SIAM or Service Integration & Management is a framework which originated in the UK as a result of a government project to deliver a unified IT service in a multi sourced IT Outsourcing environment. Wikipedia has catalogued it as “Service integration and management”.
SIAM is a recent phenomenon which has the potential of becoming the next big thing in IT services. Since 2013, SIAM adoption has spread to the non-government sector with several deals across the world. SIAM should not be confused with Enterprise Architecture or Enterprise Integration. So what really is it?
Simply put, SIAM is a framework, model or set of ideas to help customers manage a multi-sourced IT environment and deliver a unified user experience and predictable services across the enterprise. IT is still managed in silos and towers to suit internal structures. While there has been some (and quite rudimentary) progress on creating a common governance structure, not much has been done to create unified IT Service Management processes.
In a multi sourced IT environment, each silo or tower tends to report a decent performance but there is deep dissatisfaction at the enterprise level. This is because individual teams (whether outsourced or internal) are not coordinated at a process level and this process fragmentation causes major disruptions and business value erosion. Some CIOs realize this problem but either don’t have the skills to fix the problem or the budgets to seek outside help. The bad news for CIOs is that the problem is getting bigger by the day with the increasing penetration of cloud services. The difference between the quality and predictability of cloud services and those provided by “traditional” IT services providers is becoming very stark.
Some customers feel that creating an enterprise Help Desk delivers a common and consistent user experience. This is partly true but the fact is that less than 50% incidents or trouble tickets are resolved by the help desk. Level 2 and Level 3 processes differ across suppliers and internal teams both in quality and across measurable parameters. A business user could end up getting supported by 7 or 8 different providers – each with different service levels. Unfortunately, in most cases the critical business applications are still supported by traditional IT services and the service levels delivered by them are clearly a sore issue.
Almost every organization across the world has taken some degree of the best of breed approach to managing its IT. Examples of total outsourcing to a single master services provider are few and far between. Therefore most CIOs will face the problem of how to solve the SIAM challenge. Who can they turn to for help? Almost every large IT services provider has a SIAM or similar offering. However, their primary goal will always be to expand their traditional IT services footprint and there are serious questions about whether and how the other providers will trust them. After all, no one would be comfortable opening up the cook book to someone you compete with in the market!!
Is finding a neutral partner for SIAM the way to go? Someone who will not actually deliver any of the services but only play the SIAM role? Yes, if customers are able to find a partner with the right level of outsourcing experience, commitment and teaming ability. While expertise is crucial, the ability to lead diverse providers, anticipate & resolve conflicts, deliver change management on the customer side and finally create a common goal & deliver it will be the key.
CIOs must however realize that such SIAM partners are unlikely to take overall financial responsibility for all the vendors. This could be a negative in some situations but in most cases, it should save tons of money without sacrificing the level of responsibility expected. So where does that leave traditional Systems Integrators and Master Services contractors? At the deep end I am afraid!!
The author is Uday Tembulkar, Co Founder of Empacus.