In the spirit of the somewhat overstated movie advertisement: “If you only read one of my blogs this year, read this one”; although I prefer the version for The Naked Gun 2 1/2: “If you only see one movie this year... you should get out more often.”
Anyway, so many blogs, so little time; and what did I say that was important (if only in my own tiny mind)? Each bullet links through to the original blog.
As we approach the holiday season and possibly the end of the financial/budgetary year, let’s pause for a moment to think about 2012. For many IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals, 2011 was a challenging year; the bad news is that 2012 isn’t going to be any easier. With the pressures of the continued mandate to “deliver more with less” added to by increased business demands on, and scrutiny of, IT service delivery; all against a backdrop of increased business and IT complexity.
The high level view
Increased business scrutiny: IT cost transparency and value demonstration. One could argue that the challenges listed as “increased expectations” next will also increase the scrutiny of IT performance.
Increased expectations: agility, availability, “hardware,” and support and customer service.
Increased complexity: cloud per se, mobility, and compliance.
Involve all functions in design. Involve and include all functional units, development and operations. Bringing people together in face-to-face meetings, workshops, forums, and simulations to stimulate discussion, engagement, involvement, and address resistance. Resistance is a fact; you will encounter it. Bringing people together helps to make it visible, helps to create buy-in, and empowers people to change their own ways of working.
Just a quickie blog as the ServiceNowKnowledge11 European annual user conference draws to a close in Frankfurt. It’s been a whirlwind three days so far and I still have a couple more sessions to attend including my own (a panel session about working effectively within the information blizzard that is the modern “workplace” … obviously the session has a far flasher title than this … “Information Consumption At The Speed Of Light”). The other is the sexily-titled “Mobility, Cloud, And The Coming Singularity” by Chris Dancy.
Yes, there I said it. I can see the “Cult of SaaS” snipers congregating on the rooftops. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
In all seriousness though, when ServiceNow was quick to achieve success with its “SaaS-delivered IT service management goodness” at the tail end of the noughties, it was all about the SaaS (and customer satisfaction of course). It differentiated them from the ITSM tool vendor pack.
The "SaaS for ITSM" evolution
In a previous life I wrote about the potential for SaaS-delivered ITSM capabilities: SaaS and ITSM – a Marriage Made in Acronym Heaven? Who would have known that Service-now.com, as was, would have done so well, so quickly? I trust that their own projections were somewhat exceeded.
Some on-premise ITSM tool vendors said “unpleasant things” in the early days, but nigh on all of the major and minor ITSM vendors have since followed suit with their own SaaS offerings. In the spirit of the BBC and product endorsement I have to say that “other ITSM tools are available.” Check out some of the newest SaaS ITSM tool additions from Hornbill, LANDesk, and Numara.
Why is SaaS for ITSM a red herring?
Anyway, cutting to the chase … what sells a SaaS ITSM tool (or platform) such as ServiceNow? Many would think it is the fact that it is SaaS. I disagree.
It’s not really a blog but it’s definitely post worth writing (OK, cut and pasting).
I missed CA World this year, as CA Technologies held a specific IT analyst event a few months earlier that I sadly couldn’t attend. And when I say “missed” I mean more than just “didn’t attend”; I really did miss the event that is CA World, particularly the people – both CA Technologies employees and their customers.
All is not lost, however, as not only were presentations available via the Web, CA Technologies has made a significant number of the IT service management (ITSM) and IT asset management (ITAM) presentations available post event:
Sorry but I’m “frustrated of Peterborough” (but not directly at IT for once). Having just come off a half an hour call with two “major credit card provider” customer service staff, I’m frustrated to within an inch of screaming at someone. In some ways this blog is my outlet (but there is interesting stuff eventually).
You might think I'm overreacting, however, when one’s time is so limited these days, it is difficult to rise above the fact that I wasted 20 of the 30 minutes most likely because the “major credit card provider” has off-shored its customer support to save money (please note that the off-shoring is an assumption on my part based on my interactions).
But what has this to do with IT?
Hopefully you didn’t need to ask this question … I had an issue with a credit card service; many have issues with corporate IT services. We all call up, we all expect a quick resolution, and many expect to be treated in a customer, rather than supplier, focused manner.
Oddly enough, I spoke about this exact point at the itSMFUK London Regional yesterday … from an IT service management perspective (well specifically a service/help desk perspective). That we are now too focused on the mechanics of things (tool and process, AND scripts) and that, in some ways by virtue of this, we have “dumbed-down” the IT service desk.
This is not intended as an insult to service desk people, they have a difficult job: a job where they day in, day out, deal with the fallout from IT failures and the potentially unhappy customers. In an environment where there is very little “good news” or praise.
A few months ago, I blogged about the fact that, while we were getting “excited” about Cloud and Social in the context of IT service management (ITSM), we were somewhat neglecting the impact of Mobile on our ability to deliver high-quality IT services (Social? Cloud? What About Mobile?). At the time, with the title of the blog tantamount to IT buzzword bingo, I chuckled to myself that all I needed was to throw in a reference to Big Data and I could have called “house.”
What do we do with all the data imprisoned within our ITSM tools?
Big Data? No, not really, more BI
While the Big Data perspective will be seen as a little too “large” from an ITSM tool data perspective (the Wikipedia definition of Big Data describes it as “data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time”), I can’t help think that these considerably smaller ITSM data sets are still ripe for the use of business intelligence (BI).
We have so much valuable data stored within our ITSM tools and, while we leverage existing reporting and analysis capabilities to identify trends and snapshots such as Top 10 problem areas, do we really mine the ITSM tool data to the best of our ability?
If we do (I can’t say I have had ITSM tool vendors making a song and dance about their capabilities), is it something that is both easy to implement and use?
Why am I bringing this up now? Are things changing?
Last week, I presented at the itSMF UK’s annual conference on the subject of value or, more specifically, I hid an awful lot of IT financial management-related content behind the title: “Anybody Questioning Your Value?” Importantly, this is not IT value; I am referring to business value.
It was a surprising session in many ways. Firstly, the number of attendees (I didn’t count them but I would guestimate about 80 ... I’m sure my IT service management peers in attendance will now quickly tell me it was a lot, lot less). Secondly, that they all seemed to stay to the end (well bar one worried-looking lady who left in a rush early on ... I assumed a Sev1 incident or an upset tummy, or both).
The third surprise was the response to a simple question I posed:
If your CEO or CFO stopped you in the corridor and asked, “I like the look of this Gmail-for-business thingy, how does it compare cost-wise with our internal email service?” Would you know the per-unit cost of delivering your corporate email service?
The surprise? Not one person in the room admitted to knowing what their corporate email service costs. I expected to see a low number of raised hands but not a wave-less sea of hands-in-laps. Unfortunately, being unable to answer such off-the-cuff and more formal questions around costs and value can only expose the absence of I&O’s business savvy and lack of cost-awareness. This is not a place I&O wants to be in right now (or ever).
When will our IT Support people learn (or be taught)? Listening to a family member talk about the issues they’re having with their corporate laptop and how IT Support has responded has made me both angry and embarrassed to be associated with the IT Support community.
Sorry for the potentially gross generalization, I do know that there are a great number of excellent IT Support people out there who bend over backwards to help their internal customers; with “customers” the key word here. However, like many other internal functions, IT Support can forget that they are dealing with internal customers or the internal consumers of IT services (OK, they can only forget if they knew it in the first place). They forget that it is not about the IT, that it has to be about the people and the business.
So what happened?
It started with a virus (where was the corporate antivirus when it was needed?). The IT Support first contact response was “Bring it into the office tomorrow. You will be in breach of contract if you don’t.” Say what? Is that how we treat our “customers”?
Anyway, two days later the laptop is handed back with an older version of IE and no shortcuts to anything other than Office. “There was no time to do more” the IT Support response. The “customer” response: “I'm giving up on my work laptop and using my own” and I&O continues to encourage its own downfall.