It can happen to any CIO or IT pro. We get so caught up in this application or that data migration that we lose sight—or, at least, don’t communicate effectively—the “why” behind exactly what we’re doing. If that happens, you’ve got people working on smartphone apps instead of the company-approved cloud-based ones, and you’ve got executives worried that the overall IT strategy (or in-house expertise) doesn’t match company objectives.
It’s not any one person’s fault. There’s so much to do to keep a company functioning and profitable—from business concerns to market analyses to IT trend-watching and planning for business use cases. With myriad people involved in all these processes, it can be difficult to communicate (or even define) overarching goals—especially if the value gets blurred somewhere along the way.
Think of it this way: You’ve spent a good part of your day preparing to make your best chili for a work potluck. You make your killer chili, which takes time, expertise, money, and resources), and it turns out great. You take it to the office and when you arrive, you realize you actually signed up to bring the brisket. Somewhere between setting your goal and seeing it through, chili became brisket. Because they’re both proteins and main dishes, they both satisfy the same condition and provide the same value to the potluck dinner though, right? Nice try, Bobby Flay. The answer is a resounding no, because Betty from accounting brought her killer chili (which is totally not as good as yours). But, when you break it down, what does this hypothetical chili/brisket debacle mean? The redundancy in your efforts and the lack of internal communication means that the overall value of your contribution is decreased even though your effort and resource expenditure was just as significant.
IT’s the same. As the CIO, you’re the top chef—the mastermind, the one in charge. You’re not working against Betty in accounting . . .you’re working with her to make the dinner (a/k/a, your company) successful. But nobody will appreciate what your chili brings to the table if they were expecting—and looking forward to—a brisket sandwich the whole time.
The business-side and the IT-side of your company shouldn’t be separate camps—they need to speak to one another, and be integrated with a common, distinguishable goal. If, as the CIO you want to have your chili and eat it too, then an ITaaS focus in terms of the integration of processes, people, platforms, practices, governance structure and more can help. Here’s why.
The Digital Revolution Is Still Customer-Focused
Customer value—what customers spend to buy services—is the force behind the digital revolution, not vice versa. Remember that moving everything to the cloud doesn’t make it magically better: It just offers some benefits that businesses can’t afford to overlook. Find the purpose behind your IT applications and make sure they’re customer-focused (or at least have a similar end-game in relation to your field). When customer value is prioritized, the IT team can embrace opportunities prioritized by marketing (and sales) and act more as a strategic partner, working to develop and deploy services that add value both internally and externally. And what you’ve got then? Well, that’s ITaaS, borne within the IT infrastructure of your company. Figure 1 shows the importance of customer value across all facets of a successful business.
Figure 1: Integrated Digital Strategy. Credit: Philippe A. Abdoulaye, CIO.com
Key steps to realigning your IT to ITaaS include the following:
Reinvent your role. Think about your role as the CIO (or similar high ranking IT executive). How have you handled cloud adoption thus far? How do you see yourself? To successfully adopt an ITaaS focus, you should no longer consider yourself a provider of IT tools. Rather, as CIO magazine columnist Phillippe Abdoulaye suggests, look at yourself as a “business strategy facilitator.” Focus on monitoring relationships, collaboration, and IT agility under the value-driven context of ITaaS.
Cut costs and streamline processes. Abdoulaye suggests taking a look at your future Virtual Computing Capability (VCC) with an eye toward cost savings and the streamlining of processes—all with value in mind, of course. You’ll likely need to make some changes to your existing data center, examining current security requirements, overall infrastructure, and scalability.
Give DevOps a try. If you really want to up the ante on value, you’ll need to collaborate. Nothing says collaboration more than DevOps. Although the definition of DevOps varies depending on who you ask, a pretty universally accepted definition is that it’s the tech movement that brings together software developers and IT operations. No matter how you define it, it’s what you’ll end up with by implementing DevOps that really matters: More operational flexibility, more choices, quicker implementation, and more agile troubleshooting when it comes to application development, quality assurance, and process monitoring. You can even extend the DevOps collaborative principle to other areas within the company, bringing about a renewed, reprioritized, and unified focus.
That’s a lot of information, right? The overview provided in Figure 2 below provides a birds-eye snapshot of what’s involved when you align your IT to ITaaS. I also recommend reading CIO.com’s full breakdown, which is well worth your time.
Figure 2: Align Your IT to ITaaS to Meet the Digital Challenges. Credit: Philippe A. Abdoulaye, CIO.com
You may not be ready to move on to ITaaS just yet, but I wanted to spark a dialogue. Does everyone in your company have the same outlook and relationship with your cloud infrastructure? How would you characterize the success of your IT programs? Do you feel they fit within the overall objectives of the business? If you currently embrace the ITaaS side of tech, I’d love to hear your experiences and any real-world advice you could offer others.
And, if you’re considering an ITaaS-focused approach, what will be your first steps? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that as well.
Additional Resources on this Topic:
This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site Power More. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.
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