I was recently a part of an interesting discussion where individuals were asking why use cloud automation instead of an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool? This is a very real and valid question. I personally believe that both are valid business delivery tools. However, they are not duplicative even though they both may help with delivery of services. To view either as being able to replace the other is unwise as they deal with two very separate user perspectives; customer service and customer experience.
ITSM and Customer Service
At it’s core an ITSM leverages policy to deliver a structured and consistent customer service experience. You can leverage the service request process to ensure standard information is gathered each time and follow a defined workflow through delivery. This can help any organization as it deals primarily with a business process and allows the flexibility of ad-hoc technology solutions to complete each step. When properly designed the service request process in an ITSM can provide a very pleasing customer service that delivers consistent outcomes. While a structured process can assist with speed of delivery as it guarantees proper requirements gathering for the request and, much like a checklist, guarantees workflow steps are completed. But it does not guarantee speed since this is, as previously stated, primarily operates at the process layer.
Cloud Automation and Customer Experience
In comparison cloud automation also leverages policy but then adds technical automation to deliver a structured and consistent customer service experience. Since it also adds a technical automation layer it lends itself very well to self-service which is provides an improved customer experience. The drawback to many cloud automation tools is they deliver a service independent of an organization’s ITSM tool. This forces many organizations into choosing their ITSM process OR self-service cloud automation services. Luckily most cloud automation solutions provide an accessible API that lends itself very well towards integrating both processes. But be warned, an API does not guarantee complete and total integration.
There’s no such thing as a free puppy. While integrating an ITSM and Cloud Automation brings tremendous business value by delivering on customer service and customer experience, it also brings with it technical debt. Technical debt such as a structured SDLC, requiring new skills, and increased complexity added to an off the shelf solution. This typically puts the blending of ITSM and cloud automation out of reach for small or midsized organizations. However, for those organizations willing to take on the challenge will be greatly rewarded.