This is the FIRST blog in our series that solves the equation that has been puzzling IT professionals ever since the acronym “ESM” gained traction on the Internet: Does ITSM + EAI = ESM? Here, we explain the evolution of Enterprise Service Management (ESM). Our second post outlines the steps you should take for Shifting Your Corporate Culture from ITSM to ESM. In our third and final article, we will explain the main steps (along with a few best-practices) that you should follow to Build a Strong Enterprise Service Management (ESM) Strategy.
Services—in various forms—have been around for hundreds of years. There were (and still are) legal services, transportation services, cleaning services, repair services, government services, and many other forms of assistance that utilize the concept of leveraging additional resources to complete specialized tasks. Information Technology (IT) services, on the other hand, have existed for a much shorter timeframe. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term “information technology” was first used in 1978. Although computers (in various forms) existed long before 1978, they were mainly utilized to perform complicated “computing” tasks before anyone ever considered using them for running common business applications.
The concept of information technology jobs (differentiated from “computing” jobs) first emerged in the early nineteen-seventies. The evolution of networks and PCs resulted in computers being placed on the desks of non-computing staff. The application of computing to business processes required the creation of specialists to develop, adapt, and maintain the hardware and software required to support business activities. Once computers were applied to indexing and sorting written information, the term “information technology” quickly gained momentum and popularity.
The IT Service Desk got a formal boost at the end of the 1980s with the advent of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) guidelines. This library of documents led to the rise of IT Service Management (ITSM), which created guidelines around the types of services that an IT department provides and legitimized the costs associated with these services via a wide range of best practices.
Over the past few years, ITSM has evolved into a more general category of “service management,” by applying its principles to departments and areas other than IT. Service management, in the general sense, is even more valuable than ITSM because it enables a structure for managing data and resources that can be adapted to the culture of almost any part of an organization. Employees who work within this structure quickly appreciate the flexibility and autonomy they are given to perform their tasks quickly and easily. Internal and external customers begin to expect consistent value from the services they receive. Management is rewarded for putting a structure in place that promotes efficiency, reduces costs, and keeps customers satisfied. Properly implemented service management is a big win for everyone!
Enterprise Service Management (ESM), as it is known today, was born at the intersection where employees, customers, and managers finally realized the benefits that service management provides to a company and the services it delivers. But the real magic happens when we add Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) to the equation.
What is Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)?
EAI is how we bridge the gap between disparate software programs. EAI enables data to flow from one program to another and provides interfaces to manage that flow. When implemented correctly, EAI allows companies to realize the entire benefit of their software investments by utilizing data to its fullest potential, thereby increasing interoperability between departments.
Independent software systems for Human Resources, Finance, and Compliance, for example, achieve what is required of them for a specific purpose. The only downside is that they work in isolation, causing congestion in the performance of business processes and problems that can add additional financial risk to the organization. EAI is an essential component of the digital transformation strategy for businesses today because it addresses many of these problems and risks.
What Happens When You Add EAI to ITSM?
EAI helps tear down inter-departmental boundaries and create a collaborative business ecosystem with a unified user experience. When an ITSM application—such as SunView Software’s ChangeGear IT Service Manager—is integrated with common business applications, the following benefits sweep through your entire organization:
- Information Sharing—ChangeGear IT Service Manager consolidates the data across disparate systems to create a single access point. This not only saves your employees time in searching for information from various sources, but it also allows users from different departments to access the most up-to-date and relevant information. When an ancillary application is integrated with ChangeGear, you will notice a dramatic improvement in collaboration between individuals from multiple departments.
- Centralized Data Flow— Before the year 2000, there was no standard on how to design an API—let alone how to use one. Application integration required the use of protocols, such as SOAP, which were notoriously complex to build and hard to debug. Companies had to develop application-specific interfaces and connect them point-to-point, as needed. The result was a complex network that was challenging to maintain and did not scale well. When SunView Software was founded in 2003, our company helped pave the road to where ITSM stands today. Together, with EAI, all interfaces converge into a centralized server (running ChangeGear IT Service Manager) that processes and redistributes data through integrated applications.
- Process Automation—EAI helps improve the automation of business processes and provides timely and accurate information to employees and customers. Modern enterprises require automation in order to keep up with the volume of requests. You can easily create new business rules that utilize EAI data via ChangeGear IT Service Manager and set up process automations, approvals, and notifications that cross departmental boundaries.
- Increased Efficiency—By streamlining business processes, EAI improves your organization’s overall efficiency. It makes communication easier, reduces time and effort through enhanced functionality, and provides better control over your processes. Suppose for example, you work in the healthcare industry. Your hospital could use EAI along with ChangeGear IT Service Manager to solve HIPAA compliance challenges; securely manage documents; deliver superior self-service experiences to doctors, nurses, and hospital staff; and accurately manage clinical assets. Using best-practices and advanced automations allows your teams to perform more tasks using fewer resources.
- Increased Agility—Real-time data is delivered according to the business rules you establish in ChangeGear, thereby significantly improving the speed at which your teams can make important decisions and respond to new opportunities.
- Minimize Errors and Eliminate Bottlenecks—ChangeGear IT Service Manager provides consistent master data for all applications that you integrate with it. EAI leads to a significant reduction of errors and process bottlenecks caused by double data entry and switching between multiple windows.
- Seamless User Experience—By creating a centralized service delivery model using EAI with ChangeGear, you leverage the collaborative capabilities of all your internal staff (not just IT) to provide a seamless end-user experience.
How Can Specific Departments Benefit from ESM?
By enabling ESM in your organization, you will create a feeling of equality between IT and other departments through your implementation of an effective and efficient service solution. The primary benefit of ESM in any organization is being able to take IT service management and have it used (and managed) by individual departments without the involvement of IT. Instead, employees are given the ability to raise issues quickly and easily—and have them managed and resolved in a way that works for every department involved. When implemented correctly, everyone can benefit from your ESM solution. Business processes can be created to help:
- Human Resources manage onboarding and offboarding requests, company training requirements, and perform other tasks.
- Finance and Accounting send out invoices, collect and process payments, track and approve expenses.
- Marketing obtain the necessary approvals to make changes to your corporate website, manage document review cycles, and solicit feedback pertaining to advertising campaigns.
- Facilities Management process requests for cleaning services, new office furniture, repairs, upgrades, and many other items.
- Purchasing accept and process orders for anything and everything that your employees need to get their jobs done.
- And so much more…