Someone that I really respect as a voice of common sense and no-nonsense opinion challenged me recently when I referred to the IT service management ‘industry’. His view was, and I suspect still is, that IT service management isn’t something that can simply be associated with a specific set of people or organisations, it is part of the plumbing of any organisation – everyone is involved in it in some way.
I absolutely take the point. IT service management isn’t an optional extra. The successful running of an organisation that delivers IT services requires that there is some order, some consistency in how things are done, a common understanding of what needs to be done and why, and what the output needs to be.
As long as there is a general understanding that an IT service is something that a business utilises in some way to enable that business to generate value, then there must be some form of IT service management going on. That’s how the provider is able to provide the service to that business.
So – is IT service management just ‘done’ by a niche set of individuals? No. But even if ITSM permeates the business and instils a ‘service culture’, we still need the individuals and organisations that are specialists in IT service management. In the same way, health and safety isn’t just done by those working in the health and safety department; it’s part of the personal responsibility of all individuals in the organisation to understand and comply with health and safety policy and process. However, some individuals are health and safety strategy owners, planners, managers and auditors. These individuals procure and use specific health and safety tools and equipment from specific health and safety tools and equipment providers. These individuals also procure the assistance of specialist trainers and consultants, and hire from specialist recruitment organisations. They are reliant upon academia to produce appropriately skilled new blood into their organisations. They utilise the output from standards and best practice bodies to provide reference points that their organisations can use to assess and develop their current capability and maturity.
IT service management is no different. We have specialist providers of IT service management tools. We have consultancy organisations providing specialist IT service management advice; academics who specialise in IT service management; and specific ITSM standards. We have ITSM best practice providers, we have recruitment and resource provider organisations specialising in ITSM skills provision and we have individuals within internal and external IT service-providing organisations that are specialists in some field of ITSM. This collectively is the ‘industry’ that I was referring to.
I absolutely believe that there is an ITSM industry, and I absolutely believe that I am part of it.
I continue to be concerned by the low profile of our industry and those that work within it. It was recently announced that the global annual spend on IT will rise to over $3.8 trillion in 2015. That $3.8 trillion dollar investment in IT by the organisations we work for and serve as customers is simply dead money up to the point at which it comes together in the form of IT services that assist those organisations to generate business value. The collective business value must presumably be worth far more than the $3.8 trillion dollar investment. Our IT service management industry is responsible for the successful management and delivery of the services that help generate the business value. So isn’t it a little odd that IT service management is largely invisible?
I am convinced that the ITSM industry’s lack of profile is a major constraint to the industry as a whole and to its constituent organisations and individuals. It is imperative that, as a collective industry, we apply significant focus on how we better articulate the value, purpose and criticality of ITSM to those outside of our niche. If we don’t solve this we will always struggle to attract and retain the best resources, we will continue to be at the wrong end of the queue when it comes to acquiring investment funding, we will regrettably continue to have insufficient recognition and influence on the architecture and design of the very services that we have to sustain in delivery. Our industry and those within it continue to be misunderstood and marginalised. We have the responsibility but insufficient authority and recognition to adequately influence how the $3.8 trillion dollars should be invested to deliver the maximum return.
How many ITSM roles are really regarded as destination careers? How often are the opinions of ITSM senior practitioners consulted and quoted in the media? And how often do you come across revered enterprise architects in lofty positions who are still thinking that business issues are solved by bolting together chunks of technology? [side note... this isn’t a swipe at all enterprise architects. I know many who are brilliant and massively valuable assets to the organisations they work for. They also tend to be the ones who openly recognise the essential need for active involvement and input from those specialising in IT service management.]
You are seeing a change in the way ITSMF UK operates for its members. We will, of course, continue to drive initiatives within our industry to share, evolve and innovate in the field of IT service management, but we are also pushing ahead with the Forum’s role of championing the ITSM industry. This means raising our industry’s voice and profile in the UK, extending the reach and understanding of the value of ITSM and the organisations and individuals that make up that industry. It also means attracting attention, achieving greater recognition for the industry that our members represent, striving for a higher profile for ITSM and a position of greater influence.
Come on, join in... help us make some noise and kick up some dust. Let’s have some fun raising our collective industry profile and influence, and strive to capture the increased opportunities that this will bring.
Now’s the time to raise our voices.
ITSMF UK Limited