validate, diagnose and resolve performance issues and outages, reduce escalations, complete change requests quickly and confidently and empower end users to self-serve. According to a recent report from EMA Research, cost savings (28%), improved operational efficiencies (25%), enhanced customer satisfaction (21%) and improved service quality (18%) are the biggest positives from automation investments.
The even better news is that EMA found 66% of global organisations report that their automation initiatives are “extremely successful” or “very successful”. With the right technology partner and board-level buy-in, organisations have a fantastic opportunity to finally realise the benefits of digital transformation. To do so, they must empower their service desk teams, sitting at the beating heart of IT, with the tools they need to attain superstar status in the business.