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Recession-Proofing Your Enterprise with ITSM

During a recession, both companies and ITSM providers will be pressured to uphold high-value services.

Inflation-related risks, fears of a recession, and geopolitical uncertainties are on business leaders’ minds. In this climate, companies are leveraging ITSM technologies to drive growth; incentivize productivity; maintain in-office, remote, and flexible workforces; and find efficiencies to cut costs. Many are using a range of IT services to bind their organizations together, transcend the limitations of working in different offices and time zones, and improve employee and customer experiences. 

Yet they might still be asking themselves if they are getting their money’s worth from their current ITSM providers.   

Leaders at companies looking to revamp their ITSM should know that these systems rest on three pillars: user interface (UI), robust functionality, and affordability. Balancing these needs is always a challenge. It becomes tougher in a recession.   

With a downturn predicted, here’s what companies should consider if they’re dedicated to using ITSM to become more resilient.  

Take the Goldilocks approach. Some ITSMs are too expensive. Some ITSMs don’t have enough functionality. Find the ITSM that is just right for your company’s individual ITIL®, enterprise services, and asset management needs.  

Look at your ITSM goals as an organization. In addition to leveling up operational services, you may want to improve UI and CX to meet today’s expectations. That means features like conversational interfaces and digital assistants that intelligently evaluate and classify service desk issues. If you’re serious about improvements, you also want a robust ITSM that can track outcomes and keep learning incrementally, improving its performance over time. 

You also don’t have to settle for a plug-and-play approach to a new ITSM platform – and you shouldn’t. It’s never as simple as turning on the new system and there it goes. Sizeable (2,000 or more employees) companies need a bespoke platform and vendors who support the transitioning and training that are an inevitable part of the process. If your vendor can’t work with you to customize the right system and integrate it into your existing operations within a reasonable timeframe, that’s a red flag. 

Negotiate wisely with ITSM vendors. You may have already arrived at how much you can spend on an ITSM platform. The problem is any number of surprise costs could catch you off-guard – and frustrate your CIO. In a recent report, Gartner noted a common hurdle that organizations face as they look to optimize their ITSM costs: negotiating with vendors. 

As Gartner researchers noted: “Vendor negotiations … can be challenging even in the most favorable economic conditions; however, today’s high levels of inflation make it even harder to tell if your vendors are tying price increases to their costs or are simply trying to maintain their margins.”  

Taking a smart ITSM vendor negotiation strategy is a must. Make sure you can tell the difference between margins that fit today’s economic climate and unsustainable price increases. There may be hidden costs, particularly around monitoring and maintenance. Some robust ITSM packages can require a dedicated team of FTEs. Feature-rich they may be, are you paying for features you’ll never use? Take a defensive posture in negotiations. Make sure a vendor isn’t overselling. 

Look into how AI-driven technologies are often the best. Virtual AI assistants, for example, can cut costs and boost productivity, functioning as copilots that multiply an IT department’s productivity. As with so many other business functions, AI has enabled ITSM to transform with new capabilities that transcend point-based offerings, add strategic depth, and improve overall UX.  

Leaning on AI and automation to resolve a substantial portion of service requests frees your IT service desk of the rapid-fire triage that traditionally devours resources and time. A sophisticated AI-driven conversational interface and powerful decision-making engine can not only resolve issues but assign those it can’t solve to the proper channels. That means your IT team can focus on high-impact issues and build a deeper understanding of strategic needs. 

In the meantime, you’re providing the level of service and responsiveness customers have expected since the COVID-19 pandemic, when digital capabilities had to leap forward fast. Excellent CX/UX has become table stakes. Further, the seamlessness between enterprise AI technologies and people enhances not just the customer experience but the employee experience as well – a best practice for recession-proofing your workforce. 

In regulated industries, remember compliance. Your ITSM shouldn’t be commingling data at your bank, school, or hospital. Compliance avoids costly unforced errors. Those three pillars shouldn’t preclude keeping your proprietary and personnel information safe. Don’t try to offset costs for boosting UI with less for disciplined compliance. The risks there may outweigh the rewards. Ask your new ITSM vendor direct questions about capabilities: How does this ITSM platform keep data separate? Is the process proven and infallible? If the vendor doesn’t have clear answers, be concerned.   

It's no secret that, as technology continues to accelerate in speed and capabilities, so do the associated risks. A minor data breach can accelerate in a nanosecond and, with it, organizational costs can skyrocket. CIOs in regulated industries – such as healthcare, finance and banking, and education – have enough to keep them up at night. You’re better served by ITSM platforms that deploy AI, with its capacity to iterate better and better improvements in workflow safeguards and better vigilance against potential risks.

Achieve interoperability. Unify multiple enterprise systems under one umbrella to simplify your IT and achieve superior UI and the most robust functionality. But simplifying doesn’t mean replacing every tool in your tech stack, nor should it have to.

Every industry has its discreet applications. An educational institution has its academic performance tracking system. A financial institution has research and analysis operations. An enterprise company uses internal message boards. Each serves its own specific, necessary purpose. What matters is having ITSM that can work with these applications and break through the information silos.

ITSM can likely take over some of your specialized functions with smarter, cost-effective, productivity-boosting improvements. It’s good to go into a potential downturn with freed-up resources for new needs. But of the existing applications being replaced, are the new technologies simply variations or actual upgrades? Will merging and combining them improve overall performance?

Finally, if there are tools that can’t be swapped, will the ITSM platform be able to interoperate seamlessly with them? Robust doesn’t have to mean fully replace. Interoperability is far more critical – ultimately, that’s what reduces complexity and, therefore, cost.

A recession will put pressure on companies and ITSM providers to maintain the best services that add value. A smart approach that considers the most innovative options will deliver. Make sure you know what a platform can truly deliver across all your needs, providing UI, robust functionality, and affordability that safeguards the business against future and present challenges. This is an era when IT can shift from reactive to strategic, powered by the right ITSM technology. 

About the Author

Tim Lawes is Senior Director, Americas, at SymphonyAI Summit, a SymphonyAI division. 

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