IT Service Management: Hub or Spoke in the Anxious World of IT?
March 16, 2017

Dennis Drogseth
EMA

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If you're a CIO, VP, director, manager or even a hands-on support professional who cares about the future, you can hear the seemingly contradictory voices in the news.

On the one hand: "You're empowered … You're transformative … It's the digital age and your products are our future."

On the other hand: "You've got to cut costs … How can you justify your operational overhead? … IT is too slow … We have other options, you know."

Based on ongoing data and research, IT leadership is more driven to be innovative than ever, but also more in need of justifying costs and showing value than ever. Combining the two is no mean feat, especially when individual technologies are put forward as the single tantalizing answer.

"It's all about microservices." Or at least, "It's all about cloud." Or maybe "It's all about mobile." Or else speed is held up as sacrosanct: "It's all about agile."

The truth is it's all about all of these things and a great deal more. The "anxious world of IT" is as much about cultural change as it is about new technologies. And that, of course, in a techno-centric mindset, doesn't tend to make things any better.

So where should IT leaders turn to bring the two together?

Culture + technology? One option is to spend a great deal of money on outside consultants, who often focus in a specialized area — e.g. process, or organization, but not both. And this can lead to a lot of circular spinning without real progress, especially since neither group is centered in technology adoption.

But maybe the answer doesn't lie altogether outside the IT organization.

Within IT, there may be a few surprising answers.

And believe it or not, based on many dialogs, hard data, and, admittedly some level of intuition, the "hub" within IT may sometimes be the IT service management (ITSM) team — either in itself, or as a key part of an overlay team brought together to combine operations, ITSM and development.

The irony here, is that the role of ITSM teams, is often seen as "mature" at best, "passé" at worst. And yet progressive ITSM is far more likely to be at the hub of IT transformation than relegated to being a delinquent spoke in going forward.

Here are a few reasons why:

Progressive ITSM

First of all, note the phrase "progressive ITSM." I have written about progressive ITSM, or "Next-Generation ITSM" extensively for APMdigest, but the core attributes:

■ Integrated operations, including ideally integrated analytics and automation.

■ Support for DevOps with insight into service value, project management, costs and usage, as well as integrated support for change management.

■ A more dynamic approach to incident, problem and availability management.

■ Support for IT governance — including documenting operational efficiencies throughout IT.

■ Support for integrated IT asset management, including optimizing IT asset for cost and value. In the best of cases, this extends to public and private cloud resources.

■ Embracing mobile as both a resource to be managed and a resource to further ITSM and operations efficiencies.

Becoming Service-aware

Effective ITSM teams have a history of helping IT become more service-aware. That may sound old-fashioned to some of you, so let's parse it out. ITSM teams can help operations cut through siloed walls with common processes, practices, metrics and objectives. My favorite quote from 2016 was an interview with an ITSM deployment where the CIO described his organization's progress of going from "goat rodeo" to the equivalent of good and efficient. While this can't happen if it's done only within ITSM — it needs executive support, ITSM is well positioned to be the "hub" of best practices within and across IT.

Operational efficiencies

In parallel, I'd like to highlight the focus on operational efficiencies, a requirement that screams out at me in virtually all my research — whether it's Optimizing IT for Financial Performance or User, Customer and Digital Experience: Where Service and Business Performance Come Together, (the two most recent projects from late 2016) just as examples. Based on data from both research projects, operational efficiency is among the most sought-after benefits, while at the same time being one of the most onerous challenges for IT executives and their organizations. And "next-generation ITSM" is well positioned to become a hub in coordinating and optimizing operational efficiencies, not only for the service desk, but for IT as a whole.

A system of integrations

Another attribute of the next-generation ITSM hub is that it is becoming a system of integrations. While ITSM in itself usually isn't a manager of managers, it can provide a core foundation for data exchange, process workflows and process automation, and communication (including social IT). As such ITSM can be an integral part of uniting the IT mosaic for consistency and efficiency, and a key contributor to IT-to-IT and IT-to-business communication on service status, costs, and relevance.

This is what I've seen based on the data and wide-ranging conversations I've had so far. But, like many analysts, I continue to seek validation with fresh data and fresh inquiry, with deeper dives into what's currently happening in all of these areas, as well as others, like the broader impacts of cloud, digital transformation, and growing pressures for integrated support for security and fraud detection. With this in mind, EMA is planning some new research for Q2: Next-Generation IT Service Management: How Real Is It Today, and Where Is It Going in the Future? When the data's in later in April, we should have current fresh perspectives on all of these trends and more.

In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts and comments. Click here to email me.

Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).

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