The Super Bowl is one of the most hyped events in the country. While the rest of the world speculates about player matchups and deflated footballs this Sunday, event IT staff is busy preparing for the year's biggest sports media event. Host cities prepare bids years in advance and, upon being selected, begin to plan for an influx of athletes, media members, fans and entrepreneurs trying to capitalize on the spectacle. Years of preparation covering topics from traffic management to crime control and marketing go into each Super Bowl, and major issues still seem to emerge every year. Whether it is a halftime show gone wrong, a blanket of snow that messes up media week or a major power outage in the middle of the game, all of the preparation that goes into the Super Bowl isn't enough to create a smooth event.
Cities preparing for the Super Bowl need to do more than prepare, they need to plan for every emergency. In the same way, businesses can put the most robust IT strategies possible in place, only to have a minor glitch derail production for hours or cause an outage. The Super Bowl teaches us a great deal about the need for responsive processes, and there are three IT service management lessons to learn from the annual event:
1. Transparency is Vital
The Super Bowl might as well be an object lesson in the reality that no matter how much you plan, something unexpected will go wrong. Organizations face similar issues in IT. Chaos theory is a natural explanation for all of this - create anything that is complex enough and it will eventually behave in unpredictable ways. As IT systems become more complicated, organizations need to have visibility into their configuration to ensure they are prepared to identify what is causing issues to emerge. Something will go wrong, but a good organization can identify the problem quickly and take action to solve it.
A CMDB solution provides this transparency in the ITSM world. Besides creating visibility, a CMDB shows you how different configuration items interact, ensuring that any fixes you make don't have unintended consequences. Nobody wants to fix a problem only to have the solution create more issues than it can deal with.
2. You Need to Practice Emergency Response
Personnel working at Super Bowl events don't just show up on gameday and get going, they are trained so that they understand the full dynamics of the situations they will face and understand how to respond to an emergency. This goes from security workers to broadcasters preparing to deliver the game to television sets around the world. To pull this off, they analyze past policies and procedures, identify what went wrong, put new solutions into place and then practice. There's a reason why sports broadcasters always rehearse new technology at secondary events - so they work out the flaws prior to the big stage.
Similarly, you don't want to just create disaster response processes and expect employees to follow them when the time comes. IT and support teams need to practice in case the big event (an outage, disaster event or similar problem) ever comes.
3. A Clear Plan is Still Key
Of course, all of this talk about how something will go wrong may make you think that planning may not be that important. This is far from the case. Just like cities, media companies and other organizations getting ready for the Super Bowl, your organization will need to have a stable starting point that establishes goals for operations. Responding to emergencies and problems is only feasible when there is a clear understanding of the optimal working conditions.
All of the work that goes into an event like the Super Bowl is a reminder that IT and support teams need to establish effective service delivery strategies that create the foundation for day-to-day success.
In the ITSM world, every day is a big game and events like the Super Bowl provide key guidance in how organizations can be ready when plans go wrong.