Digital service: A Computer Weekly Downtime Upload podcast

It is amazing how the digital world has evolved. Digitisation, says Harmeen Mehta, chief digital innovation officer at BT, informs organisations on what kind of products to build and how they build these products.

It has also meant that organisations structure IT in a way that is more agile. She says there is a lot of emphasis on building out platforms and efficient IT operations. But, in her experience, many organisations are falling short. “We want to be seen to be doing all the new cool stuff,” she says.

But it is paramount, according to Mehta , to organise IT around the platform. She urges IT leaders to consider different approaches to thinking about service management, which, she says, is often left as an afterthought.

Computer Weekly spoke to Mehta earlier in 2023, following her trip to Mobile World Congress.

In her experience organisations often take a product-led view or a business-led view of the digital service they deliver. There is plenty of effort and emphasis put on the front-end and customer facing aspects of digitisation initiatives, but the back-end, which impacts the end-to-end customer experience is sometimes an afterthought.

“Coming from a lens of being customer-first or truly being customer-obsessed during the life cycle of a customer is not only about how the customer interacts with us, it’s also how we interact with the customers,” she adds. Equally important is when this interaction with the customer is broken.

This is the realm of IT service management and, according to Mehta, it needs to be part of a digitisation plan. “If digitisation has paved the way to new products and platform- thinking and AI, why would service management almost cease to exist? Why would I not understand the failures inside the technology and inside the organisation, and also have the intelligence to go and tackle them?”

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According to Mehta, all the technology to achieve this exists today. She says organisations need to consider using the technology they have available through digitisation to manage the tech running customer-facing services, to predict if something is likely to fail and understand how that will impact the customer experience. She says: “When we are digitising the customer journey, we’re taking the human out of the loop and getting a very good customer experience where the customer interacts directly with the tech instead of interacting through a human.”

Mehta believes organisations spend more time on things that are visible and less time and money on things that are not visible. But she says: “They need to be doing exactly the same in the case of failures or any glitches that happen behind the scenes. It’s the same thinking and the same thought process.”

In any conversation about digitisation, service management of back-end systems may not seem the most exciting topic, but for IT leaders, it is an essential part of the end-to-end customer experience, which needs to be taken into account. Without it, digitisation will remain incomplete, which needs human customer service staff to apologise for “IT failures”, when the customer complains that they are unable to do something.

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