How to be Smarter than Your Silos – What ESM Means for AI and Automating Workflows

One of the hottest trends at the moment is anything to do with either artificial intelligence (AI) or automation. It’s not a surprise — after all, we are living in an age where efficiency is expected.

Organizations are embracing this because they want to be smarter, to be able to do more with less (work and resources). This desire was reflected in the “Transforming the Norm” survey of 500 C-Suite professionals who said (63%) that their investment priorities lie in technology and infrastructure.

Technology is the future; however, while investing in this future companies are turning a blind eye to one essential aspect: Enterprise Service Management (ESM). The fact stands that 46% of business leaders don’t know what ESM is – the same people who are investing in technology and infrastructure. And this is staggering because you simply cannot have one without the other.

Let’s shed some light on ESM and why it’s so important to nail this aspect of business before you can truly achieve efficiency with AI and automation.

Silo busting with ESM

Typically, ESM means to collaborate in a service-orientated manner across an enterprise in order to deliver value. However, earlier this year a new meaning of ESM was introduced: Ending siloed management. And this is really what it’s about – breaking down those silos within organizations that are a barrier to sharing services and processes across different teams and departments.

We know this is a problem as 68% of organizations admit to working in a siloed manner. But what’s even more interesting is that ESM and automation aren’t yet seen as connected, and we’re about to change that.

A barrier to intelligent AI

AI is only as smart as the knowledge and data it is fed. When organizations think about ways to improve themselves (maybe with AI), they don’t think in silos, they think in the big picture and see the astonishing effects that AI can have.

When they come to implement AI, it’s fed data sets that have holes in them or are incomplete. As a result, AI or machine learning will find it much harder to make intelligent decisions for the organization.

There are two ways to approach this challenge. First, you’d need to be very, very clever in the way that you work with AI, facilitating it to be able to pull data from all of your different silos (which could be anywhere in the organization) and make intelligent decisions based on this. When we take into account the cloud, there will be data and knowledge sitting in potentially hundreds of different places – this method is, therefore, somewhat unrealistic.

Alternatively, you can break down your data and knowledge silos and begin storing both somewhere central that AI can pick up with ease (does this sound like ESM?). This is a challenge but simple steps like having a central repository for knowledge is a great start. Once your teams and departments start sharing knowledge, they’ll begin to see the value of collaboration in other aspects, too.

For AI to be able to offer its full potential it must be led by a data set made up of all the different departments and teams in an enterprise. This is why the relationship between AI and ESM is so important.

Limiting automation possibilities

Much like AI, the possibilities when it comes to automation are vastly improved when ESM is in place within an organization. On a simple, granular level good automation can be achieved without ESM – take automatic creation of a security pass or car parking ticket. These types of automation can be a success in silos as they involve just one team.

However, as soon as you want to automate more complex workflows an enterprise approach is key. We would define a “complex workflow” as one which requires multiple teams. A classic example is the new starter process, it requires several different departments: HR for documentation, IT for setting up software, passwords and workstations, and the department that the employee is joining (to name but a few).

To succeed with a workflow such as this would require a consideration of the bigger picture, the different touchpoints from beginning to end of the process. If you were to take a siloed approach to a complex workflow, for example, to optimize one silo, that one part of the process would be seamless, but all the other parts would fail. Automation is only as strong as its weakest component.

Let’s dive into the world of sports for an example. Soccer teams are made up of 11 players and each member of the team is vital to the process. To put this importance into context, the probability of a home team winning a match with 11 players is 47.8%. When their team is reduced to 10 players this probability decreases to 18.5%. So, every player plays their part.

Now imagine a team decide to spend all their money on a striker and pick their other players from amateur teams. Despite being a talented professional, the striker will struggle to succeed as soccer is a team game, and in order to put the ball in the net he’ll need his teammates to provide the opportunities.

To achieve success in sports, it’s about seeing that bigger picture – building a team of all-round talent who can elevate one another. The same concept is true of automation. As there’s no point in just having one professional player on a team, there’s no point in one automated process in a complex workflow. Whereas, having a unified approach to the way the organization works (ESM) gives the ability to automate an entire workflow – and teams the potential to win championships.

ESM is key to outsmarting your silos

AI and automation are hot topics for a reason: they have endless possibilities and benefits, and they are the future. However, approaching them in a siloed way, without your ESM hat on, is not the way to get the most out of them.

You may be able to achieve simple automation and silo confined AI but to truly reap the benefits you must take a big picture approach. When investing in AI and automation think about how you can use it to connect the organization, build bridges, and bust silos.

Ultimately understanding the importance of the relationship between ESM and AI is the key to providing a service to your end-user that isn’t siloed but that of an enterprise.

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Hannah Price is an Agile coach at TOPDesk UK