SIAM: Transforming service delivery. The ‘new black’ for multi-sourcing

Technology thought leader, Michael Billimoria, warns IT service providers to embrace the concept of Services Integration or get out of the road.

©iStock.com/PeskyMonkey

©iStock.com/PeskyMonkey

My colleague Sean Mathieson recently picked Service Integration and Management (SIAM) as one of eight key developments in business technology to watch in 2015. Certainly, when talking to CIOs, heads of strategic sourcing or service delivery executives within enterprise IT Organisations, SIAM is a destination on all their lips.

The concepts behind SIAM aren’t actually anything new. Consider industries such as car manufacturing and building construction which invest significantly in managing their operations to ensure that all their suppliers are singing from the same song sheet. Even small delays in production can have significant bottom line impacts on both industries. Fortunately, the product being produced (i.e. a car or a building) is well defined and has a range of compliance and standards to keep things in check. If only the world of IT services was as simple!

SIAM is one way that organisations can get on top of this complexity. It takes in streams of different services from different providers, combines these services and presents them out to the users in a single stream of uniform quality. Service providers become transparent, as a single Services Integrator (SI) applies the appropriate standards and takes sole responsibility for their delivery. 

For those of us primarily concerned with the delivery of quality IT services that closely meet the needs of – and value to – the business, SIAM is top news. January 2015 saw publication of the beginnings of some best practice thinking in the public domain through, An introduction to Service Integration and Management and ITIL, and this is certainly a welcome development.

So, why should organisations care about SIAM?

Amongst the myriad of reasons and benefits, two in particular stand out:

1. SIAM brings providers together under equitable terms

One reason that the SIAM model seems so attractive is that most ITOs find their external IT services providers don’t always play nicely together. This causes issues with particular aspects of service delivery and leaves internal IT teams as ‘the middle men’ needing to co-ordinate activities with little or no control. Meanwhile, the chasm between service deliverables and user expectations yawns, with none of the players prepared to hold hands to cross the rope bridge. This is because, outside of your own IT environment where they’re supposed to be on the same team, many of them are in reality deadly competitors, with no quarter given. 

What’s worse, rapid technology change has exacerbated this issue in recent years. There is a higher than ever requirement to work with lots of external providers because they provide solutions and capabilities that internal IT can’t. Consider for a moment the sheer number of SaaS providers with innovative solutions for your business – and who are engaging your business senior executives directly. The ITO is no longer ‘those IT guys’, tinkering in back rooms with PCs. It’s becoming more a broker of services, juggling a bunch of requirements and business imperatives and trying to match them up to suppliers.

The SIAM model addresses this complexity, turning the focus on the really important aspects of IT service delivery: business outcomes, rather than technology deliverables. 

2. Users simply expect technology to work

In the past, there were usually half a dozen categories of fixed IT Services: desktops, software, network services and so on. So the ITO would offer, for example, a guarantee that a laptop would be provisioned and set up within X weeks, or a network connection achieved within Y days. 

Now that users rock up with their own devices (which often they are happy and able to manage themselves) the focus is more on business rather than the technology. This means that the only important Service Levels to focus on should be related to business outcomes rather than the previous highly granulated lists of performance thresholds and response times. Just like we all expect water to come out of a tap when we wash our hands, the same expectation is on the provision of IT Services – it’s expected to just work.

Plus, they expect that any issue or anything they need is available from a single self-service portal; in the background, if it involves placing multiple Purchase Orders and co-ordinating different service providers to fulfil a request, that’s not their concern.

Today, when business leaders discover it will take five months for the ITO to provision servers and storage for a new application, or 18 months to deliver a new mobile app, they simply find an external provider or cloud service and whip out their credit card. Successful technology vendors have long known that their best route to a sale avoids the ITO if at all possible, heading directly to the business.

So what will the ITO look like after it adopts SIAM? 

I see much changing but some things staying the same. Enterprises will still be consuming IT services from multiple providers; this won’t change. But the interface between these providers and the users has to. Any prime contractor or outsourced IT provider will have to step up to the mark and become an effective SI under the SIAM model, or get out of the way. In fact, I foresee more enterprises contracting directly with their multiple service providers and inserting the SI function directly between these providers and the users.

 also predict that, within five years, most internal IT service management shops will have become SIAM organisations. They will either bring an SI in, or build the function internally. In fact, SIAM will have other applications for large enterprises, beyond the disciplines of IT services.

One thing I am sure of: IT service providers will need to buckle down to the SIAM model, just as they did under ITIL five to ten years ago, in order to remain relevant. And outsourcers and prime contractors will either have to assume an SI role or submit to a third-party SI. Otherwise the gig will be up.

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About the Author

Michael Billimoria is a technology thought leader and is currently Market Development Manager at UXC Consulting. Prior to this he was the National Practice Lead for IT Service Management. 

Michael has a proven record of successfully delivering technology projects realising tangible business benefits in complex environments.