CategoryDeep

Posts about deep subjects; intellectual stuff related to our approach. Here you’ll find natural science, philosophy, social science

Why IT Service Must Leave Taylorism Behind

These days, much of the internet chatter generated by the IT service community is on the subject of change. It is unclear whether this is due to the sector looking over its shoulder and seeing the eager face of digital approaching, scythe in hand. Perhaps the industry has had a genuine epiphany and has realised that the old style of IT service isn’t cutting the mustard with the users (customers).

Regardless of the reasons why, there is undeniably much ado about this topic and phrases such as transformation, renaissance and even metamorphosis trip easily from the pages of numerous blogs. Without doubt, this is a very refreshing development after years of what felt like shouting in the wilderness with a few others (for example, Aale Roos). It might be a bit early for breaking out the Veuve Cliquot as there are still huge swathes of ITSM functionaries out there who avert their eyes from anything that threatens the orthodoxy that they have become comfortable with over these last thirty years.

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..and what of your ITIL service desk in the shiny digital world?

The strategy is in place.

Consultants and UXers are swarming like excited honey bees. Digital is the nectar.

Fresh mantras are replacing the dusty old ideas. Responsive! High customer experience! Peak user!

The steady murmur of buzzwords hum in the air like electric current – cloud shift, mobile, lightweight apps. Analytics.

This hive is primed and ready to fly into the new tomorrow.

But in this bright, new and shiny world, what of the ITIL service desk? When password resets are all self-service, and applications and infrastructure are in the cloud, how will the future unfold for this historical artefact of a department; they who were not invited to the fiesta digitale.

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Free-Thinking IT Service? Because You’re Worth It

When I was an undergraduate at the magical University of Sussex in the early nineteen-nineties, I read a great deal of feminist literature. Initially, I was affronted by it all on account of perceived slights to my gender. However, I eventually came to truly value the feminist challenges to the status quo.

Out of the many new learnings from reading these books one that stuck was the deconstruction of marketing methods the cosmetics industry. In actual fact they are not terribly clever, just insidious. It goes something like this:

  • “You’re not looking your best today”
  • “Those fine lines around your eyes are a problem”
  • “Your complexion is dull and lifeless”

When they’ve finished making the potential customer feel worthless, they then offer the elixir.

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Post-ITSM and Paradigm Shift

Paradigm shift is a term that can be misapplied.

Some use it to describe new methodologies; that is, new ways of doing things.

In fact, the term is closely associated with Thomas Kuhn’s 1970 classic The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions. In his book, Professor Kuhn examined some of the major scientific upheavals of centuries gone by: the change from Ptolemaic to Copernican astronomy, the shift from the phlogiston theory of combustion to the discovery of the element oxygen, and the revolution that caused Newtonian physics to be replaced by Einstein’s theories of relativity.

In each of these instances, although the practical ramifications of the scientific change may have been minimal, the change to the theoretical underpinnings was enormous. For example, the practical application of astronomy in Ptolemy’s time was to help farmers predict seasons, rainfall and that sort of thing through observation of celestial objects. That didn’t change a great deal once the Copernican system was adopted, except that by employing the new tables, the predictions were more accurate. However, the theoretical predicates behind the later theories were entirely different. The same was true about the shifts following the change in understandings regarding the the role of oxygen in combustion and Einsteinan physics.

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The Process Age of IT Service is Over

In the years before I became a specialist in all things data, I worked as an IT service functionary.  I still have a finger in that pie today, talking at conferences about ITSM and (to a much lesser extent) ITIL. I have a fondly-remembered superior to thank for introducing me to ITIL in the 1990s. He was a (somewhat maverick) IT manager at a prestigious London firm and I was the newly promoted IT support manager. “Get yourself on Noel Bruton‘s IT manager course”, he said. “It’s brilliant”.

I did and it was. I picked up numerous shiny pearls of wisdom from the no-nonsense Mr Bruton. He also mentioned en passant an IT support framework called ITIL, which I’d not heard of at the time. When I returned to my desk I spent some time researching the subject and eventually bought the two OGC volumes – Service Support and Service Delivery. I was, it must be said, impressed. It immediately became clear to me that the structure and certainty which ITIL promised would be irresistible to the industry. I subsequently found myself proselyting to all who would listen about the future approach to IT service.

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