Change management as we know it is outdated and ineffective, with nearly 70 percent of all change projects failing to achieve their goals. That’s why today’s IT teams are no longer just solving change management issues – they’re predicting them.

The most common IT service management (ITSM) issue during a large change is an application outage, when a system or platform shuts down and is no longer operational. Something as simple as email migration can wreak havoc on IT teams and stakeholders without proper change management protocol. When large technology changes like email migrations are not properly planned, servers can overload and ill-equipped service desks are unable to handle the influx of requests.

While businesses continue to grow into modern, cloud-based enterprises, the techniques and tactics surrounding change management as it relates to ITSM are not keeping pace. Without ITSM protocols that modernize with the business, the service desk is left to deal with serious, far-reaching technology issues.

Application outages and technology failures do more than just halt productivity in the moment. On a macro level, technology failures affect workplace efficiency and trickle down to the customer experience. So, enterprises that properly implement change management as part of the overall ITSM experience achieve a critical advantage. (For more on tech failure, see What Mean Time Between Failures Really Means.)

This is the key to understanding the IT and business services that employees are using, how to map and plan possible changes, and how to identify instances where changes could collide. When change management practices in the greater ITSM ecosystem are implemented effectively, enterprises avoid facing those issues that affect productivity and the bottom line.

Adding AI to the ITSM Arsenal

When enterprises plan to change a service, platform or application, the ability to predict the impact provides a significant advantage. With AI technology, IT teams can predict which employees may be affected if there is an issue, the cost of an outage and the overall risk that stems from the change.

This advantage is game changing for ITSM. Often, when enterprises are upgrading a server or rolling out a new application, they have little insight into the employee populations that might be affected and the overall cost (both financial and productivity) of the change should it fail. Foresight and the power to predict the impact of a large change allows enterprises to manage risk, and in turn, have a better handle on the impact of change management long before the changes happen.

How Does AI Forecast Risk?

The process for predicting risk depends on models and data. Before a major change initiative, leadership submits a change request to the system. In the change request, they identify the underlying IT and business services that will be changed and affected. Then, technicians apply a predictive model, including inputs around the frequency of the changes and the rate of incidents reported against the changes in the past. From this model, a prediction is made that determines the potential for an outage.

Teams can also use the model to identify which employees are mapped to the specific IT or business service and create a risk profile. With both the audience and the likelihood of a problem identified, leadership can assess if there are any integration strategies that need to be implemented before the change. When predictions say a change may cause an outage, the ITSM team can then modify the change plans to reduce risk, or proactively develop mitigation strategies should issues arise after changes. As with any predictive model, the accuracy of the results hinges on the quality and amount of data used. (Using a method of procedure also helps in change management. Learn more in Using the Method of Procedure (MOP) for Effective Network Change Control.)

Upgrading to a Modern Service Desk

The service desk is the first line of defense in combating issues when change management is problematic and does not mitigate the risk of service disruption. While an efficient, reliable service desk is a necessity day to day, it’s even more critical during a large change initiative.

Team members respond quickly to outages and performance issues. Clear engagement with the people affected reduces frustration and ensures that problems are handled intelligently. A modern, smooth-running service desk does this by untethering technicians from their inboxes and placing them within a service management system. Requests are no longer sent as emails, flooding inboxes and overwhelming the team. Rather, they are organized in a streamlined fashion and requested as incidents or service requests.

Modern systems automate requests by priority, impact and employee sentiment. The system then assigns the request to the proper technician, providing visibility and clarity for repeat requests. As a result, during change initiatives, technicians are empowered to handle critical issues rapidly and offer blanket responses to common or similar issues.

The Perfect Pairing

Complicated, outdated IT infrastructure makes it difficult to pinpoint how significant changes will affect systems and stakeholders. To continue “business as usual” after a large change, enterprises must modernize to include the predictive advantage of AI in their change management protocol. Paired with the core capabilities of a modern service desk, AI technology arms enterprises with the tools to solve day-to-day issues efficiently as well as any larger outages and service disruptions as they grow and evolve.