Point of View

Service integration: Key to customer experience in multi-sourced IT environments

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The impact of the current wave of digital transformation—cloud-based applications, bring your own device (BYOD), Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, advanced analytics applications, mobile—is greater and deeper compared to what we have seen with previous waves of transformation. The new generation of solutions which have emerged are being rapidly assimilated and run alongside legacy systems within enterprises; consequently, mega single vendor deals for IT support are giving way to multiple, best-of-breed providers for specific services. As new and legacy technologies from multiple vendors are put to work for business, IT organizations must change operating and governance models to ensure that results are effectively delivered, measured, and tracked.

For success in this changing landscape, it is critical to have a well-defined service integration process which first applies design thinking to reimagine customer experience/value and then lean management principles to implement changes while managing capacity and demand requirements for the end-to-end operations. Service integrator should be at the heart of managing this change as a neutral party managing the cluster of services and accelerate the transformation, realize cost savings, and help customer businesses become more efficient, effective and agile IT organizations in large global enterprises today manage increasingly complex technology environments, with rapidly evolving digital solutions frequently running alongside legacy enterprise systems. As a result, the IT organization’s model often hybridizes in-house shared services, regional IT teams, and multiple global and local suppliers. Whereas, historically, IT organizations resolved this complexity through a combination of simplification, consolidation, and large single-vendor technology support deals. Today, the success of digital enterprise architecture hinges on the IT organization’s ability to ensure effective collaboration between business, multiple best-of-breed solution providers, and the legacy technology backbone. Indeed, because IT organizations are so accustomed to working with single providers for long periods of time, the move to a multi-vendor model constitutes a significant change and requires new processes, organizational models, and governance to effectively control execution and deliver results.

Within this new operating environment, some of the biggest challenges facing IT organizations are:

  • No single, end-to-end view of operations
  • Lack of visibility to drive strategic initiatives around IT
  • Inability to align IT to business service catalog to drive continuous improvement
  • Inability to gauge or drive optimization initiatives, such as self-service, automation, etc.

Change needs to be managed with minimal disruption to business while delivering superior end-user experience. Delivering and effectively communicating the business benefits requires a strong partnership with business, robust governance, and reimagining end-to-end processes.

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While many IT organizations follow ITIL best practices and invest in a service management function to manage service delivery in multi-vendor environments, these same organizations nonetheless often lack the tools and processes to drive enterprise-level transparency and continuous improvement. The narrow focus on “keeping the lights on,” as compared to benefiting business and improving end-user experience, results in:

  • Conflicts of interest, and reluctance to align IT service levels to business requirements
  • Poor architectural integration among multiple service providers
  • Weak governance leading to inconsistent application of improvement initiatives and poor benefit-realization
  • Lack of collaboration and support between service providers due to unclear responsibilities and accountability
  • Lack of insights for fact-based selection of service providers due to inconsistent performance measurement and reporting

Global service integrator can help operate in a cohesive manner; align IT to the business service

These challenges can be addressed by a vendor-neutral operational layer that focuses on partnering with business and ensuring superior end-user experience. Such a function can define end-to-end service levels, monitor them to bring in transparency, and use the data to drive insights for continuous improvement and performance management.

A global service integrator (GSI) function can improve an organization’s ability to manage end- to-end service levels by mapping interaction points between multiple (internal and external) suppliers in a service, and then measuring the “Service Effect” from an end-user’s perspective.

GSI should feature cross-functional expertise, including service operations, analytics, Six Sigma, Lean, and service management. An effective GSI implementation can help prioritize the initiatives that most improve service at an optimal cost.

GSI is a neutral orchestrator that guides the activities of multiple internal and external service providers toward the goal of end-to-end service management and integrated delivery; it ensures effective supplier collaboration, creates clear accountability, and promotes best practice. Elements that comprise a typical service-integration program include service governance and integration, knowledge management, service desk, service transition, and service assurance.

Some key functions of GSI include:

  • Process operations: Design and implementation of core ITIL processes by engaging with suppliers
  • Process transitions: Service transition planning, project management, release and deployment to hand over the service to operations, while at the same time controlling transformation initiatives to minimize potential surprises
  • Tool integration: Implementation of common integration tools and processes across complete service delivery lifecycle, such as service desk, incident management, problem management, change and release management, knowledge management, request fulfillment, service asset, and configuration management
  • Process coordination: Creation of a command center for managing day-to-day operations and feedback in support of strategic planning for demand management and service portfolio management
  • Service assurance and analytics: Analytical-insight generation from multiple data sources to drive ongoing operating and process transformations

Benefits of global service integrator function

GSI allows an organization to develop a common set of processes with a single function responsible for providing process integration, coordination, and governance. Benefits include:

  • Establishing an effective framework for managing service provider performance and improving consistency in service levels
  • Reducing inefficiencies and conflicts by enabling a single-point-of-control function to manage end-to-end services across the enterprise
  • Optimizing IT costs and realizing benefits driven by IT investments
  • Creating a mechanism through which to streamline and improve IT alignment with business objectives
  • Developing integration expertise in an organization, which supports optimization of service provider contracts and ensures delivery of agreed-upon performance


Lowered cost, greater efficiency, increased internal customer satisfaction, better control over IT spend—these are just some of the benefits that mature enterprises can hope to realize through an effective GSI. However, the successful transformation and operation of these organizational and technological constructs is not always easy to effect. There are several key questions to be answered in the course of creating such a model, as illustrated in figure 2 below:

These are best tackled with the help of expert partners who have experience in industrializing operations by cutting through organizational silos, and who understand how to make operations more efficient, intelligent, and adaptable going forward.

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