Next.IT—the emergence of digital services, social networks, mobile technology solutions, Big Data analytics, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things—is upon us, and growing quickly. But this doesn’t mean that IT management and business service management are going to go away; these disciplines support and underpin Next.IT. Next.IT is simply the next level of maturity for the delivery and support of digital services, improving collaboration and industry coordination.
Organizations are starting to focus more on their core competencies, and at the same time they’re looking for ways to reduce the costs of producing, delivering, and supporting their services. Consequently, managing IT has become a much more complex activity. IT organizations are continuously evolving and expanding their capabilities to encompass all of the IT services, business services, and digital services required to support customers and deliver value. Technology is likewise evolving and expanding, and social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) technologies, in particular, are transforming businesses and helping them address their IT management challenges.
Today, people spend a considerable amount of time on social networks, via their PCs and, increasingly, mobile devices, and data and information about those interactions are being collected and analyzed continuously. Taking their cue from their employees’ personal social interactions, many organizations have embraced social capabilities to increase collaboration and deliver better service, at the service desk and beyond. The evolution of self-service has helped reduce the number of calls to the service desk, thus reducing costs and improving the overall experience, and it’s shifted the focus onto quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE).
In communities, social relationships are the sum of all of the aggressive, passive, and active interactions between leaders, followers, and participants. These relationships have direct bearing on the larger relationship between customers/consumers and suppliers, and on the delivery, support, and improvement of the service experience. Well managed, the outcome is improved services and a reduction in incidents.
The average worker spends most of his or her time gathering and communicating information; improvement only occurs when worker can access information immediately and then use that information, combined with their experience and existing knowledge, to make agile decisions that positively affect the value chain. Compared to digital services with social capabilities that engage qualitative people resources along the value chain, even email is too slow to provide an exemplary service delivery or support experience.
As analytics, decision making, and modular process activity enablement improve, the less need we’ll have for people. Until then, people are essential. People are also mobile. In our current technological environment, devices and sensors are everywhere, providing the mobile connectivity people require to interact with each other, with service providers/suppliers, and with the emerging world of Next.IT. These interactions create both services and opportunities for services. The space between when an opportunity has been identified and the service is delivered is known as a Zero Moment of Truth, and these moments can strengthen a service provider/supplier’s competitive advantage. Analytics—activity patterns, Big Data, etc.—can help organizations identify Zero Moments, and mobility can facilitate just-in-time decision making.
In addition to facilitating decision-making agility, mobility—the BYOD trend in particular—is has given people the tools to apply their utilities, experiences, methods of engagement, and data to any situation. BYOD allows people to enjoy the same level of productivity in their personal and professional lives, and organizations have increasingly realized this and embraced BYOD. In some cases, BYOD is required in order to complete a job, but, in time, it will simply be the status quo.
Our devices’ relationships with each other and the relationship we have with our devices have come to define our social and professional interactions. Today’s mobile devices are highly capable, with monitoring features that enable them to carry out numerous interactive and predictive functions. These functions quantify, define, analyze, and manage your virtual identity. They track personal and professional metrics can be used to create new processes and refine existing ones. In a business setting, these metrics can be used to understand the overall value chain (including constraints) and improve the customer/consumer’s experience of service delivery and support.
Next.IT technologies are defining how we interact with each other and with the marketplace. Social networks—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on—allow us to support each other personally and professionally. Web-based businesses are increasingly replacing traditional brick-and-mortar establishments. Banking transactions are more often completed on a smartphone than in a local bank branch. Students are embracing online education (Khan Academy, MOOCs, etc.). Digital is the future of media (movies, applications, books, newspapers, music, etc.). Wearable technologies that enable mobility—Google Glass, smartwatches, monitoring devices and sensors—are changing our lives. Our wearables talk to our digital services, passing along information that predicts our needs based on trends and preferences (and when you’re talking about a device that monitors your health, this kind of activity can be lifesaving). Finally, Internet retailers leverage gamification and Big Data to predict needs, recommend products, and influence decisions—sometimes before you even know what you want.
We’re more connected than ever before, and the technologies that make up Next.IT have lowered or removed many of the obstacles to service delivery and support. This has, in turn, increased the social, economic, and psychological value of the services delivered. Those who embrace Next.IT prefer mobile (digital) solutions to manual (people) interactions. They prefer data collection and analytics, but they also prefer to have some control over how that information is shared.
Best practices like ITIL, Lean, eTom, and others, empower and are empowered by the capabilities of Next.IT, which helps deliver on the promises of these practices. Technology automates processes: the better technology performs, the better processes can be automated to support services delivered to customers. To support Next.IT outcomes and ensure the benefits are realized, the value chain of IT—people, process, and technology—must be high-performing, efficient, effective, and delivered economically. Suppliers/providers should be helping their customers/consumers implement Next.IT technology along the entire service value chain, to improve IT and business service experiences and engagements for all stakeholders.
Next.IT embraces culture and character. In the marketplace and culture of Next.IT, interactions between customers/consumers and suppliers/providers will be judged on capabilities, experience, and ethics. In the world of Next.IT, the criteria for evaluating value will include both the aesthetic and the practical. Form doesn’t just follow function—they’re inextricably linked, invaluable, and indispensable to businesses and consumers alike.
Are you ready to take advantage of Next.IT?
Anthony Orr is currently a director in the Office of the CTO at BMC Software. He is one of the authors of the ITIL v3 2011 publications, a senior examiner responsible for the ITIL v3 certification exams and an industry thought leader. He has more than thirty years of IT experience, much of it focused on ITSM and ITOM. Follow Anthony on Twitter