Inflation is the economic headline of the day. But if your enterprise service management (ESM) partner is blaming inflation for increasing charges on your organization, it could be time to shop for a new vendor. Rising software subscription costs for IT service management (ITSM), IT asset management (ITAM), and other tools may mean that a vendor has not invested enough in its own digital transformation, particularly in AI, and now expects customers to foot the bill for innovation that it's been neglecting.
Any healthcare organization shopping for a new enterprise service management vendor should be thinking not only about how an ESM system can help it today, but how it's going to work for the organization a year from now — or ideally, five years from now. When customers select a new vendor, they shouldn't have to worry about price volatility or the disruption and risks of switching services to avoid sharply increasing costs.
Don't choose your service management provider based on the history of their brand. Ask them about their technology roadmap for the future. Then ask how their roadmap will deliver better service for the same price, or less, as they roll out innovations and learn from customers' needs and experiences. If their price structure is rigid, their technology is probably also rigid, and their ability to serve your company on a sustained basis won't keep up with your organization's need for digital transformation.
Enterprise AI has helped consolidate multiple internal services into ESM solutions, particularly ITSM, ITAM, and human resources. The low-hanging fruit for this consolidation has included departments that field service requests in a manner similar to traditional IT departments, or have strong, defined knowledge bases — think tech assistants taking calls and writing tickets as well as equipment, supplies, and other assets that are stored, signed out, and maintained on regular schedules.
Seamlessly linking such services together helps make companies more resilient. Consider an employee using their smartphone to sign out a laptop, learning where and when to pick it up and confirming their identity with their device when they arrive at a distribution point. That's efficient ITAM. What's more, as that employee experiences better service within their organization, their services to customers improve, too. If they can acquire laptops more quickly and easily, they can serve customers more quickly and easily.
To that end, AI can help combine multiple functions within a single platform rather than being siloed off to their own specialized app, accessible only to the relevant department. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this approach to ITSM gave leaders a broad view of how the crisis was impacting services. It also gave them the ability to adapt quickly to unexpected changes — remote work, for example — while being able to continuously identify worrying trends before they became critical problems.
AI Drives Costs Down in Healthcare, Not Up
So how do lean, agile enterprise service providers deliver enormous value to enterprises, while resisting inflationary pressures? And what features should enterprises search for?
First, look for multi-tenant solutions. Whether cloud-based or on-premises, multi-tenant solutions have the advantage of scale. When correctly designed, these solutions don't compromise security, even in the cloud. The cost savings are delivered in multiple ways. Many customers can share one environment. Customers' work in cloud environments can more easily integrate with a variety of applications. Server and database maintenance are handled by the vendor, not the customer, too.
Second, AI-powered digital assistants help automatically resolve ITSM issues less expensively but also, crucially, consistently and with personalized experiences. While they are working on today's problems, AI-powered digital assistants continuously accumulate knowledge and streamline services to help tackle future issues. This feature is one of the key points, as the appropriate use of AI should be driving costs down, not up. Over time, fewer and fewer problems, whether related to ITSM, ITAM, human resources, or another department, will need to be kicked up and solved by more costly human expertise.
Healthcare teams should interrogate potential ESM vendors about the learning abilities of any software they purchase, since those abilities mean the software will, over time, adapt painlessly to their needs, creating future cost-savings.
Third, flexible subscription and licensing models can meet the needs of organizations depending on their size and their individual requirements. This ITAM approach spares them from paying for services they wouldn't use just because the provider is pushing expensive one-size-fits-all packages and puts downward pressure on costs.
Customers should look for a vendor that can provide the licensing arrangements they need: licenses tied to named individuals, licenses tied to anonymous slots, or a mix of both. A company that has three shift workers a day using the same software, for example, should only have to pay for one license for those three workers, not three separate licenses.
Fourth, an analysis of ESM costs should also look at the savings that a high-quality ESM solution can create. Increasingly helpful software features, such as tracking the efficiency of service delivery to an organization's customers and managing medical inventory from procurement to disposal, can help eliminate waste and improve the internal handling of assets. The latter feature is important. Managing company technology inventory, for example, has become an increasing ITAM challenge with the rise of remote work because employees need laptops, monitors, and other devices in their homes.
Costs Down, Profits Up
AI-powered enterprise service management can also provide savings to organizations by analyzing their use of software programs and cutting down on employee time and company costs in multiple internal processes. AI-powered ESM can provide deep, actionable insights into all operating and maintenance costs, giving managers a powerful cost-reduction tool that can create savings without crippling an organization's ability to service customers. ESM providers, for example, should be able to detect unauthorized spends across an organization.
Along with these technological and managerial improvements, ESM also needs to support employee wellbeing — a topic that is increasingly becoming the post-pandemic focus of many CIOs. This focus can be coupled with end-user adoption of AI, creating more satisfied and productive workers and higher profits. A McKinsey & Company global survey found that 63% of those surveyed had increased revenue in the business departments that adopted AI. The higher performers had invested more in end-user training, an expense that ought to pay for itself and not affect subscription prices.
CFOs and CIOs are increasingly recognizing that the cost of tech solutions should not be tied to the forces that dictate the prices of corn or cars. Managed service providers that can deliver the goods without price shocks are likely more trustworthy and more competent, too.
Ryan van Biljon is Vice President of Sales for the Americas at Symphony SummitAI.