A Killer Disease? IT’s Unhealthy Obsession With Itself

While sitting at a hotel desk at “silly o’clock” this morning preparing for the Forrester I&O Forum in Las Vegas, I saw a Tweet from Ian Aitchison of LANDesk that was an obvious but little realized truth:

“Is the IT industry unique in its obsession with its own possible future demise? The sky is always falling in. #ITRapture”

IMO the average IT organization does appear to be somewhat Chicken Little-like and my response of “I think it is because IT is obsessed with itself :)” started me off …

While we have not necessarily fallen in love with our own reflection, it is difficult to argue that we are not overly obsessed with what WE are doing rather than what the business is doing – as per yesterday’s blog  “Why Is IT Operations Like Pizza Delivery?”

Consider this exaggerated story

You meet two people at a soiree (that’s a posh cocktail party BTW). The first introduces themselves: “Hi, I’m Ian. I work for LANDesk. I do all sorts of product marketing nonsense.” The second does the same. Well, I say the same; there’s a big difference – “Hi, I’m Stephen. I work in IT.”

Read more

Why Is IT Operations Like Pizza Delivery?

Whilst with a software vendor yesterday I reused a favorite IT service delivery analogy that was inspired by, or was it borrowed from, James Finister at least two years ago. At the Forrester I&O Forum in Las Vegas this Thursday I will use it again when Glenn O'Donnell and I present on "A Mindset Change Is Needed: Support The People, Not The Technology."

To me the analogy is indicative of the fact that despite all of the investments organizations have made in increasing IT service management maturity and IT service delivery we still seem to measure our relative success in terms of IT rather than business outcomes.

So consider this somewhat frivolous analogy: comparing IT operations to pizza delivery operations

The pizza company has a palatial store and has invested in the best catering equipment (read state-of-the-art data center). It employs highly-qualified chefs who take pride in creating culinary masterpieces. When the pizza leaves the store it scores ten out of ten on the internal measurement system. This is, however, measuring at the point of creation rather than the point of consumption.

Now consider the customer view of the pizza when it arrives: it is late, cold, has too much cheese, the wrong toppings (even toppings that are unrecognizable to the customer), and it costs more than the customer expected (and wanted) to pay.

How much of this example can be applied to IT delivery?

Read more

Man Alive, It’s COBIT 5: How Are You Governing And Managing Enterprise IT?

You think that this blog title is bad? Be thankful that I didn’t try something like: “There’s No Obit For COBIT.”

Anyways, today sees ISACA (an international professional association for IT Governance) release COBIT 5 – the latest version of its internationally recognized “Business Framework for the Governance and Management of Enterprise IT.”

As in previous blogs such as “It’s Time To Realize That ITIL Is Not The Only Fruit,” the industry’s obsession with ITIL needs to be both tempered and supplemented with more pragmatic guidance on IT management and IT service management. COBIT can help with this in spades. In fact, some would argue that ITIL should be used to supplement COBIT – try some of Rob England’s (The IT Skeptic, and a great supporter of COBIT) short COBIT blog posts on for size: “The difference between ITIL and COBIT for consultants: four words” or “COBIT 5 will be released in April.”

So What’s New?

ISACA states that:

“COBIT 5 builds and expands on COBIT 4.1 by integrating other major frameworks, standards and resources, including ISACA’s Val IT and Risk IT, ITIL (“the IT service management best practice framework”) and related standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).”

Read more

IT Service Management And ITIL Thinking – Brawn, Brains, Or Heart?

Some great IT service management (ITSM) conversations with BMC this week got me thinking about ITSM people “stereotypes” and what we can learn from them in terms of communication, education, and ITSM  tool selection. It started from my mental 2D matrix that plotted organizational ITSM tool need against the axes of organization size, e.g. enterprise, and level of ITSM maturity – with the latter, in my opinion, being a better gauge as to the ITSM tool that is most appropriate.

Conversations about the people within the organizations, however, made me wonder about the need for a third axis of “ITSM mindset” which could further better help to pin down the type of ITSM tool for a particular organization through a now-3D matrix.

Did Somebody Mention Stereotypes?

Oops, yes that was me. My imagination conjured up three stereotypes, and perhaps there are many more, but I liked that they leant themselves to a collective description of Brawn, Brain, and Heart (oh yes, it's a little "Wizard of Oz").

Where the stereotypes are:

  • Brawn– this describes the traditional IT Hero mentality, it’s all about you and the IT. Very much an IT-centric approach to IT delivery. Probably no concept of IT services and no interest whatsoever in ITIL (the ITSM best practice framework). It’s all about IT muscle in dealing with a never-ending stream of IT issues – the proverbial fire fighting. Talking to a Brawn about ITIL wastes everyone’s time, they will never be interested.
Read more

Defining IT Service Management – Or Is That “Service Management”?

IT service management (ITSM) has a number of definitions from a variety of sources. Starting with the ITIL (the ITSM best practice framework)-espoused definition:

“The implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of the business. IT service management is performed by IT service providers through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology. See also service management.” Source: ITIL 2011 Glossary http://www.best-management-practice.com/officialsite.asp?DI=575004. Where service management is defined as: “A set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services.”

A more “directly customer-focused” definition is provided on Wikipedia:

“A discipline for managing information technology (IT) systems, philosophically centered on the customer's perspective of IT's contribution to the business. ITSM stands in deliberate contrast to technology-centered approaches to IT management and business interaction.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IT_service_management

Read more

The Cult Of ITIL: It Has More Followers Than You Think

OK ITIL, the IT service management (ITSM) best practice framework, is neither a cult nor a religion, but hopefully I grabbed your attention.

The point of this short, but hopefully interesting, blog is that when we usually think about ITIL we normally focus on the IT service management and IT operations organizational domains as its playground. And, while we appreciate that other IT roles might have an interest in ITIL (especially enterprise architects or those looking at DevOps), I imagine most will be surprised at the following percentage readership demographic for my recent “Adopting ITIL” report.

Percentage split of Adopting ITIL readers across Forrester “role types”

Read more

IT Service Management, ITIL, And Enabling Tools In The Middle East

Last week I had the pleasure of attending ManageEngine’s first user conference and training event in the Middle East (Dubai to be specific); with event attendees not only from the UAE, but also Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

The one-day user conference element of the two-day event, offered me both fresh insight into how IT service management, ITIL, and enabling tools are being adopted in the Middle East, and first-hand experience of ManageEngine’s customers within the region.

This quick blog is intended to capture my views, thoughts, and opinions for the benefit of all.

The current state of IT service management in the Middle East?

My previous experiences of IT service management and ITIL in particular in the Middle East had been somewhat limited; but as with most things I had drawn my own opinions and conclusions based on the exposure (the proverbial joining of dots). So before last week I believed:

  • ITIL was talked about but with “implementations” driven from the higher echelons, or even outside, of the IT organization; adoption was slow and susceptible to resistance. It was a “good thing to do” rather than a business-focused means to an end.
  • That while customers (end users) are important the focus was still very much on the IT – the creation of IT rather than the consumption of IT services.
  • Middle Eastern companies value “prestige” and as such were most likely to buy Big 4 solutions for IT service management.
Read more

Enabling Customer Mobility: Why Current Mobile Device Management Thinking Is Flawed

Prior to IBM Pulse 2012 heating up in Las Vegas, I was lucky enough to receive a pre-brief on some of the key messages from this year’s event. One of which is around mobility.

A statistic from the IBM mobility slide deck reminded me of a particular bugbear of mine: that mobility will most likely be yet another opportunity for gifted IT professionals to get excited about technology (and managing the technology) rather than stepping back to appreciate that modern IT is all about the consumption of IT services rather than the technology itself. That mobility is not about mobile devices or apps, that it’s about the consumption of business or IT services on the move BY PEOPLE via fit-for-purpose IT provisioning and IT service delivery.

The IBM Statistic?

In a recent IBM report, it was revealed that the Top Mobile Adoption Concerns are:

  1. Security/privacy (53%)
  2. Cost of developing for multiple mobile platforms (52%)
  3. Integrating cloud services to mobile devices (51%)
Read more

It’s Time To Realize That “ITIL Is Not The Only Fruit”

“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.

USMBOK anyone?

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.”

Read more

Giving Back To The ITSM Community: We Move, If Slowly, But With Purpose

It started as a blog called Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community – a personal plea for anyone involved in IT operations, IT service delivery, IT support, etc., to “give back” to the larger community. Hopefully it highlighted (or reminded us of) the need for the creation of lower-level, more granular, and ultimately more practical best/good 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.

Many (OK, some) ask “Where has this gone?” or “Where is the free content?” Great questions, but ones that I will conveniently avoid (hopefully like a skilled politician); although others involved, I expect and hope, will provide updates on this in the comments section below.

To some Back2ITSM might appear yet another forum for “the usual suspects” (bagsy me be Verbal Kint) to “socialize” themselves to their ultimate downfall. However, I beg to differ. I feel that this has legs, no matter how short those legs might eventually be; which brings me to the reasons for this quickly written blog:

  • I still need to feedback the limited but interesting responses to the Back2ITSM survey.
  • I want to publicize some Back2ITSM “coming soons.”
Read more