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Everyone talks about them, but everyone talks about something different!

Enterprise Service Management, IT Service Management and Customer Service Management. As a hypothetical matter, almost every IT decision-maker is currently talking about these topics, but everyone always understands something different, as there are many definitions and even more interpretations of the terms. The following is an outline to define and understand these topics.

Again and again the topics ITSM, ESM and CSM are lively discussed and often it turns out that there are different opinions about their definition and approach. The ITIL framework provides a standardized wording for IT Service Management, but this is not always sufficient and many aspects are not considered at all or not in sufficient detail. Due to this fact and the lack of general validity of definitions for ESM and CSM, we have decided to make an attempt to create clarity.

As the starting point, we used the definition of Wikipedia on IT Service Management, having this general definition, we extended it on different aspects and modified or specified the wording. Having this definition created, it provided a base for further discussing ESM and CSM. Below you will therefore find our point of view including the definitions and results.


IT Service Management

IT Service Management (ITSM) refers to the entirety of measures, methods and technologies that are necessary to achieve the best possible support of business processes (BP) that are operated and responsibly/owned by the IT department. In this respect, ITSM supports the change in information technology towards internal customer and service orientation. Of importance is the guarantee and monitoring of business services, i.e. the IT services consumable for the (internal) customer. In this way, the efficiency, quality and profitability of the respective IT department can be continuously improved.

Enterprise Service Management

Enterprise Service Management (ESM) describes the entirety of measures, methods and technologies that are necessary to achieve the best possible support of business processes (BP) of the entire company, which are operated and managed/own by the technical units. In this respect, ESM supports the change from a department-focused orientation to a holistic (internal) customer and service orientation. It is important to guarantee and monitor all business services, i.e. those services that can be consumed by external and internal customers. In this way, the efficiency, quality and profitability of the entire company can be continuously improved.

Customer Service Management

Customer Service Management (CSM) describes the entirety of measures, methods and technologies that are necessary to achieve the best possible support of business processes (BP) that are explicitly consumed by external customers or that affect or influence them. In this respect, CSM enhances the shift from company-focused orientation to explicit customer orientation. In this way, quality, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty can be continuously improved.

How do they relate to each other?

If you now look at the three terms in context, you will see that they overlap and complement each other. In figure 1, IT service management is integrated both internally and externally. However, if additional (specialist) departments are aligned in a service- and customer-oriented manner, i.e. following the approach of Enterprise Service Management, this broadens the focus horizontally within the company across different areas. If the processes towards the customer follow similar principles, namely those of Customer Service Management, we expand this picture horizontally from the internal company context to the external company or cross-company approach. This means that these three models can be rolled out together in-depth and breadth across companies or implemented in a unified way with the help of process platforms.

Figure 1: Relationship between ESM, CSM and ITSM


The definitions and comments presented are of course not universally valid and binding for all, but they do provide a foundation on which the topics can be discussed with a common understanding. This helps us, and hopefully you, in our daily work and the professional exchange within the Service Management community.

SVA Software, Inc. offers you an ITSM feeder solution to simplify the ingestion of data into your ITSM solution. BVQ is a monitoring and troubleshooting software platform that takes care of your entire infrastructure. Having central access to your performance data makes it easier to integrate it with your ITSM tool, allowing your entire infrastructure to speak the same language (no need for individual scripts per system anymore).

The original version of this article by Marco Steinborn (SVA GmbH) can be found at

SVA Software, Inc.

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