The future of enterprise services – sometimes it’s not just about customers

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In recent years, there has been a huge upheaval in the way services are delivered to customers – heralding the so-called ‘Uber effect’. But for those who aren’t customers, working for an enterprise can feel a long way removed from the slick, on-demand, automatic systems that are used away from the office. Arguably, everyone is becoming accustomed to a range of streamlined user experiences: online shopping, ordering a taxi or a pizza in two clicks, or checking our bank balance on our mobile phones, to name just a few examples

This begs the questions as to why the experience of internal services feels so clunky within many organisations? Internal support needs generally fall into one of three categories: wanting something fixed, wanting another kind of help, or wanting something new. A staff member is justified in asking “If I can do this online via self-service in my personal life, why can’t I do this at work?” What staff experience when they are at home ordering from Amazon, paying their mobile bill, or downloading films, they increasingly expect at work from a more ‘consumerised’ IT environment.

Yet in far too many organisations, coming into work feels like re-entering the information dark ages. Email is still clinging on as the primary tool of communication between internal service providers and customers (both internal and external), followed closely by costly and often-frustrating telephone support lines. Not only is this annoying for employees, it is also a drain on productivity.

Time for automation

Organisations are now starting to recognise that the same self-service concepts that they use to meet external customers’ demands can be translated into better service delivery internally. IT departments have led the way in this respect, through automated service management which might provide things like the ability to order a new piece of equipment in a self-service portal or log a support request and get notifications about its progress.

Other departments are now starting to catch up in the automation of internal service provision.  Everything from new employees being onboarded with access cards, desks, and parking spaces, to HR managers managing salary deductions or holidays.

Simplifying processes

Whatever the request, the same principles apply to the provision of service whether it’s the responsibility of HR, Facilities, Marketing, or Finance. The unfortunate truth is that email has become the universal go-to tool to manage all sort of processes with a resulting lack of structure, where requests are decentralised and, from the requester point of view, they fall into some sort of black hole. There is no common process to evaluate, process and track the demands.  As the ‘Uber effect’ takes shape in the corporate workplace, businesses are beginning to adopt established service management principles, moving towards structured workflow approaches which make everybody look at the same data in a very transparent way.

The technology to do this is robust and there are some pioneering organisations who are already reaping the rewards. For example, using online self-service portals staff can find information, log and track requests, order equipment, and receive support across a range of internal functions. Users find they get a better service and internal support staff are freed up to focus on other issues. This is what we call a Single System of Record/Truth and, in addition to providing much better levels of employee service and satisfaction, it also offers significant savings of time and costs. 

The not so daunting task

Of course, it’s one thing talking about how great these services are, but many businesses and associated departments that do not already use service management internally might think it a daunting task, but this is not the reality. ‘Time to use’ can be one of the key factors putting businesses off, but service management can be implemented quickly through cloud platforms and show rapid returns in saved time and money.

Of course, once the business has decided it wants to go down the service management route, choosing the right solutions might again appear challenging. Starting with a blank sheet of paper, many companies might want to go for what they perceive to be ‘best of breed’ such as, for example, the best Gartner Magic Quadrant tool in the targeted area. Others will go through a complex research and analysis process. Still others will ask their peers or tap into previous experience in other businesses to identify the ‘best’ solution. In all these cases, this may lead to the optimal outcome...on paper. But it’s also helpful to ask the questions, "How many of the features will really be used?" and “What is the impact likely to be in terms of implementation?”

When going for a new tool or platform, project leads should consider factors such as:

  • How easy it will be to integrate into the existing IT ecosystem (Master data, User Directory, Single Sign-on, etc.)
  • The impact of a new interface, user features, and required behaviours for end-users, back office and IT admin
  • The training requirements involved
  • The support requirements for the new tool
  • The fact that it comes with a new provider and licensing model to manage
  • Whether it might impair the IT infrastructure’s scalability.

Making use of what you already have

Rather than acquiring a completely new solution, organisations might first check if one that already exists in their IT ecosystems will fit their needs. This can significantly reduce ‘time to use’, as well as costs. Experience suggests most larger organisations will already have a service management application in place. In many cases this will have been initiated by the IT function; however there are also plenty of other pioneering applications created, for example, by HR, facilities, or finance, which other functions may be able to use as starting point. Most advanced service management solutions are designed to work across multiple functional areas and, being cloud-based, are easily scaled.

If this is an option, there are plenty of advantages to be had as the platform is already integrated within the company – meaning behaviours, capacities, and interfaces are known, and the master data exists. There are also likely to be existing relationships with trusted suppliers which will help decrease the ‘time to use’. Tapping the trend towards the standardisation of solutions within organisations will offer the opportunity to decrease the complexity of the IT ecosystem, the number of integrations, and the training required for people interacting with the solutions.

There are some great benefits available for businesses that choose to provide employees with the same level of service they get outside of the organisation. From time savings to happier employees, service management has a big role to play in the modern enterprise. Many businesses also might find the implementation of these new technologies might be easier than they expect – especially if they are able to identify similar systems already being used by IT which can be adapted.

Mark Flexman, General Manager (UKI), DXC Fruition
Image Credit: Bbernard / Shutterstock