Overview: A CIO’s Priority
There is no denying that businesses worldwide run on applications and data. However, the success quotient of any business relies on its IT infrastructure and network as they support and carry the applications that represent the essence of an organization. Thus, keeping these things up and running, connected, and responsive is on the top priority list of today’s CIO. In this regard, these are the key concern areas dreaded by a CIO:
- Meeting customer expectations or demands to stay ahead in the competition
- Managing the explosive growth of data and applications while sustaining the service levels
- Focusing on cost control and ROI without any loss in quality, responsiveness, or performance
- Minimizing risk and ensuring security while incorporating emerging technologies
- Driving the transformation of the operating models and redefining customer experience
Meeting these objectives is critical to the survival of any organization. The right approach would be to transform your IT service framework by optimizing decisions with insights, embracing agility, and managing the existing hybrid environment.
What Is IT Service Management (ITSM)?
IT service management is a customer-focused approach or a strategic method aimed at designing, delivering, managing, and improving the way IT is used within an organization. It emphasizes providing value to the customer and enhancing customer relationships.
ITSM furnishes a framework to structure IT-related activities and the interactions of IT technical personnel with customers. The ultimate goal of this framework is to ensure that the right processes, people, and technology are in place so that the organization can meet its business goals. The most popular ITSM frameworks are COBIT, Microsoft Operations Framework, Six Sigma, ISO 20000, TOGAF, and the widely used ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library).
The Absence of Agile in ITSM
As a common practice, the majority of IT organizations are using ITIL. Seventy percent of respondents in 3gamma ́s survey confirm that their organization is working with ITSM frameworks. However, the increasing demands for shorter time-to-market and enhanced customer experience are driving the implementation of agile methods. But about 62% of respondents in 3gamma ́s survey have faced challenges in combining agile methods and ITSM pertaining to the interface between development and operations.
The most common area where organizations are struggling to integrate agile with ITSM is change management. The change management process is often accustomed to the traditional waterfall methods using a “command and control” approach. On the contrary, the frequent release practice of agile does not fit well into this traditional process.
Request management is another area where the survey respondents have identified challenges, primarily due to the bureaucratic nature of the process that is further impacted by the slow behavior of delivery organizations working in silos and complex financial setups.
Companies that are suffering from issues between agile and IT service management are often new to agile. The agile implementation in such companies is often done as a one-off project, leaving the delivery teams to sort out the details. The resultant effect is that agile is used as an excuse to become undisciplined and unstructured.
Optimizing IT Service Management
Creating an IT environment that allows your IT infrastructure to be agile and react quickly demands intellectual insight and strong decisions to drive competitive differentiation. Here are certain approaches that are more likely to help your organization survive in this hybrid environment.
1. Improve decisions with insights.
Infrastructure outages can take a heavy toll on an organization’s cost, revenue, profits, brand equity, and, most importantly, customers. As per a Ponemon Institute study, “average outages last 86 minutes and cost $450K.” However, with the right set of tools, it is quite possible to identify and integrate data from linked sensors, people, and apps, then put on analytics to extract insights and enhance IT delivery.
2. Fast-track transformation by embracing agility.
Today’s transformation primarily involves big data, mobile, and cloud. Enterprises that are in dire need of new sources of revenue and differentiation must adapt themselves to deliver new and engaging services. They need to be agile to deliver flawless experience anytime, and anywhere.
For instance, envision an organization with a flawless IT performance,
- Leveraging the cloud for faster, optimized service delivery.
- Improving visibility and control over applications’ performance.
- Driving the automation of key IT operations to spend less time on maintenance and more on customer delight.
3. Flourish in a hybrid environment.
Today’s hybrid environment comprises the integration of traditional IT assets with virtualized and cloud services. Legacy, new, and cloud middleware deployed with the right suite of software management tools is more likely to help in maintaining optimum performance of resources, and let you know in advance when conditions may lead to downtime. Today, more and more companies are breathing in a mix of both worlds—a mix-and-match IT environment. This kind of hybrid model is increasingly cost-effective while delivering innovation and speed.
The ITSM Goals That Failed in 2015, and Why They Matter
A survey by Axios Systems in 2016 offers a preview into some of the key ITSM objectives that didn’t fully materialize in 2015. These were the top featured categories in the list:
- Service catalog with 40% of responses
- Service management beyond IT with 30% of responses
- IT asset management with 11% of responses
Other responses in this section highlight the failure of goals like bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, configuration management database (CMDB) improvements, knowledge-centered support, and process control.
In an effort to optimize ITSM, it is imperative that we dive deeper into these major focus areas:
- Self-service/service catalog: Self-service is a feature aimed at eliminating the redundant manual, inefficient, and resource-intensive processes. However, despite missing its goal last year, it has significantly gained an uptake of 81% in 2016. Thus, it is interesting to note that it still remains a high priority for organizations.
- Service management beyond IT: This feature, also known as enterprise service management (ESM), enables you to extend the paybacks of optimal service management across the business, even to departments like finance, human resources, procurement, etc. The implementation of ESM diminishes any potential delays in the initial startup period, thereby enhancing internal and external customer experience as well as reducing adverse impacts. Over a period of time, the organizational perception of IT value has improved, and ESM has been applied to non-IT departments in 45% of organizations.
- IT asset management (ITAM): An integration of ITAM processes with service management tools is likely to contribute significant cost reductions. ITAM also allows you to support a mobile workforce, prevent security attacks, and run a greener office with less energy wastage. Thus, the disappointment of organizations for not achieving this goal is truly justified.
Key ITSM Trends for 2016
Leaving behind the disappointment of projects left unfinished last year, it’s time to shift our focus onto industry expectations for service management in 2016. Let’s frame our thoughts and vision in light of the business needs, rather than IT needs.
In this regard, a survey conducted by Axios Systems has some interesting discoveries:
- The majority of respondents plan to prioritize process optimization in 2016.
- Though self-service/service catalog was a disappointment in 2015, it still appears as the second-most priority for 20% of IT leaders this year.
- Fifteen percent of respondents recognize the value of IT-business alignment to increase customer delight.
- Enhanced automation is also a leading response.
Let’s now understand why these opportunities gain the topmost priorities in ITSM efforts:
- Process optimization: Process optimization aims at delivering numerous business benefits like cost-effectiveness, efficiency improvements, regulatory compliances, waste reduction, and strong internal controls. However, the transition from manual to automated processes is a key element to achieving these results. A solid service management strategy emphasizes reducing resource-intensive manual process and paves the way forward for process optimization.
- Service catalog and self-service: As discussed earlier, self-service has become a relevant thought for organizations. Once the core ITSM processes, such as incident, change, configuration, and service level management are set up, the next step is to release a self-service functionality through a customer portal, thereby improving the customer experience.
- IT-business alignment: Strong alignment supports IT governance, as well as risk and compliance management. It facilitates process transparency, with the service management solution acting as channel of decision-driving information.
- Increased automation: Automation of ITIL processes has become the key focal point while driving the revamped ITSM solutions. Automation has a crucial role to play in the elimination of service desk inconsistencies and error minimization. It allows the setup of consistent and repeatable rules for incidents/problems/known errors (IPK) and enforces their use. This kind of scenario is more likely to bring a “win-win” situation for the business and customers.
- The federated CMDB: Proper visibility and information of IT infrastructure is essential to manage services from a business perspective. A configuration management database (CMDB) should provide detailed information of all ITIL configuration items (CIs), including each item’s location, configuration as well as physical, and logical interrelationships with other items. A federated CMDB relies on the alliance of existing data sources rather than the creation of another separate centralized database that is inherently difficult to maintain.
Realizing the Challenges
With the ITSM opportunities for 2016 are identified, it’s time to realize the biggest challenges of the coming year. As per research, asset and configuration management lead the list of challenges, followed closely by incident/problem/change management. Here are the leading ITSM challenges we can expect in 2016.
Equipped with an understanding of the specific ITSM challenges and opportunities of 2016, it is quite feasible to comprehend the wider trends that the CIO community is likely to encounter. To make any of the ITSM goals possible, organizations should explore the issues faced at the ground level. Engaging in customer feedback is key to building and maintaining a positive reputation for IT, throughout the organization. If organizations recognize customer feedback as an opportunity to continue learning about the business, its challenges, and objectives, then they are more likely to be working in partnership with stakeholders and end users of all backgrounds.