The Coming Business Makeover of IT
by Matthew Burrows
Changes Forcing the IT Makeover
The changes in the IT space were expressed extremely well in the BSMreview article "The Essence of Professionalism: Will it make a difference in your IT career?" by Pete McGarahan and Ric Mims. They talked about the need for "creating business value from IT-enabled business initiatives and innovations".
As they hinted, the reality is that IT isn't quite as specialist and separate as it used to be. People want to bring their own devices to work, and for the most part can achieve the same results as they would with any kit imposed on them by the IT department. It's a sad reality that individuals often get more IT capability and capacity from cloud-based offerings and apps that they download. IT is much more embedded in every aspect of the business, and also extensively in life outside of work. Business models have changed, and consumers are much more dependent on technology because it's now an integral part of many of the products and services which they use.
Within business, IT is still often seen as an expense to be minimized (a necessary evil), as it fails to demonstrate its strategic value. Many aspects of IT are now commodity, and are often outsourced and removed from the core competencies of the organization itself.
Businesses still understand the need for IT, but not necessarily the need for an IT department - the capability is needed, but do they need the organizational function or department? Many users would rather perform a search on Google to help resolve their issues or provide information, than make contact with an IT department. If a user has to phone a Service Desk, or log a case online, their view is probably that IT has already failed them. Some of this is unfair, of course, but nevertheless this perception does exist in many places.
The services of the business need to be delivered to customers, and these business services are almost always dependent on technology in some way or another. To ensure that Business Services are delivered which enable the achievement of business outcomes and objectives, often about delivering products and services to customers at an agreed cost and quality, we need to manage them. The real key here is Service Management, which didn't get invented in IT ...it comes from other business disciplines in marketing and product management.
Impact of ITSM and BSM
IT Service Management (ITSM) is nothing more than applying service management in the IT space. It supports the ability to manage IT in a service-orientated way, recognising that there is no longer "IT for IT's sake". The business value of everything has to be demonstrated, particularly in tough economic times. If an IT function or department is to survive, it must demonstrate how it delivers business value, which is about how it supports the business objectives and outcomes.
In the 2011 edition of ITIL, Business Service Management (BSM) is now positioned as being above ITSM. BSM is defined as "The management of business services delivered to business customers. Business service management is performed by business units.". It's worth pointing out that ITIL is referring to the external customer of the business when it uses the term Business Customer - not a customer of IT within the business. I wrote a blog on this for BSMdigest (before it changed it's name to APMdigest - http://www.apmdigest.com/has-itil2011-got-it-wrong-with-the-definition-of-bsm), which included this definition, and the positioning of ITIL as "a set of best-practice publications for IT service management".
My view is that BSM is something that the business does together, all of the business units (which could include IT if organizations continue to have IT departments), focused on delivering the products and services of the whole organization to their end customers. For most organizations this is how they deliver their objectives, which for commercial companies could include a return for shareholders through profit, or for not-for-profit organizations it will be another set of specific objectives and outcomes.
Within all organizations, departments and business units are dependent on each other, nothing works in complete isolation. IT is a capability on which pretty much everyone has some dependency, and ITSM can be used to ensure that the IT capability is managed and provided to support these dependencies. This is done in the wider context, and in order to support the objectives of the whole organisation including the delivery of the products and services to the customers - something which a BSM approach should clearly be part of.
BSM is the approach which recognises that IT is a dependency for the whole business, recognising it as part of the business rather than a supplier to it. For IT functions, or Business Technology (as some, from the emerging trends, are predicting that it will become), keeping up with the shift and creating business value from IT is vital. Technology should work in complete harmony and full integration with capabilities from other functions in order that the whole organization achieves the business outcomes together. In my view, BSM helps address the reality of our present situation, and the needs of our organizations and customers.
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