Artificial intelligence was once a phenomenon restricted to sci-fi movies, but technology has finally caught up with imagination. Now AI has become reality and amazingly, most people encounter some form of artificial intelligence in their everyday lives.
For example, AI has dramatically improved the technology in our homes. Amazon’s Alexa can carry out a number of functions via voice interactions, such as playing music, answering factual questions and even making online purchases. And now, with the recent launch of AmazonGo, AI allows shoppers to simply walk out of a shop with their purchases and automatically get charged, sending an invoice directly to their phone.
To truly understand AI, we must first absorb its definition. According to Gartner there are three key requirements that define AI:
1. It needs to be able to adapt its behaviour based on experience.
2. It can’t be totally dependent on instructions from people and thus, needs to be able to learn on its own.
3. It needs to be able to come up with unanticipated results.
If you are following these requirements the AI that we interact with on a daily basis, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, are defined as ‘weak AI’. This means that they were created by a number of algorithms that have been built to accomplish specific tasks. ‘Strong AI’ and ‘General AI’, that can replicate or even exceed human intelligence, may be the final aim for scientists but have not yet been successfully developed. This type of AI is still confined to existence on the movie screen – for now.
But Weak (or Narrow) AI is still very powerful today. Not only is this AI impacting our homes, but much of the excitement surrounding its development stems from its potential to revolutionise the workplace. Another Gartner report also states that “employing AI offers enterprises the opportunity to give customers an improved experience at every point of interaction, but without human governance, the opportunity will be squandered.” So as AI is implemented into the corporate environment, it will need “human governance” in order to be successful. This responsibility will most likely fall into the hands of corporate IT Service Management (ITSM) teams.
AI’s role in the revolution of ITSM
However, in turn AI also has the potential to transform ITSM into a more user friendly and efficient system. The adoption of AI should in theory allow members of IT to delegate their more mundane daily tasks to AI software and free up their time to pursue more strategic activities. Rather than operating in the background, IT staff would be able to re-position themselves as key business enablers.
We are already seeing AI technology being used in chatbot software, helping to move the task of dealing with customer inquiries and issues away from IT staff. This utilises conversational user interfaces, natural language recognition and learning/pattern recognition.
These conversation-based pattern and intent-learning technologies open the door for AI to be able to converse, learn and interpret an individual’s feelings, thus allowing for a more complex understanding of human behaviour. A learning, conversational AI experience will be critical for AI technology to succeed, and will revolutionise ITSM in a number of different ways.
An AI-automated front line
At the moment, automated ITSM processes only work if all information provided is accurate, and mistakes can easily occur if a customer accidentally provides incorrect information. This can be as simple as customer clicking on the wrong link or wrongly ticking a box on an online form, perhaps making a request when they actually need troubleshooting help.
Consequently, customer experience can be poor as requests and incidents are either delayed or lost. This risk and uncertainty in old-style self-service ‘portals’ still means that most companies are understandably reluctant to divert their human ITSM front line resources away from handling phone conversations.
Adding AI technology to conversational chatbots enables the development of automated ITSM solutions that have the capability to interpret, diagnose and even assist on incidents and requests accurately without human intervention. As the technology develops, we will see it improve and personalise the end-user experience.
Good ITSM operates many ‘back-end’ processes and activities that may not be visible to an end user, yet ensure that vital IT systems remain operational, efficient and also help to improve the business.
Many proactive, corrective or fulfilment activities across incident management, request management and into event management, release management and change management can be made more efficient when an AI-enabled ITSM solution is integrated with other systems on the network. For example, ITSM AI can detect and automatically open a request or create or update an incident without human intervention.
For example, if AI-enabled ITSM was connected to IoT devices it would be notified instantly if a smart device was malfunctioning, without the end-user having to report it. Imagine how efficient this would make IT – the business would be well aware of its important place as a business enabler.
All knowing AI
Furthermore, applying ITSM principles and decision making to the large volume of data from multiple IT systems within an organisation, introduces the ability to see much larger patterns, resulting in incredibly high operational efficiency. This would enable ITSM tools to lead with real-time insights and predictions about how a problem could progress, and give recommendations on how to fix it.
An ITSM solution powered by AI can even go one step further. If knowledge databases did not have answers to end user queries, technology would have the ability to search for answers on trusted websites.
It would also be able to solve problems based on data gathered from more than one single organisation, and would be able to learn new knowledge from offering solutions to users’ questions and needs.
Ultimately although AI will improve over the next few years or even decades, humans remain vital for delivering good IT services. But an AI-enhanced ITSM system is not too far out of our reach – AI is evolving at a rapid pace and has the potential to work alongside humans to create a more efficient working environment. The introduction of AI technology into ITSM principles and toolsets will allow IT staff to become business enablers and productivity transformers, while technology does the heavy lifting.
Sourced by Ian Aitchison, senior product director, ITSM at Ivanti