© 2009 Khaled A.B. Aly, Technopsis.com®
It has been realized throughout the past decade that the IT applications that enable accessing and manipulating information will deliver best and fittest value when treated and managed as services. In an enterprise setting, the IT operational and executive management are the service provider; and the corporate users making use of information services are the clients.
A service management layer has evolved to decouple IT services from IT infrastructure and to shield the information user (or consumer) from the underlying technology. Recent studies in strategic information management (SIM) have broadly connoted it with the systematic management of information; articulated as products and/or services, and presented to business users with the purpose of achieving specific business objectives (Dearstyne, 2004 and Meagher, 2003).
Along a parallel line, IT practitioners have adopted a common generic framework for IT Services Management (ITSM). The recommendations comprise a series of best practices called the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). At the core of the ITIL processes, is the service strategy component. This article submits that there is a conceptual map between SIM as an abstract business concept and the processes defined by ITIL service strategy.
There is a number of overlapping domains that need to be considered for a comprehensive treatment of the relation between SIM and ITIL service strategy. Information management has its roots in business administration, knowledge management has computer science roots, and service management has evolved among IT and practitioners and service provides. These fields can be perceived as different facades to one common objective, which is to optimize the use of information for sake of meeting business requirements.
Information management (IM) denotes the taxonomy, linkage, and upkeep of multi-sourced information topics in a frm that could be easily accessed and dessiminated to serve the relavant information needs in both form and content.
Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of practices used in an organisation to identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences. It is almost commonly agreed that knowledge is represented by a pyramid, whose base is ‘data’ and whose tip is ‘knowledge’. Information is the layer that is often synthesized from data; and from which knowledge is synthesized.
Strategic information management (SIM) fits into a category of emerging ideas that includes records and information management (RIM) and KM. According to Dearstyne, 2004; SIM proponents recognize that // What really counts is people's creative use of information rather than the technology to create, transmit, and present that information. The term "SIM" is used broadly to connote the imaginative, systematic management and use of information to achieve objectives that are clearly aligned with and contribute to the organization's objectives.
On the IT track, technology jargon has grown over the past years to an extent that would overwhelm the business user. In addition, businesses figured that a user-centric structure must be super-imposed over the IT infrastructure and applications. This has materialized in the introduction of the IT service management (ITSM) framework, which emphasizes that the corporate user receives services with recognizable features and performance level (itSMF, 2007).
ITIL V3 considers at a more topical level the overall service lifecycle, which consists of five stages: 1) Service strategy; 2) Service design; 3) Service transition; 4) Service operation; and 5) Continual service improvement. Figure 2 demonstrates the way the five modules are conceptually structured, with the Service Strategy being a permanently considered core process throughout the continuous cyclic evolution.
Service strategy must acknowledge that corporate IT customers do not buy products; they buy the satisfaction of business objectives that are best met through IT services (itSMF, 2007). These services function to make available secure means of information access, retrieval, processing, consumption, storage, and presentation. With all five processes interacting with a Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS), service strategy is initiated by business and customer requirements. The module aims to generate strategies, policies, resources and constraints, and Service Level Packages (SLPs); which define the set of business outcomes (itSMF, 2007).
The key processes of service strategy are (itSMF, 2007):
The objectives of strategic information management can be suitably met by executing the three above processes. The relevance of ITSM to successful SIM has been suggested but hasn’t been considered in detail (Carnahan, 2008). It is important to make clear that ITSM and ITIL are process, and not technology, centric. Service Strategy is the key aspect of developing and maintaining the processes and service applications in best shape (Webb, 2008). What is of most interest is the specialized application of the three aforementioned ITIL service strategy processes to the challenges of strategic information management (Galliers and Leidner, 2009).