When the use of new technologies starts to scale up, it creates new industries alongside it– either through necessity or opportunity. As the Windows PC gained dominance in the world’s biggest enterprises, the problem of managing a machine on every desk became a growing concern. In response to this challenge, and aided by the rising wave of networking in business, IT Service Management (ITSM) was born and prospered. But what happens when tablets, laptops and smartphones become the new world order? And how can this increased burden be turned into an opportunity?

It’s arguably no mean feat to have catered for this one operating environment and made it easy to manage on the scale that ITSM had accomplished. But it’s nothing compared to the increasingly complex cocktail of form factors and operating systems that are descending on the average business today. When you’ve made every bit of your success around aiming at a single target, how do you adapt to multiple, ever-shifting targets, from tablets to smartwatches, from BlackBerry to Linux?

Then comes the complexity of varying states of ownership: devices provided by your business to your employees (Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled); devices employees bring in for personal use (but still may connect to the network); devices they own themselves but want to use for both (Bring Your Own Device). Not to mention the devices that never come near your offices but still end up with vicarious access to files through apps like Dropbox, Google Drive – or even good, old-fashioned email.

Looking at this enormous (and growing) range of permutations, it’s easy to see how this presents new complexity. But it also comes with an accompanying increase in scale. Every one-computer employee in the old world may now have two or three that require your time and attention. At the same time, the opportunity is emerging for ITSM to do more than just keep the lights on and maintain these machines, it can help your business better understand employees’ behaviour and plan and optimise around them.

So how do you make this happen?

  1.  Focus On The New Paradigm

One thing’s for sure: given that there are years of best practice on how to manage huge numbers of stationary desktops, this is not the most difficult to include in the new ITSM. So it makes sense to start by focusing on the area that provides both the fastest growing new challenge and the biggest opportunity ahead: mobile.

Look for solutions that don’t just include mobile but are ‘mobile-first’. This will tell you a lot about their priorities and whether they are forward-looking or just slapping a new label on an old product. The latter risks not just being an inferior solution for maintenance but is unlikely to truly embrace and offer ways to make the most of data in your ITSM strategy.

  1.  Be Progressive, Not Restrictive

You can try and obtain ultimate control over your IT or you can aim for ultimate understanding. Any decent ITSM solution should offer the first but the second of these options is the route to create a different kind of IT service for your business.

With better knowledge of how your organisation uses its devices and software, you can prioritise the way you work based on impact. Patterns of incoming requests can point toward areas that most require attention and you can quickly understand how to make the most of shifting habits in employees’ behaviour.

  1.  Be Ready For What’s Next

This is perhaps the most important advice. This is not the beginning of the end; it’s the end of the beginning. We’re not on a path back to a single homogenous or simpler environment again anytime soon, the complexity and variety of technology you have to manage is only going to increase. What’s vital is that you’re as prepared as possible for this oncoming change, with partners who will help you stay one step ahead.

This isn’t just important in terms of product functions and features – it’s also true of interface and attention to areas like how you manage huge amounts of data. The next phase of ITSM is not just management, it’s one of opportunity as you learn and improve efficiency by understanding the behaviour and usage of these devices. And this is the most important thing to remember. Traditional ITSM has been a brilliant and very functional resource for businesses. But what’s coming next will extend its value far beyond that.