IT and ROI – Oil & Water!


By: mhudnall

May 28, 2010 4:55 pm




New technology rallies the “teenagers” in all IT organizations, a new toy to play with, explore, potentially use to cut hard dollar costs quickly. Applying the technology to drive business benefit is where the separation and tension begins. Breaking the tension is hard work and takes the shine of that new toy. IT is notoriously great at measuring – how fast, how much, when to throttle, when to add more gas, how many events/incidents/problems/changes, speed to repsond/restore/resolve – IT Hero Metrics.

The article nicely calls out what makes a real “IT Super Hero”, “did it imply proportional business benefits”. Hmmm where and how do I line that one up? Metric 4 – did the “value / volume” of business transactions grow, decrease or remain constant after the deployment of this shiny new technology? Was it even measured? Metric 1 – did the “speed of change” imply deploying this shiny new technology in “market time” and again did the “value / volume” of business transactions grow, decrease or remain constant? Did Metric 1 make you think of how fast you moved changes into production or did you make the leap to “market time” to seize a window of opportunity over you competition?

Both of these done well, align to business context and measuring in terms of “Technology driven Business”; hard dollar ROI’s, fueling the purchase of more shiny new toys , but sort of like studying for a test – can I slide by without studying or do I work to be the “Super Hero”?

The inclusion of scorecard metrics for time to market and margin over bottom line cost reductions are easily overlooked. Let’s peel back one more layer of the onion, which could be implied in this scorecard, but not called out with emphasis and generally a laggard with the deployment of shiny new technology toys.

Management – the control without losing the value of agility the new shiny technology (cloud computing in this case) brings an organization. The standard availability and performance (utilization and capacity measurement) that the service provider can commit to, but more importantly can prove that they can deliver – consistently. Moving operations to the cloud does not alleviate IT from the operational management responsibility for the service capacity and utilization provided by the service provider. Sort of like paying the penalty of just being at the scene of the crime with your older sibling who was the one who REALLY broke the window.

Internal Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in themselves are arguably of no value when used as after-the-fact IT Hero Metric Reporting. SLAs designed with business context built into them to dynamically manage services delivered with technology does lead to “technology driving business, in market-time” as a valuable growth enabler. IT Super Hero driving business leadership versus running in the middle of the pack with “technology operating the business” or more bluntly put, “just keeping the lights on” as a commodity utility.

Cloud computing may bring the technology just close enough to the business to break the “oil and water tension” getting closer to a Business driven Technology ROI as the scorecard in the article outlines well or bring enough dynamic complexity to create uncontrolled chaos. While in the article, higher emphasis must be placed on both sides of the coin:

  • Operating – Driving growth of business taking advantage of in “market time” opportunities powered with technology and making the link to top line contribution and
  • Controlling – Mitigating risk of business impact with “market agility” managing committed, predictable performance and availability of dynamically powered technology
  • .

    So BSM can be viewed as foe or friend depending, upon your vantage point of being the IT Hero or the IT Super Hero. Dynamic computing models bring complexity to both operating and controlling the delivery of services with balanced utilization and capacity that will require management technology to marry these individual metrics to create the real-time visuals that will enable IT Super Hero’s to make decisions and take action in “market time” against real-time “market dynamics”.

    After-the-fact “ScoreCards”, just report the score of the game – Calling “market time” audibles during the game against “market dynamics” changes the game.

    Business Service Management is the Game Changer!

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    Categories: Expert Views, IT Operations Management, Operations Center

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