As businesses are asked to deliver more for less, many organisations are asking what IT service management actually does. Keith Aldis, itSMF CEO, wants to consider the even bigger question and begin a debate on: 'What is the IT service management industry?'

The business world has been in a fair amount of turmoil over the last 18 months and subsequently each business has exerted pressure internally to deliver more for less.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the IT world. When the pressure starts to mount, each organisation begins to look inward to cut costs or departments, and many are asking: 'What does IT service management do?'

This leads to the bigger question, one that I'd like to start a debate, on: 'What is the IT service management industry?'

By starting this debate we could help lift IT service management (ITSM) onto a more strategic plane, unifying the industry and ensuring everyone understands how to make their business more efficient.

So, let's start off the debate with my thoughts:

itSMF UK is considering putting forward a case to UK government for the recognition and establishment of a Standard Industry Classification (SIC code) for the IT service management industry. By gaining this, the UK government will recognise ITSM formally.

At the moment they haven't engaged with us formally because they don't recognise us, as we haven't told them who we are. With approximately 100,000 IT service managers in the UK and potentially 25m globally we desperately need to be more visible. We're a big industry by any stretch of the imagination and our spending is equally proportionate.

Before we rush to push this change forward we need to establish a definition of the IT service management industry; possibly in a legal context. By discussing whether a formal establishment is what's wanted, we will be able to see both the positive benefits and negative reaction in equal measures.

I believe we can take it for granted that the UK Chapter of itSMF is correct to claim to be the 'voice of the industry' in the UK. Additionally, through itSMF International, our reach is global and, as a result, we can represent a wide range of industry specialists. Therefore, we should be attempting to persuade, or lobby, other bodies and in particular governments and multi-national corporations and so on, to gain influence and help drive our industry forward.

However, I think it is important for us to define what the industry is before we decide how best to influence people and support our client and supplier base.

My take on a formal definition for our industry, using my background in the construction and training industries (and using some logic applied from them), is:

'An employer who is engaged in the activities of delivering service lifecycle management (strategy, design, transition, operation and CSI) for IT and business systems on or in data centres, hospitals, offices, banks, industrial complexes, supermarkets, universities, hotels etc.'

Put simply, an employer who is doing ITSM somewhere.

It could be argued that the people we directly support are IT service managers and those organisations providing ITSM activities or products. But importantly this should also include the vendors who, whilst their main activity is to produce and sell hardware, consultancy training and software, still employ people doing ITSM in large numbers. We ignore these people at our peril, just as much as we ignore those whom we traditionally engage with and support. They remain very important supporters of the ITSM industry and absolutely key to our future success.

The itSMF currently comprises individual and trade and professional members that not only are implementing ITSM but also employ IT service managers. We also represent the users of ITSM services and the suppliers to them and in some cases the clients or end-users of the services given by the industry. My view is that, if the itSMF is to be truly representative of 'the industry', then it should ideally recognise and support all organisations in the wider IT industry together with their suppliers and clients.

I fully believe that the itSMF should accept and agree a definition as to what the industry is and then, once agreed, begin to develop a multi-tiered strategy to engage with organisations that can help develop, support and maintain our almost unique abilities and professionalism to raise awareness, promote and deliver best practice in IT service management in line with changing business needs.

Is this the right way to define the industry?

Let's start the debate.