Bill Gates famously said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” This has clearly been the case with cloudcomputing, which arose in the late 90s but took two decades to reach the tipping point. But reach the tipping point it has, and the dangers and opportunities for IT are profound. Some, lulled into inaction, will miss the opportunity and fall prey to the dangers. But for IT organizations that are paying attention, the cloud-first.
If the results of this survey teach us anything, it is that moving to a cloud- first world changes just about everything. For some organizations, IT will find their role greatly diminished, often at a great cost to the enterprise in terms of overall computing goals such as security and compliance. However, there is another option. We believe the shift to cloud-first presents a real opportunity for visionary IT organizations to become strategic partners to the enterprise in this time of transition.
At its core, IT should shift from being a builder of computing infrastructure to a broker of cloud services. But how? Based on expertise gained from our ServiceNow Inspire consulting team, here are five steps IT leaders can take today to optimize their smooth shift to a cloud-first footing:
- ASK YOURSELF: WHAT ARE THE SERVICES WE PROVIDE THE BUSINESS? IT organizations need to clearly describe what “service” means to your organization. Why does your business want to make a transformation, and how is it different than what your team does today? This IT service concept has been around for so long that many IT teams probably consider themselves service providers, but often that is not how the business may regard IT’s role. Ensure that you are truly building end-to-end IT services that provide value to the business and LOB owners. DevOps is focused on rapidly developing applications that provide business services while streamlining those applications into a strong, fully-automated operations environment. Without alignment to key business initiatives at an enterprise level, you may be developing applications that provide no real additive value to the company.
- MEASURE WHAT MATTERS. CIOs and IT leaders need to focus on the key performance indicators (KPI’s) that clearly demonstrate which groups buy into the new model and which don’t. • Communicate progress against those KPIs in frequent updates to the larger organization, and recognize those groups that are modeling the right behavior and drive the right results. The “hero worship” mindset can still work, but the heroes are different now. • Celebrate the folks that build the content or enable teams to progress positively against these KPIs versus the folks that drop everything to fix what doesn’t follow the process. • Implement solutions that can provide a single source of engagement for managing your service-brokered environment. This single system of engagement needs to be able to manage across the entire landscape of people, projects, compliance and vendors.
- ASK HARD QUESTIONS OF THE LEADERS OF THIS CHANGE. As teams jockey for position in the evolving services-focused organization, redundancy due to misplaced responsibility may result. Leaders need to identify these inefficiencies and hold each other accountable for the service dependencies between their teams. For those leaders accustomed to filling gaps when they see them, this will be a true measure of their capacity for and commitment to the service transition. • Focus on building cross-functional teams without silos and enable them to be agile and innovative. • Give cross-functional teams executive-level support to clear road blocks out of the way so that they can effect change. Look for small wins initially and keep the scoping conversations around driving a value stream. • Invest in transformational training initiatives in areas like agile, lean, etc. that will help the teams understand how to move to a flow-based work structure for maximizing efficiency.
- MAKE IT MATTER. To the business, IT matters when it is providing a competitive advantage to the organization. By streamlining the IT organization to align more towards revenue-driving initiatives that are important to the LOB, IT will regain the trusted partnership with the business and provide higher satisfaction overall. To avoid being “just a cost center” or a burden to the business, take a hard look at the processes that are in place to ensure that you are making the right choices for the business, rather than holding on to business-as-usual legacy religion.
- FOCUS ON WHAT YOU DO BEST. LET INDUSTRY LEADERS TAKE CARE OF THE REST. Hardly any of the companies ServiceNow works with were founded with the intention of becoming the best IT system builder they could be. However, over the years, the “build it yourself” mentality has caused each organization to spend billions of dollars of capital and OPEX to maintain their IT cost-centers. Companies should take a hard look at their IT environments and decide if they are making decisions that align with the top-line mission of the organization. Are they spending wastefully trying to be “innovative IT system builders” for the sake of doing so? By leveraging the strengths of partners in the industry, you can get IT refocused on innovation and top-line revenue generation, rather than trying to be a system builder and operations center. This will help move your IT organization firmly towards a service-broker mentality.
But when would this shift occur? Search today for cloud computing, and you’ll find no shortage of pundits predicting the tipping point to a cloud- first world, where new apps and services are hosted in the cloud unless there is a good reason to do otherwise. What you won’t find is evidence that this cloud-first world has taken hold…yet.