The worlds of IT and ITSM have been suffering something of a Mark Twain syndrome lately: reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated.
Even worse than that, they’ve been subject to unnecessary hype along the lines of “the IT Department is dead, ITIL is dead, DevOps is dead.” Funny that - I thought DevOps was born only recently!
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In 2015, the sector would benefit from calming down, paying less attention to the avalanche of information about the latest “shiny thing” and getting back to basics. And the gap between realism and futurism needs to be bridged better. We need better ways than negative scaremongering to make IT practitioners anticipate their futures.
Yes, we might be at a crossroads of innovation which brings fear, uncertainty and doubt; but there is also a lot of good that IT organizations have been doing for years which we shouldn’t overlook. As almost every business is IT-reliant now, the IT department must be actively supported as a valid asset. Equally, organizations such as AXELOS are in a prime position within the industry to promote broader understanding of what IT and ITIL do, and what value they bring to organizations.
When IT and ITSM meet agile
Any IT department has a singular responsibility to protect the organization’s data and systems. It’s what makes ITSM and ITIL tick.
However, the agile agenda has bitten back against ITIL with the cry of “don’t hold things up!” But that’s a misunderstanding of best practice guidance such as ITIL and PRINCE2 and it’s up to ITSM professionals to make clear that organizations using ITIL can function well without being autocratic in their approach.
Equally, in using agile delivery methods, businesses can’t expect to change everything they do and for it to be without risk. There needs to be some growing up done on both sides of the ITIL/agile divide.
What the exec needs to think about IT
There’s no argument for company directors to not engage with IT. Ignorance is no longer an excuse and technology is now part of the fabric of any company.
ISO38500 is a standard that informs executives what their responsibilities are regarding IT and above all it’s to ensure that IT assets are managed accordingly. Simply, organizations need to be more aware and supportive of IT and businesses need to see IT as more than just a cost; it’s a value creator in an organization and needs to be resourced properly.
Technology should be represented at the top of an organization and the work of IT needs to be recognized as important. Critically, it’s the job of the board to ensure the right people are running the IT function.
ITSM and the future of ITIL
When the time is right, there needs to be a stake in the ground for where ITIL is going next as ITSM is evolving and diversifying. Some central direction is needed as ITSM is steadily going beyond IT and becoming a shared service model which is making use of collaborative tools.
And as for the DevOps debate, it’s important to remember that it’s about a way of doing things rather than something physical; it’s not replacing ITIL, it’s complementing it. And DevOps offers a great opportunity to talk to a much younger generation with collaboration as the by-word that should continue to grow and develop.
Top of the to-do list for IT and ITSM in 2015:
A concerted focus on customer experience and business outcomes - regardless of the mechanics of how you get there, start by understanding why you need to get there in the first place.
Appreciating from an IT perspective that success is cultural: we’re people, not machines, therefore success in delivering services and contributing to business value must have structure and process but also good communications and people management.
There are a number of non-IT skills that IT people should have for the new world: commercial nous, managing contracts, supplier management, financial management, negotiation skills along with management of people. Companies need to be much better at providing training and development for this.
Management vision needs a holistic view of how to develop their people. It needs to understand industry standards but also how to apply the principles in their unique situation. Best practice must be learned and delivered in the context of an organisation’s particular requirements.