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swiss_army_010713.2.jpgWe find ourselves in 2014 and, as with every January that has come before, surrounded by resolutions and predictions.  Many of which are radical… and some are just, well, predictable.  My vision (and let’s be clear, I’m not from the future, nor do I have a crystal ball so I’m going to rely on that good old grey matter between my ears) for IT service management in 2014 is actually a vision of comprehensive service management – service management that encompasses people, departments, processes and technologies, harmoniously working together, endeavoring to create a seamless service experience that takes the burden off the customer.  This prediction may feel familiar from years past but I submit this isn’t a repeat of predictions gone by, as I believe 2014 is the year when comprehensive, customer-focused service management becomes a reality.

 

Historically, the only thing customer service and IT service organizations shared was the name “service” in the title of the organization.  Customer service organizations were focused on customers and IT service organizations focused on technology.  However, in the last few years, the services we provide our customers are increasingly becoming dependent on technology.  In some cases (this may hit home for a few of you reading this blog), our services are entirely dependent on technology.  Yet our processes and the technologies people use to support those services are disparate, reflecting the ways of the past when the only thing the two organizations shared was the word “service.”  The difference in 2014, and why this approach to service management is in within our grasp, is two-fold.


Culturally, we’ve arrived.

We’ve evolved our organizational thinking (or we’re on the right evolutionary path).  Sure, customer and IT service organizations are fundamentally different but our need to interact to provide accurate, timely services is greater than ever.  And after countless hours of frustrating interactions between these two departments, often times, just trying to get answers when in reality we all just want to do what’s right for the customer, we know MUST be a better way.

 

Awareness is the first step in finding a new path.  Now comes the hard work – putting pencil to paper or elbow grease to the process and workflow to determine where the connection points between the organizations need to be, what information needs to be shared on a regular basis and what information, in the future, could need to be shared.  This is hard because it involves breaking processes we’ve followed for years.  It involves taking a new approach and may cause people to ask “who moved my cheese?”  But remember, culturally we’re closer to making this happen than ever before, so despite the bumps along the way, commit (early and often, as a team) to seeing this part through – your customers, your employees and your business will thank you in the end.

 

The Technology is ready to support us and our customers.

We’ve always used purpose built technology to support customer service and IT service organizations.  After all beyond basic incident/ case management, these two organizations work very differently and as such, need unique technologies to support their needs.  Some organizations have tried to use one technology or the other to support both functions in an attempt to create that seamless customer experience.  But we know this doesn’t work because soon enough, one organization or the other needs the technology to do something it wasn’t built to do and that’s when things get ugly.  If you attended my session on this topic at Dreamforce, you may have heard me tell the story about the convertible crib that, when converted into a toddler bed, after significant investment in additional parts and lots of time in taking apart and rebuilding, ended up falling apart (with child in bed.)  Repurposing an investment to support multiple use cases can be a great idea – I submit it’s not the right thing for customer and IT service organizations.

 

However, there is hope!  With purpose-built technologies existing on the same (cloud, if you choose) platform you can service the unique needs of each organization while seamlessly sharing information, integrating processes and reporting on activities that matter to your organization.  And no, you don’t have to build separate customer service and IT service management applications from the ground up on a platform, there are applications for both that integrate and exist on the same platform already (shameless plug - check out Service Cloud and Remedyforce, both built on the Salesforce.com cloud platform).  The technology now exists to support your organizations approach to service management.

 

2014 has arrived and comprehensive, customer-focused service management is in our grasp. Culturally we’re ready to take a new approach and the great news is that technology has evolved to support our new approach.  Change isn’t easy, but I predict the work you put in will result in extraordinary customer, employee and business satisfaction… and after all that’s what it’s all about!