Top 10 IT Service Management Challenges For 2012: More Emphasis On The “Service” And The “Management”

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.

The top 10 challenges

  1. IT cost transparency. Something’s got to give in terms of “what IT costs.” IT is and will continue to be a sizable expense to the business. I&O is spending the business’s money, the business wants to know whether it is being spent wisely, and who can blame them. Consequently, I&O organizations need to know what their services are and what they cost. It isn’t simple and in many ways it's a great example of where I&O needs to “jump before it is pushed.” Think about having to answer the CEO’s off-the-cuff questions as to how the corporate email service compares to cloud services such as Gmail.
  2. Value demonstration. In some ways, IT cost transparency is an onramp to the end game of value demonstration. How does IT positively impact the business? That’s the business’s view of value not I&O’s BTW. Which IT services deliver the greatest value, which deliver little or no value? Are we making IT investment decisions based on value or are we still too supply-focused (led by volumes and technology-related factors)? If we could demonstrate the business value derived from IT, surely we would be being asked to spend more rather than having to respond to corporately-mandated, quick fix, end-of-year budget cuts.
  3. Agility. I hate the “A” word these days. Like cloud, “agile” has been abused by vendors and practitioners alike of late. It is, however, appropriate for the business’s needs of I&O. The speed of business change dictates a rapid response from I&O. Not only is it speed and flexibility, it is also “agility of mind.” A change in I&O mindset that asks “why not?” rather than “why?”
  4. Availability. Nothing new here. The business needs high quality, highly available IT (or business) services. The difference is in expectations and alternatives. For a number of reasons, the business is becoming less forgiving of IT failure and, again, who can blame them. As with anything else that is procured either personally or corporately, you want to receive what you pay for (or more) and there are always alternative suppliers.
  5. “Hardware.” It’s a funny term really and I use it somewhat “tongue in cheek” to poke fun at the language we use in IT. End user devices, will however be a big challenge for I&O in 2012. Whether it is the fact that our “internal customers” are unhappy with their “outdated” corporate laptops or the fact that they can’t have corporate iPads, or the whole “can of worms” that is BYOD (bring your own device); personal productivity hardware will be a battleground of business discontent in 2012.
  6. Support and customer service. For me, support is one thing and customer service is another; ideally I&O delivers both. IMO my Paging The IT Organization: You Need To Support The People Not The Technology blog covers the support side in that it is ultimately about supporting the consumption of IT services by people rather than supporting the technology that delivers the IT services. And that service-centricity by frontline staff is not enough, it needs to be all IT staff. The same is true for customer-centricity. Please let’s stop calling our internal customers “end users.” We ought not to forget the challenges of supporting BYOD either.
  7. Cloud. Issues abound. Do we really know what cloud is (particularly in light of what my colleague James Staten terms “cloud washing”)? Are we looking at cloud as a technical or business solution, or both? Do we know enough about the status quo to make informed decisions about moving IT services to the cloud? Probably not, yet for many cloud is the answer but I can’t help think that we haven’t really taken the time to fully understand the question.
  8. Mobility. Whoa, this blog is too long…I guess I could have done a blog on each element if I didn’t have “real work” to do. BYOD comes into play here again but I think that a bigger issue is at hand (which thankfully encompasses some of the BYOD challenges). To me a fundamental issue is that we are still technology-centric. We all hear talk about MDM (mobile device management) as “THE big issue.” To me, however, this is old school IT. We are focused on securing access to the mobile device when I would prefer that we secured access to the IT service. The device is a red herring and of little interest to the customer. They want (or at least we hope that they continue to want) to access your services any which way they can and need to.
  9. Compliance. Whether it be internal or external regulatory compliance. Maybe governance is a better word to use? Either way, most of the above will potentially have a negative knock on to compliance whether it be SOX, software compliance, or meeting internal requirements for “transparency and robustness.” With everything going on elsewhere, it is easy for me to imagine a degradation in internal control, not reacting to new risks as a minimum.

The observant amongst you will have spotted that I’ve only mentioned nine challenges in the preamble and subsequent list, so what’s the tenth?

Survival. All of the above challenges need to be addressed, and the failure to address the demands and issues across the full spectrum of challenges will put the internal I&O organization at risk of extinction. It is in many ways, a Darwinian “survival of the fittest” scenario, it’s time to “adapt or die.”

Times up (well, a little bit exceeded). I’ll remove my drama queen tiara for now. Is it food for thought? Do you agree? What did I miss? What did I get wrong? Please let me know.


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I agree with the points

I agree with the points you've listed above Stephen, however quite a few of these are not 2012 specific (e.g. availability, service, agility etc.) - they are things we should have been doing for a long time now.

I think 2012 will see a widespread adoption of cloud solutions, however I believe this will not necessarily be for the right reasons. I think a lot of IT Managers will see cloud as a 'silver bullet' regarding a number of the areas you've listed above; cloud can simplify costs and make them much more transparent, it can give some quick wins re. device connectivity and mobile computing in the form of sharing data between devices. I also think a lot of IT Managers will believe that cloud will answer all their availability issues (i.e. by passing this responsibility to the cloud service provider) which is simply not the case.

So my prediction for 2013 (getting a bit carried away I know - must be the festive spirit(s)) is a general backlash on cloud computing, simply because it's been adopted with huge expectations and misconceptions about what it can deliver. We saw a similar thing happen with outsourcing during the early 90s, and then bringing it back in house because it didn't deliver in the way we expected it to. Cloud computing (just like outsourcing) does deliver huge benefits when implemented correctly and for the right reasons.



2012 will be better for IT Industry

When I read this article many things came into my mind. Stephen has highlighted many of the challenges professionals will deal with in 2012; the cloud computing is in my opinion one of the best ones because there is a lack (therefore, an opportunity) in the market for a framework that correct address this new challenge. I would add to Stephen list the bullet point "Security". With the usage of so many social network like Facebook, Tweeter, etc... I think this will have a bum in 2012 and it may drive some challenges at work for IT - for example: we have more people accessing Facebook (now from their phones) than actually performing their work. I enjoyed reading this article and I may post something on this subject on itSiders.Com Thanks, Dan.


I can't help thinking that many of these challenges are variations on a theme. The big picture we need to be concerned about is a user/customer base with ever increasing expectations based on their experience of technology and customer service away from the workplace.

And of course what really matter is how we respond to these challenges, which leads to a eamless plug for my own 2012 predictions

Servicialisation and IT (System) Management

#01. IT cost transparency
It must be about clear & concise service pricing as well as well-founded service costing because it's all about reliable, efficient & paying service provision, i.e. rendering each & every triggered ICT-system based Business Support Service (ICTBSS) explicitly to the triggering service consumer in the realm of the commissioning service customer. The latter wants to pay a reasonable price for each consumed service delivery unit that satisfies the needs of his authorised service consumers.
In general, the accountable service provider must master the service trilemma between
* service quality satisfying the needs and requirements of the intended and/or authorized service consumers in the realm of the commissioning service customer
* service price that must be affordable & profitable from the perspective of the commissioning service customer
* service cost that must be paying for the accountable service provider

#02. Value demonstration
A service as such has no value but it must have a reasonable service price per service delivery
unit of the required service quality. Only the triggering service consumer can realise the relevant business value by consuming the triggered ICTBSS and utilizing the service-specific benefits for executing his upcoming business activity. That's why he has explicitly triggered such an ICTBSS.

#03. Agility
The accountable service provider must enable agility of the business units in their primary business by reliably rendering each & every triggered ICTBSS explicitly to the triggering serivce consumer in the quality committed in the Service Level Agreement. In the background the service provider must exploit any offering from any service (contribution) supplier that fits into the concepts of the business-relevant ICTBSS.

#04. Availability
For reliably rendering each & every triggered ICTBSS the service provider must ensure that the service automats, i.e. the service-relevant ICT systems are available so that they can effectuate, aggregate and render each ICTBSS. System availability is fundamentally different from reliable service rendering.

#05. "Hardware"
The accountable service provider must understand that the frontend devices are the indispensable service access systems for the authorised service consumers. Without such a system an authorised service consumer, i.e. an employee in the business unit, cannot trigger any ICTBSS. Thus, the service provider must master integrating and managing these service access systems of whatever kind.

#06. Support and customer service
It's all about the service consumer support, i.e. supporting the authorised service consumers in the realm of the commissioning service customer. The accountable service provider must clearly distinguish between the authorised service consumers who trigger the commissioned ICTBSS and the commissioning service customer.

#07. Cloud
A "Cloud" simply is a source for distinct standard service contributions which must be aggregated
in realtime to the triggered ICTBSS. Thus, it's all about service (contribution) sourcing which necessitates
* clear & concise identification of the required ICTBSS
* complete & concise specification of the identified ICTBSS
* consistent & continuous composing of the specified ICTBSS
* clear & binding orchestrating of the internal & external service (contribution) suppliers
This can be accomplished based on the concept of servicialisation.

#08. Mobility
If the authorised service consumers are mobile, there indispensable service acccess systems are mobile with them. Thus, the accountable service provider must ensure service access from their mobile service access systems whereever they are.

#09. Compliance
All the requirements concerning compliance as well as security & safety, i.e. secure & safe service rendering, must be considered from the first, i.e. when a required ICTBSS is specified so that they can be considered in the course of service composing and service orchestrating and ensured in service rendering.

#10. Survival
The IT department as such will survive as one of several internal service (contribution) suppliers.
Meanwhile the accountable service provider of the enterprise, which might be are separate organisational unit, will commission the required standard service contributions from this department as well as from external service suppliers for rendering each & every triggered ICTBSS to the triggering service consumers in the business units.