Last week, the Service Automation Framework was launched together with the corresponding training and certification scheme. In the many questions that came by leading up to the launch, one question came back a number of times: what is the difference between Service Management and Service Automation. In this short article, I hope to provide you with an answer to this question.
Service Management (and ITSM in particular) is an important domain in almost every organization. According to the most widely used definition, Service Management is a set of organizational resources and capabilities that aims to deliver valuable services to its customer. Service Management is about optimizing value in order to ensure business requirements are met, frequently on a corporate level. The domain of Service Management is dominated by ITIL (the IT Service Management Library), which was developed by the British Government in the end of the 1970s and which has grown to become the global standard for most organizations said.
In Service Management, organizations take a lifecycle approach to the delivery of services. The delivery of services starts with a service strategy and transitions all the way from design, testing and deployment, into actual service operation. As such, Service Management is very much neutral in the means by which services are delivered. Service Management does not advocate for a specific form of service delivery or any kind of technology. As long as the service meets the business requirements, the service is considered of value.
Service Automation is a relatively new, but rapidly growing domain in the delivery of services. As Microsoft recently stated into their 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report, 90% of their customers in Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA expect brands to have an online customer self-service portal. According to the official definition, Service Automation is the practice of an industry that enables their autonomous users to procure, manage and adjust services through self-service technology and concepts in order to systematically exceed user expectations. As such, it is primarily aimed at optimizing the User Experience of (digital) services in enterprises.
Service Automation is the practice of an industry that enables their autonomous users to procure, manage and adjust services through self-service technology and concepts in order to systematically exceed user expectations
Unlike Service Management, Service Automation has a very clear message about the means by which services should be delivered. It aims to automate as much of the steps possible in the service delivery process. In order to start delivering automated services, the Service Automation Framework provides a number of techniques for the design and delivery of automated services. As could be expected, there is a strong focus on (platform) technology in Service Automation.
Competing or complimentary frameworks?
Service Management and Service Automation are definitely complimentary frameworks. Service Management provides a wealth of knowledge in terms of how to effectively plan and execute a service organization, both for digital and traditional services. Service Automation provides more detailed guidance for the subset of service providers who aim to have fully automated services.
Organizations can easily integrate Service Automation within their existing Service Management organizations. Most of the more operational ITIL processes can be integrated into the process cluster of ‘Service Delivery Automation’ of the Service Automation Framework. The main difference would be that those support processes would subsequently need to be automated in order to fit into the nature of Service Automation.