For most companies, IT Service Management (ITSM) tools are the core hub for monitoring and managing the systems used to support day-to-day operations and business processes across the organization. It is also the centralized repository of information related to the status and performance of individual systems, and a critical source of information to support operational and strategic decision making. There is no argument that ITSM systems are an important part of supporting the company’s underlying technology and associated IT functions. However, ITSM tools often miss the boat when it comes to operational data management when more directly supporting business operations and providing the insights needed to integrate IT and OT data.
The challenge to ITSM systems for Operational Data Management are threefold. First is the audience for which these systems were designed. ITSM systems originated from IT helpdesk and ticketing systems intended to enable semi-skilled IT employees to capture and manage system events and user requests. Over time, as ITSM systems evolved, incremental capabilities for monitoring technology component availability and performance were added in order to provide a unified monitoring console for infrastructure operators. With the proliferation of applications as the core focus of IT over the past 15 years, ITSM tooling added capabilities for configuration, dependency and change management to enable application developers with insight into how their software was interacting with the infrastructure environment. Where ITSM systems continue to be weak is in business process awareness. They are still focused on being a toolset for the technologists, not the business and operations employees that use the technology. ITSM systems simply have not been designed for the audience that can benefit most from operational data management.
The second challenge of ITSM systems is a lack of workflow awareness. ITSM tools do a good job of monitoring and managing components, however they struggle to put the component data into the context of where it affects the business as it is being used, and how components connect to each other in the form of business processes and operational workflows. Where workflow awareness is built into ITSM systems, it is typically semi-static in nature and fails to support the accelerating rate of change taking place in most organizations. This situation is further exacerbated by the proliferation of cloud services and IoT applications to support business processes and operations. As it becomes easier for business and operations employees to introduce technology changes without the involvement of technologists, it becomes increasingly difficult for the IT organization to understand what technology is being used to support a business workflow.
The third challenge of ITSM systems in supporting operational data management is in the context and timeliness of data ingested into the ITSM system. Most ITSM systems cannot handle the volume of real-time transactional data needed to generate operational data insights quickly enough to be useful for business and operations employees to use them for supporting live operations and processes. Operational data management requires detailed transaction data to be made available, and preferably ASAP. For most organizations, this would include millions (and in some cases billions) of transactional data points to be ingested, processed, analyzed and presented to users on a continuous basis. Once ingested into the ITSM system, data management and retention becomes a challenge. Most ITSM systems are not architected to support the scale required for this type of ongoing processing.
Just because ITSM systems are missing the boat on operational data management doesn’t mean that your organization can’t begin getting operational value out of the data you have today. Individual operational systems are already designed to handle the scale of (business process, manufacturing, financial) transactions they are performing. Your ITSM system already has some insight into configurations and dependencies. By bringing this information together, resolving duplication and quality issues, and making the information easily accessible to business and operations users, you can begin taking steps towards operational data management.
Operational systems and ITSM processes depend on high-quality data, which has been Blazent’s core focus for years, and is now rapidly expanding as the range of tracked items driven by OT expansion continues to accelerate.