OK, the second part of the title is probably untrue. But hopefully Forrester IS your favorite place for IT service management (ITSM) analysis and opinion.
My colleague Dave Johnson (who is well worth following from a Twitter and blog perspective BTW) wrote an immediate reaction to the BMC announcement yesterday. Of course as analysts we are pre-briefed on such things and having had time to think about the announcement I offer the following somewhat random thoughts and opinions:
BMC (and everyone else) is “suffering” at the hands of ServiceNow in the enterprise ITSM space (both new and existing business). Some might see the Numara purchase as a retreat to the mid-market or a tactical diversion to maintain revenue growth in light of shareholder expectations. However, I think it is most likely point 3 (below) – especially in light of the fact that BMC are nearly always in my discussions with Forrester clients on ITSM tool selection (albeit sometimes only from a replacement perspective). And let’s not forget that BMC has long been the dominant ITSM player in terms of customer base with its enterprise and mid-market plays – Remedy and Service Desk Express. BMC continues to win a lot of new business. This is an offensive rather than defensive move.
BMC has a golden opportunity to take a different track with Numara than it has for past mid-market acquisitions (see Magic Solutions), and it must do so if it hopes to build on this one and drive new revenue for the long haul. Numara enjoys a massive installed base of customers with its Track-It and Footprints product lines in the small and mid-market. They have been hard at work rounding out their portfolio to include Client Management (software management, systems management, and OS management), and other areas. Numara has been on a journey to re-invent itself and has been succeeding. Further, we believe that the culture of the Numara organization and BMC's will align well, as long as Numara is given the autonomy and investment they need to grow their portfolio and momentum in the field.
BMC Will Need Time To Work
Numara customers should expect relatively little change in daily operations for the first few months, as BMC aligns the organizations. If history is a reliable guide, BMC will typically give a larger acquisition such as this the opportunity to remain mostly intact, and inject key people and processes to help align the acquired organization with the BMC culture and ways of doing business. If this holds true for Numara, customers should see it as a positive step.
I need to say something. I need to say something about ITIL in light of all the “poking” I have done via various mediums (such as the What Next For ITIL? and Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community blogs). The fact that ITIL is an easy target; and that breaking something is far, far easier than creating something. Hopefully, we all appreciate that it isn’t really that difficult to pick fault with just about anything, even if it is nigh on perfect (oh, and that is not intended to be read as “ITIL is perfect”). But as the oft-quoted senior manager quote says: “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.”
I have great admiration for the creators of ITIL (or the IT Infrastructure Library as was) even though I do think that ITIL v3 became bloated, and potentially confusing, misdirecting, and demotivating. And, having only dipped in to my digital copy of ITIL 2011 I can’t yet comment on the latest incarnation of the IT service management (ITSM) best practice framework.
So what do I really want to say? Or “for heaven’s sake man, please cut to the chase.”
ITIL-bashing doesn’t work but we continue to do it
This might be an overly-dramatic statement but a lot of us do it.
I’d like to think that most, if not all, of us do it for the right reasons: we want I&O organizations to be better at managing IT service delivery and at enabling their parent businesses via technology. However, I can’t help think that WE need to change as much as ITIL needs to change.
Let’s look at some “facts” (OK, “facts” might not be the right word):
OK, it’s time to stretch the 2012 writing muscles, and what better way to do it than with the time honored “retrospective” format. But rather than try and itemize all the news and come up with a list of maybe a dozen or more interesting things, I decided instead to pick the best and the worst – events and developments that show the amazing range of the technology business, its potentials and its daily frustrations. So, drum roll, please. My personal nomination for the best and worst of the year (along with a special extra bonus category) are:
The Best – IBM Watson stomps the world’s best human players in Jeopardy. In early 2011, IBM put its latest deep computing project, Watson, up against some of the best players in the world in a game of Jeopardy. Watson, consisting of hundreds of IBM Power CPUs, gazillions of bytes of memory and storage, and arguably the most sophisticated rules engine and natural language recognition capability ever developed, won hands down. If you haven’t seen the videos of this event, you should – seeing the IBM system fluidly answer very tricky questions is amazing. There is no sense that it is parsing the question and then sorting through 200 – 300 million pages of data per second in the background as it assembles its answers. This is truly the computer industry at its best. IBM lived up to its brand image as the oldest and strongest technology company and showed us a potential for integrating computers into untapped new potential solutions. Since the Jeopardy event, IBM has been working on commercializing Watson with an eye toward delivering domain-specific expert advisors. I recently listened to a presentation by a doctor participating in the trials of a Watson medical assistant, and the results were startling in terms of the potential to assist medical professionals in diagnostic procedures.
It sounds like the start of a bad Christmas cracker joke. Maybe the title of this blog should actually be, “Why Should Buying An IT Service Management (ITSM) Tool Be Like Buying A Car?” but let’s see where this goes. I'll deliberately avoid talking about salespeople.
I sometimes talk about new application development in the context of acquiring a car: in that the business often says “we want a green car” to IT rather than saying “we want a means to get from A to B that is aesthetically pleasing.” What I realized responding to a Forrester client inquiry this morning is that the same is true in selecting an ITSM tool.
How should one buy a car?
Let’s look at ITSM tool selection in terms of needing a new means of transport/business support, as you might not actually need a car:
Work out what you need it for (is the need for a car, tractor, plane, or pony?)
Identify the features you need based on what you need to achieve rather than what is available (will you use 16 cup holders?)
Identify what features you need/value most and don’t lose sight of them
Work out what you can afford (this might impact the above)
Speak to your “personal network” about their experiences with particular models and vendors
Look at what is being said on the Internet (the social commentary)
Consult aggregators of opinion and experiences (analysts and some consultants)
Speak with existing customers (and not just the ones that the car sales person points you at)
Ask for what you actually need
Always, always have a test drive and kick the tires (that is a test drive by the people who will be driving the vehicle in their job rather than the people who watch them drive). Get a pilot implementation
The news this week in the UK has been awash with articles in relation to the potential problems that the Olympics 2012 could bring with reports of transport chaos, security rehearsals happening near Forrester’s London office to secret security documents being left on a train which detail policing measures. This is undoubtedly a unique occasion but with many eyes watching the UK this coming summer it’s something the planners simply have to get right.
At Forrester, we believe that IT functions need to seriously prepare for the Olympic period also and so we will be holding a half day, collaborative event for our FLB members and interested prospects on Wednesday, 22nd February 2012 from 12:45 – 4:30pm at Forrester’s London office to explore strategic and tactical solutions to these risks. This session will be led by Senior Analyst Dave Johnson, a former software executive with 15 years of industry experience focused on client management and related operational processes and tools.
A lot continues to be said about the impact of “social” on IT support and for some it is now “so 2009.” To me, it was inevitable in 2009, and I wonder how far we have moved on in reality. Yes, some IT service management (ITSM) tool vendors have added in shiny new capabilities inspired by the adoption of mainstream social facilities such as Facebook and Twitter; but how many IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations really understand social (and how social will impact IT support)? This, however, is the meat for another blog from the Forrester Community deli – today I only have time to drop a few sourpuss-thoughts in “virtual ink.”
So why am I being such a sourpuss?
Firstly, I am burdened by “the collective history of the ITSM community.” How often have we seen a great ITSM idea murdered in its execution? Consider the word “execution” here – it seems somewhat appropriate methinks:
What did we learn with the “knees-up” that was CMDB adoption in the late 2000s? It was an expensive party that many would love to forget.
How many I&O organizations are now buying service catalog technology rather than adopting service catalog management best/good practice that is supported by technology?
In September 2009 I wrote a "blog" called "Great ITSM and ITIL People to Follow on Twitter." In stumbling upon it again yesterday I couldn't help wonder:
What had happened to some of the Tweeters on the original list?
Who do I now follow that I didn't way back then?
In doing this I couldn’t help feel that, while I value Twitter as both an information resource and a workspace, I have been somewhat sleepwalking through it the last two years.
Why am I sleepwalking through Twitter?
It seems a strange thing to admit to, doesn’t it?
I literally “work” in Twitter these days and I would lose a dimension of my capabilities and “personality” without it (or a similar social environ). But the fact that I still place a heavy emphasis on the Tweets of the people below, that an updated list would not include that many more Tweeters, and that I didn’t realize that a few of the Tweeters listed are no longer actively Tweeting is quite scary to me.
My conclusion is that I have been very lazy in my use of Twitter (heaven forbid that people think that “number of Tweets” is a sign of Twitter proactivity).
So what should I do?
My original thinking from nine months or so ago (when I realized that Twitter was becoming a little incestuous in terms of my following of people) was to follow more Tweeters. I think I have nearly doubled the number of people I follow but I am still in the same place in many ways.
In response to a number of Forrester client inquiries and as part of the #Back2ITSM activities, before Christmas I polled a number of IT service management tool vendors about their views on IT service management tool verification or certification schemes such as PinkVERIFY and the OGC ITIL Software Scheme (others are available but these are the main two I receive inquiries on). I have still to analyze the vendor responses having given a response deadline of the 16th January 2012 but thought it wise to get the customer point of view on the value of such schemes.
So where do you stand on the worth of such schemes?
At the start of August, I wrote a speculative blog called Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community which was somewhat of a personal plea for anyone involved in IT operations, IT service delivery, IT support, etc. to “give back” to the larger community. This highlighted (or reminded us of) the need for the creation of lower-level, more granular, and ultimately more practical best practice information that is freely available to IT service management (ITSM) practitioners; as a quick start mechanism and/or to prevent the continued reinvention of the wheel by organizations wishing to better themselves. It all looked good with over three thousand unique views on the Forrester Blog site alone.
Firstly, I need to temper my expectations: the survey was open for two months and plugged by many on Twitter and by organizations such as the itSMF UK, the SDI, and Hornbill but still only 149 people started the survey. Why did I say “started,” because only 76 completed the two “meaty” questions.