How to Be a Butterfly: Thoughts on Service Management Metamorphosis

“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.”

—Dean Jackson, author and poet

When a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, it restructures its base components into a completely new and breathtakingly different entity. This metamorphosis is just like the transformation required of service management. To keep pace with rapidly changing customer demand and make a positive and long-lasting impact on the business, service management must continuously transform, and it must do so without always investing in new assets.

Like the caterpillar that uses the building blocks it possessed in its larval state to become something new, service management professionals must adapt their existing assets (best practices, processes, tools, skills and data) to new and improved effect. This way, the function can remain relevant and nimble enough to survive in a new environment no matter how it changes.

From Caterpillar to Chrysalis

For many organizations, service management is like a caterpillar that has devoured everything available: ITIL, Lean, Agile, COBIT, DevOps and Kanban. Though it gets bigger and fatter, with terabytes of information in its tools-and-systems belly, it stays essentially the same. And it fails to address challenges like the (re-)emergence of shadow IT, outmoded technology, poor customer satisfaction and the misinterpretation of business needs. Instead, it participates in endless discussions on how to perform incident and problem management and whether ITIL or DevOps is best.

Even when service management may have looked like it was changing, it was only expanding its size, accumulating more information, systems, tools and best practices. But all of this consumption is of little value until service management uses the data and information to remodel operations into a radically transformed and valuable new service management approach.

From Chrysalis to Butterfly

During transformation, it is important to consider how service management has been done in the past and how every element might be reused effectively. Intelligent and predictive analytics—a combination of emotional intelligence and business intelligence—can help interpret data and drive new, proactive ways of working that enable faster and better response to dynamic customer requirements and shifting organizational priorities.

Intelligent Analytics

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Common sense
  • In-depth understanding of customers and business
  • Business relationship management

Predictive Analytics

  • Holistic view
  • Understanding of resource consumption
  • Real-time performance metrics
  • Triggering of automated provisioning


The Butterfly

What will be the capabilities of a successfully transformed service management function? All the useful information it hungrily consumed during its caterpillar phase will have been metabolized, and service management will now have:

  1. Practical in-depth knowledge on how to use complementary best practice frameworks to align with a customer’s environment.
  2. The strength and insight to know how and when to adapt its course in response to changing business demands.
  3. In-depth understanding of the real value of ITIL.
  4. The ability to interpret data using predictive and intelligent analytics.
  5. A strong grasp of the issues surrounding cybersecurity, including an understanding of where the current threats are and how to develop effective protection strategies.
  6. An effective means of communication with customers that is free of archaic IT language.
  7. Proficiency in Service Integration and Management (SIAM) and a proactive stance toward the digital business of the future.

The service management transformation process is iterative. Each cycle of metamorphosis is a step toward being better able to anticipate and meet customer needs and business demand. Service management practitioners mustn’t get stuck in the caterpillar phase, simply consuming more and more without purpose. Only by pausing to review, analyze and reorganize will they be able to reap the benefits of the consumption and begin the transformation process.

Just like Dean Jackson’s caterpillars, those that lack the courage to do things differently will remain trapped in their fat caterpillar bodies unaware of their potential to spread their wings and become transformed entities with new capabilities and potential.

ISG helps service management teams navigate their way through the transformation process so they can best serve their business customers. Contact us to discuss further.