It’s been nearly a month since attendees filled the halls in The Hilton Metropole for SDI’s annual conference and expo in Birmingham, UK. Once again, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and chatbots were hot topics this year – making an appearance in nearly every keynote and breakout session. These trends are clearly gaining traction, however many Service and Support professionals are struggling to justify the investment and, those that manage to do so, often struggle to successfully implement these new technologies due, in part, to process immaturity. Recognizing these challenges, SDI invited MetricNet’s own Jeff Rumburg to the main stage for a keynote address that presented a vision of the service organization of the future. In this article, we’ll share highlights from the keynote and 5 ways to dominate the brave new world of IT Service and Support. 1. The Carpet is Shifting, Learn to Dance on it – Jamil Qureshi was the first of many to point out the massive industry shift that’s currently underway in IT Service and Support. Think of the IT Service and Support industry as the carpet and the dance as your ability to achieve or maintain World-Class performance. Right now, AI, chatbots, machine learning and ITIL 4 are all battling for budget and attention. Unfortunately, many professionals in this industry have become complacent and don’t even realize the carpet is shifting below them. It’s not enough to maintain balance. You must learn to dance! 2. Don’t Force AI on Your Customers – Paul Phillips from CGI Global discussed the impact that IPsoft’s Amelia Project had on their Service Desk. One of the most powerful takeaways of the entire conference came from his session – “Customers shouldn’t feel like AI is mandated.” The fact is, implementing AI should enhance or improve the customer experience and, when used as part of a customer facing channel (such as a chat bot), should never be forced on the customer. This has additional implications in terms of trust and transparency. In an era where technology is mimicking human behavior, I have one nagging question – should we be letting the customer know whether they’re interacting with a human or a bot before the conversation begins? 3. Productivity Can and Should be Monetized – At his keynote address, Jeff Rumburg shared the results of a MetricNet survey that showed support organizations in the top quartile are able to return nearly four extra days of productivity annually for every knowledge worker in the enterprise! Interested in learning how to determine what quartile your support organization is in? Schedule a time to discuss benchmarking with Jeff Rumburg and SDI. Need additional incentive? Watch the keynote highlights, download the ROI whitepaper and just imagine how your senior leadership would react if you were responsible for launching the only initiative that can return 30 hours of productivity to every person that works in your business. 4. People > Technology – Bots are one of the biggest fears IT Service and Support professionals have. However, Heather Gilbank of Vodafone UK made an excellent point when she said “People are critically important for chatbot initiatives”. Sure, bots have already started to displace some jobs, but bots are only as good as the knowledge they’re built on and they’re also responsible for creating new jobs! The simple fact is this, knowledge isn’t static, it’s dynamic. It changes, requires maintenance and constant care and feeding. So, before you let the fear of a bot taking your job consume you, remember that people are necessary to train and maintain the chatbot! 5. Leverage KPIs for Continuous Service Improvement – In addition to AI, ITIL, machine learning and chatbots, metrics and more specifically, the discipline of performance measurement and management, was a hot topic at SDI 2019. In fact, empirical data shows that the most effective support organizations follow nine best practices when it comes to performance measurement and management. Download the Metrics Hierarchy whitepaper to learn where your organization stands. SDI 2019 was filled with practical ways organizations can dominate the brave new world of IT Service and Support. These five just scratch the surface, so if you missed the conference this year, I would encourage you to review the Twitter feed, congratulate the award winners and plan to attend in 2020!