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Thames Water uses ServiceNow to boost helpdesk efficiency

AI-enabled monitoring helps IT to identify anomalies and improve service levels

Thames Water has deployed ServiceNow to enable the IT department to understand how software is used in business, and combat anomalies before they cause business disruption.

ServiceNow is being used to support 6,000 employees through an AI help desk, helping the water utility firm achieve cost savings of £6m a year.

Thames Water originally started using ServiceNow a few years ago, when the IT service desk was outsourced to Accenture. It was deployed as a global instance. “We then went through a transformation to insource everything.

“We needed to buy our own instance of ServiceNow,” said Philip Taphouse, command centre and ServiceNow programme manager at Thames Water. ServiceNow was then deployed as a cornerstone of the company’s digital transformation.

“We went full Itil [information technology infrastructure library], and used the cloud and machine learning to turn ServiceNow into a powerhouse.”

Thames Water wanted to use the cloud-based service desk software to enable it to move away from opaque legacy IT infrastructure and applications, to a more transparent, flexible and customisable digital platform.

ServiceNow, combined with AppDynamics and Solarwinds provides what Taphouse has described as “a rich source of information”, which Thames Water could use to analyse anomalies.

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By gathering metrics, Taphouse said: “We can leverage operational intelligence to truly understand what’s broken and identify problems. Over a few months, we can understand how an application runs and use machine learning to understand when it will fail. We can map out business services so we know where to focus our efforts.” This enables the service desk to reduce the average time it takes to resolve issues.

He said the company has also begun using the ServiceNow software asset management module.

IBM currently looks after software asset management for Thames Water. “IBM will come to us and say this is what we think you have,” said Taphouse. “Using ServiceNow, we can cross-reference licence serial numbers and generate tasks to reconcile licences.”

Taphouse sees an opportunity to use ServiceNow to simplify the starters and leavers process when people start or leave a job. “The biggest pain in business is the starters and leavers process,” he said.

By using a ServiceNow software catalogue in conjunction with Microsoft Active Directory, Taphouse said new starters would be able to choose the applications they need.

“My idea would be that the leaver’s laptop would be plugged into a virtual network, where ServiceNow would kick off service jobs that recycle it and make it ready for when it is next required,” he said.

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