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Facing Challenges for Managing IT and Customer Support

April 14, 2008

Sophisticated IT technology is no longer the preserve of large governments and multinationals. The last decade has seen the downsizing of enterprise applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), which has brought “big company” functionality within reach of the average enterprise. Furthermore, high-speed communications, mobile technologies, and low cost data storage are helping small- and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) leverage these technologies to enter global markets, virtualize their offices, monitor business activity in real time, and communicate better with customers.

However, “big IT” power begets “big IT” problems. The average SME today is managing an increasingly complex array of IT assets, and this is making it harder to manage the overall quality of IT, as well as to understand and control the costs. Many decision makers feel that IT is getting vastly out of control.

To address this, many enterprises are taking a serious look at what a decade ago was only contemplated in very large IT departments — IT Service Management (ITSM). ITSM involves imposing a formal structure on IT that allows it to be managed cohesively. This is not unlike assigning a management structure to a large group of people, or a process structure to a factory.

Essentially, ITSM allows environments to be managed with a focus on output; that is, what users and stakeholders are actually getting out of IT. This model is managed on two fronts:

  • The measurement and continuous improvement of IT delivery from the end-user perspective.

  • Improved alignment between IT and the business.

Success in this endeavor requires enterprises to get a solid handle on the diverse infrastructure upon which IT rests. Implementing a service delivery model is no small undertaking; however, the IT industry has been very active in addressing this problem since the early 1980s. This is what ITIL, and the community that supports it, is all about.

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