John O’Brien, Chief Content Officer, AXELOS Global Best Practice, discusses how ITSM professionals are being tasked with a wider remit to support the success of their businesses.

Given the huge and permeating influence of technology across almost all aspects of the business world, how realistic is that IT service management (ITSM) professionals would eventually be asked to provide strategic business advice outside of their traditional IT function?

The answer, it appears, is highly likely. As organisations increasingly rely on technology and innovation to deliver almost all aspects of services, across every industry and sector, it is becoming ever more apparent that expertise in service management will be needed across the organisations.

There is no doubt that frameworks like ITIL will have a wider impact as they are applied across the whole business, and can add huge value to existing frameworks and services and support them in being more eff ective internally. But how do ITSM practitioners grow their sphere of influence to bring about this change, and what skills do they need in order to do it?

AXELOS has carried out a new piece of research to understand how the role of the ITSM professional is evolving, based on a series of expert interviews, roundtable discussions and a survey of our global community of ITSM professionals. The report - The Future IT Service Management Professional - identifies future trends that will impact on the profession and the skills that ITSM professionals will need to develop to remain successful.

The vast majority of practitioners - 92 per cent - agree that professionals will need a much stronger strategic vision aligned to the wider business. Further, they agree they will be expected to take a holistic view of the services their organisation provides, as well as having a better understanding of new, potential threats to their wider business.

So how prepared are ITSM practitioners for this broader remit?

It is important to note that ITSM practitioners are remarkably upbeat about the future of their profession. As service management becomes integral to every aspect of business, ITSM professionals will need to demonstrate a proactive and visionary approach across the enterprise to drive positive business change.

This offers an unprecedented opportunity for ITSM professionals to demonstrate their capabilities beyond the traditional IT function. The parts of the business that are adopting these processes will not be familiar with the IT history and, as such, any adoption needs a tailored approach for the specific business function to ensure it is successful.

Such trends will require the professionals to expand their knowledge and adopt new business skills such as communication, negotiation, relationship development, critical thinking and organisational change management. ITSM professionals can show the business how to manage services, how to filter new innovations into work practices and, ultimately, increase the value they deliver to customers.

Having a holistic view of the services an organisation provides can elevate ITSM to a strategic level. By understanding how to adapt services to meet the needs of customers, allowing for cultural and operational differences, ITSM professionals will increase the value that they deliver to the business.

New technologies

And as technological advancements also bring an increased level of risk, with the survey finding that 90 per cent agree that new technologies will generate new risks that will need to be carefully managed, ITSM professionals are also going to have to take more ownership for risk management.

There is no doubt that new technologies bring increased information security concerns. Even though wider parts of the business will get more involved in these technologies, ITSM professionals will need to demonstrate that they are a ‘safe pair of hands’ and apply the necessary risk management and cyber resilience practices to ensure the enterprise and its data are protected.

These future trends will have a direct impact on the success of an organisation and will need strong leadership to see it through. ITSM professionals will need to combine different methods and techniques to achieve results as no one solution will give them everything they need. Continual learning is essential to support continual improvement of services, especially in an environment of constant change. Service management is never ‘done’ - there will always be opportunities or requirements to improve.

The report has shown that the strategic reach and influence of ITSM professionals will continue to grow and they will have an increasing sphere of influence. As businesses become even more reliant on technology and its ongoing innovations, to deliver their services as effectively as possible, they will look to ITSM professionals to direct the process and help ensure it is managed efficiently and effectively, for both internal and external customers.

It is vital that they are provided with the training they need to develop these new and critical skills to cope with their expanding remit, and allow them to position themselves as integral to the future success of their businesses, potentially becoming business leaders of the future.