In the long-running debate between best-of-breed IT tools and integrated suites, the suites are coming into their own.
We had a lively discussion here on Business Agility a month back on the subject of the single IT management dashboard -- or the dream of one. The topic was led by blogger Leigh Carpenter, and the overall conclusion that emerged was that the technology for puling together management and reporting for an array of disparate tools -- a manager of managers, or MOM -- may not quite be there yet. Or it may require more work than it repays to get under central management everything that has been operating in separate silos. The MOM is coming, in Carpenter's view; a great many companies have seen the need and are rushing to try to fill it.
Yet IT is under unrelenting pressure to turn attention and resources away from the more routine level of operational concerns and toward higher-value initiatives that will demonstrably benefit the bottom line. If the MOM, a single tool to manage a range of disparate services, is a goal that is still out of reach, then where will relief come from on the operations front?
IT consultant (and former CIO and CTO) Peter Kretzman has an idea about that. We last met Kretzman in my blog post Rumors of Death of the CIO Greatly Exaggerated. In his recent post, Kretzman argues gently in favor of IT service management (ITSM) and an integrated approach.
Kretzman describes the eye-opening education he experienced recently at a vendor-sponsored ITSM conference. He gained a new appreciation of the importance for the CIO of staying on top of new industry developments: "What worked 5 years ago may still work fine, but also may no longer be the best, most cost-effective, most leverageable choice." He quotes a CEO he once worked for: "The solutions of yesterday are the problems of today."
Without ever saying so out loud, Kretzman argues in the direction of replacing wholesale the motley collection of piecemeal, siloed, often home-grown IT tools and solutions with an integrated package that makes central management feasible.
Kretzman lists some of the advantages conveyed by an integrated architecture, and notes that they align quite nicely with "a lot of the things that a savvy modern-day CIO needs to be doing." An integrated architecture:
You've probably been aware of the ITSM movement for some time. It is now a vibrant scene with its own professional organizations, standards, analysts, consultants, and Web communities. Dozens of vendors participate, including Zendesk, IBM (sponsor of Business Agility), Get Satisfaction, ServiceNow, and BMC.
In short, ITSM has matured to the point where it is well worth taking a hard look at your possibly motley collection of historical IT tools -- and replacing them with a unified solution that allows IT to get on with the job of adding business value.