IT operations management: service platform wars

| By:
Brett Cheloff

If you’re like most IT professionals, you keep up-to-date on new tech trends that are sweeping the industry, like the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, DevOps, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), software-defined networking (SDN), etc. Yet outside of the traditional tech sites, have you had time to notice a trend with today’s service desk and management vendors?

HINT: We’re all talking about the same things. Platform! Single-pane-of-glass! A vision for the future of IT operations!

Same story. New world.

Before we get to this vision for the future, let’s first think of these vendors in the most general terms. A business management platform helps you with your service desk. A remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform helps you manage systems. Simple, right?

But what if you could start blending the two together? Maybe have a dispatcher do password resets? Or easy software installs? If you could do that and enable your service desk staff to manage more day-to-day operational requests, instead of just dispatching techs, you’d get something new—IT operations management (a.k.a. ITOM).

What is ITOM?

Put simply, ITOM blends of your organization’s service desk and management solutions, so the business gets a better return on their investment. The idea isn’t new. In fact, RMM and PSA vendors have been duking it out for years over who should be the ‘single-pane-of-glass’ to drive hyper agility and efficiency in their customer’s business. And what have you gotten out of it? Management solutions that offer service desk capabilities (and vice versa) that often fail to delight, simply because the latter isn’t their primary focus.

You may have seen vendors put an end to the fighting by investing in (or outright buying) their counterpart (e.g. ConnectWise Manage & ConnectWise Automate or Autotask & CentraStage). ConnectWise is truly the leader in this area, having invested in ConnectWise Automate, formerly LabTech, over 5 years ago. What you’re really seeing, in the most human terms possible, is vendors choosing an ally for what’s to come—the ‘Service Platform Wars.’

On the shoulders of giants

Tech giants like Microsoft, Apple and Google have been fighting a similar war, trying to attract the highest number of talented developers to create new innovations (i.e. apps) that are unique to each. For those watching close enough, you can even see their battle plans being laid out.

Today, vendors are taking lessons from these tech giants and starting to evolve from ‘a company with a platform’ to ‘a platform company’—including some service desk and management vendors. ServiceNow (a personal favorite) and Salesforce are two great examples.

As more of your vendors embark on this journey, take a moment to ensure you see the direction they’re heading. When you hear the words ‘unified platform,’ pause for a moment, as this typically means the vendor is going to build integrations no one else could replicate. While this makes business sense from their standpoint, it means if you want to get the most out of one product, you really need to buy the entire suite, essentially creating vendor lock-in.

The right tools for the job

Here at ConnectWise, we believe in choice. Because of that, we take an ‘open-platform’ approach and are constantly looking for new vendors to work with. Meaning, if you like ConnectWise Automate, but don’t want to use ConnectWise Manage, you won’t hurt our feelings. You can choose from any other service desk vendor that we integrate with, like ServiceNow, Autotask or TigerPaw. Similarly, if you like ConnectWise Manage, but don’t want to use ConnectWise Automate, you can choose another management vendor that integrates with us.

By embracing an open platform, you can rest assured that we eat our own dog food, especially when it comes to platforms. We welcome competition from other vendors who create integrations into our products. It’s this kind of philosophy that ensures you continually get the best experience as the lines between your service desk and management tools continue to blur.