11 December 2014

Contemplations on 2015

As for 2015, I’m expecting to see continuing interest in improving multidisciplinary collaboration using stuff like as Agile, DevOps, and Cynefin, and intrinsically linked to that, more interest in how to influence behaviour. My concern is the gap between understanding how to influence behaviour and actually doing something about it. The human condition.

I've noticed increased interest for security in 2014, although I haven’t investigated what’s driving it. I assume that’s going to be a 2015 topic.

It’s a no-brainer to expect continuing growth of (use of) external service providers and therefore the need for multi-vendor management (think SIAM). Because the market often does IT better, faster and cheaper than internal IT departments, we can expect internal IT to transform itself into a broker between demand and supply. Not everybody is suited for that role though – barring genetic manipulation – so consider your options carefully if you work in a centralized IT department. You have three options. If you want to continue doing traditional ITSM, quit and work for an external service provider – it’s their core business. Your second option is to help your IT department transform itself into a broker. Finally, if you have affinity with business processes and business people , jump the proverbial fence between IT and the business and help them deal with demand for, and use of, IT. And information, which is why I like to talk about I&T not IT.

Similarly, as business people become more IT-savvy, and they have more IT at their disposal without having to shop at the internal IT department, we’ll see more decentralized I&T functions within the various business divisions and departments. They’ll only use centralized IT if they have to or if centralized IT gets its act together and offers perceived added value. They will operate with the same degree of autonomy as the rest of their business activities, so expect more emphasis on effectiveness than enterprise-wide efficiency. I also expect that they’ll struggle with the basics of ITSM (incident, problem, change etc.) so that’s a great opportunity for seasoned ITSM practitioners to help them balance agility with an appropriate degree of predictability.   

We’ll see various versions of CIO’s in various relationships with CXO’s. Will governance of I&T be embraced by the board as more than an afterthought? Are I&T as business assets really as important as the CIO and his or her I&T minions think? Or does the board have better things to do? We’ll see.


Recap 2014

Well, well. This ASL BiSL year took me to 16 cities, 12 countries and 4 continents. In terms of communities, I spoke and networked at events organized by APMG, BPMA, itSMF, PMI/IIBA, SDI, SITS, The Open Group, UNICOM, and Yale. In addition, I delivered webinars hosted by APMG, BrightTALK, TFT, and UNICOM. 

Slowly but surely, there’s more interest in ASL and BiSL in particular from beyond the home market in the Netherlands. I've come to believe that ‘Going Dutch IT’ – in other words making a pretty formal distinction between IT supply as the responsibility of the IT function, and demand and use as the business’ responsibility – might just have been a bridge too far for other regions in the past, but now that many business divisions are investing in the their own decentralized I&T functions (see below), it seems to becoming more pertinent and interesting.

My major topics this year were:

1. The changing dynamics within the ITSM industry, with more dominant roles for external service providers and for business units who are investing in their own decentralized I&T functions. The traditional centralized IT department is under pressure and its best bet as far as I’m concerned is to transform itself into an added value broker. Otherwise it’s over and out. The future of the decentralized I&T fascinates me. It’s where demand and supply are merging into a new paradigm: ‘deply’ or ‘summand’. By the way, please note the use of ‘I&T’. I continue to promote treating information and relate technology as two intimately intertwined entities that nevertheless are better off when managed in their own right.

2. BizDevOps (also known as ValOps): predicting the next wave of multidisciplinary collaboration. We’ve seen organizations apply Agile to improve the speed and quality with which new functionality is developed, and DevOps that improve the speed and quality of deployment. But there are still a couple of gaps that need to be addressed. Firstly the gap between high-procedure and bureaucratic ITSM functions and the business users. All too often, users are left to their own devices (literally!), leading to avoidable productivity losses in business operations. Secondly, there’s a need for better business-business alignment. No, that’s not a typo. The managers or their delegates who specify user needs during development projects, often in the role of an Agile product manager, lack insight into the practicalities of business operations and use of information systems, leading to a lower return on investment than could have been the case. 

3. Building bridges between bodies of knowledge. The ASL BISL Foundation has explored how its Application Management and Business Information Management domains interact with Business Analysis (IIBA’s BABOK®), Business Relationship Management (BRM Institute’s BRMP®), Enterprise Architecture (referencing The Open Group’s TOGAF®), Governance and management of information (ISACA’s COBIT®), IT Service Management (AXELOS’ ITIL®), and the Service Desk (SDI’s qualifications). I’m currently taking a look at IAITAM (Asset Management), and the IMBOK (Information management).

4. Exploring which behavioural changes are needed with both IT and the business. I conducted various workshops and have complied the findings. The consensus us that the business should focus on specifying outcomes rather than solutions, setting priorities and taking decisions, and understanding IT capabilities and limitations. And that IT should pay more attention to understanding the business context, communicating in terms of benefits, costs and risks, and replacing ‘technical’ SLA’s by more meaningful reporting.

5. Contributing modestly to the Take Service Forward initiative’s Adaptive Service Model, which has certainly given me a better way of looking at organizations. It gives me great satisfaction to see that ASM is being taken seriously by various industry bodies.

From a learning perspective, things that spring to mind are how I’ve benefited from (1) dealing with uncertainly by using Cynefin (you’ll easily find a great talk by Dave Snowden called Models, Frameworks and Messy Coherence, hosted by UNICOM), (2) using service-dominant logic (read the academic paper ‘The service system is the basic abstraction of service science’), (3) understanding social constructivism (e.g. Vimeo presentation ‘Ken Gergen talks about Social Constructionist Ideas, Theory and Practice’), (3)  a new way of looking at life in general as formulated by Michael Foley (YouTube ‘This Extraordinary World’), and (4) Adam Smith's 1759 classic The Theory of Moral Sentiments revisited by Russ Roberts in his book ‘How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness’.