In service management context, the words business services and technical services are used extensively. In most cases, it is used interchangeably. In this post, we will examine the two concepts, study the relationship and conclude whether they can be swapped for one another.
As the word business indicates, these services are directly related to the business. They are the services that face the business. These are the services that the business actually work on to meet their objectives.
Examples include calling prospective clients, sending out newsletters or disbursing funds to a beneficiary.
To reiterate, business services are what the business do. They don’t have to be technical. Business services for a hotel industry deals with rooms, food and transportation. For a builder, it is the Autocads, billing solution and supplier management system. For a bank, it is about the ATMs, foreign exchange and collections. So, it is highly subjective for the industry you look into.
You guessed right. These are technical in nature, and these are the services handled by the IT service provider as per ITIL.
Examples include managing servers, architecting data centers or implementing frameworks such as ITIL and COBIT.
Technical services are the activities that the IT people do. They work mostly in the background. And, unlike business services, where every industry calls for different specialized skillsets like the ones we looked at, the IT industry is comparatively boring (or rather not as colorful and distinct). It boasts of a handful of skillsets that can accomplish most of the IT activities – read technical services. You may require people with server expertise, network expertise and maybe a couple of application development expertise. With these in hand, you got yourself a mini IT company to run, and they can work with any of the businesses that leverage on IT – which is most of the businesses out there.
Relationship between Business and Technical Services
Understanding business and technical services in isolation was no fun. You knew it already, didn’t you. I knew I was carrying coal to New Castle!
The fun is in the marriage of these two entities. Business services and technical services need to work in synchrony for the business to meet its goals and achieve its objectives. The business services can function when it is ably supported by technical services. Technical services provide the ammunition that the business services need to fire on all cylinders.
For example, for the ATM business service to function, the ATM machine needs to be hooked up through network services (technical) to their central database (technical), which is hosted on a powerful server (technical). When the ATM talks to the server to check the balance, it communicates through lines of code written both on the ATM end and on the server end (technical). So, all in all, a business service in this case could function when all the technical services worked in harmony. I can give you a dozen examples but I will reserve it for the comments section when your request comes through.
Every business service will be powered by one or more technical services to help it to carry out its objectives. They may work in the background, or could very well function in the foreground as we studied in the ATM example in the previous paragraph.
The image below illustrates how business services and technical services are mapped. Point out questions if you have any.
Can the terms technical services and business services be used interchangeably?
In theory, it can be used interchangeably if the business deals with IT, like an IT consulting firm. Even in an IT firm, there are a number of business activities which is technical in nature, and yet, it differs from technical services. So, it is always recommended that business and technical services be identified and kept separate. To answer the question, do not use the terms interchangeably.
Next week, I will delve deeper with the service catalog management process which deals with the technical and business services and their mapping.