Having just completed Service Management for Dummies (scheduled to be in the book stores in June), I have taken a step back to think about what I learned from the process. When our team first started the research process a lot of people I talked to wanted to know if we were writing a book about ITIL 3.0 best practices. So, the answer is of course we covered ITIL 3.0 best practices. However, as part of our research and indepth discussions with customers it became apparent that there is something bigger happening here that transcends IT. I am not sure that this issue has been noticed out there in the world of management of services but it is real and encouraging. Corporate management is beginning to notice that much of their physical infrastructure and the components that are the essence of their corporate existence are technology enabled. The X-ray that used to be stored on a piece of film and stored in a file cabinet is now digitized. The automobile is now managed by sensors and other computers. Security of physical buildings is computerized. The factory floor is a complex system. Of course, I could go on for months with lists that include RFID and the like. But I think I have made the point that increasingly everything must be thought of as a system, not just the servers and desktops and networks that sit in the data center.
In my view, this is why the service management arena is getting to be so exciting. Many of the CIOs that our team interviewed for Service Management for Dummies echoed this level of excitement. These executives are finding that applying service management principles to both the physical and IT world is transformational. It means that organizations can have a greater ability to take a holistic approach to managing their companies from a holistic perspective.
In the book, our team uses the example of the ATM machine to make the point. The ATM is a relatively simple automated device that requires a matching of a customer number with an ID code. It requires that a request for cash from the consumer be matched with the availability of funds from that bank or one of its partner’s banks. It requires the ability to do the accounting to provide the customer with a receipt that states how much money was withdrawn and how much is left in the account. And there is more! Behind that customer action that might take all of 5 seconds is a huge infrastructure: a data center, a security infrastructure, a sensor that detects of the machine itself is experiencing a problem. There is a network of trucks managed by a third party company that ensures that the trucks deliver cash to replenish the ATM machine. There are even more parts to this world that I am not mentioning — so forgive me. But what is most interesting is that all of these mini-ecosystems are intertwined. What if the bank’s management decides to save money by selecting a new cash delivery network. This company promises great service at a fraction of the cost. To save money the bank goes with the new service only to discover that its drivers are unreliable and cash is often not delivered in a timely manner. Even if the ATM networks works well, the data center is flawless, and the security is solid, the bank is not able to deliver satisfaction to its customers because there is no cash.
The bottom line is that service management is becoming a corporate issue — not just an IT issue. The secret to service management is about the customer, partner, supplier, and employee experience. Like every other technology transformation over the past couple of decades, mature technology initiatives become management initiatives. Increasingly, service management is being tied to the key performance indicators of the business. Therefore, it is imperative that IT management understand the goals of corporate management as well as the needs of internal and external customers.