IT Service Management Isn't Happyland

At the recent Fusion conference, plenty of folks were challenging the IT status quo, and that's a good thing.

Jonathan Feldman, CIO, City of Asheville, NC

October 30, 2013

2 Min Read

Then the elephant in the room came up: How successful have IT service management implementations really been, and where might they fix future problems? At the conference's final session, a new group called the Service Management Inaugural Congress issued this statement. "We as individuals within the service management community do declare that our industry has become stagnated by a systemic and fundamentally broken set of attitudes and behaviors."

All righty then!

I dug into this discontent a little more with group member Roy Atkinson, a long-time member of the IT support management community and analyst for the trade group HDI. He, among others, thinks it's long past time for us to stop separating "IT" from "the business" and start being the business. "We're the only people who say 'the business.' Finance doesn't. HR doesn't. It's time for us to stop it," he said.

Atkinson went a step further. As IT organizations shrink because of BYOD, outsourcing, cloud computing and managed services, he said, the IT role will become more of a liaison between a company and its technology service providers.

I think IT will go even further, becoming a technology advocate. IT will go beyond service management to become a business partner.

But not if we keep approaching IT service management the way we have been.

Yes, we must continue to have a service-oriented mindset. Nobody wants a partner who doesn't add value. But we must recognize that other, probably better providers of commodity services are out there, and we must focus on the activities best performed by tech-savvy business partners. Atkinson envisions a "service network operations center" of the future, whereby IT keeps tabs on externally provided services.

The actual transformation into business partner will be difficult. The ITSM community brings tremendous value in a mature set of process mapping and management tools, but too much process is toxic.

Every organization's balance of process and outcomes will be different. My advice: Understand that process is a means to obtain outcomes. Value the outcome more than the process. Service management pros who understand that concept will be the CIO's new best friend.

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Feldman

CIO, City of Asheville, NC

Jonathan Feldman is Chief Information Officer for the City of Asheville, North Carolina, where his business background and work as an InformationWeek columnist have helped him to innovate in government through better practices in business technology, process, and human resources management. Asheville is a rapidly growing and popular city; it has been named a Fodor top travel destination, and is the site of many new breweries, including New Belgium's east coast expansion. During Jonathan's leadership, the City has been recognized nationally and internationally (including the International Economic Development Council New Media, Government Innovation Grant, and the GMIS Best Practices awards) for improving services to citizens and reducing expenses through new practices and technology.  He is active in the IT, startup and open data communities, was named a "Top 100 CIO to follow" by the Huffington Post, and is a co-author of Code For America's book, Beyond Transparency. Learn more about Jonathan at

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