Any good debate about commoditization will reference Bruce Greenwald’s expression, “in the long run, everything is a toaster”. The Columbia Business School professor argued that every product will eventually become a commodity, where purchasing decisions will be made on price alone.
Opponents argue that everything is not a toaster, not even toasters, since technical advancements, and new products such as the bagel, have meant that the humble toaster has, in fact, reinvented itself many times. Organizations are too quick to assume that commoditization is inevitable. This frame-of-mind results in a lack of imagination and innovation, and an unwillingness to invest in research and development.
During the recent Pink Elephant conference, Pink14, I noticed that almost every product vendor present was a self-proclaimed “leader in IT Service Management software”, and yet, the lines between many vendors’ solutions are blurring. There is very little differentiation taking place and each vendor is imitating the next, not only in terms of features and benefits, but also in their product presentation and user interfaces.
It occurred to me that IT Service Management is at a crossroads. Some companies will take the path straight to “commodityville”, a town where all products are the same and vendors will compete only on price. While this scenario will drive down costs for the customer, it is not to be celebrated. The customer will ultimately lose out as the lack of innovation in the ITSM industry will mean that ITSM will be unable to keep up with the pace of the business.
Other companies will take the opposite path, innovating and investing to deliver ITSM solutions that will be scalable enough to grow with your business, while remaining simple enough to create clear efficiencies in business processes.
We need to keep it simple – as simple as toast – and take a holistic view of the IT industry. It is clear that all aspects of IT are converging. In consumer markets, we see evidence of this convergence in smart phones, smart televisions, and games consoles, while, in the datacenter, we see it in the move towards converged infrastructure where software is bundled with networking, servers, and storage and sold as one completely engineered system.
But what does this mean for ITSM?
Gartner analysts foresee ITSM tools of the future offering a tighter integration of functions that relate to the activities of the broader IT support group, simplifying the experience for all stakeholders. ITSM needs to join the convergence movement, bringing together multiple IT management tools under one console to streamline processes for the IT department.
Absolute Software is a pioneer in the area of Unified IT. We believe that you shouldn’t be forced to interact with a device using multiple portals to perform multiple tasks. Our vision is one where you can receive a service incident or request, deploy a device freeze, and update a patch on the same device, at the same time, using the same user interface.
What are your thoughts? Is the ITSM industry toast or will it follow IT into a future of simplified, unified IT management?