This is the FIRST blog in our series that unravels the mystery behind the question What is AITSM and Why Do CIOs Need to Face It? In this article, we explain how AI is enabling the transformation of IT Service Management (ITSM) systems in 2021 and beyond. Our second article examines why Companies Bet BIG on Conversational UI and Virtual Agents, as the influx of billions of dollars is fueling dramatic advances in predictive analytics and deep learning. In our third and final article, we will explain how AI-Based Sentiment Analysis Improves Customer Experience, as companies are accelerating the ability for algorithms to infer preferences from what customers post through various communication channels.
Despite the rise of smart technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, human employees possess unique skills that are still needed for critical thinking, solving complex problems, and nurturing innovation. The goal of AI technology is not to replace human skills, because AI is not capable of doing that—yet. The goal of AI is to augment human roles by streamlining processes and assisting people in performing a wide variety of tasks.
But communicating this reality to skeptical employees is much easier said than done. As a show of good intentions, many CIOs have begun the digital transformation process by strategically introducing AI-powered products using solutions that augment the employee experience. Given the cultural changes that are triggered when introducing AI into an organization for the purpose of enabling employees to do their jobs more efficiently, IT Service Management is the most logical place to start your journey. According to a recent press release, SunView Software is leading the way by continuing to improve and enhance AI in its ITSM strategy.2
“AITSM” is not an acronym—it is an initialism coined by Gartner, which is simply an abbreviation consisting of the initial letters of a phrase that are pronounced separately. A-I-T-S-M refers to the application of AI, automation, and knowledge bases on ITSM tools and best-practices to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of your company. Artificial intelligence fills the gap that employees are demanding for IT services, which makes implementing an AITSM solution an important goal for CIOs in a wide variety of companies and industries.
To successfully introduce AI and automation to an organization, Gartner introduced the concept of AITSM to cover all the efforts that are required such as:
Given that artificial intelligence has the potential to completely revamp the way IT departments and their service desks operate, it is essential that CIOs and IT Directors be fully prepared to handle the impending AI wave. The effectiveness of any AI application depends on the quality of the data it is trained on, in addition to the availability of well-documented solutions. To develop an AI-based model for any specific purpose requires a properly documented set of solutions, workarounds, knowledge base articles, and well-maintained historical data. For example, to train an AI-based categorization or prioritization model, you would need a properly documented historic database of all requests and parameters such as request type, level, impact, and urgency.
To get the most out of AI integration with your ITSM system, service desk employees should be trained on how to properly document their incidents, problems, and requests before you attempt to implement an AITSM solution. Once these preliminary steps have been successfully completed, you will begin to see benefits in the following areas:
Depending on your organization, you may discover hundreds of benefits to integrating AI with your ITSM system. Cost savings across IT, improved end-user and customer satisfaction, improved quality of your delivered services, reduced unplanned IT work, faster resolution of incidents and problems, are increased revenue due to reduced downtime, are just a few of the benefits.
A simple way to understand the difference between artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, and deep learning is to think of them in terms of nested boxes. Each box is a component of the previous box. In other words, machine learning is a subfield of artificial intelligence, deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, and neural networks comprise the backbone of deep learning algorithms. The number of node layers (i.e., depth) in a neural network is what distinguishes a single neural network from a deep learning algorithm, which has three or more connected layers.
SunView Willow AI™ uses deep learning algorithms, which absorb progressively more information about your company’s issues and solutions as they pass through each neural network layer. SunView Software’s Intelligence Pack brings self-learning artificial intelligence to ChangeGear ITSM by providing advanced features such as in-depth ticket analysis, suggested ticket resolutions, and intelligent assignment of tickets to staff members. The machine learning process is completely automated, works continuously, and can be hosted entirely within your own data center or in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. For more information, please visit SunView Software’s Technology page.
Some of the “hidden gem” benefits of deep learning include the ability to process a large amount of unstructured data, identify patterns and anomalies in that data, and efficiently deliver accurate and reliable analysis results. Deep learning helps your knowledge workers make discoveries, even when they are not sure what they are looking for. Deep learning is the heart of various innovations such as self-driving cars, natural language processing, image recognition, and countless other new developments. Companies that deliver deep learning solutions (e.g., Amazon and Tesla) are at the top of every stock market analyst’s “buy list” and they attract some very high-dollar value investments.
Disruptive technology like AITSM brings the CIO’s role to the forefront by creating excitement and opportunities for your entire organization—along with unique pressures, higher expectations, and more accountability. From a strategic perspective, different companies are in very different starting positions when it comes to how much emphasis (or value) they place on data and AI-enabled business models. Which stage of disruption is your company in?
For “Stage 1 Traditional” companies, it is common for senior managers to look at data and AI-enabled business systems as a better alternative to their current business model. As new competition emerges in their marketspace, these companies are finding it difficult to continue to meet their customers’ expectations. New competition usually brings better products and services at a lower cost. So how can your organization keep up? Position your company to move into Stage 2.
Companies that have been working on their digital transformation process for a while and made significant progress are in a position that we call “Stage 2 Hybrid.” Many processes have been streamlined and automated, but the company may still be experiencing a culture shift as the AITSM implementation is rolled out in phases by department. Stage 2 organizations think of their AI-enabled ITSM systems as a natural extension of their digital transformation strategy. As such, these companies have already learned how to leverage their AI technology to tap into new markets, increase employee efficiency, improve customer service, and boost revenue.
Finally, companies that are in Stage 3 have successfully implemented AITSM through all departments at all levels—and they are now focusing on continuous improvement. Everyone in the organization—from the CEO to the quiet guy who sits in the corner cubicle—understands and believes that data and artificial intelligence are the company’s most valuable assets. Ultimately, this is where every company should strive to position itself because AI is like a tidal wave that has the power to propel your organization forward or sweep everything away.
The reality is that the influence of AITSM will only continue to grow in 2021 and beyond, helping the companies that embraced artificial intelligence to reduce their costs, increase productivity, predict issues, manage changes, and redefine the key metrics (i.e., Return on Investment versus Time to Value) that executives use to decide which projects are worth funding and which ones are not. Part 2 of this three-part blog series answers the question Which is More Important in 2021—Return on Investment (ROI) or Time to Value (TTV)?
Employees want efficient and effective support—but on their own terms. As the work-from-home business model that COVID-19 necessitated in 2020 continues to gain traction in 2021, IT organizations are forced to find innovative ways to deliver support to employees. Traditional phone and email channels are simply not good enough anymore because Millennials (who comprise the majority of today’s workforce) want instant access to solutions. As the use of email and voicemail-based support channels are falling to the wayside, new support options are taking their place such as self-service portals, live-chat platforms, and virtual assistants.
At the same time, IT organizations must continue to meet the needs of older employees who lack the desire and curiosity that younger workers have for adopting new technologies. As technology continues to evolve and the needs of organizations and their employees become more disparate and complex, your IT department will inevitably face greater challenges in trying to satisfy everyone.
So how can you ensure that your IT department is taking the right approach to meeting employees’ ever-changing needs? The answer is simpler than you may think. Conduct a pilot before enabling any new technology across your organization. Just as you would paint a small patch of color on a wall before tackling an entire house, you should test your new technology on a smaller scale by conducting a pilot to validate that the technology works and that your users are ready to embrace it. This approach also allows you to identify and mitigate issues, which helps ensure a successful organization-wide implementation. To achieve the most realistic results, your pilot should involve actual users, observe how they communicate and collaborate, and verify the results and user experiences.
AITSM presents many benefits such as reducing downtime, improving customer service by resolving issues faster, and freeing up your IT staff to work on more pressing projects by automating tasks. However, if AITSM is not matched with organizational readiness, it may fall short on delivering your expected results. If your organization is in Stage 1 (i.e., Traditional), a pilot program can help you identify the right path and the right time to move forward. One of the first challenges you will encounter is educating employees on what AITSM can do for them once it is fully implemented and what is required from employees during the implementation process. Without a clear understanding of goals and expectations, organizations will not be properly positioned to fully achieve all the benefits that AITSM has to offer.
AITSM is not a canned solution that can simply be deployed to automatically generate an improvement in your company’s performance. Instead, it is the application of AI to the different activities that your IT department performs. By linking all these activities together, sharing knowledge, and automating actions, AITSM can deliver impressive results. But this requires a CIO to be honest in their own assessment of their company’s current level of organizational maturity. When implemented correctly, AITSM can deliver greater agility and flexibility to an organization—which is a competitive advantage during these challenging times.
1Rowsell-Jones, Andy and Chris Howard. “2019 CIO Survey: CIOs Have Awoken to the Importance of AI.” Gartner Research, 3 Jan. 2019, https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3897266
2“SunView Software Releases ChangeGear 8, the Next Generation of IT Service Management.” SunView Software, 2 Sept. 2020, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sunview-software-releases-changegear-8-the-next-generation-of-it-service-management-301122128.html. CISION PRNewswire.