Recently in Interviews Category

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.
BSMReview is a Media Sponsor for the Pink Elephant conference and expo being held in Las Vegas this week. As a media sponsor, we promoted the event on BSMReview and are covering BSM newsworthy items at the event. BSMReview is well represented at the event and we are holding down a spot on the expo floor.

As you probably know, Pink Elephant is a professional services organization that provides consulting, education and tools to assess ITIL and IT service management competency. The Las Vegas conference is their 15th international event, has 1600+ attendees, and offers a solid program of educational sessions that features ITIL experts and customer presenters. The event is well run and sessions that I attended are content rich and well attended.

As a side note, I loved the opening video they produced and recommend watching it -- it is both entertaining and insightful.

We are launching the 2011 BSM Maturity Survey at the event. We are finding a high level of interest in both the BSM Maturity Model we developed last year and the survey instrument. Nearly everyone we have spoken to recognizes the alignment gap between IT and the business, but few know how to deal with the issue. They see the maturity model as a good way to start a dialog and the survey as a way to measure where they stand as compared to other companies their size and within their industry.

Many of the presenters at the event are real customers who are sharing their experiences -- lesson learned and best practices. Many view the CIOs role as the indicator for BSM maturity. Many see their CIO focused exclusively on IT operations (keeping the lights on), others see the CIO as transforming IT (to run IT like a business) and a fewer number see the CIO as strategic to the business. There was a healthy discussion about how IT leadership transitions though these phases, what leadership characteristics are key and if multiple roles are necessary to do it all. It is worth reading the 2011 State of the CIO survey by CIO.com to see how CIOs see their priorities changing this year.

We didn't spend a lot of time with vendors and won't be blogging about any new BSM related announcements. However, we spoke to a number of vendors who have agreed to promote the BSM Maturity Survey to their customers and prospects to support the benchmark study.

Finally, we made some great connections with customers at the event and have a half dozen or so lined up for interviews, so be on the lookout for that.

The Pink Elephant event is 100% relevant to BSM, offers insightful content and is run professionally. We will be back there next year and hope to see you there.
Every once in awhile, something nice happens.  I was referred to Jeff Cerny of TechRepublic for an interview re: my passion and background for business service management.  Jeff did a great job of capturing the core of why I believe the time for BSM has arrived, and why it is a critical consideration in moving IT out of the geek house and into the business partner role.  He's added a few things associated with high tech marketing and presentation skills, but the essence of this interview deals with the importance of BSM moving forward.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Urwiler, the SVP and CIO at Vail Resorts Inc.  Yes, this is the Vail ski resport in Colorado. They also own and manage 5 other mountains, resort hotels and more. It is rougly a $1 billion business. As a side note, I would highly recommend visiting a few of their websites for the experience alone -- I wouldn't be surprised if they win a few design awards. In particular, drop by the Keystone Resort site and check out the immersive video of Prospector run.

I wanted to share a project that was driven by IT initially which resulted in a BSM initiative that has become a significant differentiator for their highly competitive business. The approach landed Vail Reports on the list of CIO's 22nd annual CIO Awards and resulted with Robert on the cover of CIO Magazine.

Tactically Vail Inc. needed to replace an old fleet of bar code scanners that are used to validate guests at lift gates on the mountain. RFID was the natural replacement technology for bar codes and had been used successfully in Europe. It would have been easy to just use what others had already done. But the leadership at Vail wanted to differentiate the guest experience and learn more about guest patterns on the mountain.

The CIO made the case for investing in UHF RFID, which was higher risk and more costly, but met the requirements of the business. What looked like a tactical move to replace older technology resulted in a strategic decision for the business. This is a great example of how BSM principles lead to strategic business advantage. 

Utilizing UHF RFID and Wi-Fi infrastructure, Vail has been able to deliver a unique guest experience at the lift gate and can track guest patterns across the mountain which was not possible before. Knowing where the guests are skiing allows them to execute highly targeted marketing programs to promote offers on and off the mountain. 

For the details on the story see the article in the RFID Journal. 

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Agile BSM

Discussion around Business Service Management (BSM) has been ongoing for years ...and years ...and years. Yet it remains a fairly immature dialogue as vendors scope BSM to capitalize on their respective product offerings; as IT organizations struggle to articulate the desired end state; and as industry analysts deliver unique perspectives for purposes of differentiation.

Fortunately, the purpose of BSM is so fundamental, so basic, and so obvious ...that vendors, IT organizations, business managers, analysts and editors intuitively "get it" ...dwindling the confusion that so frequently accompanies newer technology concepts. This website is dedicated to the BSM dialogue by whoever wishes to participate. There is no fee to join ...no content that requires a subscription ...and no censorship of reasonable ideas and questions.

IT has been, is and will continue to be hammered for being disconnected from the business needs of the customer that IT serves. Sometimes the IT organization is adequately connected to the business entity, with the value simply unrecognized. More often, IT is guilty of diversionary focus on technology silos that business doesn't care about. BSM is the discipline that aligns the deliverables of IT to the enterprise's business goals.

That discipline comes in the forms of activities, technologies, tools, metrics, processes, best practices and people. BSM creates a laser focus on those deliverables generated by IT into something that is meaningful to the business community. If the IT deliverable is of no importance to the business function, then IT should eliminate or repackage it into a service that carries appropriate business value. BSM success is entirely dependent upon the willingness and skill of both IT and business to have an effective two way conversation ...one party without the other is doomed to failure.

Read my complete introduction: The Why & What of Business Service Management

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