Social ITSM is not only about bringing together these two worlds. It's also about capturing and sharing knowledge across the organization. If Eric, for example, seems to always have answers to common Windows issues, then social ITSM will capture that knowledge (provided people contact Eric via the platform, not by tapping him on the shoulder).
This does two things. It helps people resolve issues in the way they feel most comfortable-by talking to Eric instead of the service desk, which is more common than you'd like to think-and it lets IT uncover heretofore unknown repositories of knowledge inside and outside the organization.
Basically, says Pink's Spalding, this is crowdsourcing. "If IT monitors the social channels, then IT can provide the answers," he says. "If there is an expert out there who's giving good information and they happen to work for our company, then maybe we also want to bring that expert into the fold."
Vendors such as FrontRange are extending their service management offerings outside the firewall by including a company's customers. One client, a large energy company, uses FrontRange as a customer service and interaction tool inside gas stations in 1,100 newly opened marketplaces.
In doing so, says Kevin Smith, vice president and GM of FrontRange's Cloud business unit, incident management becomes case management and change management becomes managing changes. "It's making it more for the masses beyond IT," he says, but the core processes, which have been proven to work, remain consistent.
While social ITSM is more than just a new bolt-on interface, it doesn't change in any fundamental way how problems or incidents are handled on the back end. It may change how you learn about them or what knowledge base you use to find the answers (think SharePoint), but you're still working with ITIL and COBIT and all the rest, Spalding says.
BMC's Frye says more companies began using ITSM tools to serve their customers about five years ago, before social media took off. "Social has helped accelerate that adoption. It did not create it."
Biggest Social ITSM Challenge: Information Overload
This is all very nice, says Mac McConnell, vice president of marketing of BonitaSoft, an open source BPM provider. But, as with all things new, there's a caveat emptor: If you let it, social can proliferate and become just one more channel in which information and knowledge becomes siloed. It reminds McConnell of the days of wikis, Intranets and forums. "Nobody knew where to get the information." (For its part, BonitaSoft doesn't offer a social interface with its product, as SoftwareAG and other BPM vendors do, but it does integrate with platforms such as Yammer, Chatter and Facebook.)
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