There is no doubt that the IT Service Desk environment is changing rapidly but does this mean there is no longer room for ITIL?

The trend towards self-service and the adoption of omnichannel approaches for customers to engage with IT are having a significant impact on the way Service Desks work.

In part these changes are due to IT service providers. Customer self-service portals, combined with strong knowledge management capabilities, provide an ideal opportunity to encourage ticket deflection, reducing the demand on the Service Desk. Self-service is also viewed as a conduit to exploit opportunities for automation, enabling a customer to raise routine requests that are fulfilled without the requirement for human intervention.

The change is also driven by a progressively sophisticated user community that is demanding more of IT service providers. Customers now regularly use chat when dealing with on-line retailers and the chat tools in use are increasingly powered by bots. It is no surprise that these customers have an expectation that the IT services and tools they use at work are on par with those they can access from the comfort of their own homes, whether shopping on Amazon or dealing with an insurance company.

In response to the demands of IT providers and their customers, ITSM toolset vendors are employing machine learning and omnichannel capabilities such as chat as part of the standard offerings in their tools. These are no longer viewed as nice-to-have’s but as essentials.

The prospect of delivering exciting new capabilities to customers can easily seduce the unsuspecting and under-pressure IT service provider but it is important to recognise that, while these new means of enabling customers to engage with IT are important, they are not an end in themselves. It is still essential that IT gets the basics right and that means ensuring the technology is underpinned by sound processes, tools, and appropriate support capability. And for this reason, IT still needs the benefits delivered through appropriate alignment to ITIL.

As the de facto standard for IT service management this makes perfect sense. ITIL is long-established and it works. ITIL provides a structured framework that, if not followed slavishly, allows the organisation to flex and incorporate changing technologies and business processes. As the ITL mantra states; adapt and adopt.

ITIL forms the basis of the majority of ITSM tools on the market today. It provides an environment to build clearly defined, repeatable processes that all members of staff know and understand. This ensures delivery becomes efficient and effective through consistent application of the processes.

For customer self-service and any process automation to work, the underlying process needs to be clearly understood and defined, with predictable outcomes identified. For chatbots to be effective knowledge content must be well managed. The knowledge must be kept up to date, kept appropriate to the audience and, most importantly, it must meet customer requirements.

As we move into a new paradigm of customer engagement with IT, ITIL is still as relevant now as it has ever been.