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Artificial Intelligence Adds Automation to IT Service Management

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Posted January 10, 2017 By Drew Robb     Feedback

SunView Software's ChangeGear 7 is streamlining helpdesk processes.

IBM’s Watson may be busy playing chess or analyzing the lyrics of Bob Dylan songs. Such applications may make cute prime time TV ads, but what value does artificial intelligence (AI) have in the real world?

One company is applying AI to IT Service Management (ITSM). SunView Software has added artificial intelligence capabilities to its ChangeGear ITSM platform. Through the use of AI and predictive analytics, it brings further automation to enterprise service management processes.

This is in keeping with a growing trend toward AI adoption noted by Gartner. The analyst firm predicts that by 2019, those IT service desks utilizing machine-learning-enhanced technologies and AI will free up to 30 percent of support capacity. And within ten years, virtually every application – be it ERP, CRM, BI and more – will incorporate some form of AI.

“Invest in machine learning, big data and other smart-machine technologies to make current and future IT service desk operations proactive,” said Gartner analyst Katherine Lord.

SunView’s ChangeGear 7 is said to bring real-time, predictive insights to service management requests without the need to hire a team of data scientists. Benefits are said to include improved user satisfaction and the ability to field more calls and trouble tickets in less time. Known as Service Smart Technology, it analyzes user interaction data, support tickets and usage patterns to make suggestions for problem resolution while tickets are being worked on. Employees also receive self-service information in their inbox when they submit a request. Alternatively, they can interact with a chatbot for an automated dissemination of knowledge to users.

“The Field Recommender feature provides ticket completion guidance that reduces the time needed to get new staff productive and helps with consistency,” said one ChangeGear 7 early adopter. “With the Suggestion Center, our techs receive real-time solution recommendations right in the ticket, reducing the time it takes to solve problems.”

John Prestridge, vice president of product strategy for SunView, said Service Smart Technology taps into the power of big data, AI and machine learning to provide an intelligent ITSM experience that augments user interactions and provides real-time assistance and support to IT staff.

“It processes an organization’s entire history of tickets, user interactions and knowledge base and uses predictive analytics to contextualize the data and find insights that are recommended to IT staff working tickets,” said Prestridge. “These systems are constantly learning with every interaction and assist staff by auto-populating text form fields, suggesting possible resolutions, calculating load-balancing and more.”

Chatbot technology using natural language processing encourages staff to take advantage of the resources available to find solutions before sending in a support ticket. In addition, type-ahead search using predictive text helps them to better find knowledge articles and any relevant ticket from the organization’s incident history.

“ChangeGear is only one of the many types of applications that will be adopting AI and smart technologies in the future,” said Prestridge. “Other applications like CRM, ERP and BI are already seeing the benefits of AI and are providing users with real-time intelligence augmentation on their respective software management platforms.”

For instance, Salesforce just recently launched Einstein, a mechanism that uses predictive analytics and smart recommendations to provide lead-scoring automation for identifying new sales opportunities, and other CRM functions. ERP applications are also making use of AI to help automate customer service. AI-enabled ERP solutions can make use of virtual agents that intelligently understand customer inquiries and respond using data from historical inspection reports and work orders.

Prestridge said that in the future ITSM will include the ticket creating itself while the tech is on the phone with the user. This removes the administrative burden from the tech, who will be able to focus more on troubleshooting. A potential downside, though, is that it exposes weaknesses in the knowledge base. Many solutions lie inside techs’ heads. Getting them to write them down in an easily understandable and searchable way will be a challenge for many.

Another ChangeGear 7 user said the system helped in a few ways. Chief among them, it provides consistency in incident creation and streamlines the process. As techs have quick access to the information needed to resolve issues, it can also reduce restore times.

“From predictive insights to greater consistency in incident creation, artificial intelligence in ITSM poses great opportunity to improve operation speed and efficiency for the digital enterprise,” said Prestridge. “We’re only beginning to scratch the surface on the technology’s potential. AI is here to stay, helping take that potential and turn it into reality.”

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in Florida, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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