“ITIL, ITIL, ITIL” is all that many of us hear these days when it comes to improving IT service management (ITSM) maturity or the availability of ITSM good/best practice and guidance (for the "Little Britain" fans out there imagine Tom Baker reading this intro). Many talk (and write) about the alternative or complementary frameworks, methodologies, and standards; but neither COBIT nor ISO 20000 (amongst others) have yet gained the market traction and collective consciousness of ITIL, the “ITSM best practice framework.”
ITIL is and will continue to be the de facto choice for most IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals. Having said this, however, many I&O organizations continue to look at the possibilities of using multiple frameworks, methodologies, and standards in tandem to help better deliver against business and IT issues – what is commonly called an “ITIL plus” or “plus” strategy, e.g., ITIL plus COBIT.
Another body of service management good/best practice, the Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (USMBOK), has long been lauded by ITSM thought leaders; but it has, to date, lacked the profile of ITIL in particular. Importantly, it works with, and is differentiated from, ITIL – it is not an ITIL competitor, more of a “companion piece” that supplements ITIL on both strategic and operational levels. Hopefully you noticed the deliberate naming of USMBOK – that there is no “IT” in it. It is about service management not IT service management – a solution to the issue that we often place too much emphasis on the “IT,” and not enough on the “SM,” element of “ITSM.”
As part of Forrester’s research into sales enablement, I recently took a journey to “plumb the depths” of sales battle cards. Why?
Sales reps at technology companies tell Forrester that they must understand their competitors if so that they can outmaneuver them during the sales cycle; but, these same sales professionals tell Forrester that, despite the best efforts of product managers, competitive teams, and sales operations, current battle cards are not consistent, instrumental tools that help win more deals.
And thus, my journey into battle cards begins.
During my career, I’ve worked in competitive intelligence at two technology companies, so I already had some strong opinions about battle cards. I tried to set my own views aside, though, and adopted Forrester’s methods of developing a hypothesis and interviewing professionals in the industry.
My initial research looked at the “thing” called a battle card – the layout, structure, and content with the goal of building battle cards that helped sales reps address competitive issues during customer conversations. While testing some really good ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that the improved battle cards still weren’t enough to meet our objective – routinely helping reps win more deals.
I turned my attention to the “process” of building battle cards – specifically, how sales enablement professionals identify the competitive issues that merit battle cards, how they work with product managers and marketing teams to create the content for battle cards, and how they deliver battle cards to sales reps. While testing some really good process ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that even when the groups creating battle cards actively work with sales, their points of view and professional skills are so different, that they miss important details.