Back to the Future with ITSM

ITSM and IT Support in 2016: What Has Changed Since Late 2011?

Four and a half years is a long time in technology, but sadly not so much in IT service management (ITSM). Rather scarily, thinking back to all those 2020 predictions as we started the new decade – well we are over halfway there now.

When you look to what has happened to, and within, the corporate IT landscape since late 2011, you’ll most likely create a mental list even longer than the one I jotted down below:

  • Mandatory anytime, anyplace, anywhere access to information
  • Growing public cloud adoption and the API economy
  • DevOps moving from the unicorns to the corporate IT mainstream
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a reality
  • The IT management challenges of BYOD and Shadow IT
  • The rise of apps over the native web
  • IT security getting hotter and hotter (and hotter)
  • New technologies, such as containers and microservices, have emerged and evolved
  • The growth in software/technology-based companies redefining traditional industries and marketplaces, with legacy market leaders fighting to keep up

And then we have the ITSM “change” over the same period…

Sure, Things Have Changed in ITSM Since Late 2011

My “front of mind” changes include that:

  • Self-service has been a hot ticket, albeit with different levels of success
  • Enterprise service management went mainstream, but still has a way to go
  • Gamification piqued the interest of some organizations but not enough
  • DevOps conversations moved closer to ITSM professionals, but again they still have much further to go
  • ITSM tools have thankfully focused more on ease of use and consumer-like experiences
  • While not undergoing another Dr Who-like regeneration (from ITIL v3/2011 to ITIL 2016), the popular ITSM best practice framework has changed hands; with new custodian AXELOS releasing the “ITIL Practitioner” book and qualification in February 2016. You can read more on this in “8 Things that Stand Out in the New ITIL Practitioner Guidance Book

But how have ITSM professionals, and the companies they work for, moved ITSM on in four and a half years, beyond having to adapt to the changing IT landscape from a technologies perspective?

Rewind to the ITSM Challenges Faced in Late 2011

Yes, all of this is really a thinly-veiled excuse to return to one of my four-year-old blogs in my DeLorean – Top 10 IT Service Management Challenges For 2012: More Emphasis On The “Service” And The “Management” – where I grouped the top ten ITSM challenges, as I saw them, into three convenient themes plus the somewhat cynical “survival”:

  • 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/governance.”

So let’s look at these in more detail… it’s a gross generalization of course, with my tongue firmly in my cheek when I give an end-of-school report “verdict” for each:

  1. IT cost transparency. I can’t say that much has changed. Apptio in particular has helped the largest of organizations to better understand, and better manage, their IT spend. Plus, IT financial management capabilities have been added to some ITSM tools with limited take up. My gut feel, however, is that too many IT organizations still don’t know enough about how different IT services incur costs versus the value the business derives from that expenditure. And don’t start me on IT wastage and asset management.
    Verdict = please see me after class
  2. Value demonstration. Would you argue against the opinion that communicating how IT delivers business value is still a little-used dark art? And I still insist that if corporate IT organizations could better demonstrate the business value they deliver, they would be asked to spend more on IT rather than having to respond to the annual, corporately-mandated, quick fix, end-of-year IT budget cuts.
    Verdict = please see me after class
  3. Agility. DevOps (and cloud) is becoming a solution of choice for many, but I would question how much the Ops side of the house has had to do with it. Thankfully it looks like things are changing for the better.
    Verdict = must try harder
  4. Availability. Again cloud, including software-as-a-service (SaaS), is helping here.
    Verdict = a pass, just
  5. “Hardware.” I’m unsure how much of an issue this is any more, well not for end users. Not that corporate IT has definitively “kept up with the IT Jones” here, but more that BYOD – whether corporately sanctioned or not – has solved the issue for many.
    Verdict = a pass, just (and potentially thanks to the work of others)
  6. Support and customer service. I’ll come back to this below. It’s too important to rush here.
  7. Cloud. All seems tickety-boo – public cloud service use has grown exponentially, as have the capabilities to manage the cloud. Ironically, one of the main reasons for not using cloud in 2011 – security – is now one of the main reasons for using cloud in 2016.
    Verdict = looks promising for the new term
  8. Mobility. Everything is mobile these days, and hopefully mobile use-case scenarios are factored into all new corporate and externally-facing applications, with suitable mobile device management (MDM) solutions, or similar, in place to protect the business.
    Verdict = a good pass but you might need to do a little extra homework re mobile self-service capabilities
  9. Compliance/governance. With hindsight, I should have mentioned security more in late 2011 – not just because of the ongoing media frenzy over blue-chip company data breaches, but also the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on IT management and security.
    Verdict = I need to speak with your parents ASAP
  10. Survival. I guess the best thing to say is that the “survival” of the corporate IT organization is a merry-go-round based on all of the above and other variables. How well are most corporate IT organizations meeting business needs? I’m sure that many could do better in the eyes of their business peers.
    Verdict = must try harder

So it really is a mixed bag in terms of an ITSM school report. Things have definitively improved but my main concern is whether they have improved enough, especially in the area of “support and customer service” (I told you I’d get back to this). And I mean, not only from an internal, end-user perspective, but also from a “using technology to better support external customers” point of view.

So much has changed in four and a half years. End users and consumers now expect so much more in terms of services, customer experience, and support. And how many corporate IT organizations have really kept up with consumer-world experiences that treat customers as though the company’s business future depends on it? My gut feel is that there’s still much work to be done in this area, starting with a change of mind-set that starts to see end users as customers (even though they don’t pay for IT services themselves) or at least consumers.

I probably should have used my DeLorean to grab a future copy of Grays Sports Almanac but, while we are thinking about the future, what do you think corporate IT organizations need to address in 2016 and beyond?

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Posted by Stephen Mann

Stephen Mann
Stephen Mann

Stephen Mann is an independent IT and IT service management content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals. In his career, he's held positions in IT research and analysis (at IT industry analyst firms Ovum and Forrester), IT service management consultancy, enterprise IT service desk and IT service management, IT asset management, innovation and creativity facilitation, project management, finance consultancy, internal audit, and most recently product marketing for a SaaS IT service management technology vendor.


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