As the business and technology landscapes change, so does that of corporate IT support. I hear a lot of talk about consumerization, customer experience, and enterprise service management in the context of the evolution of the IT service management (ITSM) and the service desk, but rarely are they mentioned in the same breath. They should be. Let me explain why.

Let’s start with the idea of consumerization. And I don’t mean the “consumerization of IT”, or the use of personal technology in the workplace that has challenged corporate IT departments for the last few years. I’m talking about the fundamental consumerization issue (or opportunity), the “consumerization of service,” of which the consumerization of IT is just a single element.

The consumerization of service

Consider what the consumerization of IT is: using personal devices, apps, and cloud services in the workplace because they’re deemed a better solution than what the corporate IT organization provides. If you think about it, it’s not that these solutions are inherently better, it’s that they better meet employee expectations of personal productivity technology.


“Expectations” is the key word here. Employees have raised their expectations of technology based on their consumer-world experiences. These experiences offer so much more than just better technology; it’s easy to order hardware or sign up for software services, there are good support capabilities, and great customer service. 

Thus, corporate IT organizations are faced with the pressures of consumerization of service. It’s about so much more than just the use of personal devices. It’s about meeting the heightened expectations of employees across the spectrum of IT service delivery and support activities, which can include self-service capabilities, communities and social support, knowledge bases, mobile access to information and services, and a high level of customer centricity.

Customer experience

Customer experience is hurtling towards corporate IT organizations like a juggernaut. In my opinion, this is a natural extension of the consumerization of service, since consumer companies are embracing and improving customer experience in the fight to win and retain customers. If employees enjoy a great customer experience from service providers outside of work, why not expect it from corporate IT?

Offering self-service is a good customer experience touchpoint. When a service provider has a thoughtful and proven way to deal with issues built around the customer’s needs – now that’s adopting consumer-level experience.

This is something that many support organizations are actively prioritizing. Just take a look at this survey data showing that over 65% of support centers made changes in order to provide better customer experience:

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Source: HDI – “Service Management: Not Just for IT Anymore” (October 2014)

The customer is king. 67% of organizations report making changes to improve customer experience.

The rise of enterprise service management

If the consumerization of service makes sense, and customer experience seems relevant to your organization, then there’s just one more hurdle to overcome. And that hurdle is growing the interest and adoption of enterprise service management, or the use of ITSM concepts and capabilities, by other corporate service providers such as HR, facilities, and legal.

Other corporate service providers operate in a similar way to IT when handling employee requests for help, service, information, or change. But they often don’t have the benefit of service management best practices and enabling ITSM technology that improves operational efficiency, service quality, and customer experience. Without automation, knowledge management, self-service, reporting, and other capabilities associated with ITSM, they are most likely operating in a reactive, highly manual (and suboptimal) way that has an adverse effect on both the service provider and receiver.

Think about it. Employees aren’t only going to bring their personal experiences and expectations to IT, they’ll also bring them to every other area of the business. And, like IT, these other business functions will need to be ready with a consumer-like approach to service delivery, support, and customer service.

Enterprise service management will thus no longer be an IT department “push.” Instead, it will become an HR “pull” as they strive to meet heightened employee expectations of service delivery and support too. 

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Five steps for managing the consumerization of service

Employees and their expectations will drive both the future of IT support and the adoption of enterprise service management. To prepare for this change, I recommend a few steps: 

  1. Ensure that your IT organization can see beyond the consumerization of IT to understand that the real threat to, and opportunity for, IT is the consumerization of service.
  2. Compare and contrast your internal IT service delivery and support with your own consumer-world experiences. Document the key service experience gaps as an initial, quick-and-dirty view of the differences.
  3. Speak with employees about their experiences and expectations of IT and other business functions. This might confirm your observations and thoughts, but it might not.
  4. Champion the cause of consumerization within your organization and outline what needs to change for both IT and other business functions – selling not only the drivers for change but also the benefits to be realized across the company as a whole.
  5. Use enterprise service management as the platform from which to drive service delivery and support improvements throughout your organization.

Hopefully this sounds like a logical path for ITSM and service desk evolution – that consumerization will drive a focus on customer experience, which will, in turn, drive the growth of enterprise service management adoption. What do you think? What have you experienced in your organization?


If this article got you thinking about Enterprise Service Management, you might enjoy our resource hub, “IT Unplugged” for everything on ITSM, ITIL, and more.

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How the consumerization of service is changing ITSM and the service desk