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ITSM: How to Not be a Fool with a Tool

In an interview with Datamation, a CEO who was just named one of Canada's Top 100 Women Business Owners explains why ITSM is a sound business investment in a bad economy. She also talks about what it's like to be a female player in the high-tech world, blazing new frontiers, and tackling the challenges of business and ITSM.
Dec 8, 2003

Sharon Gaudin

The economy is bad. Should we say, it's still bad. With IT budgets tight, it's time to synch up our belts and hold off on trying anything new. And certainly don't approach the CEO with plans to spend money on developing processes. Now's not the time to spend money on anything.



Fatima Cabral, the CEO of Pink Elephant, Inc., a major IT Service Management consultancy based in Burlington, Ontario, says now is the perfect time to adopt ITSM. She says ITSM is tailor made for a down economy and tight budgets.

The cynic would say it's her job to say that -- to push ITSM adoption, and thus the need for consulting and educational work -- in any kind of economy. But in this one-on-one interview with Datamation, the CEO who was just named one of Canada's Top 100 Women Business Owners explains why ITSM is a sound business investment. She also talks about what it's like to be a female player in the high-tech world, blazing new frontiers, and tackling the challenges of business and ITSM.

Q: Congratulations on your recognition as a woman business owner. How exciting was this for you?
Even though the award is given to individuals, it's a reflection on the company. I would not have been awarded it if not for everyone's efforts. We're 100 some-odd people. A very close-knit group. And this was our second year in making the list.

Q: How challenging is it being a woman in what largely has been a male-driven industry?
No more so than finding it challenging being a woman in business, period. In the last seven or eight years, I've seen a lot more women going into IT. I love to see that.

Q: What's behind this shift? Why are more women moving into IT?
I think, firstly, young women have been asked to look at these new frontiers, and generally, there's an interest in computers and technology. It's a very interesting field.

Q: Is IT being affected by the movement of more women into the industry?
IT benefits as business benefits in general. Women bring a different perspective into the workplace. We're interested in people. Women, especially women in management, bring a different take on the technology and how it can be used.

Q: Do you feel that you've been a trail blazer in terms of being a woman running a major high-tech consultancy?
I do, yes. At Pink Elephant we can boast that we were the first to bring ITIL to North America. It's been a revolution... At our first ITIL conference in 1997, we had about 75 people. AT our conference in February, we expect over 1,000.

Q: At a time when many IT managers are trying to make due with what they've already got, how is the ITSM push going?
It's catching on like fire. When you roll a snowball down a hill, it, at first, rolls slowly and then it increases in speed and size. I don't think ITSM is anywhere as big as it's going to be. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Q: What is the biggest challenge IT managers face when adopting ITSM methods?
The biggest challenge is that it has a unique language. You have to be taught the language of ITIL. Understand the best practices framework, and the components of that framework.

Q: And what are the benefits that ITSM would bring to an IT shop?
ITSM enables IT to take a holistic approach to IT management. Gone are the silos. Many people complain that the left hand of IT doesn't know what the right hand is up to. With ITSM, all processes are integrated, not just in IT but in other aspects of business, which is another big plus. ITSM focuses on processes and not just technology. Technology, in itself, will not solve problems. ITSM lets you bring together people, processes and technology. And you need that to operate efficiently.

Q: Why have we been so fixated on the technology alone?
What's been missing is the process. Too much focus is put on the technology. There are a lot of bells and whistles out there, and some of them are very expensive. You know the old saying... A fool with a tool? To be successful, you have to bring together the tools, the people and the processes to make it work efficiently.

Q: But how can you expect people to spend money, to adopt something new in this troubled economy?
Reduce costs. Increase efficiency. Now is the time to do it. As CIOs and senior managers are forced to reduce costs, they're turning to ITSM to help them. They're not getting as many IT dollars, so they have to be more efficient. ITSM is value added. Many conferences have shown a drop in attendance in the last three years, especially since 9/11. Our ITIL conferences are growing. To me, that's a clear indication that they see a lot of value add.

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