How ESM Enables Digital Transformation

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Content By Devops .com

The pandemic has forced organizations of all sizes to overcome colossal challenges and embrace flux. We’ve all heard stories about businesses having to adopt a new communication tool and train staff overnight, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Many companies are in the middle of fundamental transformation, enabling enterprises to create more business value quickly. Still, digital shifts can also highlight stumbling blocks—such as inefficient management of people, tools and processes.

As modern business needs grow increasingly complex and require teams to do more with less, C-suite executives have learned that real value lies in customizable systems built for scalability, automation and collaboration. In the same way, companies have embraced DevOps to break down silos between development and operations teams, modern businesses are adopting enterprise service management (ESM) principles to create shared responsibility and opportunity across departments.

This approach has helped businesses view their digital transformation plans in a new light. Forward-thinking leaders are using ESM to enable a DevOps mindset, to centralize knowledge and ensure efficient digital service delivery within their organizations over the last twelve months.

The Business Benefits of ESM

ESM includes the tools and processes that enable an organization to manage the entire life cycle of IT (or other business units’) services. At an organizational level, it can be considered analogous to service-oriented architecture rather than an application architecture level.

Within larger organizations, multiple teams are often doing similar things to support different parts of the business. Keeping track of requests, prioritizing them and ensuring the right resources are available can be challenging. With ESM, companies can consolidate their resources and provide a consistent way for the organization to consume them. Akin to microservices, employees can easily access shared company services through a uniform interface, streamlining resources management.

The approach encourages enterprise leaders to see everything the company does as an integral service to the entire business. So, rather than an accounting team merely existing to process purchase orders and take care of payroll, it becomes a service provider. For example, they might create a portal that provides templated service requests for everyday tasks, such as raising a purchase order or understanding if a payment has been received, and a mechanism for capturing ad-hoc work that isn’t otherwise defined.

The real benefit of this approach is work management. A ticket is raised, and the department dealing with it can have a rotation of people, with whoever is least busy picking up the service request, assessing and resolving it or assigning it to someone else. That’s one reason it’s hardly a surprise that 87% of companies surveyed in 2019 said that they had already incorporated ESM in some way.

Practices, Not Processes, to Optimize Digitization

However, with businesses forced to undergo historic digital transformations over the last year, ESM has become even more valuable for organizations. The pandemic has shifted work management to a 100% digital initiative as teams were distributed remotely. A well-executed ESM strategy has enabled enterprises to take their digital-first workflows to a higher level, driving more value from employees and enabling organizations to scale service delivery and create unrivaled customer experiences.

ESM requires businesses to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to service delivery and encourages them to replace their process-orientated mindset with an approach that focuses on value delivered through practices. These practices, which are built on user interaction and feedback, support agile organizations by helping them accelerate change and make services more available and reliable for customers.

Furthermore, these practices put users’ pain points and needs front and center to ensure continuous improvement. Through frequent evaluation, enterprises can address the things that matter the most to staff and customers. While this might seem like a basic practice for any company’s digital transformation plans, the truth is in many cases, we’ve found the practice to be widely neglected. A recent report from Eagle Hill Consulting found that one-third of U.S. employees say their company’s technology either doesn’t help or makes it more challenging to serve internal and external customers.

Digitization driven by these ESM principles can enable businesses to improve operational efficiency, reduce cost and risk, and plan strategically to support their evolving needs. All of these are, of course, what every organization had in mind as goals when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to rethink how they do business.

ESM Automation and Cross-Departmental Visibility

At a high level, ESM sets out to bring all internal services into one place where every employee can easily find what they’re looking for in an instant. Accessing everything in one place also opens the door to leveraging automation. The option for automation means that some previously manual tasks – like providing access to systems – can be automated, speeding up wait times for staff or external customers and ensuring scarce resources, like your best people, are used more efficiently.

Moreover, common, consistent and shared platforms for all with a single access method gives individual departments enhanced visibility and control throughout the entire organization. Historical silos hampered individual business units’ visibility and understanding of the functions their business provides or how they’re processed. A unified portal where all departments can access resources and receive requests, in the same way, solves that.

Of course, this isn’t to take away from the inevitable learning curve that comes with digital transformations, especially at the size, scope and scale currently being undertaken. But the turnaround time from disconnected, slow, siloed teams to visible, open, speedy services far outweighs the effort required. In fact, recent research from uncovered just how badly visibility problems and poor internal alignment plagued businesses, with 56% admitting they’re worried that they’ll fail to achieve any return on investment from their stagnant digital transformation initiatives.

On the other hand, industries like finance, which have upscaled self-service and automation significantly in recent years, have built entirely new business models with collaborative technologies, accelerated innovation cycles, and have learned to make better, faster decisions.

These companies all embraced technology to empower their employees to help customers get the most from their service. In doing so, they are better able to deliver the best business value, which is core to a DevOps mindset and is achievable with successful ESM strategies.

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