Transforming Service Experience for the Enterprise
Innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly gaining traction across the business operations landscape. Businesses expect AI-powered technology to help them innovate faster and better so they can stay relevant to customers. Enterprise Service Management allows organizations to integrate different departments more effectively for smoother business processes, facilitating better, faster, and cheaper operations.
In this episode of Infosys Podcast, Infosys anchor Alex speaks with Gaurav Dutt Uniyal, IT Service Management Practice Lead at Infosys, about how and why must enterprises adopt service management.
Alex: Hello, folks! Welcome to Infosys Podcast. This is Alex speaking, your host, and we are honored to have Gaurav Dutt Uniyal as our guest today. He heads the IT Service Management Practice at Infosys.
Alex: Thank you, Gaurav, for being here with us today.
Gaurav: Thanks, Alex, for hosting me.
Alex: Tell me about service management.
Gaurav: Sure! In simple terms, it’s a framework, it’s a set of guidelines, a set of best practices to manage service operations for any organization more efficiently. The core focus of service management is to streamline and harmonize processes across geographies, across business units, across vendors to make sure that you have one global view of process across the organization. In a nutshell, service management is all about harmonizing the processes, automating the processes, and delivering a higher level of user experience. Now, when we look at this domain - service management, this framework itself has evolved in the last few years. Five to six years back, prominent framework or prominent term was what we call as ITSM, or IT Service Management, which focuses a lot on streamlining IT processes. That used to be the focus of several organizations for last few years, but in the last couple of years what we have seen is that organizations have realized that ‘hey, we have a framework called ITSM, which we are using for IT services, and because it provides the construct and the foundation capabilities which can be utilized for my other parts of the business as well, why not extend service management to my other business areas?’
Alex: So, it’s constantly evolving. Does that also have to do with when you talk about geography, you are talking about different cultures as well? So service management has a wide range of applications in terms of global or cultural enterprises as well. It that correct in saying that?
Gaurav: Yes! Absolutely. As far as processes and tools are concerned, one of the bigger focus areas that we have in any program that we execute is to build up global view of process and tooling, but at the same time have flexibility in our solution to be able to cater to specific geographies and business units. And I’m glad that you bought up this point about geographies – so, whenever we execute these large programs, one of the key focus areas is driving user adoption and making sure that employees of any organization embrace that change.
Alex: So, what are the current trends around service management today?
Gaurav: First one we see is the ‘service management’ in true sense is becoming ‘enterprise service management’. This is no longer ITSM, focusing just on IT. Service management is truly being embraced by organizations to drive efficiencies across business operations as well. We are seeing lot of organizations utilizing solutions, these process, service management as a concept for their business operations, as I mentioned earlier HR project management, project portfolio, CRM, and so on and so forth.
The second trend is that we are seeing is around bringing in more and more automation and artificial intelligence. So capabilities like chat bots, bringing in natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, decision engines. And what we are also seeing that while these used to be high level concepts or solutions out there in the market, now these are being deployed for our customers.
The third trend that we see right now is bringing in industry specific or vertical specific knowledge into service management. And to give an example – we are implementing service management process and platform for a large pharma organization. As part that initiative they are streamlining their service management processes, bringing in a new tool set, redefining their metrics KPIs, the way they manage and look at their operations. That initiative is going on at the moment. One of the problem statement that company wanted to address is that, as we implement service management, how do we ensure compliance to GXP requirements. GXP is a standard in the pharma industry. That’s one of the requirements they had, so when we are implementing service management we have to make sure that our solution is GXP compliant. Similarly, when we are having these kind of conversations with retail organizations, insurance firms, financial organizations, while the underlying principles, the guidelines, the frameworks, the best practices still remain consistent, not specific to any industry, during these implementations now we’re seeing a trend of bringing in the domain expertise and making that solution vertical focused as well.
Alex: So, has accessibility to the vendors and the customers improved, because you’re literally you are giving that much accessibility to them? And how much of what you are doing is tailor-made, because it sounds like because of the vertical focus on you are heaping everything in one consolidated package? Does that fine-tune what you are offering in terms of service management?
Gaurav: One of the proposition that we bring in is having expertise on service management, because of multiple implementations and civil programs we have done, but also be able to tap on to domain knowledge that’s available across Infosys. So while we have our team, which is a 1,200 minimum people, we also have access to a larger pool of resources where they have expertise on financial services, insurance, retail, manufacturing clients and all. That’s where we are able to bring in that expertise.
Now what we have also done in this space is we have taken our experience around service management, we have also leveraged experience from different domain SMEs, and we have packaged it all together and built a solution what we call as Enterprise Service Management Café or ESM café. ESM café is a solution that we utilize for all of our service management programs because it already has different processes, templates, accelerators built-in as well as a lot of solutions also a part of that IP that helps us accelerate transformation for any organization as they go through the service management journey.
Alex: So, tell me what motivates enterprises to go for service management?
Gaurav: Every large organization, they do have process, they do have automation, to a certain extent they do have the tool set. I think it’s a question about what is the maturity of their service management function within the organization. Typically, we have seen a few demand patterns which trigger service management. One, as I said earlier, large enterprises have multiple geographies, different vendors, different processes. Many organizations realize that we [they] are not able to get a comprehensive view of how operations are being run today. They have a large set of data, completely disintegrated, large set of reports and dashboards, but still not able to get meaningful insights. So they can’t take certain actions because they have so much of data with them but [have] not been able to get the right information.
A second trigger we have also seen is certain events like business services and applications are very critical for any organization’s business today. Organizations start seeing that my [their] critical business functions, or business applications are not always up. I am seeing a trend that there are disruptions in those business services, there is higher down time, and then we need to do something about it. The other trigger we have seen is how do you make it more lean, bring down the cost. So that’s another trigger for service management.
Other trigger we have seen is around user satisfaction or the kind of experience any user would have with service management. In today’s world, all of us have access to all popular technology - Facebook, Google, Amazon. We are used to that kind of experience the moment we step out of our office world. But the moment we get into office, we are still used to seeing that old portal, the way we access our IT services, the way we reach out to staff to get something fixed. There is a huge difference. And that’s another trigger that how do you bridge that gap and make user experience much better and seamless for the employees.
Alex: Do you see yourselves as business advisors or troubleshooters in this? Where would you place yourselves in service management in that respect?
Gaurav: Depending on the scenario, we have to play both the roles. Any organizations adopting service management, they have to go through a journey and that journey starts from first knowing what really needs to be fixed. Closely tied to that is knowing what we want to achieve at the end. So, in most cases, we play the advisory role where we help them define their strategy, the architecture, and help them deploy the solution. But in certain cases, we also have to get to tactical details to understand if there is a specific issue – that how do we troubleshoot it and then make sure that the inputs from the troubleshooting go back to the larger architecture and strategy that is being developed.
Alex: Streamlining, fine-tuning is a benefit but could you elaborate on other benefits that service management brings?
Gaurav: I think you are right to say that streamlining, fine-tuning are benefits, but I would say these are softer benefits or I would like to say that these are enablers to deliver benefits for an organization. By the virtue of having streamlined processes, better automation, better tooling platform, these are the benefits that get delivered. And what we typically see is huge positive impact on user experience. So, that’s one of the key benefits that we have seen.
The second benefit is obviously on the cost that an organization can save. In any large implementation, we have typically seen consolidation of at least eight to 10 different platforms into a single platform. Because of this consolidation and streamlining, there is a huge amount of cost-saving that also gets delivered to the organization.
The third benefit is around predictability in services. I think that it’s very important to know that because of having the right set of processes and tools, I know my business operations or my business services are going to be up by this percent, this much. So how do you bring in that predictability, forecasting into your approach, or into the way you are managing your operations, that’s the third benefit that we have seen.
Other than that we have also seen bringing more transparency across operations. Several IT leaders, business leaders that we have talked to [say that] one of the challenges they face is that “I have operations being done in different geographies, or different units are managing the operations with their platforms and systems and their processes, and I don’t have any way to get a comprehensive view on how my entire IT organization or how my HR operations are being run”. So by having service management, we connect those dots together, we have one set of common process, one common tool that can be used across geographies, across business areas, business units, and be able to bring in transparency in terms of the performance of services, what is the spend on these services, and that is a huge benefit.
Alex: In general, what are the different challenges enterprises face in adopting service management?
Gaurav: The typical challenges that we have seen with any organization, as they start their journey on service management, the biggest challenge is about the resistance to change. Because even if you have your legacy tools, which you don’t like, you know that the processes are broken, this tool is old, but at the same time you have been using it for 10 years or 20 years, depending on your stay in the company. So, in a way you are used to that particular tool or set of processes that you are using for your day-to-day work. As a new solution, and as we help companies go through this journey to implement service management, they always have the fear of unknown – “I know that this tool is bad, but I know this is how it works, and this is the process”. That resistance to change, I think, that’s one of the key challenges that we have seen for any organization as they start their implementation on service management.
The second challenge that we have seen is around getting the right amount of data as we implement service management capabilities. Usually, what happens when we implement service management –there are three or four areas that we typically focus on. So we focus on: one, streamlining processes; second we focus on implementing the right technology to support those new processes; third, we focus on enhancing the user experience or managing organization change; and fourth area is around building the foundation data which can be consumed by the platform as well as the processes that are being deployed. Other challenge that we run into is that many organizations they have this data, the information about their business services, sitting in pockets in excel files. It is in different data bases, it is in legacy tools, and as part of this transformation how do we bring it all together.
The third challenge that we’ve seen is also around maturity of users across different business areas or departments. We are trying to bring in consistency, we trying to have one set of process that can be used by everybody, but the way different users look at those processes, and how they use it, it also depends on how mature that organization is in terms of their current set of processes, in terms of the current tool that they have. So, we have to make a balance that certain departments will find mature processes and help drive their adoption. In certain cases, the maturity would be a bit lower and how do we bridge that gap.
The other challenge is in organizations they look at these implementations as very tactically that we have to replace a particular toolset, but service management as a domain is much beyond only a tool. It’s all about how do you set up a framework that helps you drive process efficiencies with the right tool, managing organization change. So how do we make sure that all the right parties are involved and they work together doing that implementation.
Alex: So with archaic systems, do you find yourselves having to educate your clients to a larger extent because you’re having to take that leap from their old processes and systems to a new body or a new platform?
Gaurav: That’s a constant exercise we have to do throughout the engagement. Typically, what we also do is whenever we start any large program for transforming service management, we usually keep an initial phase of around four to six weeks. This phase is all about planning, educating users, educating key stakeholders, building the strategy, refining the roadmap, understanding dependencies, understanding potential risks, building mitigation plan. We do that exercise in the beginning itself so that we at least know what kind of challenges would come up. So, that really helps us as we go through the different phases of the program.
Other strategy that we adopt is we bring in our ESM café solution upfront during our client conversations. With the help of ESM café, we can help users see what they are going to get at the end that ‘hey, this is how your target state is going to look like’. When they see the target state, how simple the process is going to be, or this is how my new tool is going to look like, or this how I’m going to request my services, the adoption or the participation level in the program increases quite a lot compared to if they wouldn’t have seen something live out there.
Alex: Could you share some scenarios of how Infosys helps its clients in service management? I mean, with an extension to the question that I previously asked you.
Gaurav: So, there are organizations who are starting with implementing service management for IT, streamlining their IT operations, and then there is a natural progression towards applying the same principles, the same concepts, same frameworks to their business areas as well. We start with IT, fix the processes, and then expand into business areas. Now what we’re also seeing, an alternative approach where organizations are starting with their business processes. They are starting with HR, they are starting with their CSM (customer service management), they are starting with project portfolio management – fixing those processes and then getting into IT. So we are seeing both type of implementations.
I am taking a couple of examples here. The first example is for a global fast food chain. The problem statement they had was that they had a variety of tools. They had different business areas with their own tool set. They had different ways of working, different processes in different geographies. When Infosys got engaged with this client, when we started the implementation, we were also helping them go through larger infrastructure transformation. So the challenge we had was to not only implement service management capabilities, but also implement service management in conjunction with the larger transformation which is happening on the infrastructure side. What we helped them achieve is to have one process that they run across all the areas in not only North America, but in the UK and other areas as well.
Alex: Is this a long transition from implementing the process to begin with to transformation? Do you give yourselves a large transitionary period?
Gaurav: That’s one case. There is another interesting case for a large insurance organization based out of Europe. The problem statement they had or the focus area they had was around user experience that how do we make it seamless, topnotch, how do we improve the user experience - that is what they wanted to focus on. So what they did is that they looked at all their business processes - be it for facilities, be it for field services, be it for IT, be it for HR, and they implemented a platform along with processes to tie it all together. So any user, when they want to request for service and they want to use it, they don’t have to go to those individual areas to request something - they had one portal where they can go and request anything which they like. Not only request, they can track the entire life cycle and there is a fulfillment engine as well. It was all about improving the user experience. So that’s another case example that I wanted to quote where we helped them through this customer satisfaction as well as improve the experience for their users.
The third one is for a CPG company and a very interesting use case. As I said, organizations are also adopting new platforms for their business operations and then moving to IT, it’s different way of how they’re adopting it. So this particular company, they started their service management transformation on the business side first. They picked up a set of business processes which are broken, which are running on legacy tools, that need fixes and they automated more than 10 business workflows on to the platform. So one of the reasons why these organizations are able to get it out there and achieve these results is because of having the right technology available in the form of this platform ServiceNow.
Alex: Having implemented service management to those companies, what differences, what benefits, what efficiencies did you see after sometime?
Gaurav: In certain cases, the benefits are very specific to the organization but these are general trends as well. The typical benefits that we’ve seen is that there is a decrease in the request that goes to the service desk. Typically, what happens is if you need something, you will pick up the phone, call the help desk, “Hey, I need this”. And then you can talk to them for 10 minutes, 20 minutes and then your request gets fulfilled. With the help of these solutions, there is a huge focus on enabling self-service. You’ll no longer have to call somebody - you can simply go to the portal, request your service, and then the fulfillment process starts. The second option could be that you can utilize the chat option using a mobile app. So there are different avenues the way those requests can be submitted. You no longer have to pick up the phone, talk to somebody for 20 minutes, to get it fixed. One, this helped in improving the user experience because the self-service has gone up, the volume of request to service desk has gone down. The user satisfaction is up. Second is obviously the cost benefit because you no longer have to make those calls. The third advantage is around consolidation. In all these implementations we saw, as a new solution like ServiceNow gets implemented, or as we implement service management capabilities, there is a huge amount of consolidation that happens across platforms. Other one is about we saw predictability in their business applications availability. So these are the typical benefits that we have seen, user experience, cost savings, consolidation, having better transparency and predictability in the way that the operations are being run.
Alex: Now, with any industry, with any profession, looking at IT specifically, we’re all looking to improve efficiency of processes. Now, I don’t know what level service management has reached today but do you see any room for efficiencies, improvement in efficiencies in your processes as well, because the last question I’m going to ask you is, bearing that in mind, what kind of future do you foresee for service management?
Gaurav: Just to get to this question, first of all, yes, service management has reached a certain level of maturity, but at the same time we could already see that the things that are lined up for the next 12-18 months, and how industry is shaping and how we are adopting those trends internally. And as I said earlier, service management as a function is there in most of the large organizations to a certain extent. It’s about what’s the maturity of that function and how do we enhance it further. Service management so far has been a flat framework and a horizontal framework with no specialty for any vertical, but now we see that there could be a potential – service management for retail, service management for healthcare, service management for insurance – could be mini variants that could come up. Internally, within Infosys, we are building those frameworks but we could see in the next nine to 12 months these newer areas like IoT would also get integrated with service management.
Alex: What drives you personally in service management? What excites you about the future on a personal level? Just one statement.
Gaurav: I think what drives me is the diversity of the problem statements that I see, and I’m pretty sure my colleagues and my team would feel the same. While we work with large enterprises and many organizations have common challenges, we still find two or three problem statements which are very particular to their business, and which are very important to their business as well. And then we get excited helping them go through that journey and not only solve the common problems which are there in the industry, but also help them solve that particular business problem. Then when we see the results that, when we did something on service management, how it helped them not only within IT, but delivering some results on the business side. So that sense of achievement, be able to solve those specific problems, I think that personally drives me and I’m pretty sure that I think most of my colleagues would also share the same feeling.
Alex: So you enjoy these challenges?
Gaurav: Yes, absolutely.
Alex: Thank you, Gaurav. I must say it was a very informative session. I’ve learnt a great deal in our conversation. And I’d like to thank all of you for listening and for more information please visit Infosys.com. We look forward to you tuning in next time.