The latest trends in ITSM revealed by benchmarking and consulting firm MetricNet show that new technologies are fuelling another surge in the popularity of cloud computing and the new trends are likely to transform the future of IT management.

As digital technologies evolve they become something of an arms race for businesses, so new tools and architectures tend to make traditional ITSM approaches no longer fit for purpose. Many companies would do well to look closer at the following trends.

Artificial Intelligence

According to the experts at MetricNet, one of the defining features of the new IT management trends seen in 2021 is the adoption of artificial intelligence tools. There are now many applications that use AI and the list is ever-growing. In particular, there has been a surge in tools that enable natural language processing, business process optimisation, automated incident response, clustering and knowledge management.

IT itself makes big use of AI. New AI-powered tools provide intelligent ticket routing, and automated problem management that can identify the underlying causes of recurrent IT issues. The overall number of ticketed problems declines dramatically with the assistance of these innovative applications, freeing IT staff to work on more proactive projects for their companies.

How the pandemic has influenced tool adoption

The adoption of such tools has been accelerated by COVID-19. New migrations to cloud software and the headaches of a remote workforces have greatly increased the pressure on IT services: the number of flagged incidents rose by a staggering 35% in 2020 while the number of IT staff stayed static. Consequently, tools that can ease those burdens and responsibilities are being welcomed enthusiastically and have already played an important part in enabling IT management to stay ahead of their rapidly expanding workload.

The rise of self-service

There is also an increased interest in customer self-service solutions which again rely on AI functionality in order to operate effectively. AI self-service solutions, such as chatbots and virtual agents, are ideal for reducing workloads and operational costs.

As their sophistication grows the more problems they can be used to solve. In the USA, government agencies are among those already using or planning to integrate such tools. Advances in natural language processing are making them far more acceptable to end users. Behind these “personal assistants” lie AI and Machine Learning tools that can access vast knowledge databases in order to accurately offer solutions in real time or automatically re-route or escalate queries.

An increase in automation

Another key trend in 2021 is the increasing use of automation. New automation opportunities are often powered by ML – machine learning tools. These can plough rapidly through large quantities of data, often in disconnected repositories, to quickly find solutions to problems or even anticipate them in advance. They can also optimise numerous processes to improve efficiency, reduce staff requirements and minimise costs.

Automation is good for things like quality control too, reducing the opportunities for human error and speeding up workflows. By automating complex tasks, it allows faster onboarding of new (and hard to find) IT service staff.

Greater use of analytics

There are also new advanced analytics tools that provide IT (and other) managers with clearer real-time views of everything going on. Visualisation tools allow analysis of information from multiple sources and make it possible to predict and plan for the future. When integrated with other data management approaches, data-mining capabilities can improve efficiencies in both cost and performance, and make sure long-term objectives are met, on-time.

The end of ITSM?

Another trend identified by the report is that the term ITSM may itself soon become obsolete. Instead, terms such as ‘Enterprise Service Management’ (ESM) or just ‘Services Management’ seem to be taking its place. This change reflects the move away from siloed and departmental thinking in organisations, and recognises that IT is now an integral part of all business processes and operations.