Just finished a great training session on Service Strategy over the weekend – great in terms of some insightful discussions with some senior IT folks who attended the training. Some of the discussions were essentially clarifying some very basic concepts, at the same time called for in-depth debates taking scenarios to establish a concrete understanding of those. Thought of blogging the essence of some of those discussions.

One of the area that called for lengthy discussions were on the ‘Service Assets’ and ‘Customer Assets’:

To set the context for Starters: ITIL® (especially the Service Strategy) views a ‘Service’ in terms of Business outcomes facilitated. Basically, these Business outcomes are delivered by the Customer Assets (Customer’s  Resources and Capabilities – people, processes, information, business services etc etc).

What does the IT Service do? They enhance the performance of those Customer Assets to deliver better, or increased business outcomes (and hence delivers business value).

How does the IT service provider deliver these Services? It is by effective use of Service assets (Their resources and capabilities).

So in this context:

  • Service Assets are the Resources and Capabilities of the Service Provider (Service Provider’s Assets) that are utilized to deliver the IT Services to the Business/Customer.
  • Customer Assets are the Resources and Capabilities of the Customer (Customer’s Assets) that are utilized to deliver business outcomes. These assets make use of the IT Services to enhance their performance or to remove some constraints.
  • The Service Provider has to define a Service always in connection to the specific Customer Assets to which the Utility of the service is delivered to (ITIL describes this as the Service Archetype-Customer Asset combination).

So every Service has been defined, planned, designed and delivered with specific Customer Assets in mind. So far so good.

One of the discussion started with some very basic question:

  • Are ‘Users’ and ‘Customer assets’ the same? Or in other words, are Users always the Customer Assets that we talk about in IT Service Definition?
  • If not, how do we differentiate users from the Customer Assets that we are talking about?

The question arised from the basic understanding that ITSM and ITIL used to establish so far: Services are used by Users (and paid for by the customer).

Some of the salient points that were derived from the discussion were: (more…)

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When you go to some religious places (at least I know of some temples in India) , you can be as much near to the god (I mean – the deity or idol or whatever) as you pay.

You get to go and stand at a 8-10m distance if you pay X, you can go and stand 3-4m distance for Y, and you can stand next to the idol or even touch it (may be my exaggeration) if you pay Z (Of course, X<Y<Z!)

No,  I don’t have any issues with that – not even sarcastic about that. The point I am arriving it is, I was reminded of some thing like that, when I saw an ITIL V3 foundation training Ad in internet today:

It is the in the lines of:

  • Training cost:  Rs3000/- (~ US$65) : Pass guarantee with 70% marks; Rs 5000/- for pass guarantee with 90% marks; Rs 7000/- for pass guarantee with 100% marks!!

And I assume 100% passing is given, since they say ‘passing guarantee’. Only difference is the guarantee on marks! But now, a guarantee for the level of marks as well!

Brilliant model- and I really wonder – how do they do that!! 😉 ( Yeah sure, I am sarcastic on this one!)

Even many other training organizations are offering 100% passing guarantees… ( I have written about my experiences with clients regarding to that earlier)

I am even ignoring those who give offers like ‘take one get one free’ etc.

Add on to that, there are sites like Certkiller – which do just that, they kill the certifications – or at least the value of it , by creating dumbs (er.. dumps)!

What am I doing here? I mean in the domain of ITIL training and consulting?

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It is high-time the Information controls (especially Information security controls) move into a mode of ‘Protecting’ (‘Provide and Protect’ – the phrase I borrowed from a colleague, as I liked it very much! or even better: “Protect and enable“) than ‘Controlling’.

Many organizations get into a false sense of achievement in ‘control’ and ‘compliance’  by putting stringent information security controls (technical or procedural) – to the extend of restricting or handicapping the business itself!

Here are a couple real-life cases I had experienced recently:

  • In a global organization where they hired me as a consultant – I had to go in to discussions with just a notepad; as getting an external laptop inside involved a huge procedure and a series of justifications and approvals! The team didnt find it ‘worth the pain’. Talk about productive output from an external consultant you are hiring!
  • A corporate where i was conducting ITIL workshops opted NOT to go for a prometric exam conducted in their premise (though we all agreed that could be the most optimal and cost effective option for them) – Since getting an external server connected to their network involved (in their words), ‘too much of procedures’ and ‘too much of pain to get all approvals etc’.

Here we can argue on all the sides – justifying the actions of all parties involved, with fairly genuine arguments on all sides.

Add on to this – a negative perception created in the mind of business users.  (more…)

Rob England (ITSkeptic) said in one of his tweets:

“Back in 80’s , the highest bandwidth channel for data transfer over a range of <5 miles  was a boy on a bike with a basket full of tapes.”

A few minutes later, he also pointed to an article – which is “interesting” to say the least!:

A company in South Africa has done a drill to prove they could use pigeons to tranfer data faster than their telecom provider, Telkom!  Read the story here.

Well, not as a universal truth, but under some context – “* conditions apply!” 😉

The article says internet bandwidth is a growing problem in South Africa.

In the drill/experiment/demonstration/drill or what ever you want to call it, an IT company used an 11 month old pigeon to transfer data disc tied to its legs. The pigeon transferred the data across 80 Km (around 50 miles) in 1 hour and eight minutes; including the data download, the tranfer took a little over two hours – which, reportedly was the time taken to transfer around 4% of data over the telkom’s link!

Okay- enough of fun there . The points to ponder from the story, are these:

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ITIL V3 introduces a very valid concept towards IT Service management – How to create Value to customers through combination of Utility and Warranty.

It is established well – that a service (or for that matter a product) delivered to the customer should have both utility (functionality/characteristic/aspects of the service which makes it Fit for purpose) and warranty (assurances/SLAs that make it Fit for use) – in order to create value.

While appreciating the concept and its aptness in Service managmement, it also makes one think about the value delivered by the ITIL best practice framework to the customers.

Without any doubt, ITIL delivers utility- so it is fit for purpose.
But does that have an associated warranty that gives an assurance to the customers (or the organizations making use of it)?

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