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The Adaptive Enterprise

By Cinda Daly and Ken Wendle Ken Wendle, a senior solution architect with HP and recently elected president of the Information Technology Service Management Foundation, USA (ITSMF USA) speaks about the adaptive enterprise and his insight into the future.
Apr 28, 2004

ITSM Watch Staff

By Cinda Daly and Ken Wendle

Hewlett-Packard is a recognized leader in the adoption of ITIL and the application of IT service management best practices. The company's ten-year experience with ITIL was demonstrated, even increased, with the success of the largest technology merger in history. Like most companies, Hewlett-Packard started out with disparate point solutions to handle help desk, operations, network, and performance management. And, like most companies, HP found that this approach provided limited value and did not enable IT to become the true business partner that was required to be successful today. As a result, HP pushed the boundaries of service management, and, with the need in recent years to cut costs, increase the business value, and integrate within the "new HP," the efforts continue to pay off.

Daly. How do you characterize a "true" business partnership between IT and the business as a whole?
Wendle. I've always thought it was a bit peculiar that there has been so much discussion about "business/IT alignment" or "business/IT partnership." After all, we don't talk about "business/marketing alignment" or "business/accounting partnership." Isn't IT just as much a part of an organization as those divisions? So, I would characterize it as a true partnership when IT is not thought of as something different, but as something that has become as much a part of the mindset as every other aspect of the business. And, this relationship includes not only what the business requires of IT, but also what IT can provide in terms of enhancing a business's performance in the market-new services, capabilities, etc.

Daly. You have "pushed the boundaries of service management at HP." Just what boundaries were pushed, and how did you accomplish that?
Wendle. Let me first point out something fairly obvious: HP has just undergone the largest technology merger in business history, which was also one of the largest business mergers ever. Because HP is a technology company, the technology choices that have been made have been equally important to any other business choices that have been made. >From an IT perspective, we literally have merged four distinct IT organizations into one. While this process isn't 100% complete, speaking from an employee perspective and from a customer perspective, my perception is that I'm dealing with one company.

Daly. How did ITIL best practices influence this successful merger?
Wendle. HP used ITIL as the foundation for the HP ITSM Reference model, the model upon which our own IT organization is based. The ITIL processes and ITSM Reference model continue to play a large role in this consolidation. It is also key to our rapidly growing managed services business. One HP facility has embraced ITSM to such a level that it has helped foster the idea of "zero defect" IT service delivery.

Daly. Let's come back to the zero defects example in a moment. You often talk about the adaptive enterprise in the same breath as IT Service Management? What is the adaptive enterprise?
Wendle. HP defines an adaptive enterprise as "the ultimate state of fitness: business and IT synchronized to capitalize on change." That works for me.

Daly. What dynamics have driven the requirement that IT organizations become adaptive enterprises?
Wendle. Change! Change! Change! If it's not the market, it's the government; if it's not the government, it's the competition; if it's not the competition, it's the geo-political environment. Changes are coming from all sides. Our CEO, Carly Fiorina, often quotes Charles Darwin who said, in essence, that it's not the strong or even the most intelligent that will ultimately survive, it's the most adaptive. Adapt or die. It's that simple-and that difficult.

Daly. How does the adaptive enterprise incorporate ITIL best practices?
Wendle. ITIL is a means to an end, not the end itself. The "end" is effective and efficient IT services management. Our late CIO, Bob Napier, observed that every business decision triggers an IT response. For an organization to become adaptive, it must be able to respond quickly to those business decisions, as well as to all the other changes mentioned before.

Daly. How do you define effective/efficient?
Wendle. The ability to quickly absorb changes and quickly adapt to business needs without impacting service quality and availability, and do it in a cost sensitive manner Even further, it is also the ability to be so tightly synchronized with the business that the IT organization can actually facilitate business success. In my mind, the highest maturity level of IT service management is the enablement of the adaptive IT enterprise.

Daly. You often cite, "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are very different." Bridge the theory and practice with the adaptive enterprise?
Wendle. Often people hear about ITSM and ITIL and immediately think, "It sounds good, but it's all theory." I'm among the first to admit that the first version of ITIL was heavier on theory and lighter on practice than the second version. If it was 80 theory/20 practice then, it's more 20/80 today thanks to the feedback of the early adopters, HP included.

Similarly, the concept of zero-defect IT service delivery is often dismissed as theory. Consider the automobile industry 15-20 years ago. Although W. Edward Deming's ideas for manufacturing also sounded like theory, today the practice of zero defect manufacturing is almost clichi. The enabling concept then was process-repeatable, scaleable, measurable, improvable process. Those are the same concepts that IT organizations need to embrace today. It's not theory. It is practical, and it is possible.

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