Of the companies I follow, one stands out with the singular mission of assuring that IT doesn’t again become obsolete in the face of ever more powerful direct to line management offerings like Amazon Web Services. Most firms tend to treat Amazon’s offering as a competitor or potential customer and miss that it is actually a very different beast. It isn’t really going after IT as customers for the most part, it is rendering IT obsolete by going after IT’s customers directly. If we were talking about this in terms of sales channels, this would be like talking about what Amazon did to retail; it made the retail store obsolete in order to sell directly to their user customers. In effect, Amazon changed the game. BMC is the only enterprise vendor that has figured out that the proper defense isn’t to fight Amazon or to sell to Amazon — it is to protect IT.
In short, BMC’s goal is to make IT a better choice for employees than any cloud service, partially by embracing them, but mostly by driving IT to focus on making IT’s own customers more satisfied.
At the heart of the problem for IT is that, as an internal service organization, it has enjoyed monopoly status until recently. IT could dictate what users and line organizations got in terms of IT services, hardware and software. IT has faced obsolescence several times in the past. The PC revolution had line organizations tossing out their midrange and mainframe products in favor of more agile and often more capable PC spreadsheets, word processors and database tools. Then Client-Server stepped in and the idea of departmental servers again made it look like companies no longer needed IT. Finally, there was the idea of simply outsourcing IT to one of the big technology firms.
Fortunately, in all cases, the advantages of a centralized IT function, with some exceptions, prevailed because IT could assure compliance and uptime, and volume pricing assured cost savings. In addition, the technology firms just couldn’t seem to keep customer satisfaction high enough themselves, allowing IT to step back in and assume its traditional roles of distributing technology services, hardware and software to technology users in the firm.
However, cloud services have turned out to be a very different beast. They seem to find their way around rules and regulations, they tend to be vastly easier to use than IT services, and Amazon is a retailer at heart, with heavy customer satisfaction metrics and related aggressive remedial action.
Amazon and other cloud services have clearly shown that they can do what their predecessors couldn’t: Sustain viable, and often better, long-term working relationships with users at competitive costs to what IT can provide directly. Granted, compliance remains a bridge too far for Amazon at the moment, but that is being worked out and, as we’ve often discovered, line workers and managers often don’t care.
Remedy 9 is BMC’s IT Service Management (ITSM) platform and it is designed to both provide a better interface between users and IT services than Amazon and to link Amazon services in the backend to assure that these services can be used appropriately to contain costs when needed. It doesn’t move to make Amazon Web Services obsolete but to embrace them. Even the underlying concept of the “cloud” is embraced because this can be purchased as a cloud service as well. Even the testing was much like you’d test a commercial consumer product rather than an IT product; over 170 companies and 700 users were part of the beta test, which didn’t just focus on features, it focused on ease of use and beauty. Yes, appearance is important in a user-facing offering, particularly if it is going to be run on a smartphone.
Like Amazon does internally, this offering has rich configurable reporting that showcases performance, cost, compliance, and improvements in productivity. This last is important to justify most any technology acquisition or subscription.
Because users are mobile now, this has been designed to embrace mobile devices as an interface, allowing requests for service from wherever the user is and at virtually any time. And, like Amazon, the user can get full control and generate their own reports, gather metrics, and/or create their own dashboards without having to engage IT at all through the tools Remedy 9 provides.
Wrapping Up: The Importance Isn’t the Product, It Is the Focus
The features and functions of Remedy 9 aren’t the important part of this announcement. It is the continued focus on creating a defense for IT so the function can remain vibrant, important and relevant to the line organizations and related users it serves. By focusing on improving the end users’ efficiency and satisfaction, IT gains an important tool against obsolescence and a powerful answer to the latest question of IT outsourcing.
Sometimes it’s not about the technology, it’s about making sure you don’t become obsolete. We often get so excited about the speeds and feeds that we forget that it’s how, and whether, the product will be used that is important. That wasn’t forgotten here.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+