Enterprise Service Management (ESM): ITSM Moves Into the Enterprise

by Valerie O'Connell, Research Director, IT Service and Business Management

“If you build it, they will come.”
A misquote from the movie “Field of Dreams”1

“It’s actually crazy what we’ve been able to do with this.”
An accurate quote from the head of IT operations at a multi-national retail group about ESM on ITSM

The head of IT operations and service at this retail giant described his company’s initial ESM venture as a modest one. Eighty specialized help desks were opening 35,000 tickets each month from roughly 50,000 IT and facilities calls. The company took stock of what they were doing when elevators shut down, lightbulbs went out, desk drawers stuck, or toilets clogged, and employees realized they could deal with non-IT requests and incidents the same way they handled IT issues. 

Rather than start up a facilities service desk or department from scratch, they took the logical step to channel those non-IT activities through their existing ITSM system using established practices. Today, all electrical, plumbing, furniture, and access cards that are not working—any issue related to facilities—is logged within the company’s existing ITSM system, then routed to the appropriate facilities or maintenance department for resolution. Resolution is reported back to the (one) service desk, which closes the ticket.

The next step was to roll all of those non-IT service requests into a service catalog. The company had already built a catalog for IT laptops, screens, and keyboards. It was a simple matter to add things like furniture and generators. IT tracks SLAs for facilities’ use but is not held accountable for their performance. The service desk is now handling under 8,000 tickets per month, with facilities at about 400. Successful by any metric that could be devised, news of the facilities’ IT venture into ESM drew other functions and departments to IT’s door (he built it; they came).

When asked what IT had to do differently to accommodate the non-IT use cases, the IT executive answered, “Nothing. It’s actually easier to do than IT incidents. An incident is an incident, whether it occurs in IT, facilities, or retail store operations. It was business as usual for us. The businesses came to us with a problem. We gave them the solution—the textbook version of incident management. Their only expectation was the business outcome. We never had an ITIL discussion; they just use the service desk.”

He added, “There was absolutely no customization on our side. The most time-consuming element was incident configuration, which you have to do anyway, and we keep separate databases. That’s it. So, we added 24,000 assets without a hitch. It’s actually crazy what we’ve been able to do with this.”

ESM’s springboard off ITSM is not just for industry giants

Recent EMA research explored the state of ESM in a global study of 400 IT leaders. One of the many conclusions is that ESM is mainstream. Fully 87% have some level of ESM deployment (established, current, or in the planning stage); only 4% have no plans. Not surprisingly, there is a significant divide between mature and relatively new deployments in terms of benefits derived, use of AI and automation, adoption levels, and number of non-IT areas being served from established ITSM implementations. Respondents overwhelmingly viewed ESM as having a positive effect on the relationship of IT/ITSM teams and business stakeholders regardless of deployment maturity.  

Far from diminishing IT’s role, ESM initiatives are overwhelmingly staffed by ITSM teams who use ITSM to log activities and route them to the relevant fulfilling department. Building on established ITSM solutions and processes, IT brings immediate business value to business stakeholders. In doing so, it becomes a true business partner and elevates the level of conversation around the corporate table. When it comes to ESM, EMA research and field experience concur: If you build it, they really will come.

In all cases, the outlook for ITSM is bright:

  • Fifty-five percent viewed ITSM as substantially growing in importance
  • Thirty-one percent saw ITSM as somewhat growing in importance
  • Twelve percent said it would stay the same
  • Only 2% saw ITSM declining in importance

Putting budget behind beliefs, most organizations report ITSM budget increases between 10% and 75%, with the majority clocking in between 10% and 50%. Only 10% anticipate level funding and a negligible handful expect a cut.

Learn More

Watch this on-demand webinar on “Enterprise Service Management (ESM): How to Build High-Value Services on Existing ITSM Investments” featuring myself and Manag-E CEO Rolf Frydenberg. You will get insights into field research and practical experience designed to jumpstart your ESM initiatives, as well as hands-on advice from a seasoned practitioner who has implemented scores of ESM deployments. 


1 The encouraging voice actually told Kevin Costner’s character, “If you build it, he will come,” but once the field was built, a whole team appeared to play ball.