2016 saw an exponential growth of digitization across industries, and experts say this trend will only continue as the workforce and consumers alike are raising their standards for the IT experience.

In this evolving IT Service Management (ITSM) environment, how can CIOs stay on top of their game? We looked to ServiceNow and uncovered nine themes that the most successful CIOs will be focusing on in 2017.

1. Get past the way you’ve “always done it.”

With the promise of reduced costs, more efficient operations, and increased productivity, businesses across industries are increasingly adopting cloud-based ITSM solutions. But the biggest mistake management can make in the shift to the cloud is to simply take a legacy system and recreate it in the cloud. You know your system doesn’t work perfectly now. Why take those same inefficiencies with you into the next phase?

Now is the time to reconsider the way you’ve always done things, to re-evaluate your existing processes, define what the business drivers are and what exactly you’re trying to solve today. After all, if Thomas Edison had only sought to create a longer lasting candle, things would be a lot dimmer around here. To truly take full advantage of what digitization has to offer—to take your ITSM into the future—you have to think differently.

2. Get the right tools to the team.

A recent IHS study found that unplanned downtime is costing North American businesses nearly $700 billion per year. According to Matthias Machowinski, IHS research director for enterprise networks, “Our research found that the cost of ICT downtime is substantial, from $1 million a year for a typical mid-size company to over $60 million for a large enterprise.”

The best way to head off these kinds of losses is to enable your IT team to proactively identify issues by pinpointing the source of disruptions. With the proper infrastructure in place and top-down access to data, your team can halt service disruptions before they become a major issue. Case in point: TransAlta recently shifted their IT department from a functional IT discipline to a service-oriented delivery organization. By connecting their information, people, and processes, TransAlta was able to reduce outages by 80%.

3. Give your users options for the cloud.Give your users options for cloud tools

Employees want to be empowered to use the cloud tools they feel most comfortable using and that will best help them do their jobs. SVP of ServiceNow Global Services Eric Clark recently stated in an interview, “People are demanding that, when they come to work, they operate in a work environment in the same way they operate in a personal environment.” Of course, without some oversight from IT, this could pose a huge security risk for the company, not to mention compliance risks and the costs of maintaining an array of different cloud services.

One way to keep everyone happy is to give your users options. Offer a self-service catalog of available cloud services that you can ensure meet your company’s security and compliance standards while allowing your users to choose the tools that fit their needs the best. We all know that everyone approaches their work in different ways—so let them! Give your employees a full tool box so they can do their jobs the best they can.

4. Prioritize security threats based on business impact.

It seems like you can’t turn around without hearing about another cyber security incident. Cyber Security consultant Marc Sorel recently stated in an interview with McKinsey, “You can look at a lot of different data that will suggest, in a variety of industries and geographies, that the number of midmarket companies that are being attacked is growing.” In this kind of environment, it’s critical to treat security incidents as an inevitability—it’s not a question of if an incident will happen, but when and how.

The best offense is a good defense, as they say, so getting the right people involved and the right information into their hands is critical. By automating and integrating security tools with the IT infrastructure, data can be automatically prioritized by the severity of the threat and by the potential impact on the business. That’s not just good sense, that’s good defense.

5. Make it easier for your customers to complain—on your terms.

According to Microsoft’s 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report, 68% of 18-34 year old consumers have higher expectations for customer service than they did a year ago. What’s more, 78% of the same group expect a customer service agent to know their contact and product information and service history when they contact a brand for assistance.

Offering a single, customized portal for customers to submit complaints, questions and concerns will make consumers feel heard while helping your customer service team address the issue. Automating simple requests such as password resets with a self-service tool will reduce the caseload for your team while solving the customer’s issue swiftly. For more specialized requests, connect directly to the relevant departments in your company so that the best person for the job is always on it.

As an added bonus, the data you gather through a single portal enables your team to identify trends and anticipate issues for customers, allowing your team to be better prepared to address complaints—before they end up on Twitter.

6. Don’t wait until the end of the month to analyze performance.

In the past, best practice dictated that business performance be reviewed once a month. With the technology available today, that’s a practice best left in the past (see “#1. Get past the way you’ve always done it”).

Monitoring business performance in real time enables your decision-makers to make the right decisions at the right time. Once you identify the key performance indicators that matter most to your company, you can visualize performance trends, eliminate inconsistencies, and make confident decisions—all on the spot. This approach recently saved St. Luke’s University Health Network $4 million by shortening their project timeline.

7. Make it easier for employees to be employees.Automating HR activities makes it easier for employees to be employees

People already spend more time working than on any other single activity, including sleeping, eating, and of course, spending time with their families. Why should they spend more time on their own HR needs?

In 2017, the most desirable workplaces will offer a modern service experience to facilitate fast and personalized employee interactions. Automated portals with quick access to employment information, career development progress, and direct connection to the person who can answer an employee’s questions will be essential. Employees already expect this level of service in their personal lives. It’s time to bring these same kinds of user-friendly tools into the workplace.

8. Manage IT more like a business.

According to a 2016 benchmark study, 54% of organizations are undergoing a major transformation in how they manage IT. The biggest obstacles in this transformation, they found, were “legacy infrastructure, change- and agility-challenged IT cultures, and IT skills gaps,” resulting in a high level of disruption during the transition.

How do you overcome these obstacles? Give IT the same resources already available to your key business decision-makers. With visibility into financial, project, and application portfolios, IT leaders can more easily identify waste, evaluate projects and applications on key management criteria, and allocate budget more efficiently. In today’s businesses, IT plays a much more significant role than simply a support function—it’s time to treat it as such.

9. Enterprise users are consumers, too!

When it comes to apps, consumers are ruthless. In fact, studies show that 34% of mobile app engagements last less than one minute, and 74% of users either wait longer than 48 hours or never engage with their mobile app for the second time. Needless to say, consumers are tough to please, and companies go to great lengths to do so. But what about when those consumers go to work? Do they not have the same high expectations in the workplace?

In order to meet the demands of the consumer in the workplace—not to mention attract the much sought-after millennial workforce—businesses will need to kick their app development tools up a notch. Tools will need to be easy to learn and easy to use, and process workflows must be automated and integrated between people and systems. Delivering modern user experiences within your company as well as without can make all the difference in attracting the best minds to your cause.

Modernize. Consumerize. Optimize.

Workers and consumers alike are raising their expectations for ITSM. Connectivity is king, and workflows must be intuitive and integrated in order to attract and keep a workforce and customer base. In this landscape, it’s clear that the winners in business will be those that take their IT systems into the 21st century.

Here at Virteva, we’ve employed ServiceNow’s offerings to modernize, consumerize, and optimize our business. What’s your plan?

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