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Wissam Raffoul

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Dr. Wissam Raffoul is an IBRS advisor who specialises in transforming IT groups into service organisations, with particular expertise in IT Service Management (ITSM), process optimisation, outsourcing and cloud strategies, enterprise systems management solutions and business-centric IT strategies. Prior to joining IBRS in August 2013, he was General Manager strategic consulting in Dimension Data advising clients on applying technology to improve business performance. Prior to joining Dimension Data, he was a Vice President in Gartner /META Group and issued various research publications covering service delivery processes, centre-of-excellence models, managing outsourcing vendors, benchmarks, maturity models, IT procurement evolution and supply/demand models. In previous positions, he headed HP ITSM consulting Practice in Australia. He also acted as an infrastructure manager, reporting to the CIO at a number of large organisations in government and in the financial and petrochemical industries.

Conclusion: The recent use of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions has demonstrated the value of this type of technology to consumers and organisations. It resulted in the recent discovery of new antibiotics, the emergence of self-services (e. g. virtual agents) and the ability to analyse unstructured data to create business value. However, releasing AI solutions without integrating them into the current IT production environment, the corporate network and Cloud will limit the value realisation of artificial intelligence deployments.


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Conclusion: The increased proliferation of critical digital services has resulted in ransomware attacks becoming one of hackers’ means to make money. As a consequence, many organisations have become the victims of such attacks. IT organisations should implement a full recovery strategy to restore IT services in the event of ransomware attacks. The recovery strategy should become an integral part of the disaster recovery plan. This will raise business stakeholders’ trust in the service security and reduce the spread of this type of IT organised crime.


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Conclusion: Digital transformation is more than another software development stream to replace legacy systems by mobile applications. Digital transformation includes building a new IT capability that can improve the business bottom line. It requires increasing business performance, reducing the cost of doing business and mitigating business risks in a cost-effective manner. To support digital transformation, IT value management capabilities should be established on the following building blocks:

  • Value creation – Define and create the desired IT value needed by business lines. The IT value is a combination of services and technologies capabilities.
  • Value measurement – Measure the IT value contribution to digital transformation.
  • Value communication – Communicate the IT value contribution to business stakeholders, ensure that their expectations are met and re-adjusted (if needed) to address the business and market emerging imperatives.

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Conclusion: IT organisations wishing to migrate to Cloud should adopt a pragmatic approach that strikes a balance between migration cost, Cloud risks and benefits. The bottom line is to avoid the hidden cost (e.g. scope changes), mitigate the migration risks (e.g. effective multi-Cloud management) and realise the benefits that contribute to business performance improvement. Effective governance of the overall Cloud migration is a critical success factor.


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Conclusion: IT organisations challenged with predicting performance requirements of new digital applications should undertake end-to-end stress tests that can detect systems performance problems prior to production release. Test results should be used to define the final release dates, prepare corporate investment justifications for improving the application architecture and influence the ongoing capacity planning practices. Successful execution of the initial performance engineering exercises will result in sound deployment strategies and avoid media embarrassment. The specification of the stress tests should be clearly described in any request for proposals. The chosen vendors should have the capability to scale the new systems to the desired performance specification.


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Conclusion: Delivering mature infrastructure services depends on many factors. For example, the service levels may vary significantly. Some organisations opt for non-stop operations, others seek basic service levels that allow up to one hour unscheduled downtime per month (or more). The key challenge facing IT organisations reviewing their infrastructure is to strike a balance between service level, cost, quality and risks. To address this requirement, IBRS has developed an Infrastructure Maturity Model1 to help organisations understand the service components dependencies before selecting an infrastructure alternative.


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Conclusion: While release and change management processes have been contributing to good service availability during the last 20 years, the increased service architecture complexity caused by adopting multiple Cloud and digital services has demonstrated that release and change management methods used to date are inadequate for the new world. As a result, end users have been experiencing unscheduled downtime that has impacted their business operations and led to embarrassment in the media. This research publication provides guidance on how to raise the maturity of release and change management processes to address these critical issues.


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Conclusion: The increased use of technical point-solutions has created the need for establishing an in-house core team of generalists capable of defining a coherent set of services that can improve the overall business performance. The key obstacle to building these strategic skills is the IT managers’ attitudes towards assigning work to existing staff. For example, IT managers tend to heavily exploit the existing skills of the technical staff to address specific requirements. Managers rarely give staff the chance to build new strategic skills that are beneficial to themselves and to their business.

Managers should strike a balance between strategic skill building and technical skill exploitation. This requires helping staff to acquire a deep understanding of the business operations, gain awareness of industry latest trends and offerings, and becoming capable of defining ICT solutions that can fix critical business problems.


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Conclusion: Running IT-as-a-Service requires emulating vendors’ account management function by creating a business relationship manager (BRM) role. The role’s rationale is to provide strategic advice to business stakeholders and act as a single point of coordination between IT groups and business lines. BRM’s focus is to manage the relationship with business strategists and recommend IT solutions relevant to business performance improvement and cost reduction initiatives where applicable.


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Conclusion: The success of digital transformation, hybrid Cloud deployment and multi-service providers’ governance largely depends on IT services being integrated and managed in a unified and standard way. Service integration and management (SIAM) is an approach to address this requirement. However, its full implementation is a massive undertaking covering delivery processes, organisational structure changes, service cost tracking, service skills and an effective deployment of end-to-end management tools. This note recommends a quick win approach that focuses on getting the service essentials fulfilled depending upon the status of external services used by an IT organisation.


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