Moving Beyond IT Service Management: ESM and ITIL v3

Successful businesses require both the effective management of information and the efficient delivery of technology. IT has played a key role in this effort beginning as a support function to finance and administration, then evolving to an enabler of workflow change, and now serving as the nervous system of the enterprise.

As we enter a new information age, gone are the days when IT was a back office function, a cost center to be run as lean as possible regardless of the impact. Today, whatever we touch has information technology embedded in it. Whether it is our PC, our appliances, our car, our mobile devices or our entertainment, we are overloaded and overwhelmed with information and opportunity. The knowledge worker consumes the information needed to perform tasks and to execute business processes, and it is these processes that provide differentiation and lead to brand value and competitive advantage. These processes are enabled by applications which in turn are supported by infrastructure.

In today’s evolving economic climate, CIOs are hard pressed to show how their company’s business model can harness new trends and technologies to support corporate strategies and contribute to the bottom line. The question that business and IT leaders need to ask is: how can I best achieve short term cost gains and yet prepare a foundation for long term growth? The simple answer is to separate what is delivered from how it is delivered.

By moving to a managed services environment, IT leaders can provide information consumers with both cost-effective service and a foundation for the delivery of innovative technologies that support ever-evolving processes. Combined with a relationship and contractual model that encourages open dialogue, an environment is created in which IT keeps pace with market developments and proactively participates in the core decisions of the enterprise.

The role of the CIO has truly changed from a leader of IT initiatives to a catalyst for business change. A CIO holds a seat on the executive management team, and is expected to bring IT solutions to business challenges that meet all security, legal, regulatory and compliance requirements. To manage this maelstrom, and effectively align the business with IT, CIOs need to show how the company’s business model and change management process can harness new trends and technologies so that they enhance the corporate strategy.

With its emphasis on creating business value from information technology, an ESM approach using ITIL v3 is the best way to do that, but it’s not foolproof. ITIL is a good starting point, but to truly integrate people, processes and technology, adopting a holistic ESM approach is needed. By always thinking in terms of people, processes, technology and strategy you can apply the ITIL framework to your specific business and IT environment. Consider the processes you have, the people that implement them, the tools that they use and the business strategy being executed. Effective delivery from your IT organization comes down to the quality of implementation―even the best service management suite of tools is only as good as the people who deploy it.

You have adopt a focus that aligns to the individual elements of ITIL v3 throughout the entire services lifecycle—from strategy, design, transition, and operations to continual improvement. CIOs should develop and deploy sets of standard capabilities that are consistently used in defining and delivering services across the organization. By doing so, you will ensure that your complex ecosystem of technology alliance partners, service providers and in-house teams will work together seamlessly to deliver accurate information when and where it is needed.

ESM allows you to manage across multiple providers, where each is dependent on the others to meet service levels and business expectations. It facilitates collaboration to form a single, transparent IT delivery organization: integrating projects, leveraging common processes to reduce duplication, and optimizing service delivery. It should include ongoing measurement and status tools so that the health of IT is shown as a whole.

Evolving to an ESM-centric approach enables IT to improve its service to the end-consumers of information through effective integration of multiple technologies within a defined process industry-standard framework. As such, from where and how service is delivered can be separated from what service is delivered. Using remote infrastructure and applications management tools, service can now be delivered from across the street, across the country or across the world.

The growing application of cloud computing impacts the marketplace in two distinct ways: it is increasing the familiarity and comfort of delivery via service, and it is increasing the options and variety of different IT services that are available for purchase. Enterprises can and should adopt the discipline of ESM while leveraging cloud services to link business processes and transactions.

The ability to package discrete and diverse standardized capabilities into a unique solution will enable CIOs to achieve both short and long term goals. Successful implementation of a secure, stable, flexible ESM environment will enable you to satisfy the needs of your end-consumers of information, whether they are the CEO and other executives, the customer-services representatives, the operations workers, or any other employees. It will provide the ability to switch services in and out as needs change, while enabling you to control your costs. In other words, ESM provides the opportunity to deliver both efficient and effective IT to your colleagues.

John Ryan heads CSC’s global platform services portfolio and Mark Lees leads the development of managed services marketing strategy in the Americas.