Vendor A with Joe

ITSM Views from a Vendor, with Stephen Mann from ServiceNow

What exactly is your job?

I’m a “Senior Manager, Product Marketing” for ServiceNow – not that the job title gives much away about what I do. I guess the easiest way to describe my job is to say that I write a lot (you could call it content marketing) and sometimes I get let out to talk.

So that’s writing blogs for the ServiceNow Community, articles for industry publications, white papers, web page content, and presentations for myself and others to deliver. From a talking point of view I deliver customer and AR/PR briefings/webinars and internal/customer presentations. I will hopefully do more in-person-talking at industry events during 2014 (I have a few submissions in).

What is the best thing about working in IT Service Management? 

Firstly I’m not sure I “work in ITSM” anymore, well at least not since I had my last proper IT job. These days I think of myself “working for ITSM.” And I don’t mean that in a grandiose way; it’s just that I think that there is a difference between those that are ensuring that customers receive the IT services they need and those that hopefully help them to do it (software vendors, consultants, publishers, analysts, and trainers).

I’m still part of the ITSM Community though, if that’s still the right phrase to use, and the people that I meet by being in this ITSM ecosystem are the best thing about working in ITSM in my opinion. The odd thing is that many of my favourite people work for competitor organizations.

What do you think is the most important element missing from traditional ITSM? And why?

Probably the universal insight that “IT is not about the IT” but about what the IT brings, in terms of business outcomes, to the organizations that employ it. And at a lower level that IT support is actually people support.

In the same way that IT’s inability to meet customer demands for IT services has led to “Shadow IT” (I really don’t like this term), IT’s inability to consider and treat end-users as customers (even though they don’t pay for anything directly) will, in my opinion, further erode IT’s position in, and relevance to, the enterprise.

What do you think is the biggest mistake that people can make in ITSM, and how can it be avoided? 

In addition to point 3. It would have to be something to do with ITIL adoption and process obsession, albeit being a somewhat parochial obsession.

So that’s thinking of ITIL (and in many ways ITSM) as just a small group of processes (incident, problem, and change management) rather than a new mind-set around delivering IT as a service. So while IT support might be far better than it used to be based on ITIL, and best practice ITSM processes, many organizations have at best only just skimmed the surface while others have just totally missed the point.

The cause – the software vendors, consultants, publishers, analysts, and trainers that have either mis-sold what ITIL (and ITSM) is or have not corrected customers that have misinterpreted it themselves.

Extending on the latter, customer organizations are themselves also at fault by wanting to implement (sic) ITIL based on a personal misunderstanding of what it is. And then most-likely employing, or contracting, people based purely on having the ITIL Foundation Certificate. It’s madness, but a madness that continues to infect our industry.

In terms of what can be done, above and beyond individuals trying to educate and re-educate the people they meet on a day-to-day basis, AXELOS needs to get to grips with the monster that ITIL has become on the back of the money-making industry is has borne.

What one piece of practical advice would you give to somebody working on the Service Desk?

It’s simple really. Just ask service desk agents to treat their customers as they themselves would like to be treated.

But first, however, recruitment activities need to test what this actually is – if they are technology-centric then they might not want customer-centric treatment – and then if they have the personal attributes and skills to deliver the right service experience.

What one piece of practical advice would you give to the CIO of a company with regards to ITSM? 

To take ITSM very seriously. And to pay more attention to what is happening, at least until they are confident that everything is as it should be. And that ITSM is so much more than IT support.

I would talk to services, that the point of value-creation with services is the point of consumption, and about the impact of consumerization on corporate IT organizations.

If you could change one thing about the ITSM industry as a whole, what would it be and why? 

Referring back to point 4., I would change ITIL’s history – using my DeLorean to go back in time to course-correct the evolution and adoption of ITIL.

Don’t get me wrong, ITIL is extremely valuable to many organizations and has significantly improved our profession as a whole – it’s just that it could have helped so much more if it had been marketed and sold correctly rather than as the proverbial silver bullet we still see in marketing today.

What do you think the ITSM trend to watch will be in the next 12 months? And why?

While many IT shops will continue to be obsessed with the shiny new (and old) technology topics such as cloud, mobile, big data, etc. I think that the trend for customer-centricity, that has been talked about for the last few years, will continue to grow and evolve.

Driven by consumerization (that’s the consumerization of service not the consumerization of IT) end-users/consumers/customers/business colleagues will continue gain greater input to, and control over, the IT services they consume.

This might continue to manifest itself as “Shadow IT” or the embedding of IT resource within lines of business (at the expense of centralized operations) but it will also affect how the IT organization interacts with business peers from demand management through to support.

So this is multi-threaded around the consumers of corporate IT services – they will have more and more influence and, dare I say it, power over the IT services they consume. And thus my trend is not customer-centricity, “Shadow IT,” the return to IT decentralization, nor consumerization. It’s more about the continuing erosion of IT’s relevance if they don’t work out how to better supply services and service to their customers.

Where do you see the IT Service Management industry in 10 years time?

The IT will be dropped from ITSM for sure. Firstly as we will see greater emphasis on the service management and less on the IT. Secondly because we will see service management activity consolidated across different business functions (enterprise service management). And thirdly because it will probably not be done by IT or ITSM professionals – instead they will be service management or even SIAM (service integration and management) professionals.

IT services will also no longer be IT-supply-driven and as such will be called business services or just services or similar. Hopefully they will just be things that we consume in the way that Apple has transformed how we access information and services through mobile apps. IT will no longer be obvious to service consumers.

ITIL will have been rebranded to accommodate the new world order. AXELOS are too smart to let ITIL wither on the vine so it will need to change.

I’d also like to think that the “services and service” mentality will have become common, if not mandatory, throughout those that ultimately use internal or externally-delivered IT to deliver service.

Finally, what would be your 5 tips for success in ITSM?

  • Listen more – to anyone that does, or could, affect how you do your job
  • Think more about what you do and could do, but don’t get caught up in reinventing the proverbial wheel (again)
  • Collaborate and share more (both internally and externally)
  • Don’t confuse your aspirations with your priorities, focus on the three things (your real priorities) that will make a difference (personally and professionally, and individually and organizationally)
  • Enjoy it or don’t do it.

Thanks to Stephen for taking the time to conduct this interview. I presume where he mentions that “many of my favourite people work for competitor organizations” he was of course referring to me. Anyway, please let us know your thoughts, do you agree with Stephen’s answers?


Posted by Joe the IT Guy

Joe the IT Guy
Joe the IT Guy

Native New Yorker. Loves everything IT-related (and hugs). Passionate blogger and Twitter addict. Oh...and resident IT Guy at SysAid Technologies (almost forgot the day job!).


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