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BMC aims at digitalizing ITSM

Martin Banks Profile picture for user mbanks November 25, 2015
With a long history in ITSM, BMC has used its two years in private ownership to look at its past and target a digitalized future.

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The way ahead

A couple of years ago BMC Software worked with a group of investors to take itself private. It was a time when the company was seen as losing its old Business Service Management (BSM) marketplace to the newer machinations of the cloud and in need of a new, more comprehensive and digitalized sense of direction. That, as other IT businesses have discovered, is not easy to achieve as a public company without risking severe financial pain.

The results of that transition in the company under private ownership are now emerging, and were on show at the company’s recent Exchange conference in London. The key development to emerge is the appearance of Digital Enterprise Management (DEM) which is a significant extension of BSM, but with the same roots.

This, as Robin Purohit, President of BMC’s Service Support Business Unit, observes, is intended to play a major part in what he called `the fourth version of business’. He also suggested that using this also means that existing BSM users do not need to indulge in rip-and-replace activities to get onto the digitalisation track:

Many of them will be asking the question, 'Can we modernise, digitalize, a legacy company, and we have shown it can be done. We can add all the digitalization capabilities they require, and we have become flexible in how we help them. We can adopt a number of different roles, from full implementation through to an advisory role where we inform on what is possible, and how it can be implemented.

Purohit cites several examples across that spectrum, including recent projects with McDonalds and Vodafone. It is also clear from his examples that the company has quite a good vision of the need for solid joins between the growing world of IoT and the broad spread of overall business management.

For example, he references energy suppliers moving to more comprehensive billing of their customers using a mix of IoT and business management that no has any real sign of where the line between them exists.

He acknowledges that this is all part of a wider drive for automation – or as he puts it, to "get people out of doing things". This does then raise the issue of whether the companies developing and promoting this should start considering the possible consequences and how they are managed and paid for.

Purohit has an answer, at least in terms of the direct impact on customer IT-oriented staff:

I do see an explosion of tech-oriented jobs coming further up the stack as technology and automation come in. Jobs such as advanced process automation engineers, people who decide how Policies are defined, used and driven up the stack, significant prospects for applications developers, and also service integrators.

We are now seeing IoT, the digitalization of human behaviour, and the advent of social feeds coming together as the underlying trend. This means businesses can move from cost cutting to speed. The goal is to allow businesses to create the Digital Workplace, where staff can do their jobs as and when they want in as easy a way as they would in their social/domestic life.

What customers think

For customers, there are business transition problems to face. For example, Karine Brunet, Head of Technology, Shared Services, at Vodafone points out the impact of simples truths, such as no one having a fixed phone anymore. Instead, staff at Vodafone have multiple phones, if only to experiment. The company is finding that that these users – and customers - are even more advanced in their use of digital than Vodafone is, especially in terms of support, so matching that support level has become an important goal.

Graham Calder, CTO for the publishing company, Pearson, notes that his firm was a local company with physical distribution, and has had to change into a global company with digital distribution. He says:

The long term game is to create a platform that can then be controlled by the users, delivering what they want, where and when they need it. And time is of the essence getting change to happen, otherwise businesses will die, the statistics show it.

When it comes to security issues he suggested that the real test is to ask `how fast can I fix something'? The answer has to be as close to 'now’ as possible, otherwise the business is vulnerable, and customers are vulnerable. And once remediated the security operations teams have to test it to make sure it worked.

Calder adds that enterprises should also let customers know there is a problem as soon as the staff are told. This means that the customers can be informed and able to assess any impact on their own business. He mentions the time that Amazon did a rolling restart of all its systems because of a security issue and poses the question

What might be the impact of that on you as a user?

He even suggests businesses should consider bringing customers (and especially the more `vocal’ ones) into the teams handling problem remediation.

Mark Stein, senior VP in charge of service integration projects with CapGemini, highlights how the old ways of internally developed applications are now changing, even for the biggest of enterprises. The world, he suggests, is inevitably moving to a multi-sourced environment and that this can easily lead to an order of chaos.

His operation acts in an important, consequential role, that of service integrator pulling together necessary applications from internal and third party sources. As such it is the managing - and responsible - party in such projects. The key skill here is being able to bring together the different suppliers, there processes and methodologies.

Sourcing models now have to be much faster and more flexible now and there is a need to get out of the day to day management of such things, and that does mean the use of automation. And while this will create new jobs, they will be for people with project management and negotiation skills rather than techie knob-twiddling skills.

With multiple providers there also comes a need for a common set of business objectives that all sources are focused on rather than each having their own views. And that means having some data by which to manage the meeting of those objectives. There must be a source of truth about what is happening in that project ecosystem.

Getting your ITSM mature

Underpinning much of this is a wider issue involving the maturity of IT Service Management across the business community, an issue of some concern to Chris Matchet, the Principal Research Analyst for ITSM at Gartner Research.

Using Gartner’s fabled Hype Cycle, he showed that while ITSM is riding at the peak of inflated expectations with the growth of DevOps, right down at the next stage, the trough of disillusionments, lies the strict methodologies of mature business processes like ITIL. It will not be till users latch onto the real need for ITIL in ITSM that maturity, and the effectiveness of ITSM, will really start to improve. Matchet says:

The maturity of ITSM is not improving. It is still hovering around 2.3 out of 5 in the Gartner Maturity Model. Indeed, less than a quarter of businesses are even monitoring their ITSM maturity, so there are no continual service improvement processes in place, and this needs ITIL.

As well as coping with multi-sourced applications and services portfolios, he sees a challenge for the application of ITIL in the growing need to provide users with digital workplaces. These, he said, are emerging as a result of significant operational changes, the need to boost employee agility and engagement, and the development of new and more effective ways of working that employ consumer-oriented styles and technologies:

It centers around the concept that work is an activity not a place. People will use shadow IT if the `standard' kit' is old, or not very relevant any more. The will not be engaged, and may well leave. This is the new reality for all parts of the business, and so ITSM has to cope with it. And it is also needed by and for ITSM staff as well.

What is needed, he said, is a bimodal approach. Renovate the existing technology so that the lights stay on, but also build an agile environment with multidisciplinary teams and innovative partnerships that can exploit new risk/speed trade-offs:

The core to this is DevOps. So Mode 1 requires reliability and the use of the likes of ITIL, CMMI and COBIT, while at the same time Mode 2 accepts instability as a core component, and is built on DevOps. This all then needs monitoring, and monitoring where the business actually happens and when it happens. There is a need to build business-value dashboards which measure the overall impact of activities and applications on the business and their value to the business. And we are now starting to see these appear in ITSM.

My take

The combination of business systems, IoT, ISTM and automation now has a high degree of inevitability about it. But while the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages, there will come a need for user enterprises to consider the consequences of those disadvantages and how to remediate them.

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