Survey: Is IT service management dead or simply evolving?

Johannesburg, 29 Jun 2021

Sanjay Kumar, head of marketing for MEA at Freshworks.
Sanjay Kumar, head of marketing for MEA at Freshworks.

ITWeb, in partnership with Freshworks, conducted a survey on the state of IT self-service in South Africa to find out whether customers are still struggling with traditional self-service portals.

Here are some of the key findings:

1. The IT Service Management solution most used by responders is Service Now (13%), followed by Jira Service Desk (10%), BMC (7%) and Manage Engine (7%).

2. Only about half of respondents (53%) use a self- service portal.

3. A third of companies surveyed (33%) report a high adoption rate of their self-service portal.

4. Asked to rate the success of their self-service portal from an ROI perspective, 31% of respondents reported marginal success, while 21% said full ROI was achieved.

5. Alternative IT self-service capabilities under consideration include an updated/new portal (33%), chatbots (21%), e-mail autoresponder (18%), tools such as Slack or Teams (15%) and voice (10%).

6. In 46% of the participating companies, IT self-service capabilities had been extended to other business functions.

7. These were listed as customer service (33%), procurement (18%), HR (15%), finance (10%), facilities (8%) and legal (5%). 


The corporate IT self-service portal has to be one of the most touted IT service management (ITSM) advancements of the past decade.

Graphed results

To view the complete graphed results of the ITWeb/Freshworks IT Self-Service Survey, click here.

"It was going to cure most ITSM ills, with the promise of “better, faster, cheaper” IT service delivery and support,” says Sanjay Kumar, head of marketing for MEA at Freshworks, “delivering against shift-left strategies aimed at meeting employees’ consumer-world-driven support expectations while also reducing costs for both the IT department and the wider business. More recently, the IT selfservice portal has been aligned with two key, and linked, ITSM trends – enterprise service management and the improvement of employee experience.”

However, many IT self-service portals have failed to deliver on their promises. Thus, the premise of this article – that the IT self-service portal is dead or “slowly dying on the vine” – is based on historical and more recent data that points to issues with employee adoption levels and the associated employee experience. The delivery of IT self-service portals has failed in execution and while organisations might be investing in their IT self-service portal, the changing service and support landscape and associated technology innovations will eventually make the traditional portal redundant. “However, this doesn’t mean that the need for self-service capabilities is dead. It’s simply evolving based both on employee ways of working and the introduction of new smart technologies.”

According to a survey on IT self-service conducted by ITWeb in partnership with Freshworks, email was by far the most commonly used platform used  by employees to access IT and support capabilities (85%), followed by phone (71%), while only about half of respondents (53%) use a self- service portal. 

The IT self-service portal has been aligned with two key, and linked, ITSM trends – enterprise service management and the improvement of employee experience.

A third of companies surveyed (33%) said they had a high adoption rate of their self-service portal, ie an adoption rate greater than 75%. Alternative IT self-service capabilities under consideration by respondents to the survey included an updated/new portal (33%), chatbots (21%), email autoresponder (18%), tools such as Slack or Teams (15%) and voice (10%). Kumar says, “Putting the alternative access channels and smart capabilities together provides immediate and friction-free service and support capabilities.” 

The use of smart technologies, for a variety of purposes and not just self-service, is growing. The SDI ITSM 2021 & Beyond report found that 44% of organisations see chatbots and virtual agents as a big ITSM trend for 2021 (with security top at 45% and self-service third at 42%).

“This reinforces the opportunity for IT departments, and other business functions, to use smart technologies to give employees the self-service capabilities they need and expect, delivering a far superior employee experience versus traditional self-service portals.” 

IT departments are also tasked with reducing costs while simultaneously improving the employee experience, and this is likely against the backdrop of handling increased demand with proportionally fewer personnel. In many ways, this is a modern-day version of the traditional project management mantra of “quality, time, and cost – pick any two” but with it now “better, faster, cheaper” and with the expectation that IT deliver against all three. Plus, with the assessment of quality increasingly being viewed through a business, rather than IT, lens and the perceptions of employees. 

“Importantly, the answer to this “doing more with less” challenge doesn’t lie in “throwing more people at the issue” (or more money at the existing IT selfservice portal). Instead, it requires a better understanding of how employees work and their expectations of IT, especially in light of the changes to traditional ways of working and the continued evolution of the automation technologies employed in IT service delivery and support,” he concludes.

About the survey

The survey ran online for two weeks during April 2021.

A total of 222 responses were captured, with 18% of respondents being executive managers, 33% at middle management level, and 35% being IT staff. 

The majority of respondents (38%) came from the IT sector, with the remaining 62% representing a wide range of other industries.

Follow the Key Findings and the Graphs links