Another year has passed, and another year Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Manager (SCSM) is still not on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for “IT Service Support Management Tools”. Now granted I am referring to the Magic Quadrant dated for August 2012, as seen here:

Gartner 2012 IT Service Support Management Tools – Magic Quadrant

…and we still do not know what is to come for 2013, but as someone who is vested in the System Center space complimented by the fact that customers constantly ask our team about this positioning, I find it absolutely interesting why Microsoft is left off.

Not to establish credibility, but more importantly to frame my acute perception on the other vendors, let me also theme the next few talking points around the fact that I have worked for HP (well Peregrine back in the day), BMC Software (well Remedy back in the day), Altiris, LANDesk, Axios Systems and have extensive experience with FrontRange, CA Technologies and ServiceNow. All of these products in their own right are very good, but in comparison to these competitors – come on – SCSM should absolutely be at least an orange blip somewhere on this radar.

With all that said, let’s break down what we are really looking at! Here are some raw themed bullet points from the “Market Definition/Description” for the IT Service Support Management Tools Gartner Report:

  • Tighter integration of functions that correlate with the activities of the broader IT support organization
  • Leverage a business view of IT services, allowing to quickly resolve or escalate issues and problems, improving root cause isolation, and provide higher levels of business user satisfaction
  • Using this business view, manage Incidents, problems, changes, releases and request management
  • Enables tools to provide modules that enable business end users to find knowledge to support/resolve their computer related issues

So effectively a basic ticketing system, which aligns you with ITIL best-practice and mixed in with some ITSM common sense qualifies you for this quadrant. Fair enough, have to keep it broad to include most likely the 200+ Service Desk vendors to have a fighting chance at being in this mix.

Again, as I have worked for other vendors that are on this Magic Quadrant, let me passionately say all qualify and should be part of this conversation. There is no doubt in my mind that every single vendor deserves their recognition, however there is 1 very large, huge, and most important item left out of this Market Definition/Description:

Business Process Automation

I mean, at the end of the day what are we trying to do here? What every CIO on the planet should be trying to do is leverage a Service Desk solution to measure their business activity, understand operational cost and in an attempt to save the company a lot of money automate as much as humanly possible. Some key examples include:

  • Password Reset
  • Automate New Hire / Termination Processes
  • Hardware / Software Procurement Processes
  • Server Provisioning
  • Access Requests
  • The list goes on…

Again, as I have worked for other vendors some of them on this Quadrant have the capabilities to do these as a platform to complement their Service Desk story. There are however a few on this quadrant that don’t even come close, remotely close, and in their attempts to do so just introduce more hassle to their customers then needed.

The reality is Microsoft System Center is the only platform that can automate any tactical IT process, all from its own product eco-system, with the ability to reach out of its product eco-system and interact with other enterprise solutions. This is a very strong story, and really wish this reality was strongly interpreted inside of this Magic Quadrant evaluation.

The one other startling reality that flat out should put SCSM somewhere on the Gartner Magic Quadrant is in its few years of existence, SCSM has garnered more customers than some of these other vendors combined! That in itself should shake up the perspective.

I will leave you with one last thought, coming back to the “raw themed bullet points” from above:

Mr. CIO, what would you rather have:

  • A Service Desk solution that can manage a Service Request, giving your team the ability to know when someone is asking for Software?
  • A Service Desk solution that can manage a Service Request, giving your team the ability to know when someone is asking for Software and with the simple introduction of an automated business process have that piece of software automatically be deployed to the requesting customer based upon a business approval?

If I were a CIO with 500 software requests annually, and I could automate 80% – 90% of those requests freeing up my team to do much more business aligned strategic initiatives – then my decision would be made for me. Let’s no longer measure a Service Desk solution by feature function any more, but as a business solution that aligns with the simple reality of saving $$$.

The key theme we should walk away with is:

System Center Service Manager is not a Service Desk solution, it is a gateway into understanding, measuring and automating your business.