BMC To Acquire Numara Software: A Few Thoughts From Your Favorite ITSM Analyst

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:

  1. 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.
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Why Is Buying An IT Service Management Tool Like Buying A Car?

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
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Social IT Support: Didn’t We Do This In The 1990s?

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?
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