An Interview with Tony Price, Principal Consultant for Virtual Clarity

Tony Price, IT4IT™ Open Group, Principal Consultant, Virtual Clarity

With a stated passion for driving value realisation and differentiation through the exploitation of Information Technology, over the past 30 years Tony has become recognised in the industry for his knowledge and experience in IT Service Management. Mainly due to his personal involvement in large scale global transformation programmes.

More recently Tony has become an advocate and practitioner of IT4IT™ from the Open Group® as he states this brings together the “missing link” in IT – a Reference Architecture, Value Based thinking and a far more prescriptive approach to running the business of IT.

Having worked across all industry sectors, regularly Global CIO / VP levels within the organisation he has a range of specialities that include (but are not limited to!): IT Operating Models, IT Transformation programmes, ITIL / IT Service Management deployments, Process Engineering (Design and Deployment), CMMi, Cultural Change, Management of organisational change, Business development.

Continuing the exploration of the multitude of frameworks available – Tony kindly took time out to speak to us about IT4IT in order that we could try to help our customers better understand the principles behind the framework.

How did you become involved with IT4IT?

I was late to IT4IT having been involved mainly in ITIL. When I was introduced to it, IT4IT version 1 was largely complete. My immediate reaction to it was “this is brilliant”.

The Open Group realised that the IT industry was not well controlled, vendors were dominating the space and telling people what methods to use and what tools to buy, but many of the tools would not integrate very well and only provided a point solution. IT people were also chasing the trendiest thing, Big Data, DevOps, buying new tools and creating new processes etc, and it was becoming a mess. This allowed IT to effectively take its eye off the ball and  I think IT has focused its efforts on the wrong place, for example we have a whole industry around Service desk because we are poor at IT rather than improving IT so there were no failures or incidents!’

How is it relevant in todays environment?

Tectonic shifts happen because of numerous global conditions all coming together at once – and we are now there in IT:

– Science fiction and science fact have begun to align
– Technology can deliver what was once visionary
– Bots now speak to bots
– There is social and economic revolution due to world economics
– And most importantly there is a community of people capable of accepting and exploiting the latest technologies (millennial’s)

We are also trying to fix the old technology with the existing frameworks instead of looking to the future and new approaches.

So, compare traditional organisations to digital start-ups with no legacy in today’s economy – and people are asking why we can’t be like that?’

‘The premise behind IT4IT was that you would build a reference architecture for building and setting up IT properly. It is about making the standards work, within IT4IT there are references to other approaches, naming ITIL, COBIT, ETOM etc’

So what exactly is IT4IT?

IT4IT was designed for the business of IT. The goal was not to come up with something revolutionary but to look at existing best practices, such as Michael Porter, Value based thinking, then Value Chains broken down into Value Streams – then broken into IT streams and analysed it.

There are 4 core value streams with a backbone of supporting activities, based around the IT Value Chain:

– Strategy to portfolio – Drive IT Portfolio to business innovation
– Requirement to Deploy – Build what the business needs when it needs it
– Request to Fulfill– how to catalog, fulfil and manage service usage
– Detect to Connect – Anticipate and resolve production issues

The great thing about IT4IT is the key industry themes such as Security, DevOps, IOT, Cloud can be applied to a single structured reference architecture.

What are the main benefits over other frameworks?

The Functional Components defined in IT4IT have information flows identified between them – it is cutting down the number of integration points, so vendors can better map their technology to them. This enables organisations to rationalising the number of tools used to run IT, reduce cost and operational risk.  Also, many organisations have integrated solution because they can rather than by design creating an over complex, over integrated, sub optimised IT landscape. IT4IT helps organisations to recognise this and simplify whilst “making IT Flow”.

When you look at outsourcing contracts often companies are paying for multiple contracts to run the same services and do the same things. When contacts are overlaid onto IT4IT this becomes obvious, so again you can optimise things ensuring you are paying once and using many.

Another great benefit from IT4IT is you can see when over optimisation creates systemic waste for example when organisations become obsessed with having the best point solution in the world at the expense of the other solutions that need to integrate. That is what this tries to address along with Kanban, Lean etc.

I am extremely passionate about IT4IT – but do I think it will be relevant in ten years – no – its helping people reduce cost and increase efficiency now whilst we wait for the next generation technology and the next generation of Operating models and associated architectural reference models.

So who are the Open Group?

The Open Group member organisations work to establish open, vendor-neutral IT standards and certifications in a variety of subject areas critical to the enterprise.

The Open Group IT4IT™ Reference Architecture is a standard reference architecture for managing the business of IT. It uses a value chain approach to create a model of the functions that IT performs to help organisations identify the activities that contribute to business competitiveness.

So what is needed for the future?

An audience capable of accepting change – inviting in the younger, up and coming individuals to innovate and bring new ways of working and challenge the norm. I personally like the concept of fail fast, learn, move on – you learn more through failure than success. Bringing in new ways of working and a new audience that will challenge the norm is key for the future.

Thank-you Tony for your time.


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