The Two Faces of IT Service Management
March 11, 2015

Dennis Drogseth
EMA

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EMA recently completed some research looking at the future of IT Service Management (ITSM). We solicited responses to about 270 people overall, with roughly 150 in North America and 100 in Europe (England, Germany, France). The results just came in two weeks ago, and I’d like to share a few highlights with you here.

But first, I should probably start out with one question we didn’t ask — "What is IT Service Management?"

Probably the most frequent industry answer is that ITSM is a "process-based practice designed to align the delivery of IT services with the needs of IT customers and the business IT serves." As a result, many ITSM descriptions spend a great deal of time looking at IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) roots for ITSM, as well as other best practices focused on process. However, this research approached ITSM from a triangle of perspectives. We recognized the importance of technology and organization, as well as process (including dialog and communication).

Beyond that, even before we launched our questionnaire, it became apparent from talking around the industry that IT Service Management is a term that carries a diverse identity — depending on whom you talk to (in role and organization), history and IT-related politics.

On the one hand, ITSM is often linked to old-guard values associated with elaborate, time-consuming processes for managing change and traditional forms of governance that slow down IT resilience in the face of shifting business pressures and demands.

On the other hand, ITSM is often viewed as a dynamic center for expanding IT value, impact and effectiveness in support of broader business requirements — in combination with operations, development and business stakeholders.

Can both views be right? It depends upon whom you ask. But overall, our data tended to favor the second, more positive perspective on ITSM. Here are just a few highlights:

■ Nearly 50% of ITSM organizations were slated for growth, and 35% remain the same size.

■ Improved user experience management and integrated operations for incident, problem and change management led in ITSM strategic priorities.

■ Self-service, project management and CMDB/CMS/ADDM led in functional priorities.

■ 55% viewed big data/analytics for IT as a shared ITSM and operations priority, while 14% viewed ITSM as the lead in analytics.

■ 63% were using mobile in support of ITSM professionals.

■ 50% offered mobile support for ITSM/consumer interactions.

■ Only 20% had no plans to integrate ITSM and DevOps (agile).

■ 43% were actively using ITIL best practices, and of these, 71% viewed it as "essential" or "very important" for their organization.

■ Only 11% had no plans to consolidate ITSM outreach to support enterprise (non-IT) services.

When looking at success rates, we also analyzed the data to contrast how the 16% "extremely successful" performed, versus the 12% combined "somewhat successful" and "largely unsuccessful" respondents. (Most viewed themselves, perhaps a tad optimistically, as "very successful" or simply "successful".)

Compared to that 12% with marginal success rates, extremely successful ITSM initiatives were:

■ 2X more likely to have a CMDB/CMS-related technology deployed

■ Nearly 8X more likely to have ADDM deployed or in plan

■ 2X more likely to be leveraging mobile for ITSM professionals

■ Far more likely to see cloud as a resource for expanding service desk capabilities

■ 20X more likely to view integrated ITSM and agile as "transformative"

■ Far more likely to have an integrated approach to support enterprise services

■ Significantly more likely to value ITIL

■ Much more likely to get an increase in budget

■ Nearly 2.5 times more likely to be slated for growth

These are just a few highlights from our overall success profile.

What this data suggests to me albeit I realize data is always open to interpretation, is several things. For starters, it shows me that our "progressives" are not abandoning ITSM processes and more established ITSM-related technologies such as CMDB systems and application discovery and dependency mapping, but instead are seeking more innovative approaches in their adoptions. The data also reflects a dramatic outreach to support mobile, cloud, agile and enterprise needs — some of which show astonishing uptake from levels just assessed two years ago when we looked at the changing role of the service desk.

What the future will bring is always open to interpretation, as well. But this research seems to indicate a clear trajectory that in many respects is ahead of existing "market thinking." A trajectory that underscores the need to bring process, workflow, automation and dialog between the service desk and the rest of IT into a far more unified whole than in the past. It also suggests that technologies like "big data for IT" — so often referred to as IT operations analytics — belongs as much to this shared mix of capabilities as trouble ticketing and workflow.

Needless to say, the role of culture, leadership and more effective process and dialog is probably an even more important part of ITSM transformation than pure technology adoption, and we looked at many of those issues, as well. So stay tuned. We’ll be doing a webinar with more information on April 7, and hopefully this will whet your appetite for more data and more insights. In the meantime, I welcome the chance to get some of your perspectives and ideas.

Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)
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