Technology today enables organisations to do things they couldn’t possibly imagine even five years ago. However, delivering better business outcomes and customer satisfaction on the back of technology advances will only take place when businesses are vigilant about maintaining IT service levels. Take energy companies, for example. Some utilities offer customers incentives to pay their bills online, by responding to an email alert and initiating an automatic payment for the amount outstanding.
But what if the IT department is not able to consistently (and quickly) present the appropriate data to the online customer? Sure, there are huge cost savings in electronic bill payments, but, equally, delays and mix-ups will significantly erode customer goodwill.
Online airline ticket bookings have introduced huge efficiencies to both travellers and airline companies. But what if some small part of the transaction fails? Customer delays are disastrous for both parties
Technology integral to success
Technology is no longer divorced from business processes, but has become an integral success factor.
Not only that, customer touch-points – the moments of truth that determine whether an experience is good or bad – are now more often dependent on corporate technology. And that’s why companies are increasingly investing in service management to establish a clear connection between business goals and technology processes.
Aligning IT with company objectives enables managers and IT staff to understand the business impact of any infrastructure or application failure. Ultimately, business success is about managing IT so it delivers precisely what the customer needs, at the right performance and service level, and at the right price.
In the past 10 years, there has been a push in IT to adopt business-driven best practices such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a comprehensive documentation of best practices for IT service management.
The benefits of ITIL can be significant, but adopting ITIL is not a quick fix, nor will it turn a poor IT infrastructure into a great one overnight. It’s also important to note ITIL is a framework, not a methodology. Companies should use ITIL documents as a guide when building their own IT operations framework.
Technology service management has traditionally focused internally on uptime, outages and network performance. Nowadays, clever companies start with the customer, determine their needs first, then define how they can best meet those needs. And that means working with managers to identify those critical points where business and technology processes touch.
It is important for these two groups to find a common language. IT needs to communicate in business terms. Conversely, business managers also need to understand when their business is at risk so they can take preventative measures. They should work with IT to set thresholds that say: “When we are performing at this level, we are not performing well.”
Technology is no good unless you have the right processes and people in place. To do this properly, organisations must decide on their alignment and service management strategy, and then find the right tools to manage them.
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