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AITSM - What No One Is Talking About (Part-1) - An Elephant In The Room

May 31, 2022

AITSM - What No One Is Talking About (Part-1) - An Elephant In The Room

AITSM - What No One Is Talking About (Part-1) 

An Elephant In The Room

How to manage that and use automation effectively?

Special Interview With Neethi Upadhya, Associate Director, ServiceNow Practice at IBM

AITSM - What No One Is Talking About (Part-1) 

An Elephant In The Room

How to manage that and use automation effectively?

Special Interview With Neethi Upadhya, Associate Director, ServiceNow Practice at IBM

"Can you guess the elephant in the room? The ITSM Industry talks about buzzwords like digital transformation, AI, automation, and increasing productivity but de-prioritizes one of the crucial backbones, the elephant in the room." - Says Neethi Upadhya, our esteemed women thought leader and guest on the AITSM show. 

Neethi Upadhya is Associate Director, ServiceNow Practice at IBM, having 18 years of experience in ITSM. 

She put forth compelling reasons and business impact, not to overlook that critical ingredient. What is the one crucial thing to manage and govern that? How to use automation and prioritization to deliver value to the customer?

We'd learn a lot from her plenty of examples, conviction, and point-by-point discussion from 18 years of rich experience. 

Don't miss the end, where she connects back everything around business perspective and outcomes. 

"I see that the way it's changed over these decades, there's been a paradigm shift. All of them have moved from just looking at 'how I fix a failure' to actually looking at 'what value I deliver to my end customer.'"

Learn and Grow, With AITSM Show!!!


Anand Tambey: Welcome back to the AITSM show. We are starting a fresh season right now with women thought leaders in AITSM.

So, the very first episode we are doing with Neethi Upadhya. Associate director. Service now. IBM. She had a rich experience in ITSM. Neethi, We are really, really proud to have you as our first woman thought-leader guest here for AITSM show interviews.

Please tell us about your experiences, your story, how you got started and what are the things which in AITSM, no one talks about.

Neethi Upadhya: Thank you, Anand. Thank you for having me here to start with, let me quickly give what is my experience so far as such, right.

So I have been in the IT industry for the last 18 years and 18 years has been predominantly IT Service management, itself. I started in 2004. I started as a so you must have heard about IT Service Management Tool called BMC remedy. So I started out as a developer at BMC Remedy at that point of time.

And then gradually progressed to doing larger, transformation implementations, on BMC Remedy upto 2010 and 2012 and then moved into Service Now. So since then I've been on the Service now doing lot of implementations on our own biggest customers, worked for various partners for Service Now.

And. At this point I work in IBM Associate Director there in Service Now practice, managing most of the solutions. That's a quick introduction about myself.

Anand Tambey: Great. Great. You have seen the two decades of ITSM there and lot of challenges there, or maybe a lot of challenges, which you had overcome.

Do you think anything which is in ITSM, which is a kind of, as you said earlier there is an elephant in the room which no one talks about. What is that? I'm really excited to hear about that.

Neethi Upadhya: See what what I've been observing for the last few years is we have a lot of these buzzwords coming up everywhere.

Right? We have people talking about digital transformation to talk about automation, talk about increasing productivity and all of that. But then what I've always seen when organizations start on the journey of a digital transformation or IT transformation predominantly. What is mostly not discussed or what gets completely de-prioritized is the configuration management database, the CMDB, as we call it.

Right. Which is the crux of an organization as such an IT landscape. See, what we see is and you can also comment is the IT and the way IT works has transformed phenomenally over the last decade. When we started out, when we started talking about just the waste management or IT service management, and 10 years back, we were talking about predominantly on, okay, how do I manage when some failures occur?

How do I ensure that the availability of my system is there, but at this point of time, I see over these decades, the way it's changed, there's been a paradigm shift, right? All of them have moved from just looking at how do I fix a failure to actually looking at what value do I deliver to my end customer as such.

So IT is also becoming completely business focused and business outcome based. So when that kind of a paradigm shift happens and you want to bring in those transformations in your landscape, You as a first, set up, you have to know as to what is there in your landscape to be able to transform it, right.

The inventory has to be right. And also what I've also seen is lot of organizations de-prioritize CMDB thinking, oh, it's just inventory. I can have that in my Excel spreadsheets that does not work because if you continue to have those siloed spreadsheets managed across the organization. There is very less integration that can be brought into picture, right?

Even you'd to look at a transformation. You have to deliver more with less. That's your digital transformation. You have to ensure that you are increasing the productivity across the organization and having siloed spreadsheets, that's not cater to that. You have to reduce costs. So you cannot have 15 departments doing small, small spreadsheets, and then trying to integrate that spreadsheet.

That means you're just killing your productivity and increasing your cost. So with all that in mind, first thing, I think that there should be an executive sponsorship in a particular digital transformation engagement. We'll look at how you can improve your CMDB, digitize it and ensure that it's all managed governed in a way that it can scale up your transformation activities as such, and not become a hindrance to it.

So that's where I would say people have to start looking at, and that's the topic that I want to talk about today.

Anand Tambey: Right, Probably when a CMDB is taken lightly in some places and sometimes a bigger issue or a bigger challenge comes there would be immediately a kind of a firefighting mode there.

Is there a story. Is there a story behind that from any experience you can tell what kind of challenges we can have, when there is no CMDB governed and managed digitally.

Neethi Upadhya: This is one of my own experiences that I've seen couple of years back

managing one of the platforms and for a customer. Right. So whenever there is a P1 incident that happens on a platform, you have business impact. A lot of the times when P1 gets

documented or it gets created, or incident is registered as such. I don't want to call it. It usually happens when a business user not able to access an application, or I'm not able to access a particular portal, maybe that's a financial service portal you never know. So when you have a user blaming, it means you've already lost time because all the impact is already realized by the user.

Then you start looking at, okay, what is the issue? What is not working? Is it actually a particular application which is not working? OR Is it something else that is not working? So all of that discussions that happen between teams, you'll start checking testing, And then you started looking at what is the connectivity that you have from the application to the infrastructure, what services are managing this particular application. With all of that, by the time you realize what is the actual core of the issue, then you have lost time, right? That's productive hours that is lost for that particular application.

And then, is when you start resolving. There was a saying that if the P1 resolution takes seven hours, six hours is just to understand which particular team had to be contacted for the P1 resolution as such . So that was how it was earlier, right? Even in there without having the right CMDB, without having the right relationships in the CMDB. You, by the time you detect what is actually causing the P1, majority of the time was already getting lost. With all that, I think the focus shifted to a certain extent on CMDB. I have an incident, let me get a CI attached to the incident But then there was nothing a couple of years back, there was still nothing much done from the point that, okay, the user should not report an incident.

How it can get detected it in the system so that we have less impact on the customer experience. What I was thinking from a perspective is with a lot of changes happening in the landscape itself, most of the organizations looking at IT transformation, most of the organization looking at ensuring the uplift, the customer experience at the end of the day, how and what should be done from the CMDB perspective.

So that you can achieve your end results or the business outcomes that you want to achieve. Right. So I think that's where a lot of thought process should go in now from the organizations, as such.

Anand Tambey: So the first thing you told about is getting executive sponsorship and moving towards more points, what could be our approach towards CMDB

Neethi Upadhya: the point of stressing on the executive sponsorship for this piece, because CMDB, cannot be built in silo.

Anand Tambey: Right.

Neethi Upadhya: There is not one team or one unit within the organization that can completely build your CMDB. Right. I think that used to be the case couple of years, a few years back or decade back, probably when we would have one team managing a spreadsheet and that could be loaded into your CMDB, but then now the landscapes have changed it's got very federated.

And there's lot of this multi integration that needs to be brought into the picture to be able to build a CMDB constructively. Right. And also, when I talk about business sponsorship is because there's a lot of every CI that gets into your CMDB somewhere touches to business services, right? And that impact should also get cascaded onto the CMDB data as such, because then we should be able to realize which are your top critical business services.

Which are your top business applications related to those services and then the corresponding infrastructure and the relationships so that you have a view. So when I talk about this, it means you are not just having your IT teams can build the CMDB as such, your enterprise architects are coming into picture here. Your application architects are coming in the picture and your service architects. With all of them coming in and designing means that this funding that will be needed to get this done. This effort that needs to get this done. And that comes in easier to manouver through the organization if you have an executive sponsorship for such activities, as such.

Anand Tambey: So while we sought out the executor's sponsorship and then the budget then licensing and every part of tooling aspects come in or infrastructure comes in. So, how do we ensure that the governance is planned in such way that it will have certain kind of automated way of telling you which systems might be requiring maintenance, which systems might be requiring new licenses.

So is there something we do about it?

Neethi Upadhya: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And I think that is a really critical part of your CMDB as such, right. Adding your inventory is the beginning of it, but then managing governing is a critical step for successful CMDB.

So when you talk about it, so what we've also seen a lot of times in our implementation is, we have tools now, which are, which can discover your landscape, right? So you can run those. Scan the. Landscape as such and get the required data into your CMDB. But then what happens is a lot of organizations when such scans run, it just dumps whatever is in your landscape. Right? Then what needs to be managed from business perspective. Do I have to manage on the 500 classes or configuration items that discovered by a tool or do I have to understand my top classes that I need to discover, manage, govern so that at the end of the day, I am helping my business service be more available, right? So that's the thought process that has to run. So every time you understand, your CMDB, you have to understand how is the business impact of a particular class of a CI that comes into the system, along with what attributes have to be managed, which is going to give value to the CMDB as such that is one aspect. Right? The second, when you talk about automations there's a lot of tools and integrations that are possible. Just one landscape you would have your legacy data centers where we would run the scan and get all the data, into CMDB.

But now. lot of our customers, as you see are not on a data center, or legacy data centers predominantly. Now we see a lot of hybrid environments that are coming So when you have that, it's a mix and match between what's on, on-premise, on a data center, to what is on the cloud. Right? So that you have to integrate into. So that you can get your entire landscape in managed CMDB.

So that is another aspect that people have to start looking at, seeing what information is coming through one of the tools. What is the additional federated information that I need to add? So my CMDB becomes more meaningful.

Anand Tambey: Right. Thanks a lot. Neethi. We will continue this insightful discussion in the next episode. Please stay tuned. Bye-bye.

Neethi Upadhya Profile Photo

Neethi Upadhya

Associate Director- ServiceNow Practice at IBM

• Overall 18+ years of experience in IT industry in architecting, design, development, and delivery of complex information systems.
• Executed more than 20 projects of TCV greater than 50M$ in Service Management and automation for various clients across the globe, spanning across Telecommunication, Energy, Retail, Pharma, and Finance industries, bringing creative solutions to everyday service delivery challenges
• Managing a P&L of over 25M$
• Directed the design, development, and launch of highly profitable service offerings