Left of Bang: what IT Service Management can learn from military strategy
I truly believe IT leaders and vendors are now getting to a point where they must change this situation as the onset of digital makes any IT issue so much more visible and immediate to the true consumer.
In two of my previous articles, “Kicking the KPI habit” and “The IT4IT™ Standard – what is all the fuss about”, I have highlighted that we focus on the wrong things and our habitual behaviour is causing many issues for IT organisations.
IT leaders and vendors must change
Business and IT are becoming as one and, in many cases, have been for some time, so behaviour and demands of the business consumers are now the same for IT. We know consumers demand a fantastic experience and, if they do not get it, they are prepared to go elsewhere; if they do go elsewhere, ultimately that could result in no business and therefore no IT.
Left of Bang
To help organisations to change and start focusing on the right thing, we can use some of the concepts from the book “Left of Bang” by Patrick Van Horne and Jason Riley, as the military applications translate well for IT organisations. If you consider bang as an IT failure as opposed to being shot or an explosion, then you can start looking at where you spend your time and effort. You will see many organisations, and indeed the IT Service Management industry in general, has far too much focus on 'right of bang' service desks, incident management etc.
The new style of Service Design
My colleague Alan Nance stated in his article “The impending irrelevance of Service Management”:
“..the reawakening of service design as a vital discipline. Service design will be an essential enabler in any flow framework. …… Because in the future service design will be seen as part of a business product, rather than a hurdle to deployment, I expect that the DevOps community in their move from project to product will subsume service design disciplines, such as the design for availability, serviceability, security, and compliance”
Back to the Future whilst learning from the past
So, hold that thought from Alan and let’s learn from the past, as we now start to look to the future. One example we all hear so much is that the good old mainframes of the past are probably less powerful than many mobile phones of today. So, think about that and project forward a few years into the future. The mobile phones of the future will almost certainly be as powerful as some current data centres. Think about AI, augmented reality, machine learning etc running real time in the palm of your hand (that is assuming that phones still have a similar format - they could by then be a tattoo on your arm!). To deliver and run this style of technology, I am going to use a very overused word - there will be a massive transformation.
“Transformations don’t happen by doing the same differently, they happen by doing different things”
Experience Level agreements
So, let’s return to Alan’s point, about service design being part of the business product. In a world where your mobile phone has the power of a modern data centre, IT will need to be designed totally differently. The consumer will simply not want to experience right of bang and, if they do, they will walk. The experience they have when interacting with the business will be the same metric for IT – after all, the business and IT will be as one. So, anything that can be done to differentiate that experience will be business critical and will be achieved with the business and IT jointly working in harmony.
Is this all “a step too far”?
I believe not. IT organisations and vendors need to recognise that we are spending our time, effort and money on the wrong things (right of bang). Once this starts to occur, we will then see the emergence of the new style of service design.This will then have knock on effects on things like IT Operating Models, IT Finance, IT processes, better positioning of approaches such as DevOps etc. In fact, this could start to drive the true transformation of IT as we know it!