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There’s a structured approach to the delivery of IT services that is starting to gain momentum among Global 2000 companies that could have significant implications for solution providers in the channel.
This structured methodology is called the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which has recently been updated to a version three release that seeks to provide an integrated lifecycle approach to IT.

Initially developed by the Office of Government Commerce, which is an office of the Treasury Department of the United Kingdom, the value of ITIL doesn’t come from any innate new wisdom to be found in the guidelines, but rather the simple comprehensive nature of the framework.

As such, global 2000 companies have been embracing the guideline to create a structured approach to delivering IT services. In essence, rather than seeing IT as one massive entity, ITIL is teaching IT organizations to think about IT as a series of discrete services that come with their own set of costs that need to be justified back to the business.

What makes this interesting to solution providers is the fact that it shows the IT customers are beginning to think about each service as an individual product. And as that happens, they are going to be a lot more amenable to augmenting or replacing specific sets of services with offerings from third-party solution providers.

That shift in thinking represents a potential boon for solution providers as the age old divide between internal IT organizations and solution providers becomes a lot less tense because in essence the internal IT organization is morphing into becoming a service provider. And organizations that operate in that mind set are going to evaluate their ability to deliver certain sets of services a whole lot differently than IT organizations that take a monolithic approach to IT.

This change couldn’t come at a better time because most solution providers in an age of managed services are also rethinking how they deliver services. In essence, each type of IT service is being turned into a product with set levels of pricing and associated services in contrast to a time and materials approach to services that usually results in a lot less profit for the solution provider.

Now that IT organizations will begin to think like service providers, the odds are better they will actually understand the pricing models that drive any particular service delivered by a third party as opposed to asking for infinite support regardless of the price actually paid for the product that the service is built on.
For a lot of solution providers, the advent of ITIL may also present significant challenges to their own business models.

The world as a whole is beginning to think of IT as set of discrete services so if a solution provider doesn’t organize their business along those lines, the odds are good that they are limiting the profitability of their business. But it will also take a while for this whole trend to play out all the way through the small to medium business segment, so it’s not like every solution provider has to implement wholesale changes to their services model overnight.

But the sooner they start the better off their company will be in the long term and when we look back in time at what separated successful solution providers from those that failed, the odds are strong that it will basically come down to how they organized their IT services.