In the last tour of Gartner Symposia, in which Fox IT featured as a sponsor in Barcelona, Gartner shared with the delegates their vision of managing the increasing pace of technology change and the higher dependency on IT organisations by their customers. Their position is the creation of a ‘Bimodal IT’; the IT organisation ‘splitting’ into two functions with two main objectives, Traditional IT and the more agile and Innovative IT. Gartner has also made a claim that ‘75% of organisations will be bimodal by 2017’ (May 2015).
In my view, IT organisations are already trying to deliver both. The number of clients I speak to who are exploring Agile and Dev Ops approaches to supporting IT’s contribution to business demand is on the increase. Often, the perception of this more rapid delivery model is in contradiction to good practice IT Service Management (ITSM), to which of course I disagree.
The budgets and pressures on IT service provision continue – delivering technologies as a commodity in facilitating the business with its core requirements. However there is a growing dependence on IT to integrate new technologies at a greater pace to meet a higher competitiveness in their markets. IT can no longer be the slow, infrastructure heavy, big-bang project-led function that it’s often perceived to be. Yet high quality service provision must be repeatable, process driven and highly efficient as an overhead cost to the business. A realisation that IT needs to support business growth (markets, revenue, new products and services etc.) requires a more rapid deployment of supporting technologies and an increase in Agile and Dev Ops methodologies.
The default view is that Agile and Dev Ops delivers immediate benefits and successful projects that make a significant impact to supporting business change. The truth is that the success rate of these projects is significantly lower and few of these projects move into the live operating environment. That’s not to say it fails as a premise, but adopting and driving change can go through many iterations before approved testing achieves a successful deployment – it can still be quicker but the investment can seem less efficient but still a calculated and worthwhile cost to achieving business advantage.
The demarcation between the two disciplines seems like a natural step, if only to set the correct focus on the specific but different objectives. Any ITSM framework, even the most widely known and deployed, has to be tailored to deliver high quality IT services. These rapid development principles such as Agile and Dev Ops need to follow fit-for-purpose Service Design and Service Transition processes (e.g. Change Management and Release and Deployment Management processes) to ensure greater success in the live environment…after all, it will eventually transition to Traditional IT for on-going management and support.
Whatever stance you may have on separating the above disciplines and the future direction of your IT strategy, one core consideration remains: for both sets of activities, your role is to provide IT services to your business. Whether it’s ‘keeping the lights on’ and delivering standard IT tools (hardware, core applications, data, security etc.) or also being more integrated in achieving business goals, IT must deliver those services with a high degree of impact and business benefit. At the same time, IT must understand in detail the value of these services, the dependency of the business to quality and that they continually adapt to being fit-for-purpose when the business demands quicker responses to rapidly changing demands.
Further to our paper in November 2014 (Enabling IT Service Transformation in a Digital Age) the current state of the majority of IT organisations is as a Commoditised Technology Provider. On the journey for the business to be fully Digitalised (where IT is fully integrated with the business and engages directly with the end customer), IT must go through an evolutionary step to being a service-oriented provider. From the diagram showing this evolution, innovation (or business IT) is still part of Traditional IT. Whether this is governed as two separate elements or not, it still requires IT to create services, governed by appropriate policies and executed by stable, well defined and repeatable processes.
In summary, IT Service Management has the responsibility of ensuring that end-to-end IT service provision is managed effectively and meets the business’ requirements. The nature in which service governance frameworks such as ITIL® and COBIT are implemented, has to be tailored to provide an ‘agile’ framework that supports the business needs. It needn’t be inflexible or too robust, inhibiting service delivery in a suitable or timely manner, nor should it be compromised to drive ineffective innovation or change. We have seen the latter create some highly publicised, high profile and costly IT attributed blunders. Make sure you don’t fall foul of moving forward too fast without the appropriate governance and management or the cost of integration and innovation may be too high a price to pay.
Managing Director – Fox IT