Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Irrelevant in the Room

So much is happening in the ITSM world that I really don't know what to post about next.

Now I'm aware to many of you this level of activity might not be visible.

Not only that but as I accept my inevitable journey into middle age, and as a result I  find myself agreeing with Rob England on more and more topics, I also find myself wondering how much we are actually achieving.

Perhaps I'm simply too old and cynical to be a revolutionary.

Yeah, B******ks to that. There is a reason I was one of the first people to suggest Punk ITSM as a movement. It is why I was so pleased to receive Charles Arasujo's invite to be part of RevNet that went on to spawn SM Congress, even if I couldn't get to the event because of that boring four letter word work.

But I do feel that we need a healthy dose of realism about where we are and where we are going.

So here follows my state of the ITSM address for 2014.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here not to repeat cliches or to promote agendas but to bury them in a sea of vanities, for all our previous versions of ITSM profundity have lighted skeptics the way to dusty irrelevancy.

Don't you just hate faux profundity? There is a lot of it about.

Twenty years ago people sat down to address a key issue. That was that operational IT didn't benefit from the sexy frameworks and methodologies available to developers. So ITIL was created from the spare rib of a somnambulist business analyst.

It is easy to presume that ITIL was created out of thin air. It wasn't. There were people who had been running very effective, well controlled  data centres who realised that operational IT had three basic challenges:
  • Being relevant to the business
  • Responding to changing business requirements
  • Not forgetting the requirement to operate a controlled environment.
None of those basic issues have gone away, but to listen to some people you would think that  what really matters is what they are currently getting excited about. and nothing else.

We need to be clear that BYOD. wearable IT, the cloud and big data do not alter any of these fundamentals.

Get real.

The future doesn't lie in a presentations about the internet of things, or wearable tech  What they have to say can be truly interesting, insightful and intelligent, but it doesn't alter the basic issues we have to deal with.

IT exists to serve the business.
The business thinks we fail to support them.

That is the issue.


  1. I agree with 99% of what you have written James, but I think the pejorative term "glassholes" is unnecessary and could give offence.

  2. Stuart, Google use the term themselves. I had in mind a speaker at Pink15 who managed to alienate a large proportion of the audience, although to be fair he wasn't wearing Glasses at the time. However I do think we need to be genuinely and generally aware of people who are heavily into self promotion, not the good of the industry.

    And because I know you care I've removed the comment.

  3. First off James, you don't look old enough to be ascending into middle age. Secondly, your message cannot be said enough times in enough place IMHO. Whether we use it, wear it, eat it or stick it in our ears, the basics of relevance, change and keeping it working never changes. Too many self professed ITSM experts have one eye on the next big thing and the other on the one after that. Last time I looked, most of us have only two eyes, so whose looking out for the basic? Thanks for reminding us that sometimes we have to take off the glass to uncross our eyes and see the business for where it is now.

    1. Perhaps it is me getting old, but the current batch of futurists don't seem to be a patch on the ones of my youth. They mostly seem to be grabbing on to things that already exist, and are probably already half way to obsolescence rather than building a vision of the future. We do need a conversation about what the future will look like and how it will impact the business and internal IT, but that isn't what I'm hearing at conferences.. It is fun, but the monster that is going to kill isn't trying to support the Marketing Director's Fitbit. It is that 20 year old application running on an OS we haven't upgraded during the recession and which is now out of support.

  4. Brilliant.

    It's the fundamentals that make or break it. Unfortunately there's a widening gap between the reality of ITIL and the general perception of ITIL.

    Just when i think Rob is out to lunch, he cuts to the heart of the matter with 'These are the people who give ITIL a bad name' (http://www.itskeptic.org/content/these-are-people-who-give-itil-bad-name).

    Hats off to the consultants and theorists who keep the framework relevant, but, as James said - it's not the Next Big Thing that's going to hurt us, it's the ugly realities of IT at organizations large and small around the world. Out here, we can't wish away messy details that don't match the theory. We have to find ways to adapt/improvise/overcome. To add value, and make our organization successful.

    It comes down to the unglamorous, non-new, not sexy challenge that we:

    * Are relevant to the business
    * Respond to changing business requirements
    * Never forget the requirement to operate a controlled environment.

    Thanks James!

  5. I took the word glasshole out of the original text for this post. But since I find someone is alleging that this post is an example of the rampant homophobia in the English ITSM industry let me be very clear:The term glasshole has no homophobic connotations whatsoever. Google themselves use the term https://sites.google.com/site/glasscomms/glass-explorers along with the mainstream press and sites such as Slate and Wired. There is an intereting article here on the origins of the term http://www.thewire.com/technology/2013/04/rise-term-glasshole-explained-linguists/64363/

    I'll particularly draw you attention to the articles use of the terms "inauthetnticity" and "entitlement" because those are the actual behaviour I'm phobic about, and those are the behaviours I wanted to draw attention to by my use of the term, and of which the constant unfounded allegations of xenophobia and homophobia by one individual are a prime example.

  6. Great post Mr. Finister. I have nothing to add but thanks.