Taking Service Management Outside IT: It's Not as Simple as It Sounds


by Sarah Lahav
January 24, 2017

As you well know, it’s not always easy working in IT. IT professionals have to deal with greater demand for IT (hopefully a sign that we are doing something right), new technologies that we need to skill up on, the potential perils (and maybe opportunities) of Shadow IT, and last-but-not-least, consumer-world-driven views on service delivery and the service experience that envelopes it.

It’s tricky trying to match the best consumer-world suppliers of products and services, where business colleagues, and industry pundits, call you out for not providing:

  • An app store like Apple
  • A service request catalog like Amazon
  • The innovation of Google
  • The customer service of Zappos.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There is light, and an opportunity for IT, at the end of the consumerization tunnel. Plus I’d like to think that many IT organizations are already upping their game.

There is light, and an opportunity for IT, at the end of the consumerization tunnel.
Tweet: There is light, and an opportunity for IT, at the end of the consumerization tunnel. @sarahlahav @ThinkHDI

We’re Moving In the Right Direction

In some ways, I can’t help think that we’re victims of our own achievements. Us IT professionals, or most of us at least, have done much to mirror what our colleagues love about these consumer-world giants and their products and services, by:

  • Thinking of IT in terms of services rather than technology domains or components
  • Improving IT support through technology and business-driven service level targets
  • Providing more capable and modern devices (and possibly better applications)
  • Implementing service catalogs (or service request catalogs) and self-help/service
  • Supporting mobile workers

Yet we still get stuck for not being as good as our colleagues’ personal IT.

Of course we could do more, budgets willing, but before beating ourselves up further it’s worth stopping for a moment to realize that IT is in a somewhat unique position, in having consumer-world comparators. If we look at our sister service providers, within the organization, they rarely have a consumer-world comparator to be fairly judged against.

Do Other Business Functions Have Consumer-World Comparators?

Think of the possible consumer-world comparisons for other common business functions.
We don’t have a personal HR equivalent, nor one for facilities unless we are renting a property, and even then there is the option to move suppliers if needed. Legal, maybe, if we need personal advice but often this service is procured after peer-recommendation or analysis of price, either way giving a better chance of having our service expectations met. The closest thing to finance would be our personal bank, but it’s not that great a match. As for procurement, few of us can afford the luxury of personal shoppers.

So these sister service providers have so far avoided many of these negative comparisons to equivalent consumer-world product and service leaders. But they shouldn’t rest on their laurels. In many ways I’d be surprised if they aren’t already under pressure to improve their service delivery and service experience. Not necessarily because of the consumer-world experiences directly, but because of the IT organization starting to show consumer-world facets in its operation. Think about it. Why would a business colleague not measure HR’s customer-facing facilities and performance against IT’s? If they aren’t already they surely will, especially as IT becomes further removed—in terms of better service delivery and service experience—from its sister service providers.

Things Will Also Get Sticky for Other Internal Service Providers

Despite the lack of consumer-world comparators, consumer experiences are raising our generic expectations of services and service experience. You could argue that IT and the consumer world will put these other internal service providers in a vice-like squeeze that mandates an improvement in their operations and performance.

And this is where the light shines, for IT, from the end of that consumerization tunnel. IT can help. And IT can help itself from a relevancy point of view. Each and every internal service provider that is being tasked with improving service delivery and service experience would benefit from:

  • IT’s years of service management experience and knowledge
  • Service management best practice, translated from the IT lexicon and scenarios to meet business function needs
  • Technology to support service management
  • Technology to enable consumer-world-like experiences, such as online portals, self-service, and mobile access

Thus the IT organization is sitting pretty with a big opportunity to help other business functions (again) and improve its own relevancy and standing within the business. Everybody should win as IT helps to push service management best practice and a more consumer-world-like experience throughout the business.

But, Traditional ITSM Might Not Be Enough to Really Match the Consumer-World Giants

ITSM isn’t, and never was, "service management for IT." If Ian Clayton had gotten his way with ITIL in the late 20th Century, it might have been. But instead it’s a distillation of the original service management thinking that unfortunately lost much of the service management "good stuff" along the way. So IT and the other business functions might need to do more than what used to seed ITIL.

In particular, IT organizations (and its sister service providers) will need to do more than just think that they do service management and deliver services just because they adopted ITIL. They need to better understand what service management is really about. It’s not just about service catalogs, fixing issues, and fulfilling requests. It’s something that should run through everything a service provider does that encompasses the service lifecycle, and the provider’s attitude to service delivery and service experience.

You will need to go back to the roots of true service management. I suggest that you look at what Ian Clayton and Ken Gonzalez have achieved with the Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (USMBOK). Or at some of the customer experience research that is popular right now with industry analyst firms such as Forrester or Gartner.

Is your service delivery and service experience up to scratch? And have you started to help your sister service providers with theirs? I’d love to know.


As SysAid Technologies' first employee, Sarah Lahav has remained the vital link between SysAid and its customers since 2003. She is the current CEO and former VP of Customer Relations at SysAid, two positions that have given her a hands-on role in evolving SysAid solutions to align with the dynamic needs of service managers. Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahlahav


Tag(s): business value, ITIL, IT service management, ITSM, service management, supportworld

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