Are Your IT Consumers Eager to See What’s in Your Catalog?

The busy holiday shopping season is just around the corner, and retailers are eagerly anticipating the rush of commerce. The shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas account for 50% of many retailers’ annual revenues!

6911660493_710d029371_zOne of the most common tools that retailers use to heighten their consumers’ expectations is the beautiful shopping catalog. They’ve already started to arrive at our house this year. When I was a kid, my brothers and I couldn’t wait for the thick Sears Christmas catalog to arrive, with its 50 page toy section full of glossy pictures of the latest delights. What does this have to do with IT?

Businesses expect their IT departments to rapidly fulfill service requests, provide clearly documented, standard services at the required service levels, as well as support cost transparency. In other words, it should contain something interesting to the business, not just the “components” that are sitting on IT’s shelves. When IT can’t deliver, business professionals will act on their own, creating a “shadow IT” that undermines IT’s ability to both manage costs and quickly deliver new standardized services.

That’s why service catalogs are so important—not just to IT, but to the business overall. Just the exercise of defining a service catalog forces IT and the business to work together to agree on which services should be made available. Once that’s done, IT can focus on getting really good at delivering those services with a consistent service level every time business users order them.

Effective service catalogs align with the needs of the business and fundamentally change how IT services are presented to business stakeholders. IT is used to thinking in terms of technology cycles and managing information infrastructure, instead of thinking about how to run IT as a business and creating easy-to-understand, business-facing service catalogs.

Many IT organizations struggle with how to build compelling business services.  Rather than trying to come up with a complete set of services for all business consumers, IT should focus on a few sets of consumers and build compelling services for them.  This could mean first targeting the software developers, and coming up with infrastructure services that make their lives easier. Then, instead of the traditional IT approach of saying: “here is what I have” and pushing those services on the business, expanding the dialog to other business users, asking what they need. By taking this approach, IT can create a demand-focused service catalog, rather than a supply-focused one.

When we ask IT executives for their top priorities in the EMC IT Transformation Workshop, we find that service catalogs often top the list of needs. We’ve packaged up what we’ve learned from these engagements in the EMC Service Catalog Strategy and Design service. Because wherever you are in the process of trying to deliver IT as a service, the place to start is working with your business stakeholders to define your strategy and design service catalog that best serves the unique needs of your business.

And now, just in time for the holiday shopping season, you can find the EMC Service Catalog Strategy and Design service, as well as the EMC IT Transformation Workshop, in the EMC Store.

About the Author: David Buffo

David is a Consulting Marketing Manager for Dell Technologies Services, based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. He has 25 years’ experience in the IT industry, including 15 years in solutions and services. David’s focus is IT infrastructure, but his work with clients is concerned with accelerating transformation of IT from a technology supplier into a provider of services to the business. He started with EMC (now Dell Technologies) in 2004 and meets regularly with clients at Dell Technologies' executive briefing center and at industry conferences.