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The number of catalogs the average organization is able to provision services through is starting to spin out of control.service_catalog_sprawl A new survey of 766 technical support professionals conducted by HDI Research finds that 85 percent of IT professionals now identify service catalog sprawl as being at least somewhat of a problem inside their organization.

In many cases, service catalog sprawl is simple too much of a good thing. Internal IT organizations create service catalogs to drive increased consumption of a sanctioned application, and external IT service providers create them for the same reason. Before long, multiple IT service providers along with multiple IT departments inside an organization are exposing end users to multiple service catalogs. The HDI Research survey finds that almost half of all organizations (49 percent) have five or more catalogs spanning a variety of IT and business services.

The benefits of consolidation

While very few organizations have made consolidating service catalogs a priority, the HDI Research indicates that those that do wind up providing a higher quality experience to the end user. A full 79 percent of organizations report an increase in end-user productivity/efficiency, which more often than not leads to increases in both end-user and executive satisfaction.

In addition, consolidating service catalogs also goes a long way to identifying redundant services, which can be costly due to additional licensing fees and the IT headcount needed to manage those services. That’s why about 35 percent of the respondents say they have a project in place to consolidate service catalogs, and another 30 percent say they are planning such an initiative in the near future.

The impact on IT service providers

Getting in front of that consolidation process is going to be crucial for IT service providers. Most service catalogs are little more than an online mall. Whichever service has the most prominent space in the online service catalog that gets frequented most will end up with the most business. Many IT service providers may find that consumption of a service they’re providing isn’t occurring as expected simply because it has no visibility with end users inside the customer’s organization. If at all possible, an IT service provider not only wants to influence what gets listed in the service catalog, they need to promote adoption of the service. If at all possible, they ideally need to be the entity that actually manages the service catalog.

While there’s often contention between IT service providers and the internal IT organization, there is usually at least a general agreement that increased usage of sanctioned IT services is a good thing. Otherwise, end users will simply go around both internal IT and external IT service providers to engage shadow IT services that from their perspective are easier to discover. It common inside many organizations for end users to rack up bills for cloud applications for which the organization has already provided an alternative. Obviously, that’s an issue that is likely to drive many a chief financial officer to distraction. The challenge facing IT service providers now is to figure out how to turn that agitation into a mandate for change that ultimately benefits both them and, more importantly, the end customer.


Photo Credit: LilyyyB via Used under CC 2.0 License.


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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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