Last week whilst at the Eduserv Symposium my mind wandered away and as I tweeted I asked the question, more of the audience following the hashtag #esym10 rather than the twitterverse, which corporate applications they required to do their job!
This was obviously provocative and it resulted in a few replies – luckily none of them rude, and none of them with a P45 attached. I better explain that my thinking was framed by discussion on mobile computing and my mind was focussed specifically on students when I tweeted – but that’s all lost in 140 characters and yes … I should know better; but the question is interesting all the same.
Next month I’m giving a talk at Gregynog to the IT staff in HE entitled “2010… so that’s it for IT Services … or is it?”. It’s intended to be provocative; builds upon a lot of my thinking and writing over the past couple of years and the writing of Brian Kelly, Andy Powell, Martin Weller and Chris Sexton – to name but four. I want to issue the challenge to my colleagues as to what is actually essential supporting business activity to their employers and customers (don’t you just hate that word) and what it is that differentiates them from any other service provider. I want to revisit Joe Nicholls and my work on “Core and Chore” and pose the question what value does an IT Services department add to an organisation. I want my colleagues to start thinking, and start thinking fast because they need to develop some strategy and put it in place before they get overtaken by events.
It’s not just the IT Services department that needs to do the navel-gazing; all service departments have to re-invent themselves, focus on the differentiating activity that they do that adds value to the organisation, and they all need to start looking more holistically towards their service offering from the customer’s perspective. They want assistance with tasks, not the provision of more tools, systems or processes. The silos need to be broken down. The one-stop shop for student services (remember that?) is the tip of an iceberg – and have we developed things more since then?
So where does that leave the “services” that IT offers? Well, imho, it means that they have to add value over and above that which can be delivered from the cloud. Decisions have to be made on those services which are little more than utilities, from those that differentiate the service proposition to be one that’s “special”. Moreover, differentiation can be achieved by rationalising the collective service offering. Barriers have to come down. Silos have to crumble. BPM and lean thinking has to sweep through the organisation and common sense has to break out. Not much to ask for then :-).
What I’d like is for anyone who has an opinion on future directions for IT Services – could they get in touch with me, publicly, or privately. I’m ready and willing to codify more of the thinking that might need to be done. I can’t think there’s a smooth road ahead. It’d be better to have done some preparation for the potholes ahead!