The new IT department: Time to learn from the service portfolio experts

Chris Gabriel, CTO at Logicalis UK looks at the challenge facing IT departments as they strive to establish user-friendly service portfolios– and asks what they can learn from online retailers and marketers.

In recent months we have been describing the shift from a technology-defined to a service-defined world, where IT departments imitate many of the conventions of their service provider colleagues - still operating the underlying IT platforms, but shifting engagement strategy from a project based conversation to a portfolio based one.

We are all tech consumers now and we adore a portfolio. Who doesn’t love walking into a mobile phone store and choosing a handset, picking a contract and walking out feeling instantly gratified?

This week I was lucky enough to be having a ‘somewhere in the future’ conversation with a colleague expert in IT Service Management about how IT departments can make the shift to this new service experience world. What does a fantastic service portfolio experience look like? And how do we bridge the gap between how our end customers currently request a new something, and a new experience more in line with that mobile phone store – i.e. so good, it raises a smile?

By accident we suddenly realised that nearly the whole world knows how to use a service portal, and everyone also knows what a good one looks like. We use them every day; not to request a change to our networking configuration or log a ticket when our email fails, but to buy books, shoes, dresses, airplane tickets, and every other thing you can buy off the internet.

In reality, every e-commerce website is simply this. A service portal, where we browse a portfolio, select something from a catalogue, make a service request, receive authorisation to receive that request (from our credit card company usually), accept an SLA for that service delivery, and then track its delivery and raise a ticket if something goes wrong.

The only difference is that the web retailer is trying to sell us something; the IT Service Management portal has been designed without the end consumer in mind.  If a consumer hits a WEB site that is difficult to use the outcome is straightforward - the retailer doesn’t make a sale and loses money. If an IT user takes an age to make a service request because the portal is clumsy, counter intuitive, or constructed in a way that makes it virtually impossible to find what you want, then the consequence is….?

Our conclusion was that the service-defined world has to be service-defined front to back, top to bottom. We cannot service-define our infrastructure if we do not service-define our front end IT consumer experience.  Building an intuitive experience for requesting IT services is as important as investing a million pounds in building a new automated data centre platform.

All this brings me back to one role virtually no IT department employs, but one that spends millions of service providers’ and retailers’ money luring in customers to select, buy and pay for products - marketing.

Perhaps it’s time the CIO brought some marketing thinking into making the IT service experience as compelling as the leading retail brands. After all, if business consumers don’t buy IT from the IT department, they will buy it from somewhere…

Tags Managed Services, Service Defined Enterprise, optimal services, Application Portfolio Management, service defined