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Continuous management platforms: The key ingredient for digital transformation

Travis Greene IT Evangelist, Micro Focus

If you ask great cooks why their food is so good, you will often find that there is one necessary ingredient in a recipe that makes all the difference. In the pursuit of digital transformation, that ingredient is a well-chosen continuous management platform.

There are several things to look out for when choosing a continuous management platform, but first you need to understand how digital transformation is fundamentally transforming organizations.

Product-aligned organizations

To understand the importance of a continuous management platform, you need to start with how the digital transformation trend is driving organizational change. The traditional approach of organizing around individual functions such as sales, marketing, finance, customer support, IT operations, and development is shifting toward product alignment.

A product-aligned organization has a vertical alignment of the traditional functions around a specific app or IT service, all reporting to a business leader with P&L responsibility. The benefit is that everyone in the product-aligned organization is motivated and works toward a clear, common goal of providing the best user experience to drive more usage and stay ahead of competitors.

For example, a tire manufacturer that is digitally transforming may produce a consumer-facing mobile application that supports registering for the warranty, tracks tread wear based on mileage information from a vehicle, and offers an affinity discount to encourage loyalty at replacement time. In a product-aligned organization, this mobile app will have a dedicated, vertically aligned team.

The downside is that this new app is providing only one of many IT services. That same manufacturer will have IT services for suppliers and distributors externally, and numerous internal-facing services for manufacturing, finance, HR, CRM, and so on. There will be overlap and inefficiencies, especially in IT operations management, if each of these services is not only vertically integrated, but also horizontally segregated.

How continuous management platforms help product-aligned organizations

If you work in IT operations, you’re familiar with the rise of IT service management (ITSM) and IT operations management (ITOM) platforms, and the convergence of the two. The analyst firm Research in Action refers to these platforms collectively as continuous management platforms. The primary value is to improve the user experience and drive efficiency for both users of IT services and the operations teams that support them. If it seems as if every ITSM and ITOM software vendor has a continuous management platform today, it’s for good reasons:

  • The right continuous management platform can automate workflows across multiple business functions, and within the IT operations organization to reduce workloads and waiting time and accelerate fulfillment of services.
  • Employees, no matter which product group they work in, can more efficiently engage in self-service—such as requesting VPN access to work from home during the pandemic—with automated fulfillment to keep them productive and provide a better customer experience.
  • A good continuous management platform should reduce the need to build and maintain integrations, so that each business unit or product organization can independently select tools that suit its purposes. Continuous management platforms also provide better insights through the collection of more shared data, which supports better analytics.
  • Continuous management platforms can reduce the user learning curve through a common UI and common best practices when users must cross multiple organizations.

Avoid continuous management platform challenges

Not all continuous management platforms are created equal. The wrong platform can add to the complexity of IT operations and derail the benefits with unexpected cost increases that become a drag on innovation. Here are five top challenges to be aware of when choosing a continuous management platform.

1. Unexpected costs

One popular continuous management platform vendor changed the way it counted licenses and charged a 10% renewal uplift in 2020 during the global pandemic. If the point of a continuous management platform is to control operational costs so that budget can be focused on the user experience, that sort of increase won’t help. Look for transparent and consistent licensing costs.

2. Lack of flexible deployment options

Most continuous management platforms can be consumed as a service (SaaS). But there are times when deployment flexibility is needed. If your company is a retailer, you may not want your platform hosted on a competitor’s cloud. Your organization may prefer keeping your data in your own data center today, but you want the option to move to the cloud, or consume the platform as a service in the future. Not all continuous management platforms have this flexibility, but keep it near the top of your requirements to help future-proof your options.

3. Lack of agility

Some continuous management platforms start as blank slates, requiring custom coding before producing value. That creates technical debt for future maintenance, which can slow the pace of change needed for keeping finicky users happy. Look for entirely codeless configuration to avoid this trap.

4. Bolted-on intelligence

Many continuous management platforms require additional licenses and deployment efforts for AI/ML technology to support use cases such as automated event correlation, smart virtual agents, or change risk analysis. This drives up total cost of ownership, and AI effectiveness can be limited when bolted on. Look for built-in intelligence instead.

5. Lack of support for hybrid environments

A continuous management platform that is limited in its ability to support cloud, containers, and on-premises environments is going to be ineffective in supporting multiple product-aligned organizations. Look for hybrid discovery capabilities; automated, agnostic deployment; multi-cloud monitoring and AIOps; and governance anywhere.

Add this critical ingredient

With more digital services comes the need to meet increasing customer and employee IT service expectations. That makes continuous management platforms the critical ingredient for supporting digital transformation. The agility to keep pace with changing user demands within cost constraints is best served by a continuous management platform approach, rather than investing in redundant, disconnected tools. By avoiding these continuous management platform challenges, you'll help your organization transform without all the drama.

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