Does ITSM Still Have Relevance In The Empowered BT Era?

In August this year I am heading down to our nation’s capital to take part in the annual itSMF Australia event – LEADit. I have taken part in this event to a greater or lesser extent over the past few years across Australia – Sydney, Perth, the Gold Coast and now Canberra. As an analyst who broadly covers the Service Management space (as well as a previously ITIL qualified practitioner), this event is the mecca for those interested in service management in Australia.

Year after year at this event, I see a fair amount of change in the content and focus, but little change in the thinking, and little real movement in the implementation or improvement of the processes – a recent survey between itSMF-USA and Forrester displays the current maturity levels of processes in organisations:

Here we are – years (decades?) after the first ITIL books were written, and demand management is STILL immature. Even financial management has barely shifted in maturity over the past few years. Why is this the case?

In my opinion, the issue is with the S in ITSM. For the most part, organisations have not yet defined what the actual technology-based services are that they deliver. If I put my suit in to be dry cleaned, I care that it is cleaned and available when I was told it would be available. I don’t want to pay over the odds; I don’t want it to be dirty when I pick it up; and most importantly, I don’t want someone else’s suit. I don’t care who they ordered the dry cleaning fluid from – I don’t even care what sort of dry cleaning fluid they use. I don’t care about the machine, the booking system or anything else in the process. ITSM tends to have its head stuck in the details, ignoring the actual service that the customer receives or wants.

That said, I believe things are changing – in our clients based in Asia I have seen an increasing interest in a new role – a “Service Manager” – someone who has oversight across all the business services that IT plays a role in delivering. Such a role can start to measure the impact of technology on business outcomes – and will help the IT team prioritise the services and processes they need to manage most effectively.

The shift to Empowered Business Technology has made it easier to relate technology investments and processes to business value. Your organisation’s employees are bringing in external technology-centric services in order to drive a direct outcome. The link between business/customer value and the technology is obvious.

Therefore, the future for ITSM is bright. For too long ITSM was about IT Process Management; however this is beginning to change. I am hoping that the learnings that come out of LEADit will help the ITSM community in Australia drive a focus on service provision and service portfolio management. That’ll be the focus of my involvement anyway!

See you there!

To learn more about how you can improve your ITSM capabilities, check out Forrester’s Service Management And Automation Playbook. For me, the title of the “vision report” says it all: Become Customer-Centric, Service-Focused, And Automated.



Interesting Blog Topic and Relevant. However, I think you missed the boat about 7 years ago. ITIL is fabulous, but Asian firms don't deliver to it, and Unfortunately A big picture view isn't what companies pay for. Hence, most of the "IT Outsourcing Industry" won't deliver to it. So its great to have a business approach, but in the end----Progression on IT Solutions will depend on the ability of IT Talent to connect the dots, and make sure their Vendors, and Talent deliver Quality resolutions vs Short Term Fix, bandaids and outsourcing disquised as a business plan. No Organization has more power to give decision makers the tools for this but ITSM-- but their members won't have it.

Thanks Sue for your comment.

Thanks Sue for your comment. While some IT Outsourcers in AP will integrate with your ITSM/ITIL processes - and have set themselves up to do so, some companies don't use these service providers in the right way (i.e. they choose to run two separate incident mgt systems). If we are outsourcing "business outcomes" to the IT services providers then this can work - it becomes their job to deliver the business service - you don't need to link to them.

But if it it traditional IT Outsourcing, you are absolutely right - we need someone, or a process, or a committee to link the ITO outcomes to business outcomes. We often rely on IT talent to connect the dots, but it does not have to be this way, as this assumes the IT talent understands the business/service requirements. For many organisations, this "Service Manager" role is a way to put a process around this - their job is to define to the outsourcer (and maybe put it into their KPIs) how their services impact business outcomes.


a standard in Service Management is a fake. ITIL will kill itself

Mature Processes

Hello Tim,
These statistics is not a surprise for me. Even though from V.2 to V.3 ITIL has grown quite a lot concerning the areas being covered, most customers had just looked at a few problem areas. I myself have written a paper and conducted a presentation in CMG (Computer Measurement Group) down here is Brazil with the title: ITIL - Very far beyond the 3 Musketeers.
And those companies and organizations had not realized the key and imporant points and issues that their businesses are leaving outside the basket.
Even though we are in the ITIL V.3 2011, my sensation is that we are facing a true ITIL V. 2.5.
Rui Natal

Good point

Thanks Rui - I agree with you. And I feel that your argument strengthens mine. One of the reasons other ITIL processes have not been deployed in organisations is the lack of defined business benefit, hence the lack of an ability to build a business case. Link customer outcomes and business services that support these customer outcomes to the IT processes, and suddenly you find out which processes make the most sense in investing in!