When I very briefly joined TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) as an IT service management (ITSM) consultant a year ago today, I met a fellow new recruit Sandy Winschief – a vendor/supplier management specialist armed with a pair of Six Sigma black belts. Sandy was/is a key piece in TCS’ Service Integration offering jigsaw and someone who made me think more about the relationships between IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations and their suppliers.
Sorry, you said, “Service Integration”?
For those new to Service Integration I offer the following “definition” from a Forrester colleague’s “thinking”:
“To make multisourcing arrangements effective, customers must get suppliers to work together, both from the commercial and operational standpoint. The services integration layer, comprising elements of process, tools, service-level agreements (SLAs), and related structures, is absolutely critical to the success of these arrangements.”
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.
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):
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?
What are the key trends that CRM trends that business and IT professionals need to pay attention to in setting their plans during 2012? Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report that spotlights our latest research and recommendations for how to compete in The Age of the Customer will be published in late January.
1. Customer experience management will move beyond aspiration to strategy. More organizations will move beyond empty goals like becoming “customer-obsessed” to define clear and actionable customer experience strategies. The strategy must meet three tests: 1) It defines the intended experience; 2) it directs employee activities and decision-making; and 3) it guides funding decisions and project prioritization.
2. Brands will embrace the experience ecosystem. Firms will move to break free from their organizational silos, invest in understanding customer moments of truth through journey-mapping, and embrace the concept of the “customer experience ecosystem” — one that considers the influence of every single employee and external partner on every single customer interaction.
3. Experience management will emerge as a management discipline. There is increasing acceptance of the idea that customer experience management can be thought of as a discipline — a set of sound, repeatable practices such as those are defined in Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Framework.
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.
Ah, Black Friday: What would the post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza be without a visit to the local mall? This year, I was keen to perform some gumshoe research on a theme I've been talking about all year long: mass customization, a product strategy that's ready for prime time across multiple industries.
A trip to the Natick Mall (yes, "Mall," no longer "Collection," New Englanders) reveals that mass customization isn't just the future; it's the present. In fact, it's hiding in plain sight. Build-a-Bear Workshop, Hallmark, Lego, and LensCrafters are all stores in the Natick Mall that offer significant customization for consumer products. Burberry is the latest Natick Mall vendor to offer mass customization; I am quoted in Time magazine this week (here, but subscription required to view the link; page 82 in the December 5 paper edition) discussing how luxury clothing and customization fit together well. As I've written before, one of the benefits of employing mass customization is that it empowers consumers to create products that express their personalities -- a particularly relevant feature for clothing and apparel products.
Forrester believes that we have entered the age of the customer — an age in which customer obsession matters more than any other strategic imperative, requiring firms to focus their strategy, energy, and budget on processes that enhance knowledge of, and engagement with, customers.
It sounds straightforward, right? Which of us doesn’t wish to become more customer-centric? Yet we see few executive teams that treat customer understanding and intelligence as a strategic imperative. Don’t believe me? Look at the agenda or the minutes from your last several executive team meetings or board meetings. How much time was devoted to understanding customers better or to leveraging that customer knowledge in new ways to drive business success?
Our research shows that fewer than fifteen percent of firms operate at a strategic level of Customer Intelligence. These are the firms that have turned customer knowledge into a corporate asset. The vast majority of them drive improvements in customer acquisition, retention, satisfaction, revenue, profitability, and customer value. And they apply CI broadly within the business. Ninety-five percent of strategic intelligence firms use CI to drive corporate strategy, versus 30% of those we categorize as functionally intelligent. And 87% of strategic intelligence firms use CI to drive business operations, versus 19% of those at the functional intelligence level.
But before you switch off and tell me this is someone else’s job, be aware of the role of executive management. Strategically intelligent firms are far more likely to have a senior-level sponsor or champion: 46% of them strongly agree that their company has a C-level evangelist or champion for Customer Intelligence, versus 20% of marketing intelligence firms and 7% of functional intelligence firms.
About five months ago, I “broke up” with T-Mobile in favor of AT&T. I was a T-Mobile customer for six years on a very competitive service plan. But none of that mattered; I wanted an iPhone, and T-Mobile couldn’t give it to me. It was a clean but cruel breakup: AT&T cancelled my T-Mobile contract on my behalf, the equivalent of getting dumped by your girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
I bring this up because it reminds me of the saying: “If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” This is particularly important to remember in “The Age Of The Customer” where technology-led disruption is eroding traditional competitive barriers across all industries. Empowered buyers have information at their fingertips to check a price, read a product review, or ask for advice from a friend right from the screen of their smartphone.
This is affecting your IT just as much as your business: As an indicator, Forrester finds that 48% of information workers already buy whatever smartphone they want and use it for work purposes. In the new era, it is easier than ever for empowered employees and App Developers to circumvent traditional IT procurement and provisioning to take advantage of new desktop, mobile, and tablet devices as well as cloud-based software and infrastructure you don’t support. They’re “cheating” on you to get their jobs done better, faster, and cheaper.
To become more desirable to your customer – be it your Application Developers, workforce, or end buyers – IT Infrastructure and Operations leaders must become more customer-obsessed, which I talk about in this video: