In late December, just before we were breaking for winter holidays and hoping for a snowy year’s end, we sat down with Micro Focus experts to discuss how IT service management (ITSM) will change in 2022. As companies shift to digital-first, remote-friendly business models, is it finally time for enterprise service management (ESM) to have its moment? Is AI going mainstream? And will ITSM and DevOps stop competing? Here are the top trends that will shape service management in 2022.
1) ESM Takes Center Stage
Can we say 2021 was the year of digital transformation and remote working? IT teams rose to the pandemic-fueled digitization imperative and employees showed that working remotely works. As companies start fresh in 2022, they’re asking how ITSM can make digital transformation smoother and employees more productive. To be clear, ITSM is not going away—maturing ITSM is a continuous journey. But it’s also time for ESM to make its big entry.
ESM is an evolution of ITSM, born from the idea that a service is a service, whether it’s for IT or not. In 2022, service automation will expand even more into non-IT functions that include HR, customer support, facilities, finance, and sales.
“Every ITSM customer is asking about ESM,” said Philipp Koch, product manager at Micro Focus. “No longer focusing only on core IT, they’re looking to do broader service management using existing ITSM solutions.” Taking smaller ESM steps, traditional ITSM teams are exploring the addition of use cases for HR, document management, and visitor registrations.
Others are thinking big. “Companies with mature ITSM practices have high expectations of service management,” said Georges Farah, solutions consultant at Micro Focus. “They want their ITSM solutions to help them achieve an automated enterprise that connects external customers with internal users.”
Take one financial services company that’s thinking outside the box for processing loan applications. They envision the entire process—from online application submission and case assignment to background checking, risk assessment, prequalification, and final approval—being coordinated and automated through SMAX, the Micro Focus service management automation solution. In this scenario, RPA robots would be called to action, AI-powered virtual agents would resolve issues, and front-end systems would talk easily with back-end systems.
2) Service Delivery Gets Immersive
Do users know how to access your company’s IT portal? If your users are like most users, they probably don’t. Employees are more likely to ask their colleagues for help rather than contact the IT help desk.
That’s precisely why services will increasingly be delivered in employees’ own workspaces. “Services will become more accessible and consumable,” said Jacques Conand, senior director of product management at Micro Focus. “Delivering IT cards in collaboration tools like MS Teams and Slack is one starter example of embedding services in employees’ productivity tools.”
2021 ushered in a new way of working with a distributed workforce that is hired remotely, works remotely, uses multiple collaboration tools, and buys their own devices. “In this new era, IT isn’t centrally located, doesn’t have control of IT assets like it used to, and is less familiar with tech-diverse user environments,” said Bruno Labruère, vice president of research and development at Micro Focus.
“Service issues will require more time to resolve, and as a result, ITSM teams will start embracing a customer service mindset”, Labruère said. “That means truly getting to know the users and changing the way they experience service delivery.”
According to Lars Rossen, chief technology officer at Micro Focus, we won’t be comparing service management to what IT is doing today—that’s the wrong comparison.
“ESM is not ITSM in a non-IT function. ESM is about understanding and serving users. And when that happens, service experiences will feel highly personalized, thoughtfully customized, and simply effortless.”—Lars Rossen
3) AI Goes Mainstream for Automation
“Users expect fast, intelligent services—and the service portal is the face of IT, so of course there will continue to be a big focus on how users interact with the service portal,” Farah said. “For that reason, service portals with AI-powered capabilities—smart tickets, self-service search, virtual agents, and real-time request fulfilment—will continue to evolve. But the main reason for AI is automation.”
Think about AI as one more capability in the automation toolbox. It’s a toolbox Gartner coined hyperautomation—the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools or platforms, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, event-driven software architecture, robotic process automation (RPA), integration platform as a service (iPaaS), and low-code/no-code tools.1
“AI is a means to an end—the end goal being more automation. Automation will never stop. It’s how companies will continue to deliver faster, meaningful, more cost-effective services.”—Jacques Conand
Dean Clayton, product manager at Micro Focus, agrees. “Our customers are asking the right question: What’s the real value of AI? The obvious answer is automation. We need to react fast, and the only way we do so is if we have the right automation tools in place.”
4) ITSM and DevOps Reconcile
For a good decade or so, DevOps and ITSM stood seemingly at odds with one another. Agile versus rigid. Teams versus silos. A mindset versus a framework.
“2022 will be the year when DevOps and ITSM reconcile,” said Carlos Arranz, enterprise service management practice lead at Micro Focus.
“Companies are recognizing that IT is better when DevOps and ITSM work together. DevOps makes for faster, continuous deployments. ITSM makes sure those deployments are compliant and risk-free.”—Carlos Arranz
According to a Forrester 2022 software development predictions blog, “developers (and the enterprises that support them) are showing a preference for holistic toolchains to enable automated governance and compliance.” 2 These toolchains will “essentially become another platform as a service,” Forrester said, predicting that 50% of enterprises will rely on them in 2022.
Arranz believes that increasingly, service management solutions will provide out-of-the-box change and release management capabilities. “Analytics for change risk and change collision, built-in AI for managing and reducing change failures, automated approvals based on risk assessment, and real-time information about the DevOps pipeline are key capabilities companies will come to rely on,” he said.
5) Service Management Becomes Agile
“By 2024, 80% of ITSM teams that have not adopted an agile approach will find that their ITSM practices are ignored or bypassed.” So said Gartner in its 2022 Strategic Roadmap for IT Service Management report. According to the research firm, companies should “federate ITSM practices within product teams and centers of excellence to complement agile approaches.”3
“There’ll be new emphasis on service agility,” Conand said. “For example, empowering DevOps teams to manage their own cloud services with quick self-service provisioning—with built-in cost control and security policy compliance—shows how ITSM is evolving to meet business needs.”
Alongside agility, value stream optimization will start working its way into service management. “True ESM is value management,” Rossen said. “Companies will focus on building, measuring, and optimizing entire end-to-end services for creating value streams, versus automating standalone tasks.”
To effectively measure value streams, metrics will become business centric. “The ones that get the most attention will be based on outcomes and user experiences,” he said.
6) SaaS Gets Real, On-Prem Becomes Niche
“Companies are increasingly comfortable moving their service automation to modern SaaS platforms,” said Matthew Bertram, business development manager at Micro Focus. “Even highly regulated industries and government entities are adjusting to the new world shaped by the pandemic and are working through their data security and sovereignty requirements.”
While most of the market moves to SaaS, some companies will prefer running their software on their own terms. On premises won’t go away, but it will become niche. “Customers still need freedom of deployment choice,” Labruère said. “That means non-SaaS customers should have access to first-class software capabilities that are available to SaaS customers.”
He added: “But as companies grow their appreciation for SaaS, they’ll seek versionless, consumer-style SaaS experiences."
“With versionless SaaS, companies are always on the latest release without going through lengthy, costly upgrades.The accepted notion of versioned SaaS will be upended by real SaaS that’s always up to date.”—Bruno Labruère
To learn how you can deliver fast, easy, smart services experiences for all, visit microfocus.com/ESM.
2Forrester, Predictions 2022: Software Development Adapts To A New Normal, https://www.forrester.com/blogs/predictions-2022-software-development-adapts-to-a-new-normal/, 18 November 2021.
3Gartner, 2022 Strategic Roadmap for IT Service Management, by Chris Matchett, Rich Doheny, Siddharth Shetty, Mark Cleary, 26 October 2021.