By The Open Group
The Open Group IT4IT™ Reference Architecture is a standard reference architecture for managing the business of IT. It uses a value chain approach to create a model of the functions that IT performs to help organizations identify the activities that contribute to business competitiveness.
The IT4IT standard provides a vendor-neutral, technology-agnostic, and industry-agnostic reference architecture for managing the business of IT, enabling insight for continuous improvement. Together, the IT4IT Value Chain and Reference Architecture deliver value to IT practitioners.
With many organizations undergoing digital transformation, IT departments everywhere are taking serious hits. And although technology is at the heart of many business transformations, IT has traditionally had a reputation as a cost center rather than an innovation center.
Executives are often skeptical when presented with yet another new IT plan or architecture for their organizations that will be better than the last. Due to the role Enterprise Architects play in bridging the gap between the business and IT, it’s often incumbent on them to make the case for big changes when needed.
Mark Bodman, Senior Product Manager at ServiceNow and formerly at HPE, has been working with and presenting the IT4IT standard, an Open Group standard, to executives for a number of years. At The Open Group San Francisco 2017 event on January 30, Bodman will offer advice on how to present IT4IT in order to gain executive buy-in. We spoke with him in advance of the conference to get a sneak peek before his session.
What are Enterprise Architects up against these days when dealing with executives and trying to promote IT-related initiatives?
The one big change that I’ve seen is the commoditization of IT. With the cloud-based economy and the ability to rent cheap compute, storage and networking, being able to effectively leveraging commodity IT is a key differentiator that will make or break an organization. At the end of the day, the people who can exploit cheaper technology to do unique things faster are those companies who will come out ahead long-term. Companies based on legacy technologies that don’t evolve will stall out and die.
Uber and Netflix are great case studies for this trend. It’s happening everyday around us—and it’s reaching a tipping point. Enterprise Architects are faced with communicating these scenarios within their own organizations—use cases like going digital, streamlining for costs, sourcing more in the cloud—all strategies required to move the needle. Enterprise Architects are the senior most technical people within IT. They bridge the gap between business and technology at the highest level—and have to figure out ‘How do I communicate and plan for these disruptions here so that we can, survive in the digital era?’
It’s a Herculean task, not an easy thing to do. I’ve found there’s varying degrees of success for Enterprise Architects. Sometimes by no fault of their own, because they are dealing with politics, they can’t move the right agenda forward. Or the EA may be dealing with a Board that just wants to see financial results the next quarter, and doesn’t care about the long-term transformations. These are the massive challenges that Enterprise Architects deal with every day.
Why is it important to properly present a framework like IT4IT to executives right now?
It’s as important as the changes in accounting rules have impacted organizations. How those new rules and regulations changed in response to Enron and the other big financial failures within recent memory was quite impactful. When an IT shop is implementing services and running the IT organization as a whole, what is the operating model they use? Why is one IT shop so much different from another when we’re all facing similar challenges, using similar resources? I think it’s critically important to have a vetted industry standard to answer these questions.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen many different models for running IT from many different sources. From technology companies like HPE and IBM, to consulting companies like Deloitte, Accenture and Bain; each has their own way of doing things. I refer this to the ‘IT flavor of the month.’ One framework is chosen over another depending on what leadership decides for their playbook—they get tired of one model, or a new leader imposes the model they are familiar with, so they adopt a new model and change the entire IT operating model, quite disruptive.
The IT4IT standard takes that whole answer to ‘how to run IT as a business’ out of the hands of any one source. That’s why a diverse set of contributors is important, like PWC and Accenture–they both have consulting practices for running IT shops. Seeing them contribute to an open standard that aggregates this know-how allows IT to evolve faster. When large IT vendors like ServiceNow, IBM, Microsoft and HPE are all participating and agreeing upon the model, we can start creating solutions that are compatible with one another. The reason we have Wi-Fi in every single corner of the planet or cellular service that you can use from any phone is because we standardized. We need to take a similar approach to running IT shops—renting commoditized services, plugging them in, and managing them with standard software. You can’t do that unless you agree on the fundamentals, the IT4IT standard provides much of this guidance.
When Enterprise Architects are thinking about presenting a framework like IT4IT, what considerations should they make as they’re preparing to present it to executives?
I like to use the word ‘contextualize,’ and the way I view the challenge is that if I contextualize our current operating model against IT4IT, how are we the same or different? What you’ll mostly find is that IT shops are somewhat aligned. A lot of the work that I’ve done with the standard over the past three years is to create material that shows IT4IT in multiple contexts. The one that I prefer to start with for an executive audience is showing how the de-facto plan-build-run IT organizational model, which is how most IT shops are structured, maps to the IT4IT structure. Once you make that correlation, it’s a lot easier to understand how IT4IT then fits across your particular organization filling some glaring gaps in plan-build-run.
Recently I’ve created a video blog series on YouTube called IT4IT Insights to share these contextual views. I’ve posted two videos so far, and plan to post a new video per month. I have posted one video on how Gartner’s Bi-Modal concept maps to IT4IT concepts, and another on the disruptive value that the Request to Fulfill value stream provides IT shops.
Why have executives been dismissive of frameworks like this in the past and how can that be combatted with a new approach such as IT4IT?
IT4IT is different than anything I have seen before. It’s the first time we have seen a comprehensive business-oriented framework created for IT as an open standard. There are some IT frameworks specific to vertical industries out there, but IT4IT is really generic and addresses everything that any CIO would worry about on a daily basis. Of course they don’t teach CIOs IT4IT in school yet—it’s brand new. Many IT execs come from consulting firms where they have grown very familiar with a particular IT operating model, or they were promoted through the years establishing their own unique playbook along the way.
When a new standard framework like IT4IT comes along and an Enterprise Architect shows them how different it might be from what the executive currently knows, it’s very disruptive. IT executives got to that position through growth and experience using what works, it’s a tough pill to swallow to adopting something new like IT4IT.
To overcome this problem it’s import to contextualize the IT4IT concepts. I’m finding many of the large consulting organizations are just now starting to learn IT4IT—some are ahead of others. The danger is that IT4IT takes some that unique IP away, and that’s a little risky to them, but I think it’s an advantage if they get on the bandwagon first and can contextually map what they do now against IT4IT.
One other thing that’s important is that since IT4IT is an open standard, organizations may contribute intellectual property to the standard and be recognized as the key contributor for that content. You see some of this already with Accenture’s and PWC’s contributions. At the same time, each consulting organization will hold some of their IP back in to differentiate themselves where applicable. That’s why I think it’s important for people presenting IT4IT to contextualize to their particular organization and practice. If they don’t, it’s just going to be a much harder discussion.
Like with any new concept—eventually you find the first few who will get it, then latch on to it to become the ‘IT4IT champion.’ It’s very important to have at least one IT4IT champion to really evangelize the IT4IT standard and drive adoption. That champion might not be in an executive position able to change things in their organization, but it’s an important job to educate and evangelize a better way of managing IT.
What lessons have you learned in presenting IT4IT to executives? Can you offer some tips and tricks for gaining mindshare?
I have many that I’ll talk about in January, but one thing that seems to work well is that I take a few IT4IT books into an executive briefing, the printed standard and pocket guide usually. I’ll pass them around the room while I present the IT4IT standard. (I’m usually presenting the IT4IT standard as part of a broader executive briefing agenda.) I usually find that the books get stuck with someone in the room who has cracked open the book and recognized something of value. They will usually want to keep the book after that, and at that point I know who my champion is. I then gauge how passionate they are by making them twist my arm to keep the book. This usually works well to generate discussion of what they found valuable, in the context of their own IT organization and in front of the other executives in the room. I recently presented to the CIO of a major insurance company performing this trick. I passed the books around during my presentation and found them back in front of me. I was thinking that was it, no takers. But the CIO decided to ask for them back once I concluded the IT4IT presentation. The CIO was my new champion and everyone in the room knew it.
What about measurement and results? Is there enough evidence out there yet on the standard and the difference it’s making in IT departments to bring measurement into your argument to get buy in from executives?
I will present some use cases that have some very crystal clear results, though I can’t communicate financials. The more tangible measurements are around the use cases where we leveraged the IT4IT standard to rationalize the current IT organization and tools to identify any redundancies. One of the things I learned 10 years ago, well before the IT4IT standard was around, was how to rationalize applications for an entire organization that have gotten out of hand from a rash of M&A activity. Think about the redundancies created when two businesses merge. You’re usually merging because of a product or market that you are after, there’s some business need driving that acquisition. But all the common functions, like HR and finance are redundant. This includes IT technologies and applications to manage IT, too. You don’t need two HR systems, or two IT help desk systems; you’ve got to consolidate this to a reasonable number of applications to do the work. I have tackled the IT rationalization by using the IT4IT standard, going through an evaluation process to identify redundancies per functional component. In some cases we have found more 300 tools that perform the same IT function, like monitoring. You shouldn’t need to have 300 different monitoring tools—that’s ridiculous. This is just one clear use case where we’ve applied IT4IT to identify similar tools and processes that exist within IT specifically, a very compelling business case to eliminate massive redundancy.
Does the role of standards also help in being able to make a case for IT4IT with executives? Does that lend credence to what you’re proposing and do standards matter to them?
They do in a way because like accounting rules, if you have non-standard accounting rules today, it might land your executives in jail. It won’t land you in jail if you have a non-standard IT shop however, but being non-standard will increase the cost of everything you do and increase risks because you’re going against the grain for something that should be a commodity. At the executive level, you need to contextualize the problem of being non-standard and show them how adopting the IT4IT standard may be similar to the accounting rule standardization.
Another benefit of standards I use is to show how the standard is open, and the result of vetting good ideas from many different organizations vs. trying to make it up as you go. The man-years of experience that went into the standard, and elegance of the result becomes a compelling argument for adoption that shouldn’t be overlooked.
What else should EAs take into consideration when presenting something like IT4IT to executives?
I think the primary thing to remember is to contextualize your conversation to your executives and organization. Some executives in IT may have zero technology background, some may have come up through the ranks and still know how to program, so you’ve got to tell the story based on the audience and tailor it. I presented recently to 50 CIOs in Washington D.C., so I had to contextualize the standard to show how IT4IT relates to the major changes happening in the federal market, such as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), and how it supports the Federal Enterprise Architecture framework. These unique requirement changes had to be contextualized against the IT4IT standard so the audience understood exactly how IT4IT relates to the big challenges they are dealing with unique to the market.
IT4IT Standard is taking off
The next phase of the IT4IT standard is just taking off. The initial group of people who were certified are now using IT4IT for training and to certify the next wave of adopters. We’re at a point now where the growth is going to take off exponentially. It takes a little time to get comfortable with something new and I’m seeing this happen more quickly in every new engagement. Enterprise Architects need to know that there’s a wealth of material out there, and folks who have been working with the IT4IT standard for a long time. There’s something new being published almost every day now.
It can take a while sometimes from first contact to reaching critical mass adoption, but it’s happening. In my short three weeks at ServiceNow so far I have already had two customer conversations on IT4IT, it’s clearly relevant here too—and I have been able to show relevance to every other IT shop and vendor in the last three years. This new IT4IT paradigm does need to soak in a bit, so don’t get frustrated about the pace of adoption and understanding. One day you might come across a need and pull out the IT4IT standard to help in some way that’s not apparent right now. It’s exciting to see people who worked with initial phases of the standard development now working on their next gig. It’s encouraging to see folks in their second and even their third job leveraging the IT4IT standard. This is a great indicator that the IT4IT standard is being accepted and starting to become mainstream.
Mark Bodman is an experienced, results-oriented IT4IT™ strategist with an Enterprise Architecture background, executive adviser, thought leader and mentor. He previously worked on cross-portfolio strategies to shape HPE’s products and services within HPE to include service multi-source service brokering, and IT4IT adoption. Mark has recently joined ServiceNow as the outbound Application Portfolio Management Product Manager.
Hands-on experience from years of interaction with multiple organizations has given Mark a unique foundation of experience and IT domain knowledge. Mark is well versed in industry standards such as TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, COBIT, and ITIL, has implemented portfolio management and EA practices, chaired governance boards within Dell, managed products at Troux, and helped HPE customers adopt strategic transformation planning practices using reference architectures and rationalization techniques.