The concept of Service Management and Automation (SMA) is a particularly broad one. As such, there is often some confusion as to what it really entails and, more importantly, the value it lends to an organization. Many people, even IT professionals, mistakenly place more emphasis on the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) rather than SMA, simply because they both involve the adoption of a best practice process model. In fact, ITIL is merely a component of well-developed SMA initiatives.
According to research conducted by Forrester, in partnership with the USA chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (ITSMF), nearly all large US organizations have adopted some type of ITIL-based approach for their overall Service Management and Automation. Additionally, approximately 60% of IT organizations have embraced ITIL v3 for their operations.
What does this mean in terms of the future and the big picture for IT? It means that an increasing number of businesses will begin seeing the benefits of broad SMA programs. These benefits include:
Standardized best practices reduce the risk of error and simplify execution, naturally improving the overall productivity of the organization. Automation of manual, repetitive tasks frees up personnel to be able to focus on more important, business critical responsibilities. Instead of having to deal with problems after they occur, staff can prevent them from ever happening. IT automation delivers a level of productivity that simply cannot be achieved through manual efforts.
Enhanced Level of Service
When processes are clearly defined and expertly deployed, there is a significant reduction in errors, producing a subsequent boost in service levels. End users and customers will begin to hold their service providers in a higher regard. This, in turn, creates and fosters a sense of loyalty and provides a certain competitive advantage for the organization.
One of the most important components of an IT organization’s viability is its reputation. It only stands to reason, then, that by improving the processes that are in place, both internally and externally, the overall view of the enterprise as a whole will be improved. Better output begets better input and it becomes an ongoing cycle of improvement. If the services of an organization are consistently deemed to be quality and trustworthy, the organization itself will be viewed in the same respect.
Reduced Operational Costs
There isn’t a successful business on the market today that isn’t concerned, to some degree, about budget. You simply can’t be profitable unless you find ways to reduce operational costs and expenses. While ITIL and SMA do require some investments in order to achieve the benefits above, if they are deployed and managed successfully, those investments will see significant return over time. What’s more, as Service Management and Automation efforts continue to improve and mature, the impact on operational cost reduction will also continue to improve. It’s becoming increasingly evident that as technology evolves, the adoption of ITIL as a component of a robust and comprehensive Service Management and Automation initiative will become essential to the success of any organization.