Rob England writes in a recent ITSMWatch article about the evolution of the ITIL Request, from not even being mentioned to being a peer with Incidents, and points out that ITIL could go further:
ITIL v4 will, most likely, I predict, finally recognise that the Service Desk deals with generic Requests/Tickets/Issues/Incoming. These Requests have multiple categories. Each category has its own variant of a more general process that applies to all of them, in much the same way as there are several categories of Change which all undergo variants of the general Change process.
Oddly enough, iET ITSM has dealt with incoming issues in this way for years. Each incoming issue (these were actually called inquiries in earlier versions of the software) could be an incident, a request, a question, a complaint, or some other type of action. The logic behind this approach is that the end user’s interaction with the service desk may be fulfilled using one of several processes depending on the type of issue.
The important thing to do is not to oversimplify this concept. There is a big difference between simply flagging an inbound customer issue as a “request” and providing the right data and behavior to correctly automate the request process. The ITSM software must provide support for those processes that goes beyond simple categorization.