Technology - want or need?

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One of my previous entries - the misuse of computers? - has sparked off lots of comments recently  so I thought I would write another one in the same vein.

Whilst we all want our customers to buy our latest and greatest bit of technology I do worry about people who buy things they want rather than need, especially when they can't afford them and are adding to the world's debt mountain. 

As an aside when did we start counting billions wrong? When I was young, a billion was a million million, not a thousand million. So I assume the Americans (God bless them) wanted to have lots of billionaires so they changed it. However, that now means that their debt is measured in trillions rather than billions, which makes it sound a lot more. So which is better, more billionaires and trillions of debt or no billionaires and billions of debt? Answers on the back of a £50 note to me please.

Back to technology: 

  • I have a Virgin V+ box thing (like Tivo in the US) which records stuff whilst we are away. Great when it works - useless when your cable supply doesn't.  
  • Lots of people tell me I should get myself an iPad. Why? I can't type on a screen at any speed and I refuse to wander round taking photos with an iPad - makes you look a complete moron. I have a laptop, I have a very good camera, as far as I aware I don't NEED an iPad.
  • I've looked at the so-called Smart cameras. It would appear that they now want me to take photos and send them to a cloud and hey presto they pop up on my laptop. Surprise, surprise, I do that already. Ok it takes me a few clicks, but it's not exactly difficult, and I didn't have to buy any new equipment.
  • You will probably be surprised to learn that I don't have a Smartphone (even though I wrote a book predicting they would come out many years ago). If I were still working and travelling then I am sure I would have one, but being retired now I cannot really see why I NEED constant access to the Internet. If it were free I might change my mind, but the only time I really NEED the Internet is occasionally when I am travelling and then they charge you an iniquitous amount of money for roaming, so I simply look for a bar with free Wifi and have a drink whilst using my netbook. I admit I need to go back and look at the various options and price plans again, but the vast majority of them do not seem to be designed for the occasional traveller?   
I'm not saying all new technology is rubbish, some of it is wonderful (mobile phones, texting, digital cameras, music downloads, e-books etc.), but to run blindly into every new bit of technology saying YES YES without asking yourself whether you actually need it is what annoys me. Also I think way too many people naively believe that technology never breaks. Doooh! Perhaps I'm an old cynic (no perhaps) but I assume everything is going to break at some time so I have everything of importance backed up in several places. And last but not least, could the manufacturers please understand that not all of us are actually surgically attached to the Internet 24 hours a day - some of us have lives!


Process?

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I know I've been very quiet on the blogging front, and frankly that is due to the following:

  1. I'm retired
  2. My grandaughter is way higher on my list of priorities
  3. Nothing much has annoyed me for a while (apart from our politicians who annoy me all the time)!
However, two recent things have caused me to leap to the keyboard and bore you rigid with my thoughts.

  1. I read an article about people using the infamous "CLOUD" , and hey presto they think their backup and recovery procedures are not needed any more - DOOOH!
  2. We have had a banking mess over here - not the LIBOR fiddling - which involved a certain bank's systems being offline for a long time because some poor underpaid soul in the depths of our previous empire didn't backup the scheduling info before he changed it. Unfortunately his change also happened to involve deleting it!
Several things struck me straight away. 

  • If you move key parts of your computing to cheap labour, don't be surprised if it goes wrong occasionally. Unfortunately the bean counters never look at the real costs when they move things offshore.
  • Don't blame the poor soul who deleted the data - blame the process, which probably wasn't in place. 
  • If you use the CLOUD, don't expect everything to happen by magic. All the CLOUD means is that someone else is running the system - it doesn't mean they are running key processes for you, unless you ask them to. CLOUD does not replace ITIL and CoBIT.

Product or Service? Does it really make any difference?

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What one customer sees as a service, another might see as a product.  As an example, a mobile phone company provides a phone, which could be seen by the customer as a product which allows them to make calls and send/receive text messages, and provides various other capabilities.  It could be regarded as a service - being able to make phone calls etc. which just happens to include the supply of a phone handset in order to use the service.  Whether the customer sees it as a Product or Service is subjective, and probably doesn't really matter all that much.  From a customer's perspective, it's what the Product or Service does for them, the value it provides, which is important.  The mobile phone Product or Service allows them to make calls and other tasks - the value is in achieving the outcome, not in buying the product or service.  If the customer didn't have the need, they probably wouldn't be buying.

 

Our industry can be guilty of spending too much time on semantics  - is it an 'incident', or should we call it something else?  There are an embarrassingly  large number of examples.

 

Surely any organization who wants to be successful, realizes the necessity for understanding this customer-centric perspective.  This awareness is absolutely necessary if we hope to design and deliver successful products and services.  Regardless of whether we're a commercial organization, charity, not-for-profit, public sector or private, isn't this completely critical?

 

People have different views, and why should we have the right to dictate how people should think, or the language they use?  I would argue this is a distraction, and not massively important.  The main point is that a good service provider, or any of us who believe they have any element of service management in what we do, should do everything we can to understand what the customer wants or needs to achieve, and how what we do makes that happen - that's what makes it a valuable service.

On Monday, Feb 20th @ 1:30PM, Bill Keyworth and I will be presenting the results of the 2011 BSM Benchmark study at the Pink Elephant IT Service Management and Expo in Las Vegas.

An abstract for the session can be viewed here.

We have a booth at the event and hope to engage attendees in a conversation about their BSM maturity, challenges and plans.

We also intend to interview a few end users and will be on the lookout for new announcements that specifically support better alignment between IT and the business.

Hope to see you there!

The first series of questions in the 2011 BSM Maturity Benchmark survey focused on evaluating BSM maturity.  The good news is there is growing clarity re: the definition/purpose of Business Service Management with movement away from the narrow focus on Application Performance and Running-IT-as-a-Business to a measurable activity for aligning IT with business goals.  The bad news is the noticeable gap identified by respondents between the perceived maturity of the "business" and the abilities of IT to support rapidly changing business needs.

There was almost universal agreement that technology is no longer an option but a critical requirement for business survival and growth ...particularly as it relates to customer relationships, profit margins, revenue growth, competitive advantage, product differentiation and time to market.  Three of the more interesting dichotomies of the benchmark related to:

1.      83% of business respondents affirmed that "technology provides us with a unique, sustained competitive advantage" while the IT view was significantly lower at 30%.    

2.      84% of business participants agreed that technology was used by their company "to create product and service leadership in our industry" while the IT view came in at 55%. 

3.      Only 42% of business users supported the idea that the company limited "the use of technology to basic business functions" while the IT view was much higher at 67%.

Why this discrepancy between the business and IT views?  Is it that business has a better perspective of how technology actually impacts business initiatives?  Is it that IT better understands what technology "could" do for the business, but isn't?   Fortunately these questions are explored in greater detail in subsequent sections of the 2011 BSM Maturity Benchmark report.  Click here to obtain a copy.

Unhelpful live chat

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My PC is about to give up the ghost - it keeps dying and flashes its little orange light forlornly like a lost waif. I can get it going again by taking it apart, fiddling with the battery and other bits and swearing at it (the latter actually works best). However, I've decided enough is enough and time to buy a new one, which will, of course, be Windows 7 (current one is XP).

So I have gone through all the software / hardware to see what works, what doesn't - most of it is ok apart from one synth (for my music, but I have another one) and one bit of home accounting software for which I have found a replacement. The software was particularly annoying as it appears to be only the UK that hasn't bothered to upgrade to 7; USA and Oz versions seem to work fine???

Anyway, we then come down to the wireless adapter, which Microsoft says is compatible, but requires a free download (driver I assume) with a link to the manufacturer's site, where of course there is a download for Vista and XP but nothing for 7. There is, however, a Live Chat button so I go for that.

After a short wait I get a hello, I am Maurice..... how can I be of assistance? I enter my query - moving to Windows 7 with network adapter ...., will it work and do I need to download a new driver? He comes back with 

  • Can I ask you some questions?
  • Go for it
  • What country are you in? 
  • UK
  • What is the serial number of the device?
  • enter number 
  • What is your problem?
Well the problem is that you haven't read the original question I typed in, but being kind I type it in again.

  • It will work
  • Do I need a new driver - your website only has Vista and XP for download?
  • Please give me a few minutes
  • OK
  • Thank you for your patience
  • No problem, but are you going to answer the question?
  • What connection are you using? Cable or ADSL?
  • Don't see why that is important, but cable to wireless router
  • I am sending you a link to how to make your wireless router work
  • My wireless router works fine - that's not the problem. Can you please answer the original question - and I repeat the question
  • We don't support that adapter on Windows 7
  • Why did you tell me did?
  • I sent you the wrong answer by mistake. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
  • Goodbye (and good riddance!)
Now, this is the short version of the chat. Most of his answers came from the helpdesk-how to-make-a-short-answer-into-a-long-one manual. Who teaches these people? They sound as if they have swallowed a bad dictionary combined with a Jane Austen novel. I am going out on a limb here, but I would bet the 27 words where one would do approach comes from an American trainer. You're lovely people, but IMHO you can't speak English! 

  • How can I be of assistance? Yuck - how can I help?
  • Incentivise!!!! Yuck, yuck, yuck - anyone using this word should be shot - what's wrong with motivate? 
  • Deplane!!! Yuck - ditto - disembark.
  • Momentarily. Yuck - ditto - soon.
  • At this moment in time. Mega yuck -ditto - now.
  • etc.
(Actually shooting all those people would solve the world population problem, but I digress.)

Anyway, could someone please start teaching helpdesk people proper English and also give the poor souls a list of useful answers to common questions like does your product run on Windows 7? Me - I'm going to buy a new adapter from a different company.

2011 BSM Benchmark Report

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We are delighted to announce the availability of the 2011 Business Service Management Benchmark Report.
 
The survey, which was conducted in the first half of this year, measures the maturity of BSM initiatives industry-wide. The report provides unique insight into the working relationship between IT and their business counterparts, across departments and roles. It measures the effectiveness of IT service support and identifies the current use and planned adoption of ITIL v2 and v3.
 
We believe you will find the benchmark report both intriguing and insightful.
 
A few key take-a-ways from the benchmark report include:

  • Both Business and IT personnel are approaching consensus on the high-level definition of Business Service Management
  • Businesses are maturing at a higher rate than IT and, as such, IT is struggling to keep pace with the business
  • There remains a significant "information" gap between business and IT regarding how technology could, or should be leveraged to support business growth and competitive differentiation
  • Nearly half of enterprises we surveyed have achieved fairly effective alignment with their business counterparts and are meeting expectations
  • Too many IT shops are in danger of being marginalized as the lack of investment in IT leads to less innovation and IT services that are inadequate to satisfy the longer term needs of the business
Click <here> to download the final report.

This quote by Audrey Rasmussen of Ptak/Noel and Associates does a nice job summing up the report.

"As is typical for major transformations such as BSM, progress never seems fast enough and accurately gauging progress is a continual challenge.  This BSM Maturity benchmark study provides a view of the current "state of BSM", giving BSM practitioners perspectives on their own "state of BSM" and how it compares with other BSM initiatives, as well as a benchmark to measure their progress."

Please don't hesitate to comment on the study in the BSMReview blog or send us e-mail at info@bsmreview.org.

---------------------------

I would like to thank our sponsors for supporting the survey and promoting the final report.

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bsmdigest-logo.png             netiq_preflogo_cmyk_NEW.jpg


Exciting times

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Well, life has certainly been a bit different recently. I will ignore the week spent feeling half-dead as we caught a stomach bug, and talk about the more interesting parts of life.

First a bit of blatant self-advertising. As some of you may know I wrote a book (a modern-day thriller based round the world's energy problems) and published it on Amazon and Lulu

Well, I was feeling inquisitive so I wondered if could get it published as a Kindle book, because we both have Kindles now and think they are ace. Good news for those who want to try it, it is an easy process. (Yes, I know the links above are all UK ones, but I have also done it on Amazon in US, Germany and France). 

Having done that, I though I would also try it on smashwords, as they distribute to other channels like Barnes & Noble, Sony etc. Then the fun began as I had to fight Open Office to reproduce the already accepted and printed manuscript in epub format. The fact that the PDF I had already worked fine on my Kindle - I checked it - was immaterial, you have to rejig it and play around with paragraph spacing and different ISBN etc. etc. Anyway, got it to work eventually. Of course, just after I had finished that, the original online publisher I used (Lulu) sent me an email saying they were now offering a whole range of epub distributions - was I interested?!?!

OK, so the good news is that having gone through all the rigmarole with smashbooks I now had a version that worked on lulu, and I have blasted it all over the place!!!!

Now, why am I boring you with all this? Well, there is always the vague hope that one or two of you might buy a copy as it's nice and cheap, but a lot of you will probably say "I haven't got a Kindle, or I've got an iPad or whatever." So here's the good news:

  1. Yes, it works on all sorts of devices. Of course, being run by computer people they are all different formats so we authors have to go through the tedium of converting it multiple ways!!
  2. You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle books - there is a free Kindle reader app for the PC, the Mac, iPhone, Blackberry (handy when you can't do anything else with it as the server's down?), the Android etc. There is also a free Adobe Digital Editions app for epubs. So you can read lots of cheap / free books on your laptop / pad / whatever.
  3. My apologies if the price keeps changing - the one part of the Kindle process that doesn't seem to work the way I expect is the pricing. I tried to make it about a quid (UK one pound) everywhere, as I didn't want to stretch anyone in these hard times!   

Now the other half of my life! 

I got stung by a wasp a couple of weeks ago. I've been stung before and not had any great problems beyond a bit of pain and a secret desire to eradicate all wasps worldwide. This time, however, I reacted quite violently and came out with a mega rash over my chest and arms so off we go to hospital.

Being a sad old computer process man, it was interesting to watch the stages:
  • Initial diagnosis / triage where the most important question was asked, namely was my breathing affected, fortunately no
  • See doctor, get treatment confirmed - some injections
  • Injections with check that they were correct ones
  • Check to see all is ok and explain about medication to be taken at home
  • Controlled emergency reaction as I suddenly collapse and my wife is somewhat worried by call of "he's not breathing"
  • Come round a few seconds later to find team of specialists doing what is needed - oxygen, drip etc.
  • Constant vigilance of blood pressure, which apparently dropped off edge of cliff earlier
  • Tests to see if I can talk, sit, stand, walk
  • Revisit by doctor to see all has been resolved
  • Close of trouble ticket and my wife drives me home
Now, if you can't see the parallels to an ITIL/CobIT scenario there I will be very surprised. Thank you hospital for having the right processes and the right controls.
Comments by Bill Moran and Rich Ptak


A little 'off-topic' from BSM per se, put we think it's worth a look at what's happening as Larry Ellison and his Oracle team try to move from software giant to full system solution provider.

The recently announced 5% drop in Oracle's HW revenues (continuing a drop that began with the Sun acquisition) once again casts doubts on its future as a hardware vendor. Before acquiring Sun, Oracle claimed the hardware division would be profitable in a very short time. We're still waiting.

 

Oracle executives (Safra Catz and Mark Hurd) insist the drop is a result of efforts to increase the profitability and margin in hardware sales. To be honest, the margins did improve. And, Ellison continues to insist they will make no attempt to hang onto unprofitable business segments - hence, his comments about exiting the high-volume x86 server market. (Ellison's stated goal is the get operating margins to around 46% where it was before the Sun acquisition. This is up from the last reported 42 %.)

 

These comments are consistent with what you would expect from executives in the midst of trying to execute a turn-around in a very tough market. None of the statements are a surprise. None appear outrageous. Vendors unwilling to surrender a costly, barely profitable attachment to a hardware platform or even a software product - tend to end up at the side of the road. Turning away customers, deteriorating sales numbers are not obviously great strategies for the long term. Let's see how this might play out.

 

In our view, once customers begin to hold back on their purchases of hardware (as they tend to do when the platform future appears shaky); the downward trend is likely to continue and expand. At the very least, until the customer perception of the prospects for the hardware division turns positive. This holds doubly true when a company, like Oracle, is moving into a totally new market space. There's uncertainty in spades when a software company attempts to become a full service solution vendor, no matter what the quality of new executives or past performance. The problem is compounded when the acquired company seemed to be having problems prior to its purchase. No one wants to invest in dead-end hardware, which is why it is most companies avoid talking of 'end-of-life' until the replacement product is available and accepted.

 

In the case of Oracle/Sun such a change in perspective will take time. It's not good when customers start publicly raising questions about the future of SPARC/Solaris. The risk increases when the platform was positioned as THE critical technology for the division. Restoring confidence will take time and money.


Oracle will have to demonstrate its commitment and willingness to make the necessary investment to restore confidence in SPARC with a detailed roadmap of its future. In concert, Oracle has to execute a credible and successful campaign to increase SPARC penetration and position not simply as a place holder for Exadata-like appliances.

 

Yes, Exadata is x86-based running Linux. But, it is a clear winner for Oracle today, with a promising future. That makes Exadata a strategic platform. The question that follows is: can Oracle be a hardware powerhouse without SPARC? We believe they need SPARC, IF they are to deliver to Larry's vision of offering a system with a fully integrated stack. The question then becomes can Oracle afford a dual-platform strategy? And, will Oracle be able to convince customers of the validity of their commitment to a multi-platform solution as other vendors have done? Both questions are quite reasonable and must be convincingly answered by Oracle.

 

When customers are convinced of the commitment and the success at execution, then they will reevaluate SPARC as a solution. We expect this process will take some time and see no obvious way to short circuit or jump start the process. Oracle needs to make a major SPARC announcement this year. (Larry Ellison announced the intention to do that at Oracle Open World this fall.) It remains to be seen how its performance improvements compare to competitor products from IBM and others. Assuming ORACLE can pull all these things together, it is possible that some time in 2012, the prospects for Sun's success will begin a recognizable turn around.

Companies that pay attention to emerging trends and adapt quickly are most likely to succeed, while laggards suffer the consequences of latecomers and miss business opportunities. The DevOps movement is one of these emerging trends that companies should be taking seriously despite numerous failures by vendors to jump start this area in the past. However, in our opinion, DevOps appears to already be taking root this time and for several very good reasons.

Why is it different this time?

The impermeable wall between IT development and operations is legendary. Despite numerous past efforts to encourage development and operations organizations to work together, "the wall" still exists in most IT organizations today. With this historical record of failure, is the current DevOps movement also doomed to inevitable failure? As an industry watcher who witnessed the past failed attempts to breach the wall, we believe there is something very different about today's DevOps movement that sets it up for potential success.

Past efforts were driven primarily by vendors who were trying to create a market for selling more software. Development, operations teams and their leaders were less than enthusiastic when vendors presented them with weak value propositions, telling them that development and operations teams "should" collaborate, and it was a good thing to do. It's no wonder that IT organizations chose to invest in other areas with more pressing needs, and left the wall between development and operations still standing.
 

So what's different about today's DevOps movement? One major difference is a combination of driving forces that reinforce the need for today's DevOps movement, which present strong and compelling reasons for both development and operations to work together. The main driving force comes from business leaders faced with the need to innovate and respond quickly to increasing competitive pressures. This, in turn, puts increased pressure on IT development and operations teams to deliver new services more quickly.

As a result of the changing business needs, development teams are feeling increasing pressure to create new, innovative solutions rapidly and to respond quickly to changing requirements. This is one of the reasons why development organizations are beginning to adopt Agile development methods, which increase the speed and velocity of software development and changes. It also shortens the development cycle. The velocity of software changes that must be deployed into production pose serious challenges for development and operational hand-off processes that are manual and ill-equipped to handle the frequency of new software releases. 

On the other side of "The Wall", businesses are also exerting pressure on IT operations teams to deploy new, innovative solutions and respond quickly to business needs. This is in addition to meeting existing high expectations that applications run smoothly, and are always available. This further challenges the delicate balancing act for Business Service Management, speeding innovation delivery while maintaining stability and minimizing risk to business services.

So operations and development teams are looking to cloud computing as one alternative for fast delivery of infrastructure and application deployment. Many IT operations teams are already in the process of doing the necessary leg work for cloud computing, which requires standardization, processes, and automation. This preparation work will also help move DevOps initiatives forward because manual deployment methods that worked for waterfall development schedules, with well-spaced periodic deployments, will fail to keep up with the constant and rapid arrival of agile software updates.

Telltale Cracks in "The Wall"

Cracks already appear in "The Wall", which may be a harbinger of success for the current DevOps' movement. Several IT organizations have deployed their first cloud initiatives in development test environment deployment. They have chosen the development test environment because it is a low risk, quick return project. But what is most significant about this choice is that it opens the dialog and collaboration between IT operations and development test teams. In my opinion, this demonstrates that "The Wall" is no longer impermeable.

Another indicator of significant cracks appearing in "The Wall" comes from cloud computing early adopters. The development organizations from several early adopter cloud customers saw the pressing need to streamline their service delivery processes in order to speed their time to market and to increase their efficiency.  As vendor integrations between the tools did not exist, they launched internal projects to re-engineer and integrate their service delivery processes. These efforts included integrating selected development and IT operational tools, as well as standardizing and employing automation. Through such initiatives, the companies managed to knock down substantial portions of "The Wall". What is significant about these examples is that development teams were the driving force behind the initiatives. This contrasts markedly with the past, where development teams were typically the ones resisting the change. The resulting payoff for these early adopter companies was faster, more efficient delivery of new business services.

And finally, development tool vendors and operations tool vendors are increasingly delivering capabilities to enable improved collaboration between development and operations teams. In addition, IBM is proposing the adoption of Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) integration and data exchange standards to enable easier integration across disparate tools. If integration standards are adopted, paving the way for easier integration of disparate development and operations tools, the result would be a significant step forward for the potential success of DevOps' integration.   

The Final Word

There are early indications that DevOps may be taking root this time. Several market forces are at work that place collaboration between development and operations at a critical juncture. Today's DevOps value proposition is much stronger because of the importance to the business, which moves it from a "nice to do" to a "must do".

DevOps is not a power struggle to see who wins between development and IT operations. It should be a collaborative effort between development and operations to deliver what the business needs, as quickly and efficiently as possible, as it enables the company to beat its competition.

Our friends at BrightTALK are hosting a BSM Summit on August 10th.

The summit is featuring two of our BSMReview experts, Bill Keyworth and Ken Turbit.

Bill's session entitled "Can BSM Navigate the Turbulent Air Currents of Cloud Computing" is focused on the widening gap between IT and Business as more services are pushed out to the cloud and provisioned by business.

Ken's session entitled "Five Steps to Ensure BSM Works in the Cloud" describes what he believes are the 5 critical capabilities required to effectively support BSM in the cloud which are aligned with ITIL best practices.

The virtual summit features 5 additional industry experts that discuss how cloud computing is affecting BSM and ITSM strategies and processes. A few of the thought provoking session titles include:

How to Take the BS out of BSM?
How to Catalog your Cloud?
Can 140 Characters or Less Really Impact IT and the Business?


I think you will find this summit worth your time and it may, in fact, be quite entertaining.

I would also like to point you to a BSMReview article entitled "A Service Model for Cloud Computing" that is a worthwhile read as you prepare for the BSM Summit.

Cheers.

At a vendor-sponsored event earlier this year, I spent some time with IT and business managers that had participated in a simulation workshop. The object was to help managers and operation staffs become familiar with a private Cloud operating environment, ITIL v3 best practices and a new set of integrated management solutions. It was an interesting and informative experience in and of itself. Reviewing the lessons learned during the workshop, it occurred to me that there were some too often overlooked insights that apply to organizations and enterprises pursuing a BSM operational environment.   


In any simulations involving multiple different groups, one of more effective lessons learned is about gaining new perspectives. This workshop took place in a room-sized environment that meant all of the participants could witness how different groups in the "company" were affected by different events, as well as where each group focused their attentions. In this case, IT operations staff were 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with service desk staff, business and IT managers. Unlike the 'real world', the efforts, interaction, inefficiencies and the impact of decisions made by each group were visible to all parties very quickly. When a newly introduced service failed, the disruption was compounded by the fact that no one had told the Service Desk that the new service existed. Both business and IT management knew about the new service, and IT operations implemented it. But no one thought to notify the Service Desk. The importance of a communications process was immediately apparent.

 

Each round brought new insight into the interdependencies, interactions and need for well-defined processes to make sure things were done that needed to be done and that communications between the group was open, effective and complete. Business managers gain insight into just what IT does along with a better understanding of their fundamental value and contribution to business performance. IT staff gain an understanding of how their business counterparts' focus on revenue, cost and profitability is central to the operation and success of the business.

 

It becomes clear that realizing the potential to positively impact business performance requires IT managers to understand and focus on business priorities, in order to make the right decisions for the business. Both functions need a better understanding and appreciation of their colleagues' perspectives and the metrics by which their colleagues are measured if they are to successfully work together to maximize business performance.

 

A major tenant of BSM it facilitate and accelerate a shift in IT focus from simply providing access to and maintaining the infrastructure (essentially 'fixing things when they break and managing to operational performance goals)' to an environment where IT promotes and orchestrates the application of the infrastructure in support of business (whatever the business is - education, retail, government, etc.) goals. The shift is from monitoring to assure things are up and running to creatively managing and applying IT infrastructure to assure that business goals are met.

 

If IT is to focus solving the problems and delivering services that advance and facilitate business success they must understand the metrics for success. They have to know what it takes for their business user/client to be successful - then focus on providing the IT and technology services that contribute to that success. 

Another lesson learned, that applies to BSM, is the need for well-defined processes. Operational efficiency and effectiveness  result from  following and taking action based on well-defined processes and having defined and documented those processes  a head of time makes all the difference when operating under pressure. However, don't let consistency become a trap - review and update to eliminate what's not needed. During one session, a manual process introduced during an earlier round - almost sunk the revenue stream because it interfered with a newly defined automated process. Review, evaluate, communicate - all applicable in implementing any BSM program.

 

In short, if BSM is to pay off, it is important that IT and business works as teams. Today, emerging technologies in IT are more likely to penetrate the consumer space before they hit the enterprise (think iPads, Smart phones, etc.)  As this consumerization of IT continues, business staff will demand more from IT operations. IT needs to be pro-active in identifying where and how they can contribute to business success. In commercial enterprises, this requires being knowledgeable about how, when, why of how revenue (or the major success metric) is earned. Be and act as a part of a team that includes both business and IT personal. Know and understand the relationship, interaction and interdependencies between IT and business operations, that is the path to successful Business Service Management.

 

In her recent post Getting Ready for Agile 2011, Anne Mullaney gave an outline of my forthcoming sessions at the conference. Specifically, she highlighted the emergence of new forms of Agility:

"Super-Fresh Code" is a term Israel coined (an extension of the "Super-Fresh Web" concept) to describe code that results from seizing upon the opportunities opened by combining recent advances in Agile software methods, cloud computing, mobile applications, and social networking. With the right mix, a company can outgun, outclass and outmaneuver its competition through real-time requirements management and superior business designs. Essentially, super-fresh code becomes the source of competitive advantage. This is a workshop that will make you think about Agile in ways you never have before.

Viewed from this perspective, devops becomes an integral part of Agile methods. One starts an enterprise level Agile roll-out in order to, well, gain Agility. The metaphorical wall between dev and IT ops puts a damper on end-to-end agility. Hence, applying Agile principles to the cusp between dev and ops becomes an essential part of the Agile initiative. In fact, Cutter recommends to its clients to integrate the two all the way down to the backlog stories.

Appropriately enough for the anniversary year of the Agile Manifesto, my strong conviction indeed is that we are just about witnessing Agile going beyond being "just" a software method. Markets are becoming hyper-segmented. There is no way to reach tiny, granular market segments economically without sophisticated software. Moreover, markets are becoming ultra-fluid. It takes a high degree of software-based business agility to penetrate market segments that form and collapse at the speed with which social networking groups emerge (and disappear). Hence, software is becoming a bigger and bigger part of just about any business -- avionics, financial services, healthcare, retail, transportation, telco, and so on. In fact, in many engagements Cutter consultants carry out, the software is the company. Unless Agile methods are used strategically, the ability of a company to generate value for its customers and capture profit for itself might be in jeopardy: the company simply cannot adapt fast enough when dev and IT ops operate as two silos.

I can't wait to discuss these topics with you and other Agile 2011 participants in just about two weeks!

Rapid, breathtaking technology advances are forcing radical changes not only in how IT organizations function, but also in terms of their culture, leadership, and even careers. Combined with business, social and global trends, as well as technology investing (spending), IT organizations must accelerate their organizational change plans in order to survive and thrive. They must assess and plan for complete transformation - strategy, structure, people, processes, and tools.

Are we preparing our IT professionals to plan for and make these changes? Are we helping them position themselves and their organizations for success in this dynamically evolving world?

This Cutter Consortium article assess and addresses the impacting wave of the rapidly changing IT and business trends on traditional IT careers, positions, and skill sets.

This wake-up call is best described by a quote from four-star US General (Ret.) Eric Shineski: "If you don't like change, you'll like irrelevance even less."

This direct and powerful call to action for the BSM Review audience focuses on: 

  • The urgent and undeniable need for IT professionals to examine their skill sets today against those required tomorrow;
  • The significance of industry and business changes as they radically impact IT organizations, cultures, professionals, and careers over the next five years; and game-changing developments, including cloud computing (hosted services and software solutions), the virtual desktop, mobile computing, IT sourcing, and remote / virtual workers.
"As IT leaders, we must coach our IT professionals out of and beyond their comfort zone, raise the bar on their expected ingenuity and vision to meet future challenges, and establish a sense of urgency in them. We must help them reevaluate and retool themselves for the limitless opportunities and possibilities in front of them to deliver business value, competitive advantage, and customer loyalty." 

A free download registration page is available for you to receive a complimentary copy of my article entitled the IT's Change Imperative in PDF format.

It's located here: http://www.cutter.com/offers/changeimperative.html.

Embrace the change.

Peter
An recent article at CIO.com entitled "How to Argue with the CEO - and Win" offers 13 tips, culled from current and former CIOs and communication consultants ...with the goal to get the CEO to see the CIO's perspective when arguments about IT spending ensue.

All 13 tips are relevant to BSM, but the one that sticks out to us is #3 -- CIO must Speak in Business Terms. We have heard this loud and clear from CIO's who fought for, and succeeded at getting a seat at the table with the CEO. To succeed at this level, the CIO must be respected for his knowledge and ability to contribute to the discussion about business strategy and operational excellence.

Our interview with Robert Urwiler, CIO at Vail Reports, brought this to the forefront very early on in our discussion. In the interview, Robert demonstrated a deep understanding of the business and discusses the collaborative role of IT regarding resort operations. Robert's story is a great example of the benefits of alignment, but not all CIO's can make that transition.

According to a number of sources, the argument between the CIO and CEO often are a result of poor business communication skills of the CIO. Another CIO,com article entitled "10 Communication Mistakes CIOs Still Make" highlight these communication challenges.

We have been discussing this communication gap at BSMReview for some time. We think there needs to be a new vocabulary that serves as the  bridge for this communication gap. Some people think the responsibility lies solely with the CIO ...that the CIO should develop the business skills required to learn the business.  I disagree in that I think the business also needs to learn something about IT, not at the level of the CIO, but certainly enough to know what IT services and trends directly affect business operations and competitive differentiation. Perhaps an IT 101 course for the CEO and line-of-business executives, and the equivalent course for the CIO on the dynamics of the business.

I have often thought that a set of business-oriented key performance indicators (KPIs) would be a step in the right direction -- linking IT investment and performance to business performance. Sounds a bit like Business Service Management.

At any rate, I wanted to bring this CIO article to your attention. It is well worth reading if you are interested in aligning your IT investment with your business strategy.

Finally, another must read that is related to this entry is the recent interview with Mark Settle, CIO of BMC Software.

Vance Brown, CEO of Cherwell Software, makes the case for changes IT organizations must make to survive in the new economy in a recent BSMReview article.

But change is hard -- it requires people to alter their behavior, processes to be reinvented and technology to support the new business process. Vance states that "the cornerstone to effective change in information technology is to harness the necessary information to proactively make the right business decisions-at anytime from anywhere-and thereby truly aligning IT with business objectives."

With today's technology, business unit managers can utilize an iPhone or PDA device to proactively receive, and then act upon, the right information-at anytime, from anywhere. This enables people with sound processes to make the right business decisions. In order to make right, or "RITE" decisions, management must have data and information that is:

  1. Relevant to the mission, strategies, and objectives of the organization
  2. Integrated across all department "silos" and geographic locations
  3. Timely, so that the issues can be addressed and resolved before they become crises and
  4. Efficient, so that with the mounds of data, organizations can "manage by exception" and the automated best business processes can be enforced
What we all know is that Change is Inevitable .. How you control and manage it is optional.

More >>
As IT becomes increasingly important to business operations more and more IT organizations are turning to ITIL and other such ITSM frameworks to bring IT under control and provide services that deliver business value. ITIL V3  sums up perfectly what we in IT need to deliver "Value to customers in terms of outcomes they want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks."

Unfortunately, too many  ITSM improvement programs fail. Reports vary, stating that between 70% and 80% fail to deliver value. A Forrester report revealed that 52% fail because of resistance. These failures cause wasted costs and increased business risks. These failures are no longer acceptable.

Paul gives us the "Top 10 Types of Resistance" you had better keep an eye out for. And if you catch yourself resisting with one of these techniques... well, then.

More >>
Having slagged off computers in a previous post, I am glad to report that I have recently come across an intelligent implementation of computing.

I have been using the Spotify service for some time now - if you don't know it, it gives you legal access via the internet to millions of songs. You don't download the songs, you simply select what you want to listen to and stream it. We use it a lot in the bands I play in when rehearsing, so that we can listen to songs and remind ourselves how they go!!

Problem is that you tend to run it from your PC and then play it through the crap speakers you have attached. Hey presto, check this out, a hi-fi receiver that you connect to the Internet and lets you stream Spotify, last.fm etc with proper quality.

Obvious when you think about it, so why has it taken so long for someone to come up with the idea? In tomorrow's world you won't own albums - you will just stream what you need when you need it.

I personally would also be turned on by a version that ran on my cable TV and let me select whatever album I wanted - I can then connect the TV output to the hi-fi, which is sitting next to it. They do it with movies / TV programs etc. - have I missed the music service?

I have also bought a couple of Kindles for me and her indoors, and I must say that we are very impressed. 

OK, I realise that all of this makes it difficult for the book and CD retailers, but what they have to do is recognise that the world is moving on and change their business model to exploit the new world of ubiquitous digitisation. Negroponte predicted all this in his book years ago - what a clever man.

Miracles do happen

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I was helping out a friend with their TV system, and as a part of that we had to ring up the help desk. I am not a great fan of help desks normally, as the ones where I live are typically situated in another country and manned by people who don't understand a word I'm saying. Furthermore they are given a script to run through, which has obviously been written by someone who graduated from the Marquis de Sade school of customer diplomacy. 

I was amazed to talk to someone in my own native language, who could explain exactly what the problem was and how to fix it - UNBELIEVABLE! And when I told him that he was the most useful person I had spoken to in years (I may even have said the ONLY useful person) he thanked me profusely. 

Now that was a service desk, not a help desk.
Look at this, you wait ages for a blog entry to come from me, and then two come at once - just like London buses!

We were at some friends' house last night for dinner and the conversation came round to why do we need computers? Bit like Monty Python, what have they ever done for us? And a bit like Monty Python, I listed a series of things that computers enable, which make our lives easier.

However, where the conversation was really going is that computers are often used for things, where frankly we would be a lot better off without them, e.g.

  • Games consoles - sorry, should be banned. Kids sitting in their bedrooms playing computer games is a dreadful idea - get out in the fresh you fat lazy gits. (By the way, I would like to start a T-shirt company with "YRU So Fat?" written on the shirts - any backers?)
  • Similarly any sport on a games console is a bad idea - go outside and kick/hit a ball.
  • Twitter is to me a total waste of space. I have absolutely no interest in the lives of celebrities. They are no more important than I am and I do not wish to know about their every bowel movement.
  • Facebook ditto. What's wrong with conversation?
  • Mobile phones and other electronic devices should be surgically removed from children at least one day a week so that they learn how to function without them and master the art of social interaction. 
  • Spelling and punctuation should be mandatory subjects; no-one seems to be able to spell or punctuate today and when they rely on spell-check, they still get it wrong.
On a more serious note, just because something can be done by computers doesn't mean it must be. There may be a far more sensible and cost-effective way of doing it. 

Don't trust the public?

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Sorry for lack of blogging in recent months, but the birth of our first granddaughter changed all our priorities! Wonderful to have a cuddle and then hand back the problem - wish computer systems were like that!

Anyway, what has been happening here in the UK in recent times? We had an election, and for those of you who don't follow UK politics, here is a quick recap. The country was run for 14-odd years by a bunch of incompetent idiots, who drove us to the edge of bankruptcy by spending lots of money we didn't have - that's Labour. The other major party is called the Conservatives, who at least appeared to understand the problem, and promised to do something about it by cutting back on stupid spending. The third party - Liberal Democrats - had absolutely no chance of winning and I'm not quite sure what they stand for except a change to our voting system whereby they would win more seats.  

We then mad a stupid mistake and asked the public to choose. The public, unfortunately, were too thick to understand how bad the problem was and couldn't make up their minds who to vote for. So now we have a Coalition between Conservative and Lib Dem, which of course means that everyone complains that they didn't get the party they voted for and the government is not doing what they promised.

Several observations:

They did get what they voted for - they were just too stupid to realise that the result was obvious unless they voted intelligently.

We still waste money on stupid things.

We are about to have a referendum on this Alternative Voting malarkey - what a total waste of time and money - but that was the price of the Coalition.

Some conclusions.

Never ask the general public if you want a sensible result.

Don't complain when you get what you asked for.

No government ever delivers what they promise, but I wish they would stop worrying about votes and fix the country.

Some parallels in computing:

If you want something done properly, lay down the rules (ITIL, CobIT etc) and make people stick to them. If we'd controlled the banks and the government in this country we wouldn't be in this mess now.

Fit for purpose, fit for use.

When ITIL v3 came out, so did some industry terms that really made sense and needed to be fully understood and taken on-board. "fit for purpose and fit for use" is one of those terms.

So often people just focus all their energy and attention on the "fit for use" element and ignore, at their peril, the fit for purpose factor. Let me give you some simple example to highlight the point.

Over the past few weeks I've been involved in the planning (and expense) of refurbishing a house I purchase as a "buy to let" investment and some of the team have focussed too much on the fit for use factor and ignore the fit for purpose.  Downstairs the house already had a cloakroom with a small wash-hand basin and lavatory. The room was large enough to allow me to add a shower cubicle in and change the "purpose" of the room from a guest facility to a tenant shower room facility. The builders changed the existing Loo and basin to new ones, but the basin was tiny, just about large enough to get one hand in to wash! So it was "fit for use", one could wash your hand in it, but it was not fit for the new purpose of a shower-room. It was too small for someone to wash their face in, or to be used for a man shaving etc, it was not fit for purpose and so I got it changed to one 3 times the size. Now it was fit for use and purpose. Something the designers should have got right from the initial briefing.

The second example is the opposite. My car. Now I've had the car for 5 years and when I purchased it I was still with BMC and travelling the world, so it was a car for fun, not for trying to collect and move furniture around from one house to another! It was fit for use and purpose at the time. It took me from A to B, it had 4 doors and a boot (trunk) it was large (16 feet long) and wide. So, on paper it was ideal for using. However it was designed as a four door coupe and had very sloping roof and narrow doors and windows, making it impossible to get solid things into, only flexible people! It is no longer fit for the purpose I now require.

Things do change and over time what was right for one period in time is not longer right for the existing environment and tasks at hand. This is so true in the Service Management world too. Too many organisations keep trying to "shoe-horn" existing software, applications, servers, desktops, laptops and even processes into doing things they are not made for. They take the view that it was fit for use and initially fit for purpose, therefore they believe it must still be still for purpose, yet our purpose changes over time. We need to constantly review our Asset base and ensure we use them, at the right time, in the right place, for the right tasks and the right usage. This is utility. Something that can be fully utilised, unlike my nice car! Don't complain to Service Management if you're using assets Fit for one element and not the other, review and get the Utility right.

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