The advent of the digital age has transformed our lives, and continues to do so. Whether it’s social media, flexible working hours or operating on the move, technology is facilitating new ways of living and working that are fast becoming the norm.
The “always on” generation
IT organisations are facing continuous demands for devices and applications which enable their workforce to choose how, when and where they work. To facilitate these new mobile workstyles, businesses are depending more on complex and disparate IT infrastructures, which in turn are now being controlled by technology. IT departments need to provide a self-service catalogue of verified business apps, which meet the needs of the workforce. If they fail to do this, the workforce will look to the ‘shadow app’ marketplace, downloading unverified apps which pose a significant risk of data-loss and breach of governance/compliance requirements to the business.
Regardless of the industry sector, organisations are merging and evolving, and they are having to adopt ever increasing layers of IT for every area of the business. This has given rise to the issue of how best to manage these constantly evolving IT services. As each business application incurs further cost and complexity, business leaders are faced with how to efficiently manage this IT Infrastructure.
Here we will look at the increasing importance of IT Service Management (ITSM) and how it has become central to solving this most pressing of IT management challenges.
Complexity and spiralling costs
As these IT-enabled services and new applications continue to be deployed or inherited through merger or acquisition, the complexity of the supporting network infrastructure also increases. Corralling all of these disparate elements and managing the number of intertwining technologies is presenting significant management challenges. This can range from ensuring different and often outdated systems and processes are compatible, to that of simply monitoring system and network availability as well as application performance.
As this complexity rises, so too does the total cost of ownership, with increased demands on limited resources, there is the potential for costs to spiral out of control. IT departments are increasingly viewed as a ‘cost centre’ within the business, needing to demonstrate both innovation and improved customer satisfaction back to the business. IT budgets are on the rise, with nearly 40 percent of ITSM professionals within the UK expecting to have to increase their IT budgets this year.
Business challenges: performance, efficiency and insight
To gain and maintain a competitive edge over rivals, organisations must have a detailed understanding of their IT operational performance. As technology becomes critical to running all facets of a business, the key to this insight lies within the performance of the IT itself. But higher levels of complexity are making it difficult for IT staff to gain this clarity.
In response, we have seen a huge rise in the role of data gathering and analytics to gain this critical insight, and drive efficiency in IT operations. However, due to the reactive nature of IT operations to ‘keep the lights on’, such activities tend to focus on single issues rather than driving overall business efficiency and service improvement.
Using ITSM to manage complexity
ITSM is not a product, it is a strategic approach to designing, delivering, managing and improving the way IT is used within organisations. It is geared towards aligning all IT systems across an organisation with actual business goals and ensuring that the right processes, people and technology are in place to maximise efficiency and drive the business forward. The need for ITSM has been brought to the forefront of the enterprise agenda specifically because of the challenges outlined above.
Traditionally, companies have had to resort to bringing in additional IT staff and tools to internally manage and operate their increasingly complex IT infrastructures. However, partnering with an external organisation who already have extensive and broad competence in the deployment of ITSM systems and strategies, can provide IT service improvements more efficiently, and at a lower cost.
By harnessing their established best practice approach, businesses can relieve their own IT departments of the spiralling costs of designing, automating and managing layers of complexity across the business.
Our methodology, for example, would normally begin with an audit of the current IT tools and applications, making recommendations for a unified and streamlined IT infrastructure, while using data analytics technologies to provide valuable operational intelligence and actionable real-time insight, to deliver continuous IT service improvement.
This approach will deliver cost effective management of existing IT infrastructures, removing the need to invest in additional management software, training and headcount to support it. There can also be subsequent benefits in the form of a reduction in the number of support tickets created by customers, increasing satisfaction and the perceived value of the IT department, allowing the IT support team to focus on higher value tasks to further support the business.
As the requirement for mobile devices, applications-on-demand and flexible workstyles continues to grow across all areas of the business, IT staff are struggling to meet expectations. Inevitably, the perception of the IT department continues to suffer in key efficiency, performance and customer satisfaction metrics.
By engaging with an experienced third party, IT operations can be continually monitored and supported, providing an end-to-end continuous service improvement design and delivery capability. With this valuable support network, IT specialists are given the foundation to drive innovation within the organisation, further accelerated IT operational support, business intelligence and real-time analytics insight.
By Kevin Challen, Vice-President of Communications at Cyient