In an ever-changing world, where IT has to come to grips with trends like cloud computing, BYOD (bring your own device), multiple apps and scattered end-users, IT service management has become more crucial than ever.
This year’s Smexa (Service Management Exhibition Africa) conference, to be held from 24 to 25 July in Sunninghill, Johannesburg, will help to put these and other issues into perspective, and offer IT service managers solid solutions to help them meet the new wave of challenges.

“Last year, Smexa looked at the fundamentals of IT service management (ITSM) and what IT leaders need to have in place to succeed in a changing technology landscape,” says spokesperson Johann Botha.

“This year, the conference will focus on what’s beyond the foundations, and what the fundamental elements are that are needed. We are hoping to learn from subject experts, giving practical advice, focusing on the lessons learnt in the real world – delegates will get a good idea of what does and doesn’t work.”

What’s important in the new world of computing, says Botha, is to help IT managers add value to their environments.

“It’s a strange thing that when things are going well we talk about increasing value, but when they are going badly we talk about managing risk. It should really be the other way around.”

Some of the speakers will focus the issue of risk, he says, addressing new trends and how they change the risk landscape.

One of the fundamental questions that delegates are asking this year is whether their assumptions about best practice are still relevant. Many of these practices were formulated for a centralised, controlled systems model – but in the new world of computing, IT simply doesn’t have the same level of control.
Importantly, in the new world where cloud computing is becoming prevalent, IT service management will become more important than ever, Botha says.

“If you think about the huge cloud infrastructure providers, they are not going to sign an SLA (service level agreement) with your company where you can dictate the terms, so IT needs to find new ways to manage the risk.”

While we talk about issues like availability and security as ends in themselves, he adds; they are really all part of the over-arching risk profile.
IT is assuming a much more strategic role in many organisations, Botha points out. In many instances the products or services that companies offer are based completely or in part of an IT solution.

However, IT management is still largely relegated to the back room.
“We keep saying that IT has become the business. But we are still not elevated to the boardroom to discuss the issues that affect IT and – by extension – the business.”

New frameworks like COBIT 5 address this very issue, he adds, offering a business framework for governance and management of enterprise IT.
“Hopefully this will also help to elevate the discussion and let companies realise that the people running their IT are not yet involved in running the business and they should be.
“Organisations need to come to the realisation that IT is not just a resource. Increasingly, the business is about information and, if the business leaders don’t understand technology, they are not going to be in position to exploit all the opportunities, or know where to look to derive value.”

One way to do this, Botha suggests, is to drop the concept of technology out of the IT conversation, and focus on information.

“The challenge is not the technology – we know what we are doing with that; the challenge is thinking about information as ‘the’ strategic resources and realises that it’s a major driver for company strategy.”
One of the speakers will present a paper on how to elevate the IT conversation within the organisation.

A new element to this year’s Smexa conference is open forums, where delegates can get together with one another and subject experts, to discuss the issues they are all facing and help one another with ideas and solutions.