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By Mike Alley, Service Management Principal, Logicalis US

From weight scales and robotics in manufacturing plants to smart security, smart buildings and smart transportation initiatives, IT leaders in nearly every industrial vertical market will soon be inundated with the management of both the data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices as well as the management of the devices themselves.  In fact, of the nearly 21 billion connected “things” research and advisory firm Gartner1 predicts will be in use by 2020, 7.6 billion of those will be a combination of industrial-based cross-industry and vertical market units, each of which requires the same lifecycle management as any other IT equipment. This can be an overwhelming realization for CIOs who don’t have an adequate configuration management strategy for their current IT environments, the foundation upon which all future digital strategies will be built.

If you have the right framework in place, your organization can evolve as its digital transformation takes shape. But you can’t take full advantage of the Internet of Things – or the developing digital age – without a strong overall service management strategy which includes configuration management as a key component. While configuration management is one of the top ITIL processes and people talk a lot about it, it is both the least implemented and perhaps the most foundational. So, if you don’t get configuration management right, you can’t build what you need to create a true digital strategy on top of it.

First, let’s discuss what configuration management is all about. Configuration management is the process by which IT tracks and manages each configuration item (CI) within that organization – from individual pieces of the IT infrastructure such as servers or network routers to IT services or policies – throughout that CI’s lifecycle, acquisition to disposal. In the operational phase, this includes designing and implementing processes for continuously gathering data and updating the configuration management database (CMDB) with each CI’s current status – both in-house and cloud-based – as well as the relationships it has with other CIs and the impact each device has on key business processes.

Many IT professionals have mistakenly developed the idea that creating this kind of configuration management strategy is too difficult, time consuming and costly, but I tell my clients, in the long run, not having one will have an even higher cost as organizations miss out on the emergence of the next digital age and the competitive benefits it has to offer.

If you’re not sure if your configuration management strategy is ready for the IoT and your organization’s burgeoning digital transformation, ask yourself the following three telltale questions.  And if you don’t have a satisfactory answer, give me a call and let me show you how Logicalis can help.

  1. Who in your organization is responsible for configuration management? It’s a simple question – and either there’s a quick answer or there isn’t. If you cannot identify who holds this responsibility in your organization, you’re not ready for a true digital transformation – and the next two questions are not worth asking.
  2. Do you have a complete list of your organization’s configuration items – including those in the cloud? The basis of configuration management is having and maintaining an accurate and complete list of all CIs that work together to build IT services and meet business needs. Having a complete list of CIs gives you the ability to assess risk for change management or prioritize remedies in the event of an outage. Without that list, IT as a whole is solely dependent on the knowledge held precariously in the heads of a handful of experienced IT team members.
  3. Do you feel confident you can manage the influx of IoT devices your organization will need to fully embrace the digital age over the next five years? As the whole concept of “digital” becomes increasingly more important, organizations will either embrace the IoT and its associated CI infrastructure or they won’t remain competitive – it’s that basic. If you ask this question and the answer is no, there’s a definite crack in your organization’s IT foundation.

Want to learn more? Explore the benefits and challenges of ITSM as well as key implementation strategies in this brief video featuring Logicalis’ Services Management Principal, Mike Alley. Next, discover the ways ITSM can help you provide a strategic vision and roadmap for your organization’s digital transformation.  Finally, learn why ITSM isn’t just for IT anymore:  Still have questions? We make the complex simple – contact us to discuss your most pressing business problems.

1Press Release: “Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected ‘Things’ Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent from 2016