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Chris Bruzzo, the CTO of Starbucks, and Narinder Singh, the founder of Appirio, demonstrate Starbucks Pledge 5 application, built on the force.com platform.

They did it in 21 days.  That’s the real value of the cloud.

Watch:



Tim Stratton has just posted an article on Value-Based Management for IT. In essence, his Value-Based model addresses three fundamental aspects of IT:

  1. The Value Chain: How does IT design and deliver services?
  2. The Service Portfolio: What services does IT deliver?
  3. Value Realization: How does IT leverage this information to innovate?
Another way of saying it is: Business Service Management!

Going forward, it'll be interesting to apply the value-based model to cloud computing.

Read the article >>

Oracle's $10M Bet

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This a little bit away from business service management - but Oracle has been taunting IBM primarily, and other vendors in general for the last 7 months or so with advertisements about their 'powerhouse' SUN servers.

Just two weeks ago they issued a challenge aimed at IBM. The winner could pick up a 'fast' $10 M by disproving their statement that any Oracle database application will run at least 2x faster on their 10-cluster SUN System. They also cited some 'interesting' comparison figures

Looking into the details, the 'competition' turned out to be some what less than implied....see our comments and follow the link here to our comments.
This article was written by Jasmine Noel, one of my business partners. In it, she points out that behind true business agility lies much more than simply use of a hot-button' technology and marketing slogans. Adherence to some fundamental principles in application design, collaboration and management must be followed. She makes her point along excellent examples and detail. Enjoy!

Reading through the articles on BSMReview.com, I started to wonder: "what is the problem?". Is IT really thàt disconnected from the business? Looking around in my living room and at the office, I can harldy imagine how life would be without any Information Technology to support me. And all of this is provided to me by companies in the form of products and/or services. Would I buy and/or use them if I didn't know what value they bring to me? No, of course not. Given that IT has penetrated already so much into my life, these "IT companies" must be connected to (or better say integrated within) "my business".

Interestingly some time ago I delivered an ITIL v3 based Service Portfolio Management workshop within a large Financial Institution. In preparing for this workshop we agreed to first focus on the question: "what is a service?". So I started by presenting the ITIL v3 definition of a service: "A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.". So far, so good. Then we looked at how to define a service and -more specifically- on how to define the business value of a service. Now when I asked the question "what is the busines value of your e-mail service?" the answer I got is "The e-mail service provides message traffic and storage of e-mail and e-calendaring". Does this describe a business value? Don't think so.

Looking at this sample, one might see it as a proof point that IT is really disconnected from the business and use it to justify a Business Service Management approach. Personally I wouldn't go that far. The only thing that it shows to me in this particular case is that IT is not able to articulate the business value of a service, but that doesn't mean the service doesn't have value or is not being used. On the contrary, the e-mail service sample above is one of the most used and appreciated service in the Financial Institute with an implicit value. Nevertheless and ultimately as one of the results of the workshop we came up with the following definition:

E-mail services provide value to the business when cooperative business communications are conducted without the constraints of location, device or time-zone. Value is created when IT operates for the business a store-and-forward messaging system, so that business employees can compose, send, store and receive e-mails with peers both inside as well as outside the business and in a manner that

  • Is accessible 24 x 7 x 365 across the globe
  • Allows only one outage of max. 5 min per 3 months
  • Enables messages up to 45Mb and mailboxes up to 100Mb
  • Supports protection of business confidential information
  • Ensures data availability and archiving within business policies

Similarly and on a bigger scale, I recently met with another customer (read: a service catalog manager within IT) who asked me to review his service catalog and provide feedback. Of course I accepted this and then found myself reading through a 193 pages thick service catalog printed on paper. When the guy returned after a few days and asked me for my opinion, I said: "Imagine that you are entering a restaurant and ask for a menu card. And when the waiter returns he delivers to you the cookbook of the chef. How would you feel?". He immediately got the point that the service catalog contained way too much information for their business customers. In addition I showed him that there was also information missing in the service catalog. And you probably have guessed this one already: it contained no descriptions of business value whatsoever.

Again also in this situation the reality was that all services in the catalog already existed and were actively being used by the business customers. So why then create a service catalog? Good question. In this particular case the main driver for producing a service catalog was IT's desire to explain what they deliver, however the business didn't ask for a service catalog and also was not involved in the creation. And like Bill Keyworth rightfully stated in The Why & What of Business Service Management: "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.".

Reading through my samples above and several articles on BSMReview.com, I see a number of very specific issues and symptoms, but am still not sure what the main problem or need is for which we are trying to find a solution under the name of Business Service Management. When we define BSM as "the discipline that aligns the deliverables of IT to the enterprise's business goals" then I wonder what's the value in doing this? And isn't this already happening implicitly ? Is it really possible to define the package of whatever it takes to deliver the expected service to the business community ...in a way that they can understand and appreciate that delivery? To me this sounds a little bit similar like designing the perfect organizational structure, while we all know that this does not exist (otherwise everybody would have it by now...).

I realize that my statements are provocative, however I believe that a good understanding of and interactive discussion around the fundamental problem we are trying to solve should be the starting point for (m)any article(s) on BSM(Review.com). So let's first address the question: "Business Service Management: what's the problem?".

Looking forward to your comments.
o1

"You Answer It; You Own It!"

A customer-focused service culture designed with the customer in mind will quickly benefit from the practice of Total Contact Ownership (TCO), where there is no ambiguity of ownership and direct accountability when it comes to the customer experience and ultimate satisfaction.

Read the article »

cloud 
migration

IT leaders must learn the necessity, value and process behind the development of a "Business Impact Statement" and the importance of crafting this statement in terms and metrics that are meaningful to the business community. Bob Multhaup & Ken Turbitt highlight its critical role in initiating business-oriented service management.

Read the article »

With the British economy haemorrhaging £180 billion this year, mostly caused by the banking bailout, but not just the Banks are causing the problem. The National Health Service (NHS), the 3rd largest employer on the planet and an annual spend of £100 billion (that is 100 thousand million pounds to you and I, or £1,666 per Man, women and child in the UK per annum !). Just to add to this budget the UK government decided back in 2002 (and it's not due to complete until 2014) to create a "central spine" of IT for the entire NHS for:

  • Patients' records to be electronically available to any GP or hospital in England, thereby replacing local NHS computer systems
  • Other services include electronic prescriptions, an e-mail and directory service for all NHS staff, computer accessible X-rays and a facility for patients to book outpatient appointments online
  • It is the largest single IT investment in UK - costs are expected to hit £12.4bn over 10 years to 2013-14
Can you a) believe the costs involved here, and b) believe that the 3rd largest employer on the planet does not have email services across all its employees?

I'm sure Microsoft or Google would have provided a stand-alone secure service to them if they'd asked! Tell me one other major business that does not have their employees reachable via Email? No wonder changes in policy and efficiencies are rare if they cannot quickly communicate to their staff. But just this week they have announced that because of the budget deficit they will need to cut this £12.4 billion budget down by £600 million.

My view is that no commercial business could afford this kind of project and more importantly if they did, it would have to be delivered well within 12 years. Now the saying goes that a week is a long time in politics, but 12 years is a really long time for an IT project, especially considering how quickly this industry evolves and progresses. I imagine that if this plan were to be considered today, cloud computing would be considered, which, again in my opinion, would speed the roll out and connectivity of all the major suppliers and NHS divisions.
 
Whilst I agree all this access to connected data across the NH Service makes sense to avoid the slow paper trial and minimise errors in typing and re-tying, it also raises the issue of privacy of data. Abuse of this information could be rife, with pharmaceutical companies willing to pay vast sums to access the data for analysis to determine which drugs they sell should be targeted at what audience. Insurance companies wanting access to determine risk and exclusions whereas today most people are entitled to medical insurance without even a check-up.

Would the Police Service  gain access for DNA matching, thus circumventing the debate over a central Police DNA database? The list goes on.

Some "selling" of the data if approved by the NHS client (the public) could actually go some way to recovering the cost of the project, a business (nasty word in Government circles!) plan.

Now, I believe, that we in the IT Service industry should get involved in these debates, perhaps through bodies like the ITSMF, British Computer Society etc . we have a lot to offer in terms of experience and insight. These large multi-year projects need to be reviewed and revised annually to ensure that they keep up with technological advances and prevent the completed project being outdated and almost inoperable.  IBM's market capitisation today on the Nasdaq is around $166billion, approximately the size of the NHS annual budget and with less employees. Perhaps they could provide infrastructure and service advise based on their own internal connectivity and I'm sure they did not spend 12years to obtain it at a cost of £12.4 billion!

Government really do live in a world of their own with no concept of business acumen or reality, if only they were held accountable by the people to the same extent that shareholders hold businesses accountable, we may actually achieve value for money, in a timely, cost effective manner. Look out America, if you go for Health reforms, consider who will run it, and those hidden costs and data debates!

Is your company’s IT department passionate about their work?

If not, then perhaps you’re not letting them solve problems…  Passionate IT solves problems - not just for IT, but for the business.

More from John Hagel on pursuing passion »

The Joys of Real Hardware

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Colleague and friend Sebatian Hassinger sent me Jeff Dean's presentation Designs, Lessons and Advice from Building Large Distributed Systems. The presentation is fascinating in quite a few ways, not least of which is the (implied) statements it makes about requirements for business service management at large scale. For example, here is an excerpt from the slide entitled The Joys of Real Hardware:

Typical first year for a new cluster:

 

~0.5 overheating (power down most machines in <5 mins, ~1-2 days to recover)

~1 PDU failure (~500-1000 machines suddenly disappear, ~6 hours to come back)

~1 rack-move (plenty of warning, ~500-1000 machines powered down, ~6 hours)

~1 network rewiring (rolling ~5% of machines down over 2-day span)

~20 rack failures (40-80 machines instantly disappear, 1-6 hours to get back)

~5 racks go wonky (40-80 machines see 50% packetloss)

~8 network maintenances (4 might cause ~30-minute random connectivity losses)

~12 router reloads (takes out DNS and external vips for a couple minutes)

~3 router failures (have to immediately pull traffic for an hour)

~dozens of minor 30-second blips for dns

~1000 individual machine failures

~thousands of hard drive failures, slow disks, bad memory, misconfigured machines, flaky machines, etc.

The bullets listed above resonate with my Agile Business Service Management thinking. They can simply be thought of as the reality underlying BSM at scale. The scale and scope of operating on top of such envirnments necessitate new techniques in BSM. For example, Jeff discusses Protocol Buffers as one such technique used by Google to attain the requisite efficiencies. Likewise, treating infrastructure as code is - as we say in chess - a practically forced variant. In both cases, the traditional wall between development and operations is moot.

voiceofcio.gifI don't generally tell people that a report from a vendor is a "must read," but in this case it is. 

I'm referring to IBM's The New Voice of the CIO report, a global study of 2,598 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) released back in September of this year. 

The report (registration required) highlights the somewhat schizophrenic roles that CIOs the world over are under pressure to take on, depending, of course, on the nature of the burning issue at hand.  The report identifies six distinct roles that CIOs must learn in order to keep up with the requirements of the job:


IBMCIO.gif

The bright side of the report:

The voice of the CIO is being heard in new ways--as CIOs are increasingly recognized as full-fledged members of the senior executive team. Successful CIOs are much more actively engaged in setting strategy, enabling flexibility and change, and solving business problems, not just IT problems.

Today's CIOs spend an impressive 55 percent of their time on activities that spur innovation. These activities include generating buy-in for innovative plans, implementing new technologies and managing non-technology business issues. The remaining 45 percent is spent on essential, more traditional CIO tasks related to managing the ongoing technology environment. This includes reducing IT costs, mitigating enterprise risks and leveraging automation to lower costs elsewhere in the business.

So IT is increasingly viewed as strategy enabler, but not everyone is on that bandwagon.  The low-growth companies are, as might be expected, focused on bean counting and fire-fighting.

Visionary IT, on the other hand, is focused on strategic initiatives:

cioinitiatives.gif

What's interesting here is that for high-growth companies, IT leadership is critical to both decision-making and innovation which are key to value-creation.  They're focused on the future of the business.

When I read this, I immediately thought of VG's three box strategic framework for how companies compete:

According to VG, "many organizations restrict their strategic thinking to Box 1. This tendency has been particularly acute in the past two to three years, as most leaders have emphasized reducing costs and improving margins in their current businesses."

That seems to square nicely with the IBM findings.

So it seems like the role of the CIO is largely determined by the culture and mindset of the executives running the company.  It's pointless trying to be strategic or innovative in a company that focuses on Box 1.

Where does business service management fit into all of this? IMHO, the CIO who sits at the decision-making table (in boxes 2 and 3) is practicing BSM.  The ones who are stuck in Box 1, not so much.

Once again, I suggest you find some time to read the report >>

team

Business Service Leadership: The Time is Now! [Part 1] new article
by Peter J. McGarahan
Business Service leadership is about doing the right thing for the right reasons and making fact-based decisions. It's about challenging conventional wisdom and having the moral backbone to stand up for doing the right thing for your customers and the people that serve them. »

UPDATE: we now have a BSM Maturity Model (registration required) >>

One of our unstated goals at BSMReview.com is to create a maturity model for Business Service Management and beyond. Of course, this maturity model may differ slightly by industry, but the idea is to create a model which is good enough to create a "common roadmap" for IT and its business partners (yes, we will include cloud services).

To start the discussion, I've brought together some of the traditional thinking from IT 1.0, and some "edge insights" from people like JSB.

To start, let's look at Gartner's IT Management Process Maturity Model from 2005. Looks familiar, doesn't it? What should Level 5 and Level 6 look like? 

maturitymodel_gartner.gif


For nGenera, a few years ago, Vaughan Merlyn created a different sort of maturity model based on demand and supply:
maturitymodel_demand.gif

He asks:

Business demand is also a function of IT supply - low supply maturity will constrain business demand.  For example, an IT infrastructure that is unreliable and hard to use will tend to dampen the business appetite to leverage IT for business innovation and for collaboration with customers and partners.  Typically, if business demand gets too far ahead of IT supply, there will be a change of IT leadership.  On the other hand, if IT supply gets too far ahead of business demand, IT will be seen to be overspending, resulting in a change of IT leadership.  The most common patterns are that at Level 1, business demand leads IT supply; in Level 2, IT supply tends to 'catch up' with and overtake demand, and in Level 3, demand and supply are closely aligned. From the perspective of late 2007, we see the majority of companies at mid-Level 2, some at high Level 2, and a minority at either low Level 3 or high Level 1.  Why are so many at mid-level 2, and seem to be struggling to get to the next level?
Good question. Any ideas?

Then there's Accenture's Service Management Maturity model from their ITILv3 practice - they rightly state that ITILv3's focus is on business results; hence their advocacy for adoption:

maturitymodel_accenture.gif




At Deloitte, JSB and Tom Winans have built an interesting map for "autonomic computing" which is focused on the direction of IT's evolution. It's part of a series of papers on cloud computing. It's a technology maturity model, if you will:

maturitymodel_jsb.gif

Finally, I borrowed this SOA Maturity model from Infosys:
maturitymodel_infosys.gif


Taken together, we have enough food for thought and discussion, don't you think? I have this silly notion that a business service management maturity model must begin and end not with IT but the business.  And cloud computing will certainly play a giant role in this transformation from physical datacenter to cloud service grids.  And of course we'll still have to worry about compliance and security.

Once again, I'll defer to the JSB and Winans vision for the future.  After we get to autonomic computing, then comes the service grid:

maturitymodel_jsb2.gif



If I understand correctly, here's what they're saying: technology platforms will be business platforms.

With that, let's ask once more: what does a Business Service Management Maturity Model look like to you? 

UPDATE #1:

HP has an ITIL-view which is evolutionary:

maturitymodel_hp.gif

UPDATE #2:

IBM
gives us a look at a maturity model developed by Macehiter Ward-Dutton:

maturitymodel_ibm.gif

Stay tuned.

Business Service Management (BSM) is a process, a mindset, not a product (as Peter Armstrong would say) so it is not a technology in the first place.  It is strategic, however, so let's take a quick look at each of Gartner's choices and ask:

"What has this got to do with BSM?"

Gartner's Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010

Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is a style of computing that characterizes a model in which providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers. Cloud-based services can be exploited in a variety of ways to develop an application or a solution. Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs of IT solutions, but does re-arrange some and reduce others. In addition, consuming cloud services enterprises will increasingly act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partners.
My two cents: Managing cloud services demands that companies must have a BSM strategy which can monitor and manage the physical datacenter, virtualization, and the cloud - whether it be public, private, or hybrid. We need ITIL in the Cloud and robust Cloud Service SLAs.

Advanced Analytics. Optimization and simulation is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution. This can be viewed as a third step in supporting operational business decisions. Fixed rules and prepared policies gave way to more informed decisions powered by the right information delivered at the right time, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other applications. The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimization and other analytics, not simply information, to empower even more decision flexibility at the time and place of every business process action. The new step looks into the future, predicting what can or will happen.

My two cents: OK, so now we know how to compete on analytics. But the decision-making process is much more complex than most people expected. Analytics are fine, but what we need is refined insight and critical understanding.  The Big Shift Index tells us about what we haven't thought about measuring yet! Where's BSM in all of this? Well, if your CRM and yoru ERP systems are mission-critical, then BSM ensures they deliver on their promise when you need it.

Client Computing. Virtualization is bringing new ways of packaging client computing applications and capabilities. As a result, the choice of a particular PC hardware platform, and eventually the OS platform, becomes less critical. Enterprises should proactively build a five to eight year strategic client computing roadmap outlining an approach to device standards, ownership and support; operating system and application selection, deployment and update; and management and security plans to manage diversity.

My two cents: Anytime, anywhere, on any device. BSM must be an integral part of managing virtualization to avoid virtual sprawl, if nothing else. Of course there's the end-user experience that needs monitoring as well.

IT for Green. IT can enable many green initiatives. The use of IT, particularly among the white collar staff, can greatly enhance an enterprise's green credentials. Common green initiatives include the use of e-documents, reducing travel and teleworking. IT can also provide the analytic tools that others in the enterprise may use to reduce energy consumption in the transportation of goods or other carbon management activities.

My two cents: Virtualization and Cloud computing will help IT become greener faster, by reducing the datacenter footprint.  And virtual collaboration can reduce carbon emissions. Isn't optimizing asset usage a BSM function?

Reshaping the Data Center. In the past, design principles for data centers were simple: Figure out what you have, estimate growth for 15 to 20 years, then build to suit. Newly-built data centers often opened with huge areas of white floor space, fully powered and backed by a uninterruptible power supply (UPS), water-and air-cooled and mostly empty. However, costs are actually lower if enterprises adopt a pod-based approach to data center construction and expansion. If 9,000 square feet is expected to be needed during the life of a data center, then design the site to support it, but only build what's needed for five to seven years. Cutting operating expenses, which are a nontrivial part of the overall IT spend for most clients, frees up money to apply to other projects or investments either in IT or in the business itself.

My two cents: See previous two cents <<

Social Computing. Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work - one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing "external" information. Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together.

My two cents: Have you noticed that Twitter is having availability issues lately?  I wonder if they use ITIL or BSM?  Same story on Facebook. Maybe they use ITIL-Lite.  There are unfortunately, some documented productivity issues with social computing, but we have an effective solution for improving knowledge-worker productivity.

Security - Activity Monitoring. Traditionally, security has focused on putting up a perimeter fence to keep others out, but it has evolved to monitoring activities and identifying patterns that would have been missed before. Information security professionals face the challenge of detecting malicious activity in a constant stream of discrete events that are usually associated with an authorized user and are generated from multiple network, system and application sources. At the same time, security departments are facing increasing demands for ever-greater log analysis and reporting to support audit requirements. A variety of complimentary (and sometimes overlapping) monitoring and analysis tools help enterprises better detect and investigate suspicious activity - often with real-time alerting or transaction intervention. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these tools, enterprises can better understand how to use them to defend the enterprise and meet audit requirements.

My two cents: See this survey on security management best practices.

Flash Memory. Flash memory is not new, but it is moving up to a new tier in the storage echelon. Flash memory is a semiconductor memory device, familiar from its use in USB memory sticks and digital camera cards. It is much faster than rotating disk, but considerably more expensive, however this differential is shrinking. At the rate of price declines, the technology will enjoy more than a 100 percent compound annual growth rate during the new few years and become strategic in many IT areas including consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems. In addition, it offers a new layer of the storage hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages including space, heat, performance and ruggedness.

My two cents: Wrong? We're going to see cloud storage take over this area, and it may or may not use flash memory.

Virtualization for Availability. Virtualization has been on the list of top strategic technologies in previous years. It is on the list this year because Gartner emphases new elements such as live migration for availability that have longer term implications. Live migration is the movement of a running virtual machine (VM), while its operating system and other software continue to execute as if they remained on the original physical server. This takes place by replicating the state of physical memory between the source and destination VMs, then, at some instant in time, one instruction finishes execution on the source machine and the next instruction begins on the destination machine.

However, if replication of memory continues indefinitely, but execution of instructions remains on the source VM, and then the source VM fails the next instruction would now place on the destination machine. If the destination VM were to fail, just pick a new destination to start the indefinite migration, thus making very high availability possible. 

The key value proposition is to displace a variety of separate mechanisms with a single "dial" that can be set to any level of availability from baseline to fault tolerance, all using a common mechanism and permitting the settings to be changed rapidly as needed. Expensive high-reliability hardware, with fail-over cluster software and perhaps even fault-tolerant hardware could be dispensed with, but still meet availability needs. This is key to cutting costs, lowering complexity, as well as increasing agility as needs shift.

My two cents: Now this is a BSM play if there ever was one!

Mobile Applications. By year-end 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce providing a rich environment for the convergence of mobility and the Web. There are already many thousands of applications for platforms such as the Apple iPhone, in spite of the limited market and need for unique coding. It may take a newer version that is designed to flexibly operate on both full PC and miniature systems, but if the operating system interface and processor architecture were identical, that enabling factor would create a huge turn upwards in mobile application availability.

My two cents: Anytime, anywhere, on any device.  Didn't I write about that a few seconds ago? And don't we need our CMDB to track all these diverse devices and apps?

As you can see, I've attached Business Service Management (BSM) as an enabling IT strategy for just about all ten of Gartner's Strategic Technologies for 2010. And of course if it's a service provided by IT or even an external service provider, we're still going to need a Service Catalog for 2010. More on that in a later post.

Israel, where do agile practices fit into this? Just about everywhere as well?

darkside.jpg

If you are of the same generation as myself, then you probably think this is an article about Pink Floyd - sorry, it's not. It is, in fact, the title of a book I read recently, which investigates what it cost to put a man on the moon. Now I happen to be related to Neil Armstrong (we are both descended from the same notorious Scottish cattle thief - please see this for details), and this year was the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, so the book was of great interest to me.

The cost of putting my relation on the moon was $35 billion, and the question which the book raises is the very valid one: Was it worth it?

In my opinion, and the book's, the answer is no.

This does not mean that I think the whole space programme is a waste of time and money, I happen to think the unmanned space programme has been extremely beneficial. Just think of some of the information or services, which we take for granted nowadays - the first communications satellite was launched in 1958, the first TV satellite in 1962, the first weather satellite on 1st April 1960 and the first navigation satellite 12 days later. However, when I challenge people to tell me what the manned space programme brought us, I get answers like:

•    We (the US) had to prove our superiority to the Russians and it raised morale throughout the country. I agree with the latter, not the former (as that way of thinking tends to lead to conflict or war), and why does the US now want to go to Mars - what will that bring?

•    Teflon - untrue,  PTFE was accidentally invented in 1938, patented in 1941, and Teflon was trademarked in1944

•    Velcro  - untrue, invented by a Swiss engineer in 1941 by looking at the hooks on the burdock (arctium lappa) plant. Velcro is actually short for velours crochet, which means velvet hook.

•    The upside-down biro. You don't actually need an upside-down biro in space, as there is no gravity. There is a great story that the Russians saved millions by using pencils, but I don't believe this is true as broken bits of pencil / pencil shavings floating round in a spaceship would be liable to get into all sorts of places they shouldn't and could lead to a plethora of problems.

And this for me raises the fundamental questions, which have to be asked at the beginning of any project, especially in these times of limited financial resource:

•    Why are we doing this?

•    What is it worth?


If these questions cannot be answered, then IMHO the whole project should be shelved.

Just because something is technically possible, does not in any way mean that it is justified from a business point of view. There is, of course, a counter argument that this will stifle innovation and creativity and that sometimes the great ideas come out of something that looks like it is a total waste of time at the outset. True, and if possible a budget should be set aside for blue-sky thinking and experimentation, but my point is that investing huge quantities of money in something with no justification is a luxury, which we currently cannot afford.

Hence, I would like to see the same principles applied to IT projects. Every project should be presented in business terms, not in some boring technical jargon, which no-one understands and which no-one cares about. For this to happen, IT strategy and business strategy need to be joined at the hip. I have seen, far too often, the IT department which decides what its strategy should be and presents it to the business as a fait accompli; I see IT reporting into a CFO, who can only see the bottom line and nothing beyond, and I see too many businesses, which decide a business strategy, don't bother to tell IT what it is and then complain that IT doesn't deliver what they wanted.

What the current financial crisis has brought home for me, and I hope for lots of others, is the painful truth that you can't have everything today. Good stuff costs hard work and money, and if you haven't got enough money then you need to prioritise your requirements. Too many people say "I need", when they really mean "I want" or "I would like".

The same thing applies to IT. As a bedrock, I require sound business policies and a strategy that lays out the requirements and the priorities. If I don't have that, then I have a system that will collapse under pressure.
 
It is very easy to run things efficiently in IT - there are loads of tools for people to play with and tune stuff for hours - all of which is a total waste of time and money if they are working on the wrong thing.

The first step is to be effective. Then you run what matters efficiently.

In today's (and any) economic climate it is imperative that IT delivers what the business needs, and this can only be achieved with an open dialogue between the business and IT, where the two parties are equals, explain what they truly need, how much it will cost and what it is worth.

Malcolm Fry does a nice job with his parable of the “Keeper of the Forms.” It starts off a bit slowly, but really picks up around the 3:40 mark. And, as usual, with everything Malcolm says, there’s a real lesson to be learned for IT:

Reminds us of Peter McGarahan’s post just a few hours ago, doesn’t it? >>

More from Malcolm: How to Improve Productivity by 40%

What Matters is the End Goal

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Its strange how history repeats itself, fashions go in cycles, and every generation comes to them for the first time thinking these things are new, innovative and revolutionary. I guess it's because we're still human and we still need to learn the same lessons over and over again. We want to listen to advice, but can't, we want to learn from the past, but don't, we all want something that's called "common" but is far from it - sense!

May years ago now the company I worked for at the time brought a new concept to the marketplace. The analysts jumped onto it and made it their own and the market hype was all over it, it was the direction all business had to get to. Eight or more years on and we're still moving in that direction, the buzz died down, but the capabilities slowed and the term used changed from IRM to BSM.  However BSM was actually only a subset of what IRM aimed to achieve. With the complexities we find ourselves in today, with Virtualisation and Cloud computing the issues are still the same only in some cases magnified and the responsibility of ownership is moving. More and more the Business is, and will continue to, relinquishing ownership of the delivery of services to the employee (who make up the business) and allow suppliers to take over. It's something that has happened for centuries now. We moved from self-sufficiency to being reliant on others. Once, we all had wells in the garden to provide water for the household, now it's all provided through piped services. Once, we had to make our own small generators for the electrification of the Home, Farm or estate, now it's all provided through piped services. The list goes on, and so it is and will continue to be within the IT environment. Hence the need for Service Management to ensure we all have the disciplines, controls, standards and processes in place, controlled and managed to ensure delivery as required by the customers, whomever they may be.  Why did we move this way? Well for various reasons, economies of scale, cost savings, and to allow us to focus on our core competency without being dragged down by day to day necessities of life.

A slide on my website shows what is required to support the employee, who is at the centre of the business, and how these are more and more being delivered via services as depicted around the circumference of the sphere.  This slide goes back 8 years or more, so not new, but it appears it was rather a vision of the future, and more and more I can see it being fulfilled. Whether we use the same term or not is irrelevant, what matters is the end goal. Something that Geoffrey Moore of Crossing the Chasm fame predicted at roughly the same time.

Check out the slide and let me know if you see it being slowly fulfilled:

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cloud computing

Says Annie Shum:

IT professionals should underscore the critical roles played by integrated virtualized service oriented management, governance, performance assurance, and analytics-based feedback loops. Together, they can safeguard the successful adoption and, ultimately, the viability of Cloud Computing in enterprise IT.

Read: A Measured Approach To Cloud Computing: Capacity Planning and Performance Assurance

Explains Richard:

Initially, compliance was an externally imposed distraction, representing just one more burden on an over-stretched enterprise and IT staff. But now, compliance activities not only provide data about current practices but also highlight areas where increasing the level of control could yield greater efficiencies in operation.


Read The Path to Compliance as a Business Strategy »

Agile BSM

When development, deployment and operations evolve in parallel from a business services perspective, we get Agile Business Service Management. That's according to Israel Gat, in his article: The Case for Agile Business Service Management >>

Israel, for those of you who don't know, is a founding member of the Agile Business Service Management movement, which in his own words is "the fusion of modern software development methods with the prevailing preference to run IT from the perspective of the business customer."

In this related interview, Israel talks to the illustrious Jim Highsmith on the same subject >>
Those of you who know Peter Armstrong know about his sense of humor/humour, and his ability to write books on just about anything, like this novel of his on eco-terrorism. This one is rather funny and is more like talking to Peter in person.

For BSM Review, Peter gets "serious" with Business Service Management: The move to a new way of working >>

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