Services Vs. Services
By djberg on Jan 10, 2006
Services. An interesting and overloaded word. There are many meanings but the one I will focus on is from our friends at Princeton. They define Service as Work done by one person or group that benefits another. In the IT industry, the syntax of this definition can be considered the same but the semantics are very different. Many CIOs will relate to services as consultants that darken the sky with wing tips in order to deliver a service and stay much, much longer then expected. In other words, service (work performed) can be delivered by putting people on a problem and letting them try to solve it.
Another interpretation of service can be taken from the software world. In software, services (for example Web Services) are typically coarse grained, pre-coded encapsulations of function that carry out complex business tasks automatically. The key here is automatically.
So the question is, can services be performed automatically like the software interpretation? ABSOLUTELY. I have given you polar opposites. One (the wing tips) uses people (the lower form of which we call consultants ;-) and the other uses technology to solve the given problem. The problem? In a word, complexity. Consultants can mask complexity in order to deliver a solution that appears simplistic. Technology can be used to engineer out complexity and make a solution truly simplistic. To be fair, technology when not applied appropriately, can also make things more complex. Don't get me wrong, consultants have a place in IT, in fact I used to be one and managed an organization of them. Consultants should be used to architect and implement solutions for clients, not cover up technology ineffectiveness.
I hope at this point you see that I am comparing services delivered via consultants vs. services delivered via technology. Of course there is a place for both, but which one wins out over time and at scale? I will argue that technology will always win over people from a cost and complexity perspective. It is really just a matter of timing. Does that mean that we should all pack it in and head back into the primordial ooze from which we came? No. There will always be a need for wetware. However, technology can be used to perform repetitive tasks, identify patterns, and implement complex instructions with consistent quality far better then most humans. Think telco switches vs. their human operator switchboards of the past. Although both of these service models will continue to be viable for the time being, innovation is happening in the technology space. That is unless some of you out there are working on some gene splicing activities that augment our human capabilities.
Why do I bring all of this up? Quite simply, we have spent and are spending a lot of time and R&D investments in technology for our service offerings. Simply put, our vision is that all solutions are enabled as services delivered through the network. We are doing this through the integration of technology, knowledge, process and partnerships.
Specifically we are finding ways to inject technology into our offerings so we can deliver real capabilities to be proactive and preventative. Finding problems before they manifest themselves is far better then becoming more efficient in fixing them when they happen. We are applying the same innovative prowess we bring to hardware and software to our services. So look out world, we are innovating on all cylinders. Put down your switchboard headphones, help the coverup consulting services companies with their bench strength and get ready for the future.
I plan to bring a number of subjects relating to our services innovation to this forum, so keep an eye out...