Along with most internal IT departments, in either the private or public sectors, higher education institutions continue to need to provide IT support to their end users – students, faculty members, and other employees – in line with what now seems like an age-old mantra of “doing more with less.”
But it’s no longer just a case of cutting IT costs and improving efficiency year on year. In 2017, students and employees now expect so much more from their campus IT departments – with these expectations very much driven by their personal-life experiences of consumer-world services, customer service, and support.
This is the real impact of this consumerization of ITSM and it relates to so much more the use of personal devices, apps, and cloud services in the workplace (or, for students, their place of study). It affects the whole service “envelope” that goes around the provided IT services; and the use of modern IT service management best practice and technologies will definitely help higher ed institutions to better meet these increased student and employee expectations, wants, and needs.
Here are three key ways in which higher ed institutions can benefit from ITSM:
1. Introducing a Self-Service Capability
Self-service has been sold as a potential silver bullet for corporate IT organizations for a number of years now, and circa 80% of organizations in both the US and UK have invested in some form or self-service technology (according to HDI and SDI respectively).
The benefits are there to be had – ranging from reduced costs to quicker service delivery and a better customer experience. With common self-service capabilities including issue self-logging, self-help using knowledge articles and FAQs, password self-reset, campus-wide alerts/broadcasts, and software self-download facilities. Plus, the ability for end users to check on the status of their issue or service request without the need to contact the IT department.
There’s definitely a lot of upside to introducing self-service. But be warned though – just because students and employees are using self-service capabilities in their personal lives it doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically use a new campus facility. Instead, sufficient attention and planning needs to be paid to:
- The ways in which different end user groups work and how they would ideally want to engage with the new self-service capability.
- Organizational change management aspects – from selling the change to end users (the “what’s in it for me”) through to how the change is introduced.
- Launch and continued operation – where a “build it and they will come” approach will most likely fail.
If these warnings, and other potential barriers to self-service success, are considered and addressed, then self-service will both deliver relief to the campus IT help or service desk (and the wider IT support team), and provide end users with a better IT support service.
2. Exploiting Automation
Most people who work in IT would agree that IT support can be a tricky occupation – there’s more and more technology in use, and it’s getting more complex, and there’s usually a top-down drive to reduce IT support costs (and personnel). Leaving many IT support teams under-resourced and overworked, while end users are expectant of better IT services, customer service, and support – the aforementioned consumerization effect.
To cope with this pressure, and to improve the quality of service, higher ed institutions should look to the potential opportunities afforded by automation. These include, but are not limited to:
- The process-based automation of ITSM best practices – as baked into in fit-for-purpose service desk or ITSM tools. With this speeding up both issue resolution and service provision, or any other support task. This includes the automated routing of tickets to the most appropriate resolution groups.
- Orchestration – where the ITSM tools calls up, or invokes, third-party automation technologies that then execute tasks in line with IT support requirements. From restarting a server, installing software, to spinning up a virtual server – this reduces manual effort and the associated “heavy lifting.”
- Reducing the “heavy thinking,” as well as the heavy lifting, load – using artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning in particular, to replace the manual effort involved in more cerebral tasks with the much cheaper, swifter, and more accurate machine power. You can read more about machine learning in this previous blog which offers real-world examples of the technology at work.
All three types of automation offer higher ed institutions the opportunity to: increase the speed of execution, reduce costs, and improve the customer experience.
3. Using ITSM Best Practice Outside IT
The use of ITSM thinking, best practices, and technologies outside of IT is a growing IT, and ITSM, industry trend. You might have heard it called “outside IT,” “beyond IT,” or the now-very-popular “enterprise service management.”
In many ways though, it might be best to think of it as one third of what is commonly called “digital transformation” – with the three elements being the use of technology and data to:
- Create new digital products and services
- Improve external customer touchpoints and overall customer experience, for instance via self-service as per above
- Supporting internal business processes, removing the reliance on manual efforts and disconnected technologies such as email and spreadsheets.
And while business can leverage ITSM thinking, best practices, and technologies outside of IT in lines of business such as human resources (HR) and facilities; the opportunity for higher ed institutions is even greater. For example, in the creation of automation-backed service flows and digital workplaces for:
- The admissions office
- The alumni office
- Faculty services
- Medical centers
- Research departments
As well as shared services such as facilities, finance, and HR.
There’s much more to be explained here, about the potential of enterprise service management for educational institutions, and so my next blog will dive into this opportunity in far greater detail.