by Steve Stover

The starting line to the pursuit of digital transformation

May 14, 2018
Digital TransformationIT LeadershipIT Strategy

By leveraging next-level IT service management technology, CIOs have the opportunity to begin their journey toward digital transformation in familiar territory.

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Credit: Thinkstock

When discussing digital transformation, I find it helpful to ground the discussion in a definition. In Forrester’s 2018 Predictions piece, the research and analyst firm offers the following description: digital transformation is “the critical response needed to meet rising customer expectations, deliver individualized experiences at scale, and operate at the speed of the market.” That’s a heavy set of responsibilities for today’s CIOs. It’s no wonder that the same Forrester piece finds that 60 percent of executives believe they are behind in digital transformation.

With that definition and set of responsibilities in mind, let’s take a look at what IT leaders are already doing in IT service management (ITSM). I think it offers a strategic foundation for CIOs as they prepare to meet employee demands across the organization.

Leverage automation to unshackle your teams

Part of the definition of digital transformation is to “operate at the speed of the market.” In the modern service world, employees need their tickets resolved in points, clicks and minutes. Support staff can’t afford to waste time filing through incident queues or working repetitive tasks. ITSM automations have simplified workflows, cutting out manual decisions by making them entirely from input data. An employee-centric service desk routes and prioritizes automatically, notifies service providers of new tasks automatically, and escalates important incidents automatically. This way, the service desk can get back to actually delivering quality employee services, instead of all the administration that comes with it.

Digital transformation is expensive, so operational savings are critical to help fund new digital services. Automating mundane tasks is one way to keep operational costs lower. The IT service desk saves time and manpower with automations. Emerging technology with automation capabilities can power self-service solutions, eliminating steps in ticket routing and other IT tasks, to help drive the digital transformation journey forward. Not only does automating service desk requests allow IT to focus on more important projects, but it helps cut down on operating expenses associated with longer response cycles.

Emphasize the customer experience

The customer is the focal point of efforts for service providers. Customers pay for, use, and require support for the services companies offer; without customers, building a service is pointless. You could leverage all the modern technology you want, and if the customer gets a better experience somewhere else, you’ve failed. The modern IT service desk is already recognizing this philosophy, prioritizing a user-friendly interface, a consolidated platform, and regular customer satisfaction surveys to help mold service delivery.

For example, many organizations use individual solutions for smarter marketing, sales, and enterprise resource management, among others. The assortment of applications can leave leaders with more questions than answers. How do we pull information we need from across all those applications? How do we effectively communicate across different departments, which often use different tools? The traditional IT service desk is no different, often employing different solutions for incident management, service catalog, and knowledge management.

It’s a user experience nightmare, but modern service management software can roll all these services into a single platform. Leaders can begin with the IT service desk, as IT serves nearly every employee within the organization and will likely be responsible for new tools teams implement. With the right solutions and processes in place, IT can unify its efforts to manage subscriptions, data access, and internal communications, to provide  opportunities to purge unnecessary subscriptions and unite the organization’s business tools.

CIOs should strive to treat their employees as they would their customers — by offering a simplified, unified user experience across all internal tools. Supporting employee services across departments from one point of control provides a more personalized, one-stop shop for serving all employee requirements and enables everyone to effectively service external customers.

Don’t just optimize, transform

Digital transformation is often used interchangeably with digital optimization. However, the two are not synonymous. According to Gartner, the key difference for transformation lies in the pursuit of net new digital revenue streams, which includes digitizing a product or service. Digital optimization, on the other hand, adds to the pile of existing services without necessarily changing the way an organization is able to operate.

With employee service management across the organization, IT departments are pioneers in deploying new methods for smarter service delivery. To truly transform, begin by adopting modern technology for IT and moving service management to the cloud. Making these changes will not simply add to the list of services IT must manage (optimization), but it will offer the flexibility and agility IT needs to improve internal service management and external customer service offerings (transformation).

IT teams can take a step forward on their journey toward digital transformation by building comprehensive service catalogs in the cloud that expand across departments and help empower employees to get work done faster and more effectively. Beginning your transformation journey with service management allows IT to align services with the needs of the enterprise, while simultaneously providing value to customers.

Begin the transformation journey in familiar territory

IT service management teams have been perfecting these strategies for years. The platforms through which they can deliver service are offering more advantages than ever before. Empowering the service desk to leverage these resources is a great place to begin your digital transformation and set the tone for the entire organization.

Transformation must be a joint orchestration between the C-suite, in which the CIO and CEO play a critical role. By leveraging next-level IT service management technology, CIOs have the opportunity to begin their journey in familiar territory to more seamlessly spring their transformation forward.