Sunday, 3 February 2019

Service Management trends (or challenges) for 2019

Two things happened recently that inspired me to write this blog.  This despite the fact some people loathe ‘another prediction’ or how those same predictions are often considered to be ‘doomed’ from the start, if nothing else because of the incredible speed with which our landscape is changing.

Why bother?

Well, initially as I was honoured to be named one of HDI’s ‘Top 25 Thought Leadersin Technical Support and Service Management for 2018 and noblesse oblige (I’ll let you google that one 😉), so I felt I needed to show my thought leadership by projecting forward into 2019.  This was then quickly followed by my participation in the ITSM Crowd on ‘Trends for 2019’, which not only forced me to prepare for this and think a bit more about this topic, but it left me, after the webinar, with some thoughts ‘left unsaid’ (although, in fairness, this was mainly due to the brilliant contributions of the other experts involved).

And thus, with all the requisite apologies and disclaimers …  (drum-roll) … here are what I think will keep us service management professionals busy in 2019:

1) At a high-level Enterprise Service Management (eSM) is the big trend

It seems everybody is talking about enterprise ‘anything’, and if they are not enterprise then the next-best-thing is digital transformation.  In both cases, what we are referring to is the integration of IT with the business (rather than the alignment of IT service delivery to the business).

Unmistakably a trend, although arguably the trend was already there in 2018 (or even before).  I guess what I am saying is that this will remain a hot topic that most of us will encounter in 2019.  In my opinion the real question with enterprise service management (or digital transformation or business-IT-integration or …) is how much organisations are approaching this from a top-down, organisational perspective, rather than as a technical point solution (often nothing more that the automation of business forms, frequently in areas such as HR where there are many defined processes and forms).

VeriSM (and the new ITIL 4) show us the way in terms structured enabling practices, which are applicable outside of IT, but as always: it’s not the size of the practice but how you use it that makes it relevant.  So, if this trend or challenge is in your path for 2019, I urge you to familiarise yourself with these frameworks\practices to learn more about modern, non-IT, agile service management models that can assist with this.

Personally, I am excited that even in the SIAM world we see enterprise (eSIAM) activities, applied across multi-organisational-provider ecosystems.  This means building a SIAM ecosystem, not exclusive to IT, but including IT as well as other functional areas of the organisation (perhaps worthy of a separate blog at some point).

2) Another trend in 2019 that is continuing from 2018 is DevOps thinking & the application of Agile techniques

More buzz-words here and it is important to make a distinction between DevOps and Agile, although I am aware that there is no unifying definition of either and different people have different opinions and thoughts about what they consider DevOps and\or Agile to be.  For me, DevOps is a culture (hence my use of DevOps ‘thinking’) that promotes the integration between developers and operations (i.e. developers being responsible and involved in the operation of their creation, and operations staff involved in the various development & implementation stages).  This can be easily combined with (Lean) automation, autonomous teams and so on, to bring rapid & continuous change.

And whilst this thinking or culture is certainly present in the Agile Manifesto, for me Agile is ‘just’ a bunch of very practical techniques that can be used in such a DevOps environment: daily stand-ups (for multifunctional & autonomous teams), Kanban boards, sprints, minimum viable products … all incredibly useful to quickly and agile-y deliver change.  In my opinion there is more specific, tangible Agile (techniques) that enable DevOps (thinking).

There is a lot of activity in this area (and not just for 2019, or even 2018 … it has been happening for some time), but this is often still restricted to either a specific project or only involving developers.  I think the 2019 trend is to further embrace, implement and adopt this, across the enterprise (i.e. true Dev+Ops, including non-IT functions).

But … this will mean involving the business, and also involving operational IT service management to integrate and therein lies my trend or challenge for 2019 (perhaps utilising VeriSM or ITIL4 structures and concepts, for instance the excellent VeriSM Management Mesh!).

3) An unknown for 2019 will be the adoption of ITIL 4

Before the ITSM crowd I had a small twitter ‘battle’ with the excellent @AndieKis who correctly propositioned that ITIL4 can never be a trend.  For one as it is a product (and a product in itself is not a trend, but rather what it stands for) and secondly as so little is known about it (and will not be released until the 2nd half of 2019).  Of course, I have to bow to Andie’s superior knowledge and accurate observations but let me explain why I’ve got ITIL 4 in my ‘trends’ for 2019.

From what we do know about ITIL 4 (with the Foundation manual released last month), it is forgoing the sometimes rigidly implemented service lifecycle and processes, in favour of a more ‘agile’ (yes, there is that word again) service value system, service value chain and generally applicable practices.  All much more applicable in this modern, agile, enterprise, digital environment and in fact, not dissimilar to the VeriSM methodology for digital services, which was released more than a year prior.

But unlike VeriSM, ITIL has numerous certified practitioners around the world, as well as many organisations who have implemented some of these ITIL processes and are utilising service management tools based on the ITIL concepts and terminology.  And these practitioners and organisations (and tool vendors) are sooner or later (but most likely in 2019) going to have to pay attention to ITIL 4 and make a choice …

Either they ignore it, stay with their ITIL v3 investments and basically … not change (which doesn’t seem like a long-term solution).  Or, they are going to use the ITIL 4 guidance to modify their service management operating model and make it more service stream focussed (see also my previous two trends).

For ITIL this may be a make or break year, whereby (as a product) people\organisations either accept and adopt it, or leave it by the wayside and move on without it.  However, it WILL be a challenge that we will face in 2019, and it COULD trigger a trend of changing operating models from lifecycle\process to service stream focussed methods.  This is of course complicated by the fact that most of ITIL 4 (i.e.  anything above Foundations) is still vapourware: announced but unknown in terms of content, detail and applicability.

4) A trend for people is the requirement to become T, A or some form of multi-capable

For this prediction, I’m leaving the realm of best and enabling practices, operating models and the like, and instead have a look at the people at the heart of this.  Once again this is not something new to 2019, but increasingly more relevant and a consequence of the continued integration of IT with the business.  This means staff will need to be able to ‘talk the talk’, not only within the IT department, but when working with other organisational functions.

And combined with the proliferation of Agile techniques, staff will more-and-more need to work in temporary, flexible, multi-functional and cross-provider teams, requiring them to be ‘a jack of all trades, master of one’ (or a ‘T’).

Key is the combination of technical expertise, with ITSM practices in a business context.  To a degree, this means not being a ‘one-trick’ pony like an ITIL expert or Scrum master, but have a working knowledge of multiple practices, their pros and cons, and how to apply them in specific situations, or ‘merge’ them (again the aforementioned VeriSM Management Mesh may be a tool for this).  But, this needs to be combined with a working knowledge of the business and its practices and most importantly communication or even organisational change management (OCM) skills to bring enterprise, agile service management to any team.

5) And my last trend is technical and is everything, everywhere … but secure

Now, this is not my particular field of expertise, but certainly cybersecurity is very much ‘in vogue’ or rather in focus of many organisations.  Whilst IoT, AI and all other technical advances will continue in 2019 to bring more IT services, to more consumers, in more locations, on more devices … the underlying security is increasingly paramount for both consumer and provider.

From a governance perspective, legislation like the GDPR (or changes to legislation in Australia around reporting of security breaches) will provide continued pressure on organisations (and not just the IT, but corporate).  And in return this means that IT security is becoming more-and-more a (enterprise) reputational risk: what is the damage to the organisation (, the brand, public opinion, customer loyalty) of a security breach?

Add to that the fact that consumers are becoming more aware of privacy & security (or rather the lack thereof) and have increased expectations in this field (for instance, in my part of the world we’ve just had a major discussions surrounding online health records and whether or not people should be opting out of having this kind of information centralised).

Therefore, cybersecurity needs to be integrated in all our practices, operating models and be a primary focus of our development and operational teams (as well as our cross-provider ecosystems, contract structures etc.).

So, there you have it: my top 5 trends for 2019.  
And maybe they aren’t really trends by the definition of the word, but I do think that these 5 will be challenges or concerns that professional service management practitioners will have to deal with in the coming period.  Of course, as long as you have an enterprise service management operating model, based on the ITIL 4 -or VeriSM- concepts, incorporating a DevOps culture and utilising Agile techniques with multi-(T-)capable staff that has cybersecurity in the forefront of their mind … you’ll be fine!