September 02, 2012, 8:51 PM — Most people fear automation. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the "A-word" has conjured up rebellion by those who are vulnerable to replacement by machines. When you automate a job, there is a high likelihood that the machinery will reduce dependence on human interaction and may even eliminate the need for humans altogether. In the future, some IT roles will diminish in numbers and possibly disappear altogether -- but service management and automation will always need innovators and leaders.
The majority of organizations have adopted IT service management practices (ITSM) to manage business and technological change. But gone are the days ruled by the technology Illuminati. The future will require customer-obsession, relentless focus on the portfolio of services, automation, and expansion far beyond the walls of the organization. To stay relevant and competitive, business leaders must drop the "IT" from ITSM and embrace industrialized automation as a way to deliver customer outcomes faster, cheaper and at higher quality.
True service management evolution will be impossible without drastic, fundamental changes in automation. In Forrester's Service Management and Automation Playbook, my colleagues and I maintain that it is critical for firms to embrace automation from an organizational perspective. If executed successfully, firms will gain significant economies of scale and increase the ability to focus on services, as enhanced visibility into broader technology domains provides invaluable clarity. Naturally, automation will be heavily influenced and, in many cases, driven by individuals with strong process backgrounds.
As part of this critical transformation, a company must: 1) optimize IT staffing resources for maximum business value, 2) transform employees into technology and process innovators, and 3) develop fundamental service brokering and integration skills.
Step 1: Optimize IT Staffing Resources For Maximum Business Value
When a firm has employees performing multiple tasks, it is essential to make optimum use of the right talents and identify areas where individual skills are not appropriately leveraged. Some examples include:
" A network engineer who holds multiple certifications with years of technical experience, but is responsible for routine troubleshooting and configuration changes.
" A database administrator who would rather be interacting with customers, but spends valuable time digging through complex databases.
" A service desk agent with an innate ability to solve complex problems, but is unable to transfer to a command center position where they can be more effective at solving bigger issues.