HEAT Blog

The Enterprise Service Catalog—Unifying IT Services for the Digital Age

While service catalogs are not new, they are becoming increasingly critical to enterprises seeking to optimize IT efficiencies, service delivery and business outcomes. They are also a way of supporting both enterprise and IT services, as well as optimizing IT for cost and value with critical metrics and insights. In this blog we’ll look at how and why service catalogs are becoming ever more important both to IT organizations and to the businesses and organizations they serve.

 

What’s cooking in general with service catalog deployments?

Potentially, service catalogs can span everything from supporting internal IT professional needs to end-user needs for IT support, to end-user access to internally delivered software and applications, to support for third-party cloud services across the board, to actual support for enterprise (non-IT) services as managed through an integrated service desk.

Of course the game is changing, with added pressures to support cloud, mobile and enterprise (non-IT) services. But data and dialogs from last year show clear trends that reflect pushing the bar forward in all these areas from past years—with a striking diversity of options. Indeed, enhanced automation for self-service was and remains at the very top of the list for IT service management priorities going forward. 

Interestingly enough, internal IT-to-IT provisioning (new servers, deployment requests, etc.) and support for IT professional services (as in project management capabilities) remain among the highest priorities for enterprise service catalogs. But close behind, are:

  • Support for cloud and non-cloud delivered applications
  • End-user access to production services/ applications
  • End-user device (PC, laptop and mobile) provisioning
  • End-user support (help and incident management)

Perhaps not surprisingly, true “appstore” type access for end-user self-service provisioning was far behind these priorities in mid-year 2015. But current EMA dialogs show a growing interest in providing a more complete and self-sufficient storefront approach.

A few critical service catalog dimensions

The dimensions of how this is done can range drastically in scope, but ideally enterprise service catalogs will provide metrics for cost and usage, selective service level (service quality) guarantees as appropriate, strong support for secure and appropriate access based on end-user or IT professional roles, and integrated levels of automation to make service provisioning more dynamic, accessible and efficient. Oh, and yes, in the more advanced IT environments, service catalog integrations can handshake as well with service modeling and configuration management databases (CMDBs) to enable yet more advanced levels of automation This can be especially helpful when catalog services are tied to development and DevOps initiatives. 

And finally, service catalog access should span not only desktop and laptop access, but increasingly mobile access as appropriate. For instance, nearly two-thirds of our respondents in last year’s research were seeking to provide mobile access to corporate application services, and that percentage is steadily climbing higher, as mobile continues to redefine IT and consumer priorities.

Growing areas of interest for service catalog inclusions: cloud and enterprise services

Even last year support for cloud services in service catalogs was striking—at nearly 90%.  And cloud priorities in type reflect a growing and rich diversity. These include:

  • Internal software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications
  • Internal infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) applications
  • Software-as-a-service from public cloud
  • Infrastructure as a service from public cloud
  • Internal platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings
  • Platform-as-a-service from public cloud

The above list is in ranked order based on mid-year 2015, and subsequent dialog and research in 2016 would indicate a fair amount of consistency, but with a modestly growing preference for public cloud.

Just as striking as cloud in its impact on IT is the growth of including enterprise service support through integrated service desk and IT service management options. Indeed, a separate commentary on the coming together of business process automation (BPA) and IT process automation (ITPA)—(it isn’t really quite there yet)—would probably warrant at least a blog, and maybe a book. But this coming together is reflective of the striking number of IT organizations that are making the leap. Indeed, even a year ago, only 11% had no plans to consolidate IT and non-IT customer service.

In terms of service catalog specifics, the following enterprise groups were shown to depend on service catalogs to support their services:

  • Vendor and contract management
  • Facilities management
  • Purchasing
  • Enterprise operations
  • Sales
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • External customer facing catalog options
  • Corporate finance
  • Legal

What makes for success when it comes to service catalog adoption?

As many of my readers know by now, in most of my research I like to contrast those who view themselves as ‘extremely successful’ with those who were only marginally so (the two extremes), which almost always produces meaningful patterns of difference. In this case, the following patterns arose:

Those ITSM teams who viewed themselves as extremely successful were:

  • 2X more likely to have a service catalog
  • 2X more likely to offer users access to corporate applications through mobile
  • Dramatically more likely to support cloud-related services in their catalogs. In fact they were 5X more likely to support SaaS from public cloud and 6X more likely to support PaaS from public cloud.
  • Considerably more likely to support enterprise services, including:
    • 2X more likely to support human resources
    • 3X more likely to support facilities management
    • 2X more likely to support legal
    • More than 4X more likely to support purchasing
    • 5X more likely to support marketing
    • Nearly 3X more likely to support enterprise operations

Given this rather heady show of data, it becomes harder and harder to argue against the impression that we’re not only living in the midst of the ‘digital age’ in which ‘digital transformation’ is key, but that service catalogs are increasingly becoming a critical cornerstone in making digital transformation yet more of a reality. Current EMA research, underway now, will explore the role of service catalogs in optimizing IT for cost and value. I’ll be sharing these highlights with you in another blog later in Q3.

Dennis Drogseth
Vice President
Enterprise Management Associates, Inc.
40 Pleasant Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801