Digital Transformation needs strong committed client – service provider relationships to make it happen. But all too often these relationships are more like the one between an old-fashioned parent and a child than between adult and adult. They tend to deteriorate over time as things get tough, finally deteriorating into finger-pointing and blame…a lose-lose situation which serves no one’s interests.

A new way of working is clearly needed – so what it?          

I believe adopting service integration provides the best way to build the necessary collaborative relationship digital transformation demands. It radically overhauls traditional models of IT service governance and management and in so doing establishes a new way of working for the organisation.

How do you make this change comes about? What drives it and how is it maintained over time?

All major change needs a catalyst, and in this case the catalyst is a new entity, the Service Integrator. The Service Integrator, either external or internal, is a key stakeholder in the delivery of IT services to business which sits in between the CIO function and service provider ecosystem. 

Neither an agent of the client nor the representative of the ecosystem, the Service Integrator, with commercial “skin in the game” i.e. being accountable for overall service performance, is highly motivated to avoid setbacks and the pointless finger pointing of the traditional old-fashioned approach. 

What enables the Service Integrator to successfully perform this new role are a set of associated agreements between the client, the service providers and the Service Integrator that legitimise and allow the Service Integrator to independently act. Connected performance obligations, e.g. shared SLAs, OLAs made binding in each party’s agreement, compulsory adherence to standardised new ways of working – the rules of the club, and lastly, transparency of information, are the other key provisions empowering the Service Integrator function.

Once established the Service Integrator is able to both; hold all parties to account in the event of a failure and, through the interconnected obligations and available information, show clearly that the failure of one party risks failure for all, including the Service Integrator.  Whilst at the same time, and more powerfully, persuade all parties, via the same means, that collaborating to proactively prevent failure is in the best interests of all. Relationships like this take time to develop, are founded on trust, and can only be built by “consenting” adults.

And there are very powerful drivers for this change in relationships to come about; for the client, better quality, agile and lower cost services to support and enable the digital projects and programmes. For service providers, and the Service Integrator, at its simplest, the avoidance of penalties, but more profoundly, being elevated from supplier to partner on the back of the strengthened bond.

In a world of increasingly diverse sources of IT service supply, service integration, and the establishment of a Service Integrator, are essential pillars for the successful prosecution of the digital transformation agenda.