Is Your IT Service Catalog Amazon-Like?

By Pat Calhoun • June 22, 2018

It’s hard to find anyone that doesn’t shop on Amazon, which makes sense because Amazon’s vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company. They have completely disrupted how we shop by providing an experience that caters to us as individuals while speeding up the shopping process. What used to take hours or days, now only takes minutes.

With Amazon, not only can I shop for what I want, I am presented with similar products, consumer reviews, and technical specifications – everything I need to make a decision. Then when I’ve filled my cart and am ready to check out, Amazon remembers who I am and makes that quick and easy too. But it doesn’t stop there. They go on to provide notifications about my order right through to the moment it is delivered at my doorstep.

Amazon has clearly raised the bar when it comes to the consumer online shopping experience. So why is it that we haven’t been able to achieve this level of simplicity inside the enterprise? There are at least 4 reasons why that is the case . . . and I’m being generous by limiting it to only four.

Reason #1: ITSM Catalog Creation is Complex and Time Consuming

The approach that most IT Service Management vendors have taken to catalog creation is to provide a “canvas” to build on. A canvas implies that the catalog manager is a skilled artist who can create a work of art given the right brushes and paints. However, catalog managers are not skilled artists. They generally don’t have the knowledge, experience, or time to build a catalog from scratch no matter how advanced the toolkit is.

Let me explain. Catalog creation usually requires some level of scripting or even coding. In addition, it requires consumer design skills to ensure that the catalog will be user friendly. Without these skills, catalogs will include a variety of buttons, pull downs, and other widgets that are inconsistent and create a horrible shopping experience. On top of that, images are of different sizes and sometimes cannot be viewed well on mobile devices. Finally, catalog creation requires time. Building a ServiceNow catalog, for instance, takes about an hour per catalog item. With that in mind, there is no time for creative design thinking and the end result will lack inspiration.

Reason #2: There is a Disconnect Between Catalog Delivery and Employee Expectations

I’ve worked with customers on many service catalogs over time. One customer stands out in my mind because his dilemma underscored a core problem – he felt he was delivering what employees needed for online ordering, but his employees could not navigate the catalog.

This customer did a demo of his service catalog. After typing in a brand name in the search box, the screen was filled with a cacophony of products, knowledge articles, and request items. In spite of the chaos on the page, the customer stated, “See – the requested item is right there! Why are my employees complaining and calling the help desk instead of selecting their equipment online?”

This goes back to problem number 1. Without great design skills in-house, it is very easy to spend a lot of time building something that most employees will not use.

Reason #3: No One Has Time to Keep Up with an Ever-Changing Product Landscape

Most catalog managers have day jobs and don’t have time to keep track of consumer product announcements. Unfortunately, staying on top of product announcements is necessary since new products are being introduced and obsoleted at a fast pace.

Is Apple announcing a new iPhone? If they are and the catalog manager didn’t add it to the catalog, the help desk can expect a flurry of new employee requests.

Is Samsung obsoleting one of its devices? Well, hopefully the catalog manager was paying attention and has updated the catalog with an equivalent item. Otherwise, the help desk will once again be dealing with a flurry of calls from employees who ordered the original item not knowing it was discontinued.

Reason #4: Not Everyone Who Contributes to the Catalog is in IT

When catalogs are introduced, departments outside of IT often want in on the action. For example, many enterprises have their own corporate stores filled with cool swag. Obviously, the employee catalog would be a natural place to put those items. However, unlike IT gear, corporate swag is generally managed by the marketing team. Given the complexity of service catalogs from vendors like ServiceNow, and the fact that the ITSM team has a lengthy backlog of IT related work, marketing’s requests are likely to take a low priority.

It’s Time to Deliver an Amazon-Like Shopping Experience to Your Employees

IT Leaders are embracing the consumerization of ITSM, and part of that requires a rethink of how to build a service catalog that will meet employee expectations. At Espressive, we think providing a canvas on which IT departments need to build a service catalog is a thing of the past. Why should catalog managers be required to have design and coding skills along with a current knowledge of the product landscape? Asking them to build a work of art from a canvas just doesn’t make sense.

Espressive makes quality catalog creation fast and easy, and we take responsibility for notifying your catalog manager when the product landscape is changing so that you are always up to date. The end result is an Amazon-like experience for your employees, which means employee adoption and satisfaction is high.

Imagine if your employees could receive product recommendations based on their roles. Imagine if new hires could receive bundles that made them instantly productive on their first day. Imagine if your employees were notified when they were eligible for a refresh and were proactively led through a shopping experience. And imagine if they could buy corporate swag because it was easy to add to the catalog.

Perhaps most important, though, imagine how happy your employees would be if they received notifications and could easily check on order status right up until the product was delivered using the same app that they used to place the order – even on their mobile device. That would be a great world for everyone involved – including help desk agents who could now focus on real issues versus spending so much time answering employees’ questions about where their laptops are in the fulfillment process.

That world is a reality for Espressive customers. I’d be happy to show you how.

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