The End (to-End) is Nigh!

14186949118_252cc35022_zThe way we consider, design and operate ‘End-to-End’ IT is about to end, or at least going to go through a fundamental change. There are plenty of evidence points; Shadow IT. Analyst organisational restructures. M&A transactions. Converging technologies. Current cost of I&O. The P&L’s of many organisations. New roles emerging in the enterprise such as the CDO – Chief Data Officer…The list goes on. We are all about to witness considerable convergence, or ‘Digitisation’ of our respective worlds.

There is a realisation that the world we operate in has radically changed. Our ultimate end customers and our own staff are now significantly more ‘savvy and demanding’ and the landscape we all operate in is significantly more competitive and ‘real-time’…. But we know this. However, have IT (or more importantly the business supporting and funding IT) reacted accordingly?

Welcome to the digital economy. An economy where cross-silo agility, integration, automation, data, mobility and compliance are key watchwords. An economy where we should revisit core questions like; ‘How are we doing the things we do?’ and perhaps more fundamentally, ‘Why are we doing the things we do?’

In fact one of the big questions IT should be asking is, ‘Does the organisation want IT to build and operate a basic IT platform where its users define competitive advantage from the data / services IT provides, or does the organisation want IT to build and operate a digital IT platform where competitive advantage comes from digital trends, analysis, automation and are real-time. For example, an advanced platform may empower and extend the ability for business units to build workflows and applications to remove tedious and costly manual processes without the involvement of IT, or perhaps IT themselves to ‘see’ trends and plan for eventualities across multiple silo’s of technology or process. Furthermore wouldn’t it be great if IT could effect change in one area and the implications in other areas are all taken care of. Not only joining up the data (which we typically do well), but also the processes, the management and admin.

We are entering a world where we have to dramatically improve 3 areas:

  • Core Service / function of IT – What we do and the way we do it
  • Discovery / Detection and analytics – The ability to process business value data
  • Reaction & Change – The ability to respond in an agile way

So let’s consider how we achieve these goals. First we need to define who we are serving and what or perhaps why we are doing this. Then we should consider where does the raw compute, storage and application stack come from to serve our audience. Finally, we can consider what happens ‘in-between’ the supply and the demand.

 

PART 1. Who, Why & What are we serving?

Let’s start with the ‘What’ – What we ultimately deliver is a trading platform that optimises communication, competitive intelligence and competitive service. Regularly, it is not seen that way, more often than not, IT is seen as the providers of defined or ‘canned’ business services (i.e. mail, ERP, SFA, storage, kit, etc) and the managers of I&O (Infrastructure & Operations). i.e. we are told what the business needs, in short:

  1. Provide XYZ business applications to the BU’s and staff
  2. Provide information/data/reports (not intelligence)
  3. Manage, support and secure all of the above

Change is going to have a massive part to play in ‘What’ we do going forward. In the past, business change was positively ‘glacial’… we lived in an analog world. It took time for information to flow and be processed. Executive leadership, BU’s or staff took time to draw the conclusion that ‘change’ or a response was required… The majority of commercial Change requests come from outside of IT as the ‘intelligence’ was ultimately analogue, or a human connecting the dots between one set of data and another…. Or perhaps worse still, emotional.

This leads nicely onto the ‘Who and Why’. Who we serve can ultimately be divided into 5 categories:

  1. The ultimate end customer
  2. IT itself
  3. Staff
  4. Business Units
  5. Executive

aw diagram - 3

 

Each requires different services, information and tools. All need our security & compliance skills. All could benefit from our domain expertise in process and integrations and ultimately, all could do with ‘real-time’ cross data analysis to make informed ‘digital’ recommendations rather than decisions being made very slowly in the analog modus operandi.

 

  • The ultimate end user wants relevancy and respect
  • IT wants to know if some element of their ‘trading platform’ may be going AMBER and why…
  • Staff want intuitive tools, services and intelligence
  • Business Units want to remove the burdens, costs and improve agility
  • Executive want to see and measure and need value (ratio of investment to return)

The ‘why’ we do / or should do the things required in the new digital economy are fundamentally economic, whether your organization is commercial, government, charity, public or private, we all have bosses. We all have customers. Our role is to provide better services, products and financial performance that are secure and compliant.

 

PART 2. Where is IT coming from?

This has to be broken into three parts. The first is, where do the core applications, compute, storage, etc services come from, the second is where does the end user support for the disparate services come from for the ultimate end user, and third, where does the intelligence and ‘Change / React’ thinking come from.

The first area of ‘where core applications and services’ come from is quite straight forward, as they regularly come from a mix of on premise (physical or virtual), cloud (public and private), outsourced and of course the inevitable shadow IT conundrum.

The Second area of ‘Where does the end user service & support come from’ for the 5 types of customer is regularly a mess, primarily as the systems, processes and data is not joined up. In fact some of the applications and therefore its data do not even reside within IT’s domain.

And therefore, it’s a very similar story is the third area of ‘Where does the Intelligence and ability to Change / React’ reside…Its key to note that we are not talking about where the data or information resides, this is known, but where are the applications that use the data in order to make informed real-time decisions? They do exist in many organizations, but they are sporadic and isolated. Perhaps APM (Application Performance Management) technology is used for one customer type, and a marketing tool used for another customer type. This is an area where the ‘End-To –End’ thinking delivers optimum service, competitive advantage has its greatest effect.

 

PART 3. Joining the end to end dots.

In reality there are three roles for IT.

  1. Providing the core services
  2. Providing a service on those services
  3. Providing real-time and cross platform intelligence

And making all of these intuitive, agile, secure and efficient

Simple….no, but IT is in the most powerful and influential position to design, build and conduct the ‘New IT’ DNA. IT will place an increasingly pivotal role in the organisation, its strategy, its people, its technology platform. New ITOM platforms are going to revolutionise how we architect IT. Its no longer about whether its cloud / Saas or on premise… it’s about End-To-End IT. We will see significant convergence, from APM, PPM, Web CMS through to ITSM / ITAM and Analytics, CRM and AI…

IT is the business. We are now in the business transformation game. Embrace it.

 

Image Credit

The Internet of Things, Big Data and ITSM

Science fiction becoming science fact
Science fiction becoming science fact

I have noticed recently during my travels with EasyVista, that Hotel staff have begun to offer two or three WIFI codes on check-in, in recognition of the fact that we are all carrying multiple devices. Like sheep and rats, devices connected to the Internet outnumber humans.

The number of objects connected to the Internet actually surpassed humans back in 2008. According to Cisco 12.5 billion devices were connected in 2010 and they predict 25BN devices by 2015 and 50BN by 2020. Nowadays the average professional might be connected via their phone, tablet and PC. In a few years time you might also add their home thermostat, fridge, home media centre, home surveillance system, health monitoring system and so on.

The Internet of Things

This growing trend of everyday objects sending and receiving data over the Internet is known as the Internet of things or industrialized Internet.

Sensors can be embedded everywhere and programmed to either communicate with us, or communicate with each other.

Machine-to-Machine Communications (M2M)

RFID chips have led the way in devices communicating data about themselves – but this has been surpassed by the incredibly low cost and ease of access of simply providing devices with WIFI connectivity and management control with a cheap smart phone app.

In the absence of a usable WIFI connection, many devices can use a simple mobile phone SIM card to communicate with the wider world. M2M is a huge growth area for the mobile telecommunications industry, especially as connected devices are growing at a faster rate than humans and can provide significant strategic advantage to businesses that analyze and act on their activity.

Runbook Automation – If this, then that

Futurists have long predicted the fridge that can order it’s own food. But the Internet of Things is far from science fiction. Smart meters and apps on smart phones can already monitor and regulate heating in your home or remind you of tasks to be done based on location.

One of the most fascinating developments in the last couple of years is for devices and services to perform actions based on certain criteria. This is demonstrated perfectly via the free online service IFTTT (If this, then that). Simply connect your online services and use ‘recipes’ to automate tasks such as ‘Turn on the lights when I go into a room’. 16 years ago I travelled to Microsoft in Seattle. I had a meeting with Steve Ballmer, but while I was there, one of the execs showed me around ‘Microsoft house’. When you walked from the bedroom into the lounge, the building sensed nobody was in the bedroom, so the wall moved making the lounge bigger and the bedroom smaller. Perhaps a little too visionary, but it was clever.

It is only matter of time before these consumer-oriented services are standard in the enterprise; Zapier is an example of a corporate grade automation tool for joining together hundreds of different SaaS APIs. If the automation sounds too trivial for business consider that pharmaceuticals are building tablets that can signal when they’ve been swallowed or suitcases that can tell passengers their luggage has been loaded on the wrong flight.

Enterprise Automation

Early adopters for such automation are logistics companies using efficient freight routing or redirection based on real time congestion data to save fuel and time. Manufacturing plants are using sensors to adjust the position of component parts in the assembly process to improve efficiency and reduce errors.

The same logic can be applied to the delivery of IT Services:

  • Enterprise objects can have an online ‘information shadow’ similar to the additional reference material found on a Google map or an augmented reality. Printers have long been able to communicate their status over the network – this can be applied to all things a business owns.
  • Support can be provided in context. In an ideal world I only want to be reminded to buy batteries when I’m stood in the queue at the supermarket next to the batteries. The same filtering can be applied to support – for example knowledgebase information can be shown when customers are in a certain location, or using a certain process or device.
  • Devices can also create new knowledge or provide intelligent services. IBM’s Watson is already answering help desk calls.
  • Smart business equipment can report their own faults in real time, and use predictive analysis to prevent failures in the future.  Field service operations can be quicker and more efficient.

Automating a network of connected devices over the Internet is obviously not without risk. As with all IT Services, organizations need to be concerned with what happens with a system failure, or the ramifications of a vulnerability attack when business devices are automated and autonomous. Privacy of data and cultural shifts should also be considered, the UK retailer Tesco received complaints from packing staff for using armbands on staff to track worker productivity.

What this means for IT Service and support

What does this mean to those delivering and supporting IT services?

Ultimately businesses can harness data collected from the Internet of Things to provide better services and make better decisions based on real time data. All of these devices and online services create unprecedented volumes of data to analyze (known as Big Data). For IT Service Management professionals, new skills will be required to visualize these huge data sets, draw insights from the data exhaust and architect run book automation scenarios.

Traditionally IT support have used data from tickets or infrastructure to facilitate support – the great opportunity with the Internet of Things is to learn more about the users themselves and their behavior in order to provide exceptional support.

It also means that IT may just become BFF with marketing 😉

Introducing Ros Satar

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Ros Satar to The ITSM Review.

Ros is joining as a regular blogger and ITSM technology Analyst.

ROS SATAR


“An IT Architect, with close to 20 years experience, working both in direct commercial engagements, and more recently within the outsourcing services.  Worked most recently in the Retail, Finance & Insurance, and Government/Transport Sectors.

Strong technical, business and project skills around Business Analysis and IT Architecture/Solution Design, and Deployment in Transition/Transformation projects, specializing most recently in ITIL ® Service Management Engagements.

Responsibilities include Stakeholder Management, Project Management, User Acceptance Testing and Service Commencement.”


Ros Satar, Analyst and Writer for The ITSM Review

Gadget Girl!

Ros is an ITSM Solution Architect and Process Consultant.

Her journey in ITIL/ITSM began in 2005 when she jumped into the deep end of Configuration Management, and then swam out to the wider ITSM Ocean.

She quite likes it there… technical enough to remind her of her roots, but diverse enough to have opinions on lots of things, based on large customer projects throughout her career.

As well as writing for The ITSM Review, Ros is also following her passion for sports writing and is currently studying for her NCTJ Diploma in Multi-media Journalism.

She says…

“When I am not knee deep in paper and having a love/hate relationship with my many gadgets, I can be found putting in time at various sporting publications writing about people who are way fitter than me.”

They say…

“I have worked with Ros for many years through many technologies, as Architects we are often expected to look at a product and immediately articulate the benefits / return on investment and potential pitfalls in implementation. Ros has the ability to go “Wide” and go “Deep” into the technology and exercise it within an inch of its operational life.”

Welcome Ros!