Business Agility as a Factor for Change

Business Agility as a Factor for Change

SERVICE MANAGEMENT IN ACTION Innovation is driven by change. Consider that an organization that is quick to change can anticipate a new opportunity, respond to shifting market conditions or, more importantly, satisfy customer requests.

Change is one of the most essential elements to any organization’s success, especially when done quickly. Of course, it is often easier said than done. The reality is that the complexity of an organization’s IT infrastructure limits the speed at which it is able to move. This complexity can be the barrier to success even before starting.

How does an organization overcome this complexity, and position itself to swiftly turn change to their advantage?

Through Business Agility.

Business Agility Defined

"IBM Tivoli focuses on the Visibility. Control. Automation.™ needed to deliver quality services, manage risk and compliance, and accelerate business growth."

Consider Business Agility as the means by which to measure "organizational responsiveness." Whether it's a question of dealing with unexpected technical problems in a data center, carrying out new strategies, implementing new processes, or increasing performance levels to match rising customer expectations, one thing is certain; organizations need a faster response to mandated change.

In all these situations, a business can typically become more agile by focusing on the IT infrastructure responsible for both internal productivity and external services. Since IT is the de facto nervous system of the organization, enhancements and optimizations delivered there will translate naturally into higher agility in virtually everything the organization does.

IBM and its Business Partners are equipped with the solution portfolio needed to make any organization agile.

In particular, IBM Tivoli focuses on the Visibility. Control. Automation.™ needed to deliver quality services, manage risk and compliance, and accelerate business growth. Specifically for Business Agility, IBM Tivoli focuses on improvements in three key areas:

Prioritized Business Service Management

One of the most important areas of focus in the pursuit of improved business agility is the relationship between IT performance/availability and business outcome. It's one thing to track how well assets are performing; it's quite another to understand, quickly, what kind of impact that performance/availability will have on the larger business strategies of an organization.

While most organizations already have some form of monitoring capabilities to track system/asset performance levels, and detect emerging problems, it's rare to find formal systems in place that correlate those problems with, for instance, the end-user experience, or the customer experience. Without that information, it can be hard to prioritize change properly, and drive a better outcome.

If ten problems emerge simultaneously—not an uncommon situation for an enterprise data center—which should be solved first? How do you rank-order the impact they'll have on business goals? Are there particular considerations—for instance, usage spikes during the holiday season—that might demand a faster response for certain services than usual? Questions like this often require a new approach to business service management.

IBM Tivoli Business Service Manager (TBSM) is a powerful tool both IT managers and higher-level executives can use not only to improve business agility in a holistic sense, but also to improve it in a prioritized way that reflects business needs—not technical details.

Because the solution supports role-based customization, it can easily be configured to give these very different team members the specific kinds of visibility they need based on their job function.

This solution can provide clear, intuitive insight into how emerging trends translate into business impact via color-coded, straightforward service indicators—all driven by key performance indicators. TBSM acts as a convenient business dashboard, reflecting in real time how well (or how poorly) the IT infrastructure is serving the business, and suggesting areas of potential improvement.

That means it's faster and easier to understand what kind of prioritized change they need to pursue, then pursue it—practically the definition of improved agility.

Higher Service Availability Through Predictive Analytics

To anticipate costly service outages, before they occur, IBM is adding a powerful, soon-to-be-released solution called the IBM Tivoli Analytics for Service Performance (TASP).

The statement of direction previewing this solution described shifting from reactive scenarios that require rapid response while costly outages are occurring, and focusing on proactive measures that prevent problems from developing in the first place.

In most cases, enterprises have focused on reducing the time required to solve technical problems to as low a figure as possible—as in zero time required for a solution. With TASP’s proactive capabilities, now the ideal best time to solve problems is no longer zero; it is, in a practical sense, less than zero.

TASP is able to aggregate and analyze baseline information about the normal operational behavior of the IT infrastructure and over time establishes and quantifies different kinds of relationships and dependencies that exist between different resources (such as processing power or storage), assets (such as systems or network switches), and services (such as an outward-facing, Web-based search function on inventory offered to customers).

With that information, TASP can then anticipate how new infrastructure developments could, in the foreseeable future, lead to technical problems all the way up to and including complete service outages. And it can subsequently generate alerts to IT team members to inform them of these possibilities, as its next logical step and before it turns into a costly outage.

In addition, TASP has high levels of accuracy that help reduce the odds of a false alert that might normally waste precious time, energy, and other resources.

Improved collaboration between IT development and IT operations

Having IT operations and IT development working in tandem, each constantly informed of what the other is doing, and each sharing key information with the other as needed, makes for a truly agile business.

Unfortunately, that situation is far from typical. Instead, all too often, these teams work in silos, preventing easy collaboration. Different technical tools and information pools are used by each team, not only inhibiting information-sharing but also slowing down the transfer of data between them.

That slows business agility considerably in at least two general senses. IT operations is slower to prepare the production environment properly for new software; meanwhile, IT development is slower to improve software in ways demanded by user requests or discovered shortcomings.

Fortunately, IBM—as a world leader in both operations and development—is exceptionally well positioned to help. Today, thanks to integrations spanning its development portfolio (IBM Rational) and operations portfolio (IBM Tivoli), organizations can improve business agility by improving the collaboration of these two groups.

For instance, the development team can take advantage of up-to-the-minute insight into how production environments are configured, and create matching systems to test new software builds. They can also directly access trouble tickets created by the operations service desk group and understand more clearly what kind of experience users are getting from software—specific insight required to create a prioritized schedule of code optimization.

Meanwhile, the operations team can assess application performance in real-world conditions and give developers access to that assessment in a formal way, based on directly linked solutions, instead of a relatively awkward and informal process like sending them e-mails or making phone calls. The operations team no longer has to sum up what kinds of performance they're getting. Instead, the development team can simply see for themselves, using the management tools they already have as a window into operations data.

Similarly, the operations group can help the development team understand any unexpected security issues that may have emerged following a new software rollout, and resolve those issues as quickly as possible. This form of enhanced agility, in turn, creates a double business win, both by securing critically important, sensitive data more quickly, and by improving the organization's compliance with government regulations.

In short, thanks to the way the Rational and Tivoli portfolios are increasingly integrated, operations and development teams are now empowered, through shared solutions and information pools, to work more closely together, more easily and more quickly, to create better software and more business value.

Taking The Lead With Business Agility

IBM has the expertise and solutions to reduce complexity and help an organization both respond to change quickly and become more agile with solutions from Tivoli for business service management, predictive analytics and collaborative IT development and operations solutions.

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