Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rediscovering the Value of IT

Information technology service management (ITSM)'s focus on processes and continuous improvement provides the basis for IT to become more productive and cost-effective.

itSMFsa in partnership with ITWeb's SMEXA conference and exhibition

More information about SMEXA, which takes place on 3 and 4 August at The Forum, in Bryanston, is available online here.

This is the view of Tom Scholtz, research vice-president at Gartner in Camberley UK, who will be a keynote speaker at the Service Management Conference and Exhibition Africa (SMEXA), being held on 3 and 4 August at The Forum, in Johannesburg.

SMEXA 2010, hosted by ITWeb and itSMF SA, will focus on 'Mapping routes to recovery', allowing IT professionals to get to grips with the role of ITSM in a post-recession economy.

“Corporate compliance sometimes works,” says Scholtz, adding there are many challenges to managing risk. “Determining how each component interacts in the greater picture is not always clear.”

He says the role of ITSM in itself helps mitigate risks, such as those associated with change management. “Managing how changes are handled in the organisation will affect the availability of business processes, providing a direct benefit to the company.”

Scholtz highlights there are also indirect benefits. “The quality of risk assessment is improved as people assess risks to business applications and support, creating an overall impact on the total risk in the organisation.”

He says by enabling the effective use of technology to explore new products, services and business models, ITSM can do more than just manage risk. This includes improving productivity (more output for less cost) and improving the trust the business has in IT to deliver.

“The one thing we've picked up is that the private sector has changed after the recession.” He explains that corporate strategies have shifted from saving money to investing in technology and innovations. “Companies are looking for a position to exploit the economic growth.”

Scholtz adds that companies are now looking at how technology can be exploited to help them grow and gain a competitive advantage.

However, he notes there are still organisations focusing on the cost of recovery after the recession. Scholtz explains that the public sector is still struggling, as it is either trying to get money back, or needs to pay money to third parties for services.

“A large focus of ITSM is to formalise ITSM processes so they can be performed more cost effectively,” says Scholtz. “Process formalisation enables us to monitor, measure, and report on the process effectiveness and efficiency.”

Considerations include how long it will take to implement a change and the mean time to repair (MTTR) for IT incidents, he explains. “This allows IT to see bottlenecks in existing processes, and explore ways of improving process performance through process modification, organisational change or use of technology.

“So, ITSM potentially has productivity, automation, service level, risk, and trust benefits,” says Scholtz. “More process formalisation enables better automation, freeing up scarce human resources to focus on new challenges, such as how to leverage cloud computing for competitive advantage.

“ITSM helps put the trust in IT, where organisations often place a bet on their production systems,” he adds. “It also needs to ease the mind of the customer. In effect, it provides a level of trust between the technology and the management of its ability to deliver,” he adds.

“Ultimately, it reduces the cost of IT, but also improves the trust in IT so the business is comfortable to use IT for new products or services.”

He says there needs to be a focus on the continuous improvement of business strategy. ITIL is a part of this, he notes, with its emphasis on the business outcomes in an organisation in the ITSM life cycle.

“The goal is to find the value of IT in business, and to provide a complete view of the organisation's risks. The lesson is: IT governance is something people need to learn from to provide continuous improvement in the business,” he concludes.

IT Web

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