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Service Integration and Management (SIAM): The Next Frontier in ITSM

August 6, 2015 No Comments

Featured article by Pedro Soto, managing director of TOPdesk

IT continues to commoditize. How is this trend forging transformation in the world of IT service management? Consumer behavior is driving IT to the cloud, and outsourcing is moving from the enterprise to the mid-market. We believe that this will result in IT organizations integrating their service management applications with those of their customers, but this is easier said than done.

Trickle-down to trickle-up

If you look at IT in the old days, all new innovations started in the military because it had the money. At some point it trickled down to corporations then it would trickle down to medium-sized and small enterprises. And at some point it would end up in your home. That process has reversed: Now all new commercial breakthroughs start with consumers. They then trickle up to the smaller enterprises, because that is where most consumers work, and eventually reach the corporations and the military.

SaaS, or the cloud, is a perfect example. For consumers, SaaS is already the norm. You don’t want a server for your photos in your home. This is what people are going to expect at work as well. This is what we mean by “commoditization.”

But if all the company services are in the cloud, then what does IT do? There will be less and less to maintain, which portends a grim future for your average IT department. There will always be some organization-specific work for IT, but we think the IT landscape will change dramatically in the coming years, and it will start looking like a sector that has already commoditized: facilities.

Facilitating change

Take coffee machines for example: You don’t want to maintain the infrastructure, you just want to have coffee basically make itself. And you don’t build your own coffee machine, do you? You call a company, and make sure it puts a coffee machine in your office.

The same applies to company cars. In the Netherlands, what you basically have is a deal with a car company, and it says, “I want to have this many cars of that brand, please. If they break down, it’s your problem, and I pay per kilometer.” For example, the Dutch TOPdesk office does not do fleet management because it is not our core business, but we need cars to deliver our added value.

We think we’re going to see more outsourcing in IT, as well. In order to make this work, companies will need a service management tool to control the flow of incidents. These incidents are either solved in-house or relayed to the appropriate supplier – or suppliers. In the old days a single supplier would do everything, like a one-stop shop. But we see that changing: In the Netherlands, where TOPdesk is globally headquartered, it’s divided into what we call “lots,” based on specialization. And we believe this trend will spread throughout the world.

So how would this work in IT? A specific part of the service, such as desktop management, is given to supplier A. The IT lines are assigned to supplier B, while supplier C is responsible for your printing needs. An approach like this helps a company reduce its risk of being too dependent on a single outsourcing party. Moreover, negotiating one contract that covers all your Internet connectivity, desktops, and the rest has become too complex.

Growing pains

We have already seen this attempted in practice. Take one of our customers, for example: a Managed Service Provider (MSP) that builds and maintains websites. One of those websites, for a telecommunications company, lets consumers see how many texts they have left in their mobile phone bundle. If the website doesn’t work, the MSP is called and they log into their TOPdesk system. If the website runs on hardware provided by another supplier, they need to call them. The supplier has a service management system in place. However, the problem could also have to do with connectivity, or the ERP system. Each is sourced to yet another supplier, with yet another service management system.

Unsurprisingly, this can lead to confusing situations. The MSP sets up all kinds of requests for the various parties, and tries to monitor provider activity. And with good reason, of course: There is a penalty on the contract, but who is responsible? Finding a way to make these processes more harmonious and transparent is the way forward – and service integration and management (SIAM) is the solution.

Increased transparency and understanding

SIAM helps solve problems such as the ones described above. The solution is to have suppliers integrate their service management applications. Instead of sending emails back and forth, their service management systems can do a magic handshake of sorts. If the handshake works, their activity is visible in the progress trail. That alone would make life a lot easier, because it is immediately clear what is going on. And if the incident is closed, there is agreement on when they were finished.

We often hear requests for this kind of visibility in outsourcing contracts with larger organizations. All the management reports show green lights, but it’s impossible to prove the actual performance because there is no transparency. Interconnected service management systems can make the entire service flow completely transparent.

This is the next frontier in service management and anyone who tells you it is easy is lying. Integrating these is a tall order. Integrating different service management systems is exponentially more complex and difficult.

The future

We believe that trade organizations like HDI, PINK Elephant or ITSMF will need to orchestrate a standards body for integrations between competing solutions. They can provide a neutral ground for vendors to come together and work out standards that facilitate the kind of interoperability that will lead to full-blown adoption of SIAM throughout the industry. Until such an effort is underway, we plan to take the lead in the early stages of this new development.

Pedro Soto is managing director of TOPdesk, a global provider of IT service management solutions for organizations of all sizes, small to enterprise in every business vertical.



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