How to Create an Outstanding Experience for Your Cherwell ITSM Users [Webinar Recap]

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Author: Guy Nadivi and Ayla Anderson, Technology Alliances Manager, Cherwell

The discipline of ITSM has undergone significant evolution since its earliest incarnations. Today with the drive towards automation, increasing use of artificial intelligence, and the push for digital transformation, ITSM occupies an increasingly high-profile position for many organizations. This is especially true as many enterprises are seeking competitive advantages in their customer experience and service quality offerings.

With that in mind, we’ve partnered with Cherwell, an increasingly common ITSM platform choice for many of our customers, to demonstrate how to create an outstanding experience for Cherwell ITSM users.

According to Gartner, it isn’t too surprising why Cherwell’s popularity is on the rise. In a recent report they wrote that “Cherwell continues to enjoy mind share among Gartner clients looking at intermediate ITSM tools. Cherwell was the second most frequently shortlisted vendor by Gartner clients in 2018.” BTW – Cherwell held that same distinction in 2017 as well. So Gartner is seeing the same increase in demand for Cherwell that we’ve been seeing.

Gartner has also identified Cherwell as a “Challenger” in its most recent Magic Quadrant for ITSM tools which was just published in August of 2019. So there seems to be a lot of momentum building in the ITSM market for Cherwell.

Since Ayehu is very customer-driven, we give priority to developing new features and new integrations based on what our customers are asking for the most. As a result, we’ve added some Cherwell-specific functionality lately, and we think that many Cherwell customers will be intrigued to see how much more they can do with the platform, once it’s integrated with Ayehu.

For those not familiar with their ITSM solution, Cherwell transforms the way businesses deliver service. Its technology provides a centralized system through which all services can be managed and monitored. This gives unprecedented visibility to all processes, helping teams measure and manage services more effectively and efficiently.

Along with nearly 100 technology alliance partners (like Ayehu), Cherwell aims to help customers modernize their IT service management. Today, Modern Service Management is foundational to transforming the experience of employees (ITSM users).

Before explaining why though, let’s define Modern Service Management (MSM).

MSM is the evolution from legacy ITSM practices with minimal impacts on the business and its employees, to a philosophy in practice that leverages self-service, automation, visibility and agility to generate business outcomes and improve employee experiences.

The visual below from Forrester Research shows that in the past, automation associated with digital initiatives focused on cost reduction. More recently however, the focus has been around customer experience (CX), as more companies take a customer-centric approach.

Forrester Research

By 2020 the focus will shift to accelerating transformation with both Employee Experience (EX) and CX automation initiatives — because employee experience has a direct correlation to employee happiness and efficiency, which in turn impacts customer experience. As businesses continue moving up the ladder of ITSM maturity, speed and efficiency won’t just be critical for customer facing apps, but will also be expected across the entire organization.

So what’s stopping businesses from transforming their service experiences? In general, they lack a centralized way to architect and automate end-to-end processes across multiple services, systems, and teams. The four primary barriers to achieving this transformation include:

  1. Disparate Systems

Individual services and departments within a business often have their own systems and tools. This not only impacts employee experience, but it impedes businesses from monitoring the performance of services, and cross-functional processes, due to lack of centralized visibility across all systems.

  1. Fragmented Data

Since many services run on legacy databases, integrating data sets across services can be difficult and time consuming.

  1. Manual Service Steps

Most businesses struggle to integrate data, systems, and processes, leaving many teams stuck in an endless cycle of using antiquated systems to get their work done. Whether they’re responding to service requests, onboarding a new employee, or managing the maintenance logs of a fleet of vehicles — this creates inefficiencies and challenges in keeping up with service requests.

  1. Resource Intensiveness Required to Transform Digital Operations

Often times architecting new services, and evolving existing processes, requires teams of developers to write code. This is both time consuming and expensive.

This is where Cherwell integrated with Ayehu automation can help businesses.

If you’re currently a Cherwell customer or have it as one of your shortlisted vendors, then you may already be asking yourself whether you should add automation to Cherwell. And if you do add automation, what kind of boost would it give to your investment in Cherwell?

To determine that, it helps to look at some costs associated with helpdesk operations.

Based on Ayehu’s research conducting standard helpdesk data assessments for organizations, we’ve discovered that the 5 largest categories of incidents represent as much as 98% of their total tickets!

When those incident numbers get sliced and diced to see how many get handled by Tier 1 vs Tier 2 support, they often reveal a surprise.

As much as 70% of Tier 1 incidents get escalated to Tier 2!

That means that if you can somehow focus your automation efforts on just the 5 largest categories of incidents while they’re still in tier 1, automation is going to provide a very big payoff, not just at your service desk but in your customer satisfaction metrics as well.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what kind of a return we’re looking at from automation.

If we go real conservative by estimating that it costs $20 to remediate a ticket, then multiply that by the number of tickets your helpdesk handles, it’s likely going to add up to some serious money your organization is spending on manually resolving these incidents. (BTW – $20 per ticket is a rough number calculated by Jeff Rumburg of MetricNet for 2017)

Now I’m going to shock some of you. If you automate incident resolution, your cost per ticket drops down to $4, and that’s also playing it conservative.  Applying automation to incident resolution has a dramatic effect on your costs, so if you’re looking for a high-impact way to bring savings to your organization’s ITSM costs, automation is a pretty good way to go.

In case you’re wondering what kinds of specific incidents you would likely be automating with Ayehu, here are some of the most common processes we see:

  • Application/Service/Process/Server Restarts
  • Monitoring Application Log Files, looking for specific keywords, and taking some action based on what’s found
  • Low disk space remediation (always a popular thing to automate)
  • Running SQL Queries, perhaps at 3am then compiling the results into a report which gets emailed to appropriate personnel
  • Onboarding and offboarding employees (another popular one)

And there are many, many more tasks the service desk will want to automate for itself. Now how about the kinds of processes we can push out to end users to remediate in a self-help paradigm?

  • Password Resets or Account Unlocks are an obvious one
  • How about letting users provision their own VM’s whether it’s VMware, AWS, Azure, or Hyper-V?
  • And how about letting them modify or resize a VM’s memory or disk space without any help from the service desk?

When you think about it, there’s really no limit to the kinds of things you can automate, once you’ve integrated Ayehu with Cherwell.

Cherwell & Ayehu Present: How to Create an Outstanding Experience for Your ITSM Users

The Rise of Artificially Intelligent Service Management (AISM)

It’s been said that the best way to serve customers is to anticipate their needs, whether it’s a restaurant concierge offering to walk patrons to their vehicles with an umbrella overhead on rainy evenings or rolling out an update on a software product. The same concept can be applied in the IT realm, specifically in IT service management (ITSM).

The fact is, with today’s technology, it’s entirely possible to predict that certain situations will occur, from simple password reset requests to servers crashing. It’s not really a matter of if these things will happen, but rather when. And if you know what’s coming, you can be prepared to respond and, in many cases, even head problems off at the pass.

That’s where artificial intelligence comes into play. Thanks to AI and machine learning technologies, ITSM professionals can now predict potential problems faster and with a much higher degree of accuracy. As a result, the end user (or “customer”) enjoys a much more positive experience. In other words, everybody wins.

What is Artificially Intelligent Service Management?

The core principles of ITSM remain sound. The introduction of AI into the mix doesn’t change this. Instead, it enhances it. AISM simply takes the fundamental concepts and processes of ITSM – incident response, service request management, etc. – and leverages newer and better technologies to make them even more effective. In the context of IT service management, AI can be applied to improve, simulate and/or replace the work of a human agent.

You may be asking yourself, “Isn’t this really just automation?” The answer isn’t necessarily cut and dry. The truth is, we’ve been automating processes and workflows for decades, and ITSM is no stranger to this technology. The difference is that with AI, these processes and workflows become more intelligent and independent. Rather than just carrying out predefined or scripted instructions, AI is capable of identifying and carrying out required actions all on its own.

How does AISM work?

Now, let’s take a look at how AI can enhance the execution of ITSM activities.

Support Request Management

The basics of ITSM: an end user needs assistance. They either pick up the phone to call the help desk, send an email request, submit a support ticket or browse the self-service options (if available). The steps necessary to fulfill that incoming request are then followed and the user receives his or her desired outcome. The problem is, that outcome could potentially take hours, days, weeks or even longer.

Now, let’s look at that scenario with AISM at the helm. The end user initiates contact and immediately receives two-way support from an intelligent bot. They request what they need and the bot – relying on underlying technologies of machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and natural language processing – understands the request and responds accordingly. Rather than waiting for a human to take action, AISM can produce results for the end user within seconds.

Incident Management

The ability to react, respond to and correct an incident is one of the most basic components of ITSM. Traditionally, a form would be filled out. Perhaps the analyst might do a little research. Ultimately, the task is assigned to a team. There it might sit untouched for a while before it is either rejected, resolved or possibly even assigned to another team altogether. In the end, the incident is resolved, but after much back and forth and passing of the torch.

Enter AISM. The end user reports a problem via his or her self-service portal and an incident is immediately created. Thanks to artificial intelligence, however, that same end user may instantly be prompted with various suggestions that are pulled from the underlying knowledge base. This may result in resolution right away.

If not, it is turned over to a support analyst who is automatically provided with suggested resolution methods. The AI can even advise who the incident should be assigned to, what relevant implications may exist, the scope of the situation and more.

Problem Management

In a traditional ITSM setting, problem management would often involve a person taking the time to review prior incident patterns and trends and develop possible resolutions. Along the way, however, many twists, turns, delays and bottlenecks exist. For instance, let’s say a support agent grows weary of addressing the same incidents over and over. The problem may be investigated further. Perhaps some knowledge may be created and a change is even identified. But, given the chaotic nature of the ITSM environment, time passes and nothing really gets done.

Now, take that same scenario in the context of AISM. Instead of a frustrated human agent taking the initiative to identify and resolve problems, machine learning technology continuously scans patterns of data to pinpoint and present potential issues that should be investigated. What’s more, thanks to data processing and learning across multiple patterns of work, AI is even capable of proposing a solution, backed by data-driven risk and impact analyses. In other words, it takes the guess-work out of decisions.

AISM – From Reactive to Proactive and Beyond

Getting back to our original point – that the best customer experiences are anticipatory in nature – AISM enhances service management by facilitating the shift from reactive (meeting needs when they occur) to proactive (predicting and preventing issues from happening in the first place). There are three key ways AISM can do this:

  • Guidance – The end user has a need and AISM uses a connection with endpoint tools to identify and make suggestions based on that need.
  • Learning – Building a knowledge base used to be a hassle. Not with AISM. Thanks to machine learning and AI tracking systems, the knowledge base can naturally grow based on issues encountered over time.
  • Strategy – AISM is capable of identifying and recommending both changes to existing core services as well as new innovations to improve for the future.

Conclusion

As you can see, AISM follows many of the same principles, processes and best practices of ITSM. It’s just faster and more accurate. And with AI being leveraged to intelligently automate complex tasks at just about every operations level, IT professionals will be freed up to spend more time innovating and evolving to help achieve business goals.

Buckle up folks, because AISM is poised to be a true game-changer.

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Want Big Improvements in ITSM? Start Small.

Have you ever faced a challenge so big that you didn’t know where to begin, so you simply did nothing? It’s happened to the best of us, and it happens far too often in the world of ITSM. In many cases, IT decision makers know improvements must be made, but the looming costs and risks have them circling their wagons, afraid to take that leap and get started. If you are in this situation currently, the solution is simple: get back to basics. Rather than taking on huge, risky and expensive ITSM projects, start where you are and take it one step at a time. By starting small, you’ll eventually achieve the big change you seek.

As an example, let’s take a larger ITSM organization that provides support service to external clients across the globe. An operation like this has a ton of service desks, some of which support multiple customers, others are dedicated to individual customers and still others are designated for internal users. Some service desks provide only logging and dispatch while others also offer level 1 support. Across all of these service desks, there are a wide variety of tools and technologies being employed.

In this scenario, the vast majority of communication with customers, for all the service desks, takes place via telephone. Decision-makers within the organization recognize the need for more efficient communication channels (i.e. self-service portals and chatbots). The problem is, in a company that large, the costs of implementation would be tremendous. IT leaders have actually already identified a tool capable of supporting such a complex environment, but because they lack confidence and adequate justification that the project would run smoothly and produce ROI, they can’t nail down funding.

Believe it or not, the solution to this monster of a dilemma is actually quite obvious. Rather than attempting to roll out chat for their entire user base – a significant and costly undertaking – all they really need to do is begin where they are and implement in several smaller steps.

For instance, IT could introduce an easy-to-use, out-of-the-box chatbot platform and designate a small group of users to begin using this tool when they need IT support. IT would then closely monitor the process to identify any issues – either on the service desk or end user side – and work to resolve those issues before scaling up. Over time, the IT team will have:

  • Pinpointed and addressed many issues as they relate to chat-based interactions with the service desk
  • Identified which types of requests are best suited for chat and which are better handled via other channels
  • Figured out how to best encourage users to transition from telephone support to chat
  • Gathered and analyzed data regarding the volume of requests each agent can manage using chat
  • Determined exactly how much time and money could be saved if scaled to the entire organization

Rolling out chatbot support this way is far less risky, and by starting with a tool that is easy to use and doesn’t require coding and/or a ton of training, the overall cost of implementation also remains low. As the project is slowly scaled up, the IT team will have all the information they need to determine whether full implementation would be a cost-effective investment with quantifiable proof to back them up. They’ll also already know what needs to be done in order to ensure success as the project expands.

The good news is, starting small is easy when you have the right tool in your corner. Ayehu is specifically designed to provide rapid time-to-adoption and enhanced simplicity to even the most complex ITSM projects. Don’t believe us? Try it free for 30 days and experience it for yourself. You have nothing to lose!

5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation

IT service management from a different perspective

To date, IT Service Management has consistently been viewed as simply part of the IT infrastructure library (ITIL) processes. However, with the looming shift of IT operations from fragmented services to a more end-to-end, service-driven approach, the concept of ITSM is poised to play an increasingly critical role in business operations. In order to successfully navigate this shift toward service, IT professionals must essentially rethink what this practice is really about and how it will serve their organizations going forward.

The Original Intention of IT Service Management

When it was first developed, IT Service Management was intended to bring a more unified approach to how IT technology services were integrated within the organization as a whole. Rather than managing individual components, ITSM focused on developing a collection of best practice processes (ITIL) and using these best practices to deliver end-to-end services. Organizations would conduct ITSM audits which analyzed things such as ROI, budget adherence, and the effectiveness of communication and identifying and evaluating risk. The purpose was to identify areas that needed improvement so that IT services could be better honed to benefit the entire organization.

What’s missing?

While ITSM is still a concrete practice, in order to be truly effective it must evolve along with the changes of IT as a whole. What’s missing from the original concept of ITSM is the end-user – the customer. Internal processes may have been improved significantly, but if these improvements don’t translate to the customer, it’s not a true victory.

How can IT professionals change their perspective of IT Service Management?

In order to get the most out of ITSM, people must begin to shift their view from strictly internal to also include external benefit. The easiest way to do this is to simply drop the “IT” from ITSM and replace it with automation. This essentially expands the benefit of ITSM from the internal operations of the enterprise to also improve the customer experience through the delivery of faster outcomes, higher quality service and at a much more attractive price. Internal processes are streamlined and made more efficient, while external service also improves. It’s a win-win.

If businesses are going to be successful in the future, they must leverage new and changing technology to truly deliver the unique and unparalleled experiences that their customers are seeking. Adjusting the concept of ITSM to incorporate intelligent automation into the mix will accomplish this goal, providing the competitive advantage needed to thrive in the coming years.

Experience how ITSM automation can be a game changer by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu today.

5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation

How to Stay Relevant in the Changing World of ITSM

When it comes to continual improvement, the focus often lands on systems, processes, applications and policies. What it tends to neglect is the importance of keeping human skills up to date. The fact is, the world around us is changing and the skills and abilities that were once considered valuable are not at risk of becoming obsolete. Today’s ITSM professionals must be diligent about developing and honing the skills and knowledge that will be needed in the future. Here’s a bit of advice on how to do just that.

Technology has evolved over the years. Whereas in the past an IT tech may have required in-depth experience using an oscilloscope and soldering iron to diagnose and repair computer problems, today an entirely different set of trouble-shooting skills are needed. Those who continue to realize success in ITSM are the ones that recognize and adapt to the changes as they are occurring. If one were to try and make a living using an oscilloscope in this day and age, they simply wouldn’t be marketable.

This same concept applies to just about any skill that one has developed over the years. If you became versed in ITSM a decade ago, chances are you learned all about the importance of having well-planned and documented processes or that defining metrics and reporting them in SLAs was critical. These things aren’t necessarily obsolete (yet). It’s just that, they’re simply no longer enough. It seems that every day we’re uncovering newer and better ways to manage incidents, deal with problems and engage with customers.

To remain relevant and continue to deliver value as an ITSM specialist, there are three key areas you should be concentrating on, as follows.

Focus on Agile Principles

A shift has occurred between delivering software and/or service to delivering value. Agile service management, in simplest of terms, means working smarter and watching solutions evolve through strategic collaboration. These days, customers want instant gratification. Launching massive projects that take months or years before they produce value are no longer acceptable. Instead, ITSM professionals should take an agile approach – one which involves continuous experimentation, ongoing learning and rapid adaptation.  

In short, focus on the following:

  • Pinpoint what could be improved upon
  • Develop a hypothesis around what’s standing in the way of progress
  • Establish a plan for fail-safe experimentation
  • Experiment, measure results and proceed accordingly

Go Lean

If you’re unfamiliar, the concept of “Lean” focuses on creating and delivering maximum value to the customer while minimizing waste. In terms of ITSM, the most relevant facets of Lean include:

  • Identifying end-to-end value chains
  • Mapping out specific steps to ensure full understanding of the work
  • Eliminating waste in every area to create maximum value
  • Ensuring that every action is value-added

Emulate DevOps

Many individuals involved in ITSM are under the false impression that DevOps is solely about development. As such, they miss a tremendous opportunity to (you guessed it) create value for the customer. There are five key DevOps characteristics ITSM teams can mirror:

  • Culture
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Lean Policies
  • Continual Process Improvement
  • Collaboration

These qualities can just as easily be applied to IT service management as they are in development.

Closing Thoughts…

The previous approaches to ITSM aren’t necessarily wrong. We still need to deal with change, manage incidents and resolve problems. But it’s how we go about doing these things efficiently and effectively that has to evolve. There are many new approaches that, if adopted, can help ITSM professionals do their jobs better and create more value, both for their employers as well as their customers. Those who are willing to adapt their skillset accordingly will be the ones who win the opportunities of tomorrow.

And remember – having an agile tool in your corner can’t hurt either. Ayehu’s Next Generation Automation platform is designed to streamline ITSM while freeing up agents to focus on honing and applying their evolving skills most effectively. Now you can try it free for 30 days by clicking here.

ITSM Automation Explained

IT Service Management is the lifeblood of an organization. But if the people, processes and technology that are in place aren’t adequately optimized, the very function of ITSM simply cannot add value. Automation can pull all of this together and streamline operations for maximum efficiency and service levels. But what, exactly, is ITSM automation? More importantly, what can it do for your business? Let’s take a look.

There are several different levels of ITSM automation, each offering a certain degree of functionality. The most basic form of automation used in the context of IT service management is that of ticketing workflow. This involves automating the following tasks:

  • Opening tickets based on the service catalog
  • Updating ticket SLA based on priority
  • Setting ticket attributes based on category
  • Initiating ticketing status workflow

The next level of ITSM automation is capable of repeatedly opening tickets based on a particular schedule. For instance, the IT team can schedule weekly or monthly maintenance workflows for network equipment.

Beyond this is advanced ITSM automation, which is intelligent and intuitive and subsequently adds the most value. With this type of AI-powered automation, tickets can be moved from creation all the way through resolution without the need for any human intervention. A sample workflow using this type of automation might be as follows:

  • Monitoring software detects low disk space on a specific server
  • Monitoring software opens a ticket in the ITSM automation platform
  • The automation platform automatically assesses the ticket request and categorizes it accordingly
  • ITSM platform initiates the automated workflow for disk space remediation (i.e. deleting temp or large files that are no longer needed)
  • Upon completion of the designated workflow and a follow-up disk space analysis, the ITSM platform automatically updates the ticket and marks it as resolved

Of course, this is just one example of the myriad of tasks, workflows and processes that can be fully automated. Perhaps the most important takeaway here is that an advanced ITSM automation platform can dramatically streamline the way IT operates, shifting most or all of the system administration tasks from human to machine. And because the automated processes are recorded, management can review these events to determine if there are areas where further improvement can and should be made.

Not only does ITSM automation save the enterprise a significant amount of money in terms of operating costs, but it also frees up service desk agents to focus their efforts on more mission-critical tasks and projects, such as those pertaining to increasing customer satisfaction rates.

In seeing the functionality and benefits of ITSM automation, the question then becomes not if an organization should adopt this technology, but how soon can they do so.

Take our ITSM automation platform for a test drive today and experience it for yourself free for 30 days!

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