An Interview with EMA's Dennis Drogseth
June 30, 2010
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In BSMdigest's exclusive interview, EMA Vice President Dennis Drogseth speaks frankly about the BSM Service Impact Radar.

BSM: What do you mean by the term “BSM elite” in the report?

DD: The questionnaire is brutal. There were quite a few companies that said they can't do it, which is sort of self-selecting.

This is not a random group of companies that we happened to target for BSM. This is the short list.

BSM: Why would a Business Service Management company opt out of the questionnaire?

DD: They felt they wouldn't show well. The criteria is tough. There is also a lengthy questionnaire. I spent at least 20 to 30 hours on this report, per vendor. I think that many of the vendors spent the equivalent amount of time. A company is not going to have an executive spend many hours on a questionnaire where they are not going to show well.

And I think all the vendors in the report will say they learned something from the process, which is a testimony to the depth of what we had to do.

BSM: When you say they learned something, do you mean about shortfalls, ways to improve their products?

DD: Partly. Sometimes we would see, especially in the larger companies, that many people were not aware of what the other people in the company were doing in this space. The breadth of their own solutions was at times a surprise to them. There were quite a few calls where someone would say, “Are we really doing that?”

BSM: The vendors who did participate must have been jockeying to get the top scores. What measures do you take to ensure that the vendors are not manipulating the scores in some way?

DD: Vendors submit scores, but I can impact the final outcome. I had the capability to go in and change the rating if I felt a vendor was not reporting correctly. I changed it when I felt the vendors under-reported – I would actually improve the score. Then, of course, when one of the bigger platforms said they only need half of a full-time employee to administer their entire Business Service Management suite – you can believe I overrode that.

BSM: It appears in the report that you are saying the ideal BSM Service Impact tool should somehow look at performance from an end-user perspective?

DD: Yes, and that was one of the happier things we saw in terms of the Business Service Management vendors. How do you understand whether a service is successful? All IT services are extensions of the human experience. They are extended ways of learning or communicating or performing transactions or creating products or whatever. So the ultimate measure of the success of the service is the degree to which those tasks are enabled to work more efficiently.

The basic metric which is a point of departure between the internally-oriented IT group’s way of thinking and the external view is response time. I would say the majority of the vendors in this report are automating diagnostics and triage based on user experience and what they can capture there, which is a big step forward.

BSM: In the last decade the progressive approach has been to break down silos, and in the anti-silo environment marketing revolves around trying to get everything in one tool. Now that we're moving towards a market where everything should be integrated, is that mindset a hurdle that the market has to get over?

DD: Yes. It might be an integrated architecture and it might come together in a single dashboard, but underneath that dashboard might be many tools with different designs. I think the future is not about putting everything in one tool. It is about finding architectural and ultimately industry-standard support for allowing different tools to work to support a common service model.

Obviously IT organizations are all over the board in terms of where they are in maturity, and many of them are still siloed. There are a lot of politics there. When I do consulting, the first thing I do is to get the organization to look at the political structure. Because you can have all the great technologies in the world but if you have no real executive commitment to moving forward and you have very entrenched technology silos and a political culture, you are going to waste money just throwing software out there. You need to put the two things together.

BSM: What is the solution to that? A cultural change within the organization?

DD: Cloud is going to force a cultural change on organizations that have been reluctant in the past. Cloud is a threat to the traditional entrenched silo – the idea that “I own this territory” and “You don't need to know what I'm doing” and “I don't want to have to deal with your problems”. And it will require a more fluid way of working in a different kind of culture. Good leadership, dialogue and listening are the key.

One of the things that works is to target the people in your IT organization who are most enthusiastic about going where you want to go, and you will typically get the biggest bang for your buck in the first phase. Then other people will start to see this is working, and people start to change.

BSM: One interesting point I saw in the report is that you seemed to say the largest players in the Business Service Management market are moving aggressively towards an integrated approach. Do you see that as a sign of the times?

DD: I am enthusiastic about where they are going on this. I think they are still missing the boat in terms of the pace at which they might want to get there. I would say you have to count it as progress, but it is progress from “I have this great portfolio and you should just buy my products” to “I have a great portfolio with lots of products and, oh yes, we can also work with third-party tools and make that work for you too”.

I would love to get to the point where everybody's idea of a platform, including the big four, is not that they have a lot of products necessarily, but they have the best solution for integrating, assimilating and optimizing multiple choices of brands to do service impact or other requirements. That does not preclude them from having a lot of products, and they are more likely to do a good job supporting different types of integration if they have a broader portfolio, but the heart of what a platform ought to be is a system of integration, automation, analysis and presentation rather than a bunch of tools. We are not there yet, but I think we are moving towards that.

BSM: Is the most disappointing area in terms of progress for the tools is being able to capture business and performance data in the same tool?

DD: Yes. There are a number of vendors that are starting to do that but I was a little disappointed that there was not more activity in that area. First, is it architecturally possible? A lot of the vendors have good architectural stories for doing that. But are their customers actually doing that in their implementations? That is a statement about market demand. Most IT organizations are not at the level where they are ready to automate business activities into application performance. They have more basic problems they need to solve first.

BSM: Do you have any predictions on where Business Service Management is going next? Anything for the near future?

DD: I think that the market will move to a federated, cohesive approach. That is what I would like to see, and I think that is where it is going.

About Dennis Drogseth

Dennis Drogseth is a Vice President at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) with a focus on Business Service Management and CMDB. He serves in a cross- practice area role, looking at trends across IT and related technologies - especially those related to integrating cross domain requirements, including CMDB/CMS, automation technologies, and analytics.

Drogseth does IT consulting on request and helps clients set metrics and define phases for critical IT initiatives. He also tracks IT organizational changes, in terms of how IT is evolving structurally and culturally from an organizational perspective.

Drogseth has 29 years of experience in various aspects of marketing and business planning for systems and network solutions. Prior to joining EMA, he worked to develop marketing strategies and new business models for Cabletron’s SPECTRUM management software, and spent 13 years with IBM in marketing and communications.

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