By Brett Norgaard
(Part 2 of a 3 part series)
In Part 1, we explored the dimensions of service item portability to get an idea of how vast the challenge is to run the same service item in different versions, instances, clients, and even with the same environment (test vs. production). Needless to say, trying to keep up with programming, coding, filtering, etc. no longer works. This is especially true for service provider’s stringent multi-tenant environments. With the expansion of service catalogs, more and more end users are starting to enjoy the benefits of self-service, co-created services and greater interactivity.
The customer-facing portion of the service platform (front end) needs to be truly web deliverable configurable in order to meet the demands of a service provider with multiple tenants. A reliable configuration-driven system removes the risk associated with programming or altering the source code of the underlying service platform. Even well written and documented code changes can wreak havoc at upgrade time when service catalogs (and service items) that used to work now do not. A configuration-driven strategy will also allow the service catalogs and the component service items to be uniquely branded and themed. In a world where clients expect things their way, doing so must not increase the associated cost, risk and time of personalizing the experience.
The ability to test, combine, and reconfigure service catalogs is also an important consideration for service providers. Configuration data does not change the underlying application code so testing and piloting can happen as often as needed. Innovation happens more easily when the risk of experimentation is removed.
Service providers can also build standardized sets of service items (in service catalogs) that can be deployed (configured, branded and themed) in a fraction of the time normally required. Optional service items can be configured as well for premium offers if the service provider wishes. Best practices or inventions from one client can be captured and re-deployed across some or all of the clients. Branch-based organizations can have processes built that call out needed materials and resources and replicate them to all locations swiftly and affordably. Every branch can be an experiment in creating best practices that can be replicated across all branches. And for service providers, this can extend to more than one customer for real scalability.
Configurability of service items in the service catalog in such a way that makes them reusable and portable afford the savvy service provider with a scalable competitive advantage. In the next part, we’ll examine the business benefits of service item portability more closely.