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Recession shifts IT service management into fast lane

Patrick Thibodeau | March 1, 2010
IT efficiency has become paramount to companies during recent lean times

FRAMINGHAM, 26 FEBRUARY 2010 - While the recession has prompted many companies to put IT projects on hold, MasterCard Inc. moved ahead with plans to create an IT service management program aimed at improving service delivery and cutting costs.

The large IT operation at MasterCard, which processes 22 billion transactions a year, includes individual groups managing data in multiple business units. Those departmental IT operations had developed their own processes for handling such things as IT incidents and software changes.

While the separate processes and tools used by individual units were working, MasterCard moved to change the philosophy a couple of years ago.

First, MasterCard hired Burlington, Ont.-based IT consultant Pink Elephant to help evaluate its IT services. Then the consultant designed company-wide standard IT incident, problem and change management processes based on the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

Once work on the processes was completed, MasterCard trained its employees to use them , established a consolidated service desk, and adopted IBM's Tivoli and Maximo tools to manage the company's services and assets.

Diane Pickler, business leader for MasterCard's IT service management effort, said that among other things, the new processes are providing users with improved incident data. They are helping users determine whether hardware or code is causing a problem, which helps IT personnel "make some decisions to really improve the efficiency of the whole company," she said.

Harley-Davidson Motor Co. is similarly developing IT service management processes for use across its global organization. IT officials say the processes are uniformed and repeatable and can probe for the root cause of problems.

"If something breaks, we want to understand how something is fixed," said Ronda Kiser, the senior manager for system management services at Harley-Davidson.

Officials from MasterCard and Harley-Davidson were among those explaining their companies service management approaches to an audience at an IBM conference last week that focused on its integrated service management tools. And while these users had adopted IBM tools, the trend underlying their adoption extends across vendors.

What may be most striking about the IT service management business is just how resilient it has been during the current recession, said Mary Johnston Turner, research director for enterprise system management software at IDC.

For instance, IDC projects that worldwide revenue from sales of change and configuration management software grew by 3% in 2009 to $4.1 billion. IDC forecasts that revenue in the catgory will grow by 5.6% in 2010. Revenue generated by problem management software, which includes service desk systems, increased by 4.2% in 2009 to $4.2 billion, IDC added. Problem management software revenue is projected to increase by 5.9% in 2010.

By contrast, Gartner Inc. said his week that 2009 worldwide server revenue declined 18.3% from the year earlier.


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