Service Nerds SIAM Q&A

What you need to know about Service Integration and Management.

A few days ago Robert Sieber from the Service Nerds interviewed Markus Müller, co-founder of Blueponte, on the topic of SIAM. You can listen to the interview here, or read on to find out more.

Which problem does SIAM solve?

SIAM lets you combine the advantages of multi-sourcing, i.e. best of breed from every vendor, with the simplicity of single-sourcing. The service provision should look simple for customers. Even if a complex network of service providers has to be controlled, the complexity should be unnoticeable for the customer. The aim is to align the entire value chain with the customer in mind.

This is what an external service integrator is used for. The service integrator must act independently of individual providers. If a company acts as an integrator and is also a service provider, it can lead to a conflict of objectives. If you want to know more about the role of a Service Integrator, read here.

How does SIAM solve the problems of Multi-Sourcing?

There are a variety of contractual and informal relationships in a SIAM ecosystem. SIAM steps right into the agreements and interaction in the relationship triangle between customer, integrator and service provider. It also takes the interactions between the individual service providers into account. The ultimate measurement is how satisfied the customer organization is with the overall service performance. However, the issue of billing services is also of great importance. In many technically savvy organizations, the competencies for billing are missing. These are skills that define a good service integrator. The presence of the service integrator is a prerequisite for SIAM.

The reasons why what has been agreed is often not achieved can often be attributed to a lack of role clarity. The service integrator has a moderating role here. In particular, any form of finger-pointing has to be addressed and avoided.

What is the role of the service integrator?

A key goal of the service integrator is to reduce the complexity of the value chain and to offer enough information for effective decision-making. This can be done at the operational or the tactical level. Incident management could serve as an example for a distributed WAN service that is provided for different components and with different partners for each country. The application of SIAM practices makes a significant contribution to reducing complexity and ensuring the continuity of service provision.

Another essential point that SIAM addresses is a dynamic that has accompanied outsourcing from the start. Most of the time, a customer organization begins to substitute services provided by the service provider that are not in accordance with the contract, regardless of whether this is done consciously or unconsciously. Service providers are starting to rely on it because they know from experience that there is still an authority to step in anyway. This can occur, for example, when service levels expire. One solution is to work consistently on the process and service level and not on the level of operational tasks and backlogs. However, it requires a different mindset and different skills. In the short term, substitution can help to counter customer pressure. In the long term, however, it often turns out to be a trap, because the exception becomes the rule. As simple as this sounds in theory, the decisions are difficult to make in practice because they also risk escalation through business areas.

In other words, too strong a technical orientation is rather a hindrance for a service integrator. The recruiting for employees of the service integrator must pay attention to this and look for a service integrator-specific skill profile.

What is the added value of a service integrator?

There is agreement on the question of where the value contribution of the service integrator lies. It is not incident handling but ensuring communication between the actors.

The aim of SIAM is to coordinate different types of service providers with different degrees of maturity in such a way that the services can be complemented and merged into a business service.

The provocative thesis in the interview, according to which very few providers can actually deliver services, can hardly be contradicted from the customer’s point of view. In our experience, however, the change in perspective shows that the provision of services is blocked by the dependencies on the customer and the lack of transparency. This is exactly where the service integrator is required as a neutral mediator. However, SIAM requires an established service management. SIAM is based on service management and is taking the next step: away from individual service providers, towards a network of providers. SIAM can also be used as a specific further development of service management for cloud computing.

Can the large cloud providers be controlled by a comparatively small company? Maybe not. SIAM adopts a different attitude towards the cloud provider. The distinction between whether the partner is seen as a ‘High Trust’ or a ‘Low Trust’ partner is crucial when it comes to how it is integrated into the SIAM ecosystem. A large cloud provider will probably be classified as a ‘high trust’ partner and we trust that they will have their processes under control. On the other hand, classic outsourcing partners with different shoring types are more likely to be classified as low trust.

In the interview, the thesis was initially put forward that SIAM might become obsolete in a distant future in which only cloud services exist. However, in the course of the discussion, this was seen as an extreme and rather theoretical scenario, as IT will always be dealing with a hybrid form for an indefinite period of time. Many of the fundamentals of SIAM are not new and are known and proven knowledge and best practices.

Good service integrators know that it is not about a purely technical integration, but about the process of bringing the service providers closer together. At the beginning there is always uncertainty and it is about establishing trust in order to create the feeling of unity. At its core it’s all about trust, because that’s the glue that holds every organization and society together.

This is why we at Blueponte bring trust to IT-Sourcing.

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