Imagine this: weꞌre all on a cruise ship; 2,500 passengers look forward to a holiday rich in new experiences. We’re off to the Caribbean; the machines get the power going and we head out to sea.
Our ship’s impressive exterior subtly conceals what drives it. It is the powerful engines in the machine room, deep in the ship’s belly. This is just how it was for a long time with IT in companies. IT kept large parts of the business going but was hardly noticed at all as a value-creating driving force.
Then globalization meant that cost-pressure and increased company requirements made themselves felt. CIOs with vision quickly recognized that IT had to expand and optimize its performance.
Internally, it also had to perform better at ꞌsellingꞌ what it does: IT Service Management was formed.
Onto the middle deck: with ITSM
ITSM meant that IT broke out of the machine room and took up position on the middle deck. From now on, ITSM formed the basis for a well-functioning IT infrastructure with all necessary IT services; for a good 15 years now, it has rightly been in the focus of the CIO’s interest.
In many instances, this is how IT ꞌliberated itselfꞌ from the shadow existence that it had. At the same time it found a way to organize itself better. The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) served, and still serves, as the foundation for this.
With ITSM, IT took a major step forward. Now its value for the company can be measured. As a result, new concepts like the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) or service catalogs moved into focus.
Also, ITIL processes were introduced. On the one hand, companies now had a central database. They thus also had the foundation for a very valuable, high-quality IT customer service, a monitored IT infrastructure and also stable systems and applications.
On the other hand, the application-users had information, centrally available for call-off, on all IT services currently on offer. The ITSM projects ꞌof the first-hourꞌ were completely aimed at optimizing IT operations.
Applying this to our cruise ship: the waters are calm, changes in direction or speed can be introduced quickly and precisely, and the passengers notice practically nothing.
Onto the top deck: with BSM
With ITSM’s further development, to form Business Service Management (BSM), IT developments have taken specific business requirements as their orientation point. They have placed their companiesꞌ business goals in their sights.
The needs of operating the business moved forward into the centre of attention. IT reached the upper deck.
For companies, this meant that business-relevant IT processes and their related services became visible. The (interim) destination – better coordination between IT and business – clearly appeared on the horizon.
BSM made it possible to recognize which business processes depended on which IT processes. The view taken by the staff working with the application was coordinated with the IT specialist’s view.
That specialist is mostly thinking of the performance parameters of IT components.
So, let us transfer this to our cruise ship comparison. Having arrived on the upper deck, machinesꞌ parameters are no longer enough. Up on top, it is all about fulfilling the higher-level business goals and the needs of the passengers – the customers – in the best way.
The point is that now the customers not only want to get to the Caribbean.
They also expect excellent, flexible services throughout their journey there. This includes a midnight snack as well as the ironing service for passengers‘ evening wear. So BSM is only an interim stopping point on the path to Enterprise Service Management (ESM).
With ESM the concept of providing a service will spread out from the IT departments into the various functional departments and the whole company.
Then IT has really arrived on the ship’s bridge.