Moving on

Career news: I am leaving iET Solutions to pursue other opportunities. It’s been a great ride, and I’ve learned a lot about the enterprise software business, from working with analysts to managing cross-market requirements and building roadmaps for complex suites of technology.

My favorite project is the one that we just shipped: we took the old, C++/MFC Windows client for our application suite and rewrote it from the ground up in .NET technologies, specifically the Windows Presentation Foundation and the Windows Communication Foundation. It’s a beautiful app now, as you would expect from a program with a XAML UI, and even better, it’s more usable because we took the opportunity to do a lot of redesign of basic features in the process. My favorite metric: going from five toolbars to one. And it was an important rewrite, because it gave us a ton more flexibility to add new features as well as giving us a better face to the market.

The team at iET Solutions is really talented, and I’m grateful they gave me a chance to shine. I look forward to continuing to see good analyst coverage on them and hearing good things about them in the future.

I’m taking a little break from the working world now, just a week off. I’ll be back with more updates about where I land once I start in a week. I will probably post a few things over the next week from the funeral and about my family’s history in Pennsylvania.

Service Request takes front stage

Rob England writes in a recent ITSMWatch article about the evolution of the ITIL Request, from not even being mentioned to being a peer with Incidents, and points out that ITIL could go further:

ITIL v4 will, most likely, I predict, finally recognise that the Service Desk deals with generic Requests/Tickets/Issues/Incoming. These Requests have multiple categories. Each category has its own variant of a more general process that applies to all of them, in much the same way as there are several categories of Change which all undergo variants of the general Change process.

Oddly enough, iET ITSM has dealt with incoming issues in this way for years. Each incoming issue (these were actually called inquiries in earlier versions of the software) could be an incident, a request, a question, a complaint, or some other type of action. The logic behind this approach is that the end user’s interaction with the service desk may be fulfilled using one of several processes depending on the type of issue.

The important thing to do is not to oversimplify this concept. There is a big difference between simply flagging an inbound customer issue as a “request” and providing the right data and behavior to correctly automate the request process. The ITSM software must provide support for those processes that goes beyond simple categorization.

itSMF show notes: don’t fear ITIL v.3

I have been at the itSMF Fusion conference in Charlotte, NC for the past two days; today is the last day for the vendor exhibits, so I’ll be packing up tomorrow morning to head back to Boston.

It’s been fairly eventful. We announced a new version of our flagship ITSM product yesterday; completed a rigorous verification process of our new functionality against the ITIL standards; and are chugging ahead on a number of other fronts.

One question that I had coming to the show was about the adoption of ITIL v.3. The new version of the IT Infrastructure Library best practices has changed a lot of the way the information is structured and caused a little market confusion, with some companies asking whether they need to restart all their ITIL efforts to recenter around ITIL v.3. Adding to the confusion is the growth in the document set, which has gone from two core books to five, and added a large number of satellite books—a real wall of documentation that can daunt even the most determined prospective adopter.

The answers I have been hearing at the show have been heartening, both from consultants and companies. The basic take on v.3 that seems to be emerging is that there are places where it definitely adds value, but that the core value proposition of v.2 around systemizing IT Service Management is really intact. A number of customers have said to me that they value the additional clarity in v.3 around areas like service request, but they aren’t planning to rethink their entire implementation of incident through change.

The big danger with new versions of standards is that they create barriers to adoption for companies that have already started the process; in this case, those barriers seem to be easily surmountable.

iET Solutions in the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Last Friday, Gartner released the Magic Quadrant for the IT Services Desk, a research report that identifies the top players in the enterprise market for IT service desk software. iET Solutions made the Magic Quadrant for the first time this year. The report costs $1,995 from Gartner, but you will be able to access the report from the iET Solutions corporate site this week.

Gartner describes IT Service Desk as a standalone market; our experience, as they say in the document, is that many customers are looking for an integrated solution that treats IT service delivery as a full integrated lifecycle, from incident through change and release management. We have always believed that an integrated approach was important in this context and our addition to the quadrant helps to validate that.

The points Gartner makes about innovation in core service desk functionality are well taken, I think. The service desk market is crowded and in danger of commoditization, but at the same time many organizations fail to achieve the benefits from their service desk implementations because they are implemented with weak processes or as standalone functions that have no connection to the management of the infrastructure. This is why our company’s focus on IT Service Management best practices, particularly ITIL, is so important, and paradoxically why so many vendors have left the core service desk functionality alone to focus on other areas of ITIL. I think that now that there are a number of players who have built out a strong vision in the core ITIL v.2 areas (Incident, Problem, Change, Configuration, Release, Service Level, Availability), the market will split. Some players will continue to build out support for the new ITIL v.3 processes; others will retrench and seek to differentiate themselves in core functionality like incident and problem management.

It is amazing that after all this time there is still activity in something as basic as “helpdesk” software. And you know what? It’s a lot of fun, too.