I think that most people would agree that service management is in the midst of a period of exciting and significant change. But are these changes the same or different in different geographies?
I was recently asked about the variations in service management practices across different countries, in particular in the Asia-Pacific region, where I live. In response, I need to state that my service management experience in the Asia-Pacific region primarily relates to Australia, although over the years I’ve worked in other countries in the region including Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore. And across this region, as well as in many other countries around the world, I’ve seen both good and poor service management practices.
This blog looks at how service management is truly global and what needs to change to keep it relevant going forward.
What makes for successful service management?
For many years I was privileged to lead service management experts from across the globe as part of the ISO group responsible for ISO/IEC 20000, the international standard for service management. And while we identified a few regional differences, we found far more similarities and all the same challenges.
In my experience, successful service management is about the capability of an organization to deliver value and the coordination of its ecosystem. For this reason, I don’t see Australian service management challenges as specific to Australia – these same challenges exist everywhere.Hence, in my experience“the worldof service management” is not based on geography. Successful service managementdiffers less by region and country than as the result of organizational maturity and capability.
Wherever you are in this world, things are changing incredibly quickly, and in fundamental ways. We may identify some regional differences in terms of how we choose to grapple with all this change, but we are all dealing with the same service management and business challenges. And now, because just about all services today are IT-enabled, we have the ability to leverage service management practices across all service types and industry sectors.
In addition, we are in the midst of IT and OT convergence – information technology and operational technology are aligning, integrating and converging, providing us with incredible opportunities to leverage practices and analytics across the whole organization, to increase efficiency and to innovate new combinations of products and services. This is fortuitous for service management, for organizations and their internal and external customers.
In terms of increasing the chances of service management success, organizations will reap the greatest benefits when they think and work holistically, in terms of service management, rather than limiting it to a small subset of services. Certainly, service management excellence in 2018 is less about geography and more about imagination.
The popular service management approaches in Australia and elsewhere
From early on, Australia had a very high rate of ITIL adoption, particularly after the release of ITIL v2. It became so widely adopted in Australia that it’s unusual to find an organization today not using it in some way, regardless of industry sector.
I believe that Australia has certainly benefited from what is now more than two decades of ITIL adoption. There has also been considerable focus on DevOps in recent years and I’ve seen and increased interest in other frameworks, including TOGAF, in certain sectors.
The usage rates for different frameworks and for standards such as ISO/IEC 20000, certainly vary from country to country across the Asia-Pacific region. Where some countries have a higher rate of adoption of international standards, this is often driven by government agencies mandating certification as part of a contract or the need for competitive advantage in highly-competitive environments or industry sectors.
Another differentiator is training availability. For instance, some Asia-Pacific countries have a higher use of frameworks such as CMMI-SVC, where others seem to have a very small footprint due to the limited number of people qualified as trainers or assessors in these countries.
How the changing world impacts service management
The ability to absorb change more readily and to adopt different ways of working to be successful – and to do all this quickly – these are the keys to service management in this changing world.
As a result of digital disruption, it’s no longer enough for an organization to just perform individual processes well. The whole organization needs to be agile and resilient enough to contend with the dramatically increased pace of change and to thrive under these circumstances. Information and technology are, and will become even more, thoroughly integrated with other organizational capabilities. Organizational silos are breaking down and cross-functional teams are, and will continue to be, utilized more widely.
Digital transformation is ultimately about much more than technology. It’s about an evolution in the way an organization and its ecosystem work, such that it can be resilient, and even flourish, in the face of ongoing market change. Importantly, digital transformation will be a constant that requires ongoing effort.
If digital transformation was just about a one-off transition, even a huge one, organizations would have a chance of catching up. Because even slow-moving companies can adjust and change, given enough time. But these changes are different. They are 24×7, and exponential. And the capability to change is itself not just the means, but the end state.
Are we globally heading towards the same service management future?
It’s important to note that some regions in the world, that may have had fewer legacy technologies, have been able to leapfrog to newer, faster ways of working. But technology in and of itself is not the only differentiator. Organizations that are already moving toward working in an integrated way, with a common focus on value, are the ones best poised to benefit and prosper in this new world.
According to the World Trade Organization, services are the largest and most dynamic component of both developed and developing country economies. Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things are set to expand this exponentially, impacting both the way organizations function internally and the many new possibilities for products and services. Those countries and organizations that are able to embrace both these newer ways of working and control both the manufacturing and service aspects of their offerings will have a significant advantage.
Of course, we all know that there’s still also a lot of old thinking, siloed behavior and artificially-imposed limits on the scope of service management. But hopefully the next version of ITIL will help sort this – globally.
How will ITIL address digital transformation and the needs of the market today?
The next version of ITIL is focused on what’s required for organizations to work in an integrated way to function as a value system, and to increase organizational agility and resilience. It’s important to deliberately distinguish between organizational agility and resilience. The former is focused on internal capability and the latter is about the ability to deal with external changes – economic, social, technology, etc. Organizations need to develop capabilities to support both agility and resilience.
Today there’s a need to expand the universe of ITIL, once again, as has been the case with each previous new version. With each iteration our view of the world of service management has expanded and gotten better.
ITIL 4 will help people involved in different aspects of service management – for instance, those focused on specific areas of expertise like service design, those focused on making all the organization’s capabilities work in an integrated way that delivers value, those leading the organizational transformation, etc. There will also be more guidance provided on newer ways of working, newer ways of leading, and ways to make the integration and coordination of the organization and its ecosystem successful.
Ultimately, ITIL 4 will reflect the rapidly changing world we live and work in, and the need for service management to go beyond best-practice process adoption to focus on the delivery of business value.