How ITSM Solves Business Problems

The Service Desk Manager Perspective

How ITSM Solves Business Problems


Each year, research organizations conduct surveys of business leaders to focus on their strategic challenges for the coming year.  If you follow these as I have over many years, there is a discernable predictability about them.

  • Increase market share
  • Improve business and IT alignment
  • Better customer service
  • Reduce costs
  • Speed up time to market
  • Increased innovation
  • Demonstrate value
  • Faster responsiveness to changing needs

At first glance, one might wonder why these remain the priorities year upon year. Why haven’t business and IT managed to meet these priorities already so they aren’t the ones keeping the CEO up at night?

In fact, we do meet these challenges, but the landscape in which they exist never stops changing. This means that these priorities remain front and center on the executive agenda.

This landscape follows the trends of economic, societal and technological change such as:

Global economic downturn and slow recovery
  • Shrinking budgets and recession-like slowdown in consumer spending cause many organizations to trim or eliminate overhead costs.
The new work culture and consumerization of IT
  • Pressure to attract and retain the new generation of skilled workers who consider using their own array of devices to be productive in their work environment.
Moving business services to cloud computing
  • Attractiveness of offloading corporate asset costs and application management overheads. SaaS solutions allow an organization to gain value by reducing the size and complexity of their IT estate.
Social media and increased competition for the consumer dollar on a global scale
  • The online, instant marketplace that businesses are expected to be in to retain existing and attract new customers.
  • Purchasing decisions are more frequently based on peer recommendations instead of branded advertising and marketing.
Increased pressure to lure and retain consumer brand loyalty
  • Intense competition for the consumer and global choices mean that brand loyalty must now be continually earned rather than just kept.
Organizational structures shift toward flattened hierarchies, virtual teams and a collaborative management style.
  • Business organizational models are changing to reflect a global and virtual market, and the transition of Generation Y into management roles.

What all of these trends have in common is that they are the key to success for most companies today, and they rely heavily on technology to enable. 

They also have the expectation to achieve this for less investment and more securely than ever before.  This reality falls at the door of the CIO to solve.

What most IT Service Management (ITSM) experts know is that the leading ITSM solutions can help solve these business problems and unlock innovative potential while they reduce costs.

This white paper examines ways in which ITSM helps drive value and solve business problems with innovative automation and collaboration solutions that exploit emerging technology and reduce cost for business advantage.

The Service Desk Manager Perspective

The business perception of the value of IT is of paramount importance. There really isn’t a better example than the Service Desk to illustrate that this part of IT sets the tone for everything that follows.  If a customer’s experience interacting with the Service Desk is positive, the perception of IT overall is similar.  Conversely, the opposite is also true.

The Service Desk Manager knows this very well. Every gain in productivity, every dollar saved, every resource skill improved, every incident resolved within Service Level Agreement (SLA) translates to a positive customer experience. This is why the kind of ITSM solutions discussed here are so critical to this picture.

No wonder the global cloud-based ITSM market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 16% from 2015 to 2019. (Technavio) 

So, how are Service Desks around the world driving this growth, and what are they gaining?

Within the first six months of rolling out a new Service Catalog and service management solution, Gulf News observed a 43% reduction in incidents per week. Customer satisfaction also benefited, thanks to IT closing nearly 90% of incidents without recurrence — a 50% improvement in six months.

Elsewhere, a large UK online retailer enjoyed a 20% improvement within its employment engagement score in the employee reference website Your Shout, after rolling out assyst service management. The retailer also improved its home delivery accuracy by 50%.

Downtime costs an average of $5K per minute.  (Ponemon Institute)

How much could your organization save by reducing downtime?

The following table illustrates a few challenges faced by the Service Desk and how ITSM solutions can address them

Service Desk Challenge

ITSM Solution Functionality

The Benefit to IT

Reduce costs

Hosted solutions (SaaS)

  • Current technology
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  • Easily customizable
  • Updated regularly
  • Self-service,knowledge - building and mobility support

Reduce call volume

Multichannel support

  • Supports mobile customers and virtual IT resources
  • Drives more self- service use and emulates or leverages social IT platforms for user interface with IT
  • Customers choose the  best way to interact with
    IT support
  • Cost effective, proven technologies


  • Improves customer
  • Frees up Service Desk
    resources for higher
    priority work
  • Better perception of IT
  • Lowers cost of service
  • Automated routing of
    requests and incidents

Improve service levels

Process Automation

  • Logging and Problem
    Management -
    less errors and
    improved efficiency
  • Reduces logging time
  • Routing and tier
    handovers are based
    on logic rules, promoting
    a ‘clean’ handover to the
    right resource every time
  • Pre-populated CMDB
    provides service
    oriented infrastructure
    view and impact

Knowledge Base

  • Pushes pertinent information to service desk resources allowing faster triage and resolution times
  • Shared repository with business for greater Return on Investment (ROI) impact
  • Ability to share information across the service chain and with customers

Business awareness

Intelligent Information

  • Ability to analyze trends
    for better Predictive
  • Ability to match
    customer to service and
    SLA information
  • See service impacts
    across customers
  • See patterns of use and
    service implications
  • Allows improvements to
    automated workflow and



  • A cost effective
    alternative to off-site
  • Reflects the way the
    new generation of
    IT professionals are
    familiar with learning
  • Leverage best of breed
    learning solutions for a
    lower cost solution that
    can be customized,
    scaled and used across
    service tiers.
  • Can also be used
    for business user
    education to increase
    product knowledge and
    lower support costs.

There is no question that the right tools can vastly improve performance of the Service Desk, increase adoption of process driven solutions and improve customer satisfaction.

But the Service Desk itself is changing. Research reports that almost half of Service Desks today are virtual and agents are working remotely and relying on mobility to do their jobs. The choice of ITSM solution can enable or disable the effectiveness of a virtual model.

The power of a SaaS hosted solution gains credibility in this situation by being everywhere the Service Desk resource and business customers are.

  • They can cater to many devices, improve the user experience (both the
    customer AND the Service Desk agent)
  • They can manipulate data for real-time information and better
    management of Incidents and Requests
  • Are customizable for IT support tiers and business customers
  • Increase the channels that the Service Desk and customer can use to interact
  • Are vastly more cost effective than traditionally owned and heavily customized Service Desk software
  • Can be culturally global in language, settings, channel and touch points
  • Empower more intuitive decision making with better and more timely information
  • Support skill enhancement through knowledge sharing and collaborative working on problems
  • Able to use data for numerous purposes and in a variety of formats

Enhance the user’s experience with IT Given that experts agree that the Service Desk is where the reputation of IT is won or lost in the customer’s view, it makes perfect sense to ensure that the Service Desk has access to the newest, most robust ITSM solutions available. And the brilliance in their design is that they are cheaper, more functional and have proven their value.

FIND OUT MORE: How to choose the right ITSM solution for you

Advice for the Service Desk Manager

The ITSM solution you choose to support your ITSM practices is important. How you choose to implement it is even more important.

ITSM solutions are only as good as the people using them. While this is a generalization, and some tools actually make us better at what we do, ensuring that a solution is good fit in your Service Desk practices is critical to achieving your objectives.

Biggest Bang for Your Buck: Lowering the Cost of Managing Incidents

For example, if your objective is to reduce the cost of support (and whose isn’t these days), then your ITSM solution needs to enable this. Often it will be indirect and cumulative. Let’s say that one way IT has chosen to lower service costs, is to lower the cost per Incident. One way to use your ITSM solution to enable this is to drive automation into the Incident Management process. Every time a Service Desk agent has to handle an Incident ticket, your cost of support increases.

If the tool can use a Knowledge Base with predefined customer profiles and some innovative self-service, a customer can log the Incident, and the tool will classify and route it based on built-in business logic about the customer and the Incident. This can be done without manual intervention, lowering the overall cost of managing Incidents. The tool can even use logic to monitor SLAs and alert the Service Desk of pending breaches. This makes even better use of the Service Desk staff time and skill rather than being an Incident logging and routing service. Smart Service Desk managers know however, that this generally cannot work for all Incidents or even for all customers.

It is just as critical to understand how automation plays a role and does not play a role in certain situations, for example, if a customer is experiencing a recurring Incident. If automation is configured to the point that it treats every Incident in the same way regardless of recurrence matched to customer and type, this can create a very negative customer experience. Configuring exception to automation rules is just as strategic in managing the customer as fast resolution through automation.

FIND OUT MORE: Strategies for reducing service desk calls

Enhancing the Customer Experience with a Service Catalog

Lower costs can be achieved through reduced call volumes at the Service Desk. The single biggest advantage here is the adoption of an ITSM solution with a mature Service Catalog:

As a Service Request center - A Service Catalog reduces the volume of calls to the Service Desk by guiding customers to what they are looking for, then automating the completion of each service request.

Documenting services on order - A Service Catalog can reduce pressure on IT by providing customized views for various customers with all the information they need to make decisions about ordering services.

Drive service adoption and ROI – A Service Catalog helps communicate the value IT can deliver to the business, and drives adoption of IT services that aid business productivity. Economies of scale kick in and ROI goes up with more users utilizing the services IT offers. Consequently, as service utilization goes up, unit costs go down and IT is able to do more with less.

Fulfilment workflow automation - A Service Catalog can automate the workflow and alert exceptions that proactively manage the customer experience.

Service level performance - A Service Catalog should document terms of service levels and norms in a way that is consistent and informative in business language. A Service Catalog can help improve the customer experience by providing tips to the customer on how to contribute to stable services that deliver the intended value (such as not using unapproved devices or excessive storage).

Cost of service – Cost is a big influencer on customer behavior. Showing customers the fully burdened cost of services can help them make better choices based on business value to be gained, versus cost. Listing costs also raises awareness that everything they use IT for has an associated cost.

These are a few of the business-facing kinds of functionality that help manage costs and that the ITSM industry uses at its benchmark for evaluation ITSM tool capability.

FIND OUT MORE: Why you should care about the IT customer experience


Whether your perspective is as a business leader, IT Executive, Director or Service Desk manager, the compelling evidence is mounting that investing in a fit for purpose ITSM solution is imperative to meet today’s business challenges at any level.

Comparatively on cost, feature, enhanced performance, and customer satisfaction, IT has to move to current ITSM solutions or risk not being able to be where their customers are.

The challenges we face as ITSM providers do not diminish over time and they change in form, but our ability to meet them head on is improving too.

Business really is driving ITSM functionality. While this might feel a bit foreign to those of us who have been involved in the industry for a long time, it also feels like the right time for the shift to business-driven ITSM solutions.

For the IT professional, the challenge is to ensure that ITSM solutions connect with business drivers, scale with changing use of technology and turn technology-centric cost centers into business-focused customer service teams.

After all, ITSM solutions were always meant to solve business problems!


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