As 2016 ends and we look forward to another year in IT service management (ITSM), one wonders what we (ITSM pros) should be focused on in the next twelve months. There’s been a lot of buzz this year about things such as DevOps, enterprise service management, customer experience and consumerization, and digital transformation. But I think there’s a wealth of opportunities for us and the businesses we serve in another area – automation.
Not the process automation that we’ve benefited from since the early days of ITSM tools, or the orchestration that has made virtualization and cloud so much easier. I’m instead referring to a different type of automation, where we “cede power to the machines” and their ability to learn, i.e. machine learning – “the study and construction of algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data” (source: Wikipedia), where:
“Advanced machine learning algorithms are composed of many technologies (such as deep learning, neural networks and natural-language processing), used in unsupervised and supervised learning, that operate guided by lessons from existing information.” Source: Gartner IT Glossary
And Gartner recently stated that:
“Smart machines will enter mainstream adoption by 2021, with 30 percent adoption by large companies, according to Gartner, Inc. Technologies including cognitive computing, artificial intelligence (AI), intelligent automation, machine learning and deep learning fall under the umbrella term for smart machines.)”
But I’m far more bullish about machine learning from an ITSM and IT support (or for any service and support scenario) perspective, as many opportunities, and possible solutions, to use machine learning in our everyday activities already exist. And I think we will quickly see ITSM tool vendors partnering with machine learning technology partners to deliver against them.
ITSM pros have spent much of the last two decades optimizing IT service delivery and support in the enablement of business operations. Different operational elements have been addressed – from the adoption of best practice processes, the recruitment and training of the “right kind of people,” to the exploitation of technology (in particular workflow and automation, knowledge management, remote control, self-service, and more recently business intelligence). Much of this has been done to improve efficiency and effectiveness – it’s what we seem to do in ITSM.
But we still often place too much reliance on human effort, and human intellect, when we could cede the power – okay, some specific tasks – to the machines. For example, tasks where algorithms can be used to understand patterns and context to decide the best course of action without human input. The results and benefits being similar to the use of our existing orchestration-type automation:
A new AXELOS survey and report, “The ITSM Professional in 2030: A future full of opportunities” (January 2017), also shows that most ITSM professionals are already betting on automation and machine learning:
So where can machine learning help?
These are all things that can be done or used now:
So what do you think of the possibility of machine learning becoming a staple of ITSM? Or are you already using it? I’d love to get your feedback in the comments section below.