In the long (or not so long, if you look at it historically) transition of IT from an inscrutable, arcane new force in corporate America to a routine extension of just about everyone’s experience now from age two and up, one trend has been consistent. And that trend is the need to break through siloed barriers and habits typically defined by a specific technology or skill set.
Whether it was the move from mainframe introversion to client/server; or from purely on-premise IT to the Internet, cloud, and mobile; or from managing purely IT-created services to optimizing global resources at will, technology tree-hugging has been the downfall of many in IT. It has also been a barrier to success for many vendors selling software and services defined more by past comfort levels than by future opportunities. Too often, this is actually aggravated by otherwise well-meaning industry pundits seeking to define markets by technologies—which invariably evolve, change, overlap, and sometimes merge—instead of by use cases, which also evolve, but which actually address real problems.
Take the case of IT Asset Management (ITAM) and IT Service Management (ITSM). Here, again, we can witness a history of segregated traditions in which ITAM has been most prevalently defined by managing software licenses (which is admittedly a journey into a dark, snake-ridden jungle), inventory and discovery, as well as some less traditionally mainstream ITAM concerns—such as optimizing vendor and telecommunications expense or managing application portfolios for cost and value. However, ITAM is now beginning to get creative in addressing some of these concerns, as well as in addressing other new areas, such as supporting enterprise assets, or Green IT, or insights into OpEx versus purely CapEx costs.
Now take ITSM with its focus on process, IT governance, and service management overall. My company, EMA, has done a lot of research on ITSM, in which data increasingly suggests that future ITSM will combine service desk and operations much more fluidly than in the past. In other words, service management is beginning to embrace both perspectives—with far more dynamic insights into IT’s interdependencies beyond the internal data center, and a richer focus on consumer behavior in all its dimensions.
So, it would seem that both ITAM and ITSM are beginning to break through barriers on their own.
Isn’t that enough? Why combine two already actively growing areas into one?
The answer is simple: logic. If IT is increasingly becoming a product provider (versus a back office cost center with inscrutable services), what are IT’s ultimate products? For the most part the answer is business applications.
Then, if that’s the case, how can IT optimize as a business?
The answer would have to be in managing its assets with both CapEx and OpEx insights as they contribute to business services. This would ultimately also mean assembling available data on how, where, and when IT business applications (the products of IT) are being used, by whom, and to what effect.
EMA research, freshly available as an online Webinar would seem to support this premise (you can view an online webinar on this topic here). We surveyed 168 respondents in North America, and here are just a few of the data highlights:
Those who either currently manage assets and services together or have clear plans to do so also represented a more progressive population overall. For instance, those currently combining asset and service management were more likely to:
And this is just a partial list.
On the other hand, not everyone was all that progressive. For instance, across the overall population, spreadsheets still lead as the place for storing asset data.
Nevertheless, while no one IT organization that EMA has so far engaged with shows full levels of integrated service and asset management across all domains, the direction is positive. Trends like cloud, agile, and the “consumerization of IT” are serving as catalysts for this move—rewarding more dynamic and integrated approaches, and punishing siloed, purely cost-driven models with reduced investments and diminished valuations of IT.