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Next generation ESM: An essential guide—5 key takeaways

Christopher Null Freelance writer

TechBeacon's special report, "Next-generation ESM: The evolution of service management in the enterprise," offers the latest insights on how enterprise service management is transforming the enterprise.

This essential guide looks at how enterprise service management (ESM) has evolved over the last 30 years, how IT service management (ITSM) led to the emergence of ESM, and where the discipline goes from here. It also provides best practices for creating your own converged service management (CSM) infrastructure. Here are five important takeaways.

1. ESM evolved from ITSM

The first help desks were purely reactive services. If something broke, the affected employee filed a support request ticket, and eventually a technician was dispatched to fix the problem based on its severity—or, more commonly, based on the overall workload of an often-overworked tech support staff.

With the formalization in the late 1980s of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)—a set of practices to align IT services with business needs—the concept of IT service management was born.

ITSM transformed the help desk into a service that provides real, forward-looking value to its customers—the organization's internal users. Each of the practices in the ITIL framework can be quantified with appropriate metrics to measure the performance of the IT organization in real time and over the long run. Today, ITSM is the de facto standard, streamlining support and service operations to make end users and IT itself more efficient and effective.

ESM essentially takes the concept of ITSM and applies it company-wide. Paul Hamilton, managing director of HaloITSM, an ITSM software developer, summarized ESM in the report as "a complete, end-to-end process in one all-encompassing system with slick communications between departments, an easy procurement process, and the perfect end-result on time, every time."

2. ESM is about more than IT

From the ESM point of view, a service is a service, and it doesn't necessarily have to be tied to IT. Whether the service needed is a fix for a broken keyboard, a request for a standing desk, or the onboarding of a new employee, the task can be managed through a centralized portal that offers triage, workflow management, and intelligent automation.

This broader view of services delivers several benefits across the enterprise, including improved cost controls, increased overall efficiency, better accuracy, a simplified data structure, and, crucially, happier employees.

3. ESM is more about 'single view' than 'single tool'

An effective ESM environment revolves around one core tenet, said Marilyn Nelson, global head of delivery Success for DXC's ServiceNow practice: "How do we look at multiple transactions through a single pane of glass?" 

By building a consistent data model where all of a business's relevant information can be shared, data becomes more holistic, aligning three parties: employees, customers, and management.

Facilitating this will likely require different platforms for each line of business. But Nelson said that's okay, since the central point of ESM isn't necessarily that a single tool must be used, but rather that all the organization's data is migrated to a single data lake.

4. ESM is an enterprise-wide digital transformation that IT can lead

Given ESM's roots in ITSM, it's not unreasonable to believe that the IT organization is the most appropriate choice to lead an ESM implementation. And in modern, progressive organizations, IT has had success doing that.

But the move to ESM is a transformation that touches every corner of the enterprise, often necessitating that the organizational chart be revamped. That requires the highest levels of leadership to be involved. The big challenge is who really owns ESM, said Doug Tedder, principal of Tedder Consulting. Outside of the CEO, there is no one role in the organization that has accountability for end-to-end work flowing through the organization, so this really takes a commitment from senior leadership, he said.

The technology part of ESM is easy. The processes are the hard part."
Doug Tedder

It's worth considering whether IT can lead your ESM implementation. If so, it will need the support of your CIO and rank-and-file workers to ensure its success.

5. AI will drive the next evolution of service management

Converged service management will be the next evolution of ESM. The idea is for CSM to further centralize business services and fulfill service requests more quickly and with less effort.

The discipline is still in its formative phase, but key enablers have already been identified: virtual agents and robotic process automation (RPA) to handle service requests; machine learning to identify patterns in user requests; and the holy grail, a single, user-friendly portal experience for multiple services.

The transition to CSM will be even more daunting than was the ESM transformation. It will require new ways of undertaking fundamental business processes, complex new technologies, and the talent to develop, implement, and manage new tools.

But the challenge of unifying all business lines is an essential part of the process, said DXC's Nelson:

"It's the journey that makes digital transformation come to life."

Read the full report: "Next-generation ESM: The evolution of service management in the enterprise"

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