As we close out 2015 here at Apptio, my team and I have been reflecting on the journey of the past year and are left with one unanswered question: Is TBM mainstream? 

When we founded Apptio, we set out to transform IT organizations -- across verticals and sizes -- with a new way to manage the business of IT. This data-driven approach would combine modern analytics with cloud-based software. We called it Technology Business Management and have been evangelizing it ever since.

Today, we’re taking a look back to see how far we’ve come in just eight short years.  

What exactly is “mainstream” in our view? Well, there are a few leading indicators that a new software category is crossing the chasm from enthusiasts and visionaries to pragmatics that we’ve got our eye on today. This is similar to the market evolution we saw with CRM, HRM, ERP solutions. Naturally, market data will answer the question in time.

A Prediction

Having a top-tier analyst firm write about the category is always a good sign, which happened a year ago when Forrester published this 2015 report on TBM. And now, just last week, Forrester issued this prediction for 2016: “When we asked global IT and business decision-makers which initiatives they would prioritize, 86% said that it is a moderate priority or greater to increase the use of innovative technologies within the next 12 months, and 75% wanted to cut overall IT costs. To capture those savings and invest them in the business technology agenda that drives business growth, infrastructure and optimization pros will invest in TBM tools in 2016.”

This is quite a shift from five years ago when many of these leaders resisted “cost transparency” in the (mistaken) belief it would reduce their budgets. What’s changed?  

Software Category Adoption Cycle

In the last five years, infrastructure and optimization leaders learned from peers that cost transparency was not only inevitable, but liberating. When cost data is shown in the context of business-level applications and services, infrastrcuture and optimization professionals are empowered to manage demand, highlight their value and create a business case for modernization.   

Factor in the rapid adoption of the cloud, particularly by the business, and it’s clear why TBM adoption has grown so steadily. TBM provides IT with a view of their fully burdened cloud spend in context of their overall technology investments. Armed with this knowledge, IT leaders can make informed decisions about workloads, on-prem versus hybrid options and plan for expected cloud services. 

Wave of the Future

In parallel, TBM has become far easier too. Early innovators had to build their own models to turn their dirty data into defensible costs. This early community shared what worked and what didn’t with us and as a result, today we have the TBM Council, the Apptio TBM Unified Model (ATUM, the industry’s first standard cost model for IT) and out-of-the-box applications. Big-bang custom configurations that could take 8+ months have given way to modular standard configurations that begin delivering more predictable value in 8+ weeks.

I spent the last week in October with a 1000+ IT leaders at the 3rd annual TBM Conference and was struck by how far it had come since the first event in 2013. Back in 2013, Fortune 500 companies and innovators were out in force. But this year, so were the Global 10,000 firms and pragmatists. The tone and content had shifted from concepts and promise to how-to and tangible examples of value.  

As I was presenting on mainstage about the origins and future of TBM, I mentioned that TBM was going mainstream. A sea of heads nodded.


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