The Evolution of Business Service Management (BSM)

Looking back, the emergence of business service management (BSM) seems inevitable. This new generation of tools helps IT organizations manage technology infrastructures within the context of the key services they provide for their customers. BSM tools are critical enablers for the increasingly popular process-focused IT Service Management (ITSM) approach.

What’s driving this evolution to BSM and its related IT management paradigms? Executive Consultant Troy DuMoulin of Pink Elephant, an ITIL events and consulting firm, explains, “The interest in ITIL, the evolution of legislation like SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002), and the interest in standards is symptomatic of something much more rudimentary. At the base of this growing focus on formalization and legislation is a growing awareness of exposure and dependency that the business has on IT. Before, IT was seen as an enabler, supportive but yet somehow separated from the business processes themselves. But now there is a realization that there is no true separation between the business process and the underlying IT services and systems.”

Information technology has become so vital to business today – so ubiquitous in every aspect – that most businesses literally cannot function without it anymore. Even simple manual tasks like filling a car with gas or cashing a check now require the support of an IT system.

This heightened reliance on IT has placed companies at a crossroads. They are compelled to address this new dependency by putting processes and technology in place to ensure IT does its job serving the business effectively. So the move to BSM can be seen as a natural reaction to the new way IT interacts with and enables business.

“BSM is a way for a company to agree on what the business expectations are, and manage the IT performance to those agreed upon expectations,” clarifies Brian Childers, a consultant who also serves on the Board of Directors for itSMF USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting best practices in IT services management. “Once we understand the expectations, we can build the processes to suit the expectations, and manage against them.”

Vendors are responding rapidly to these new service management imperatives. Leading software providers – like HP, BMC, Mercury and Managed Objects – are already introducing new BSM-versions of their popular tools to help revolutionize the way IT managers gauge technology performance and leverage that knowledge to meet business needs. And new kinds of automated, self-learning software from companies like Netuitive, are making it easier than ever for managers to cut across their technology silos and tie together their existing management tools.

“Over the years – especially during the frenetic IT build-out of the late 1990s – companies cobbled together a mishmash of systems within their IT organizations,” adds Tony Gilbert, vice president at Netuitive. “The result now is a heterogeneous set of components in the IT environment, and individual departmental silos for managing each one. The right set of BSM tools makes it possible to tie together all of these pieces of technology across an enterprise and to monitor IT from the perspective of the service it delivers.”

BSM tools help IT groups see technology in terms of how it impacts their business services, and zero-in on the cause of a particular performance issue that is affecting that service — a capability companies do not have when they manage IT solely through technology silos. The new BSM tools can also enable a company to prioritize resources based on the relative importance of multiple business services. For example, a brokerage firm could manage online trading or online banking services holistically instead of piecemeal within silos: the server group, the database group, the application group.

More Than Just Technology

But completely changing a management approach is not easy. “For the last 20 years our industry has been focused on managing technology. Management of IT has been by domains, such as mainframes, networks and databases. But those domains don’t truly live in isolation.” Pink Elephant’s DuMoulin continues, “A basic premise is that there is a business requirement for IT to understand how any given IT component relates to another and how these devices support or potentially disable a business process. When you understand IT from this perspective you see that you cannot manage by technology or device. You need to understand the relationship between those devices, and how they relate to IT services, and ultimately how IT services are consumed by business.”

The people factor remains an issue, too. For many organizations, BSM often requires a corporate culture change. IT personnel must learn that they don’t just manage boxes and applications, but actually provide services that the business consumes in order to survive and thrive. Most experts agree that the tools are out there, and are necessary, but they go hand in hand with changing processes and changing the way companies perceive the value of IT.

“Some people believe that it doesn’t matter what technology you use as long as you have the right processes in place,” comments Ken Wendle, the ITSM Solution Lead at HP. “But I have always said that IT service management is a combination of people and process, enabled by the right technology, all working in synergy with each other. It is about the intelligent blending of technology to enable and enforce the right processes, which then will allow an organization to execute around business priorities.”

“I have seen companies that put the right processes in place, and trained the right people, but then created process silos,” HP’s Wendle also notes. “But ITSM is about cutting across the technology silos, not just creating another set of process silos on top of them. ITSM is about taking a holistic approach.”

The BSM Evolution Continues

Where is BSM going from here? “One of the missing ingredients today is the enrollment of the business community,” itSMF’s Childers believes. “They need to understand what BSM is and why they would want to support it. I think the better job everyone does with bringing the business side onboard, the faster BSM will progress.”

“I don’t think companies have gained all the benefits of technology that they could,” HP’s Wendle agrees. “The business people need to understand and appreciate what IT can do to help the business side of the organization.”

Clearly there is work to be done, but the adoption of ITSM and the BSM tools that support it continues to gain momentum as more companies realize this is a prerequisite for success in a new world where business and IT have become one.

“The prediction is that over the next five years, ITSM will be as impactful as ERP systems were, or maybe more,” itSMF’s Childers concludes. “I don’t think ITSM is going away, because it makes too much sense.” And innovative BSM vendors will continue to develop new tools to help.

Marketing Your Business Services

Marketing your business services, in essence, is an art form rooted in knowing your market inside and out. This is the single most important component to your campaign and should be treated like a plant in a ceramic pot sitting on your office window sill. You must accommodate it’s every need to keep it alive and flourishing.

Let’s start with defining your business. What are your business goals? In order to be a successful company, you must maintain a target focus. Master an approach to three or four major industries. As you specialize in these industry segments, you will have in your possession, the knowledge required to cater to their needs and increase your competitiveness. Illuminate all of your success stories within these industries to sell yourself into new business accounts.

Your marketing material is your identity. It should represent your brand and services. The more creative you are with your design and copy, the better chance you have to platform yourself as not just a role model, but a leader of your field. This component introduces us to the next element: your industry profile. Reach out to external organizations and participate in their programs. This is a great way to showcase your work and contribute to the community. You may consider trade shows, open houses and most importantly volunteer work. These are great avenues for showcasing your capabilities.

Return on investment (ROI) is most clearly demonstrated with direct marketing. The best way to increase the return on your investment is through target marketing. This is done by picking through large amounts of your customer data and specifying your campaign and content towards a particular demographic and sale. This element will help you to build your appeal not just to prospects but also to your existing customers.

Remember, you have many audiences: your customers, your community, the media and your employees. Tailor your strategies and activities to your purpose with each of them.

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Global Trends For the Financial Service Industry

As the economic crisis continues to unfold, the financial service industry faces serious challenges. The crisis is rooted in continuous imbalances, including long periods of low interest rates, rapidly rising asset prices, and massive credit and savings imbalances. The 2007 and 2008 Reports from the World Economic Forum predicted these changes as continuous risk to the market.

Earlier decades of exceptional growth and capitalism at its best have now caused the market to adapt to tighter credit, growing government intervention, slowing pace of globalization, and no economic growth. With increasing regulations in the United States and decreasing availability of credit, the industry faces a significant risk of stunted growth. The global recession is also affecting the financial sector because of capital markets and decreased aggregate demand, according to Max von Bismarck, Director and Head of Investor Industries.

This article will provide leaders, employees and investors in the financial service industry with five unique and timely trends to keep in the forefront of their growth strategies for the next five years. These five key trends will shape the post financial crisis in a holistic and systematic manner.

FIVE KEY TRENDS

GLOBAL BANKING. According to the World Bank, although many banks such as American Express, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase conduct business in multiple countries, they are relatively regional in the United States. In order to grow, the financial industry will have to infiltrate emerging markets. For companies that have a more aggressive growth strategy, the spread to emerging markets such as Africa and Asia presents unparalleled opportunities for profit and increased market share.

IT PLATFORM SHARING. Network World confirms that financial service firms’ business strategies must be altered for the new dynamics and intricacies of today’s market. Immediate access to information and integration along product lines and geography are a must for future success. With the need to supply information to a global market, firms must decrease cost. One cost effective initiative is the use of platform sharing; like cell phone companies that collaborate with local companies in order to decrease cost and increase access, financial firms can do the same.

E-BANKING. A special report from The Economist sees that with 3.5 billion people with cell phones and an expected 10-20% year over year growth, personal and business banking transactions are conducted through cell phones more and more. Thus, E-banking capability is quickly becoming an increasing requirement in order to compete in the marketplace. E-banking capabilities provide companies with essential flexibility and differentiation in the market through Internet-based service applications.

MOBILE MONEY. The increase of mobile phone usage in emerging markets makes mobile money a safe, low cost initiative for the financial sector. It is an easier way to transfer money to family and friends, money is sent, and payments and withdrawals can be made without ever going to a physical bank or payment center. M-Pesa, an early developer of mobile money, concluded that mobile money “has enormous social and economic benefits.”

SELF-SERVICE. Self-service and the customer should be a primary focus for firms in this new financial service world, according to IBM. AppViewXS is a self-service portal firms can purchase, so customers can check the status of their account and gain instant access to available services. Customer questions and concerns are addressed more quickly, states an IBM representative. This technology automates many processes; the result is that staff workload is reduced while representatives operate faster and more efficiently.

Financial service firms need to have sustainable, steady expansion in the emerging markets in order to grow in the future. Deloitte and Touche Research reports that financial service firms have not positioned themselves to capitalize on more geographically dispersed opportunities. More than 93 percent of the executives interviewed for this report acknowledged that their firms “are not operating in a globally integrated fashion.”

The same report states that financial firms need to invest away from veteran or mature markets and toward emerging markets because “by 2025, veteran markets will be rivaled by other markets with faster growing economies and increasingly sophisticated financial product appetites.” USA based firms can look toward Japanese and African markets for expansion opportunities. Kennedy Consulting analysts believe that the market will rebound from the global financial crisis in 2011, but there will not be any return to the robust levels prior to 2007 until much later in the decade; hopefully, the five key trends in this report will help the leaders, employees and investors in the financial service industry to look toward a robust sound future.

In addition to growth strategies, in the 2002 Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Henson and Wilson discuss the extreme changes that have occurred in the financial service industry and how many firms are trying to develop and execute successful strategies based on innovative technology and customers. Aside from the regular ups and downs of the financial world, technology and innovation will always prevail as the win-win for the financial service industry. Because online banking has become the norm for most customers, technology will be very important in these firms’ strategies.

With the customer at the center of most trends in financial service firms, creating new values for their current and potential clients beyond current expectations will be a top priority. The need for convenience mixed with technology makes mobile money a great initiative in the emerging as well as the developed markets. Many firms have speed pay, the ability to pay without swiping the card, as part of their credit card services. An embedded chip in the credit card enables payments to be made by putting the card close to the payment processor. Mobile money will be an expansion of payment and money transfers without the need for a card, the need to go to a physical bank, or to use Internet banking. Payments, transfers, deposits and withdrawals can be made with a cell phone.

The World Bank concurs that innovative technology and an increase in e-business strategies will lead to much lower costs and greater competition in financial services. Internet and related technologies, the World Bank affirms, are more than just new delivery channels; they are an inexpensive, different, and very effective way to provide the same services. Since financial service firms must grow organically, build customer loyalty, and accommodate the customers’ expanding needs for services and convenience, partnerships with new technology businesses will allow them to lower their expenses and be competitive.

Established firms such as Amex, Citibank, and others can partner with groups such as the wired tech savvy Google Alumni who are not averse to risk and who own fledgling technology businesses that are reshaping the industry with a new wave of innovative products, write Spencer Ante and Kimberly Weisul of Business Week. Mobile Money Ventures is one such fledgling company that is a provider on the forefront of alternative financial service products. Small companies such as these are able to provide well-known financial firms the wherewithal to open in emerging markets where there is a need for cooperation with other firms in order to attain then obtain the local customer base.

Today’s competition is fueled not just by profitable customers, but also by the firms that are the most efficient and cost effective. Procedural and cultural clash will result from expanding into unknown markets as seen by the history of Citibank in Asia Minor. But in the long run, tighter regulations, new technology and improved business processes will cause expanding in emerging markets not only to change the demographics of the clients (both geographically and core clients), but also to better the global economy and the future of the financial services industry. Keeping the previous trends at the forefront of managers’ strategic plans, financial firms will rebound bigger and better than ever.

Cost Effective Business Services

A business services franchise is a good option for many who are willing to serve the corporate world. A business franchisee needs an investment in terms of fees, real estate, marketing, merchandise etc. there are both small business services as well as high cost businesses in the category. Here we discuss some prominent business services franchises.

Financial services: The financial services space is rapidly growing in India. It is one of the most significant business services in India. According to the latest Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) data, financial services, banking, insurance and real estate sectors have risen by 7.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2009-10. This displays the success of the financial service industry. With the over-all increase in the finance services seekers, finance service providers took to franchise route, thus creating a great scope for franchise opportunity.

Till a few years back, the franchising which was an unknown concept in this field has gained lot of momentum in the present times. Before discussing the factors responsible for this development, let us first get familiar with the term ‘Financial services franchisors’.

Financial services refer to services provided by the financial service companies. The finance service companies encompass a broad range of organisations that deal with money management. A few of these organisations include banks, insurance companies, consumer finance companies, stock brokerages, investment funds etc. These companies offer various services such as asset protection, investment and savings, retirement plans, customer-orientated service, besides offering personal loans, commercial loans, mortgage loans, and education loans for the aspiring students. Financial service providers are on the rise as franchising as a mode of expansion is being opted by this industry. Manish Shah, Associate Director- Business Strategy, Equity & Product Development, Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd shared, “The belief in entrepreneurship and the drive it brings to the business, made Motilal Oswal take the franchise route. Franchising brings more scalability to the business and the business becomes entrepreneur driven.”

Courier Services: Another category of business services is courier service. The companies basically work around transportation of goods from one place to another, delivery of documents, packages, and larger shipments of products. These provide services to companies and individuals who need rapid service, accountability, and tracking that regular mail does not accommodate. Courier services are more reliable and dependable as compared to ordinary postal services due to less time consumed and delivery guarantee. However, with the introduction of modern gadgets and faster modes of transportation this system has also progressed a lot. Moreover, franchising is also one of the main stimulants of its popularity and profitability.

Franchising in this sector has grown with more and more players taking the franchise model for reaching out to far flung areas in the vast nation. Courier service companies are required to deliever important mails and parcels to any part, whether city, town or village in the country. Therefore, franchising can be the best mode for guaranteed delivery of the items. According to DS Patel, Channel Head, DTDC, “Franchising is an essential and most effective way of expanding the network. Opening our own company owned courier offices is very expensive and time consuming. However a franchise outlet is economically beneficial to the company.” As informed by Praveen Govindraj, Assistant General Manager, First Flight Courier, “Franchising definitely helps in directly reaching to far-fling areas for delivering items due to our local partners in those areas.” He further added, “Franchising can be a win-win situation for both the franchisor and franchisees as both benefit from it. The local partner (franchisee) has a much better idea of a particular locality than the main company which is based out of Delhi or Mumbai. Delivering parcels to small towns and cities becomes difficult and also take a lot of time if it is done by the company in metropolitan areas. At such times the local franchisee can be of great help.” This can be the major reason for courier companies to opt for the franchise route. Moreover, having local partners all over the nation, who deliver all items on time, also increases the credibility and profit making of the parent company.

The typical feature of the courier service franchise includes doorstep booking, customer convenience and security of each and every consignment that has been entrusted to it. Jaguar Couriers Franchise, Blazeflash Couriers, etc are some of the franchising companies under this category.

Cartridge refilling: Cartridge refilling forms another business service category. In the modern age of I.T, there is a constantly growing need of cartridgere-fills. Foraying in the cartridge refill industry through franchise route is a promising venture. A cartridge refill franchise offers to its user’s quality refills at a fractional cost. Current industry trends and future projections suggest that printer cartridges demand will continue to multiply at a very fast pace as computers and low cost printers swamp the market. Cartridge World, Cartridge CafĂ©, Cartridge Xpress are some of the good low-cost franchise options.

Challenges

Every business has attached to it certain set of challenges. Though the basic challenges remain the same across the board for all business service franchises, their relevance with each sector differs.
Before opting for any of the above options, clear all your doubts. Apart from your initial investment, take into account the ongoing costs that must be paid to your franchisor, including franchise royalties, marketing fees and other required purchases. After you are convinced go ahead and make your mark in the franchising world!