Home > Blogs > VMware Accelerate Advisory Services > Monthly Archives: June 2016

Monthly Archives: June 2016

CIO Imperative: Master Customer Experience to Remain Relevant

Begin a New Life as an Innovation Services Team and Deliver the Experience Your Customers Feel Entitled To

Heman Smithcustomer experienceBy Heman Smith

What is meant by customer experience – for those whom IT serves?

Today’s customers are used to immediate access to an app, typically via a mobile device, immediate ability to execute a task, and immediate results.  This delivers satisfaction and a positive customer experience.  Every industry is experiencing this, with nearly any transaction type you can imagine: banking, healthcare, retail, hospitality, travel and more. Surprisingly, this perceived expectation of immediacy is also spreading rapidly to sectors commonly considered slow to change and respond to change: public sector, utilities, military, etc.

Perception is reality – because people make decisions based on what they perceive to be true. Customers (internal and external) will now often choose the path to easiest results and lowest cost, with less loyalty and commitment than ever before.

What must be done for IT to regain its “preferred provider” status?

Whether we like it or not, IT is not always seen as the business’ preferred provider.  In-house IT is no longer seen as a “must-have”.  Alternatives not only exist, but are expanding and becoming equivalently mature and capable (SaaS, cloud-native apps in the public cloud, etc.). What must IT do now to develop and provide new value to replace its old role and charter?

Optimize Core Services

Immediately and aggressively optimize the core services IT offers that support easy application development, deployment, access and consumption:

  • IaaS, PaaS, Environment as a service, etc.
  • Open and flexible application access
  • Support any app/any device/anytime/anywhere (ie: EUC via solutions such as VMware’s Workspace ONE)
  • Application-focused security based on modern, multi/hybrid cloud-data center network models (VMware’s Airwatch, NSX, etc.)
  • IT-as-a-Business practices: show-back, charge-back, etc.

Embrace the Innovation Services Brand and Mindset

Move away from the legacy name and identity of IT (Information Technology), and adopt a new stance or brand as “Innovation Services”, leading the charge to provide capabilities-as-services needed by the business, using a best resource model as appropriate (developed, or brokered). Much of this change is leadership and culture driven, with process re-design and technology choices supporting the decisions made.

This approach requires the practice of teams counseling together to create an ideal process for delivering more ideal outcomes; both (1) internal to the teams themselves, making their lives easier, and (2) external to the end customer, making their lives easier.  This delivers better customer experience to each party!

Because of this shift in stance, the choice of technologies made by the team(s) is determined by the needed outcome, and how well a technology can rapidly, easily and cost effectively enable that outcome.

Will that cause a lot of technology loyalty shift? Yes.

Must vendors respond by being on-point to support that speed and adaptability in order for their IT customers to deliver better experience and outcomes? Absolutely!

The applications people use, coupled with ubiquitous mobility – are driving the pace of business and IT. DevOps is a response to that opportunity and pressure.

Develop Your DevOps Model… Now

IT must leap into supporting and accelerating the successful adoption of an appropriate-fit DevOps model in order to be of real value to the business. If Infrastructure Services teams don’t clearly understand this mandate, and rapidly take the stance of championing DevOps, then the application development side of the house will find other resources. This change is not optional; it is already underway, and will occur rapidly in the near future whether or not traditional IT teams want it.

If IT doesn’t rapidly respond to this need and change, its chance to be the business’ preferred provider will disappear because some new, successful, out-sourced or internally-stood-up alternative will be entrenched, and change will be seen as too difficult, or unnecessary.

What does this mean for me as an IT leader, and what can I do today?

Delivering exceptional customer experience must be the new mantra and reality for any effective IT leader, and thus for their IT organization. Becoming an “Innovation Services” team, instead of old-fashioned technology maintenance team is the key.

Focus on reducing friction in how any “consumer” (internal / external) accesses and consumes the new services (EUC, IaaS, PaaS, DevOps, etc.). The very mindset of IT staff must shift from habitually operating from a “keep it up and running” mentality – operations first, and adopt a new framework.

Innovation Services now focuses on:

  • How can we make “this” (whatever service “this” may refer to) easier to do, access, support, etc.?
  • How can we make consumption more appealing, more cost effective, more transparent?
  • How can we make us and our services as invisible as possible?
  • And, as I often hear during consulting conversations with frustrated IT leaders: “How can we function more like, so we can compete with, Amazon?”
  1. Mindset is a critical first step: Words have power. So take a stand, make a commitment, and step up to a different future. Craft a vision of opportunity, and invite each member of IT to step into becoming part of the new Innovation Services organization.
  2. Thinking through, and adopting a proven model for change as an Innovation Services provider is the second step. VMware has leading practices and services that assist with this.
  3. Re-organize based on service delivery function, not technology silos.
  4. Stick with it through the challenges of change. Partner with those who know and can coach you to success.

=======

Heman Smith is a Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Utah.

If They Come – Are You Ready?

Part 1:  Optimizing demand management to deliver “Just in Time” cloud service provisioning.

Bill IrvineBy Bill Irvine

Demand ManagementA common phrase overheard during the creation of new cloud based innovation environments for modernized applications is “build it and they will come”.

The surprise for many IT organizations is that they do come and the challenge becomes dealing with that success and the on-going management of their new environments. Many organizations do not operationalize their capabilities or establish the governance processes they need to be successful as a cloud service provider by the time the technology goes live.

Common Complaints about Cloud Services

In my work with customers designing solutions to address the needs of their business via cloud-based innovation, we hear a consistent list of concerns.

“We are always blindsided by requests that we don’t have the capacity to fulfill – it came out of nowhere”

“We never get enough specific information from the business on what they want until it’s too late”

“They always want to over-provision the environments – we’re always in negotiation mode on resource requirements”

“There’s never enough capacity to meet the business and operational demand”

“Nobody ever gives back resources – even when we know they’re not being used”

“There’s never enough budget to buy capacity when we need it”

“We are always getting escalations about the speed of provisioning and spend most of our time reacting to delayed and unfulfilled requests”

“We have to wait for approvals for every piece of the PaaS puzzle”

 “Everything we do is custom which makes it impossible to automate”

These and a host of similar issues relate to a common theme – the need for effective demand, capacity and request management to ensure a standardized, streamlined, consistent and automated approach to service provisioning.

In this blog series, we will cover each of the key processes in the lifecycle and their importance in creating an IT service brokerage model that can always support the dynamic business demand. The expectations on IT have never been greater.

Communication is Key to Demand Management

The primary goal of demand management is to understand the pipeline of service requirements from the business and to interpret these needs into a predictable forecast of consumption. This forecast becomes a vital part of ensuring that IT always has the capacity to fulfill the evolving requirements and requests.

Sounds easy enough, but the challenge in predicting demand for most organizations is the difference in language between the Line of Business (LOB), the development teams supporting them and the infrastructure providers charged with hosting the services.

IT capacity planners want technical specifications and details of the individual resource components (CPU, Memory, Storage etc.) required in order to ensure the appropriate configuration of resources in the correct “landing zones”.

The business representatives however, typically present their needs in terms of market growth, marketing initiatives that may drive increases in transactions or potential decreases in business volume based on the seasonality of the service supported. These needs are rarely static by nature and evolve over time from conception to reality.

The conversion of business and service needs into technical resource requirements is often more art than science and relies on effective communication and collaboration between a broad group of stakeholders to continuously interpret, structure and mature demand data into knowledge that can be acted upon.

IT needs to interact proactively with the stakeholders to identify demand as early as possible at its source. This source data should be documented in a system of record so that it can be tracked, aligned by service and updated as more detailed information becomes available.  Demand data is progressed through a maturity funnel where requirements are codified, refined, validated, prioritized and compared against historical patterns & trends. This enables the initial business data to be transformed into technical resource requirements and actionable plans.

Demand Maturity Concepts

In order to create a comprehensive and contextual picture of current and future business and service demand, requirements should be subjected to a series of analytical steps to refine the demand.

demand management maturity
Fig 1. Demand Maturity Funnel

  • Capture data from all available sources. Different sources will have differing levels of specificity from business concept to actual service performance data.
  • Understand the sources (e.g. LOB, Service data, etc.) to enable comparisons and correlation with past requirements. Grouping requirements by service should become the overall organizing principle to help make sense of the overall demand.
  • Develop, configure and size a logical grouping of resources into a service offering (e.g. Infrastructure or Platform as a Service) to simplify the calculation of future needs and enable IT to better standardize and automate the provisioning processes. Pre-defined service offerings also provide the opportunity to steer the customer towards preferred solutions that are more efficient and cost effective.
  • Identify patterns of business activity (PBA) for each service and develop educated assumptions as to future needs through the analysis of past requirements, requests and configurations. It’s OK to make assumptions, the business is often guessing at the early stages. Even placeholder information can be valuable especially early in the funnel. Assumptions can be validated and adjusted over the life of the requirement.
  • Develop LOB user profiles and analyze their service usage patterns to further refine the understanding of the needs and requests.
  • Understand existing patterns of business activity, prior demand and the technical profile of related platforms consumed by the specific business unit, the applications supporting the service and the volume of transactions to form an evolutionary pipeline or funnel.

Demand requirements managed through these activities will provide IT the confidence to commit to more aggressive service levels and guarantees regarding capacity and associated cloud resource provisioning.

Key Demand Management Roles

As mentioned, there are many parties and stakeholders involved in managing demand effectively. The most obvious and often overlooked stakeholders are the lines of business themselves. IT’s continuous interaction with the business is key to their improved understanding of the customer needs and to break the cycle of being reactive and unresponsive.

Two of the key roles to ensure this ongoing relationship and demand based dialog are the Business Relationship Manager (BRM) and the Service Owner. These roles are critical to understanding the patterns of business and service activity and ensuring appropriate capacity and capability on a service-by-service basis.

The BRM has a primary responsibility to represent all of elements of IT and the associated service provision and performance to the business function. They are responsible for orchestrating the capture of demand from the business and assisting in the conversion of these needs into the technical capacity that meets the expectations. BRM activities in support of demand prediction include:

  • Identification of customer needs
  • Capture of planned projects and initiatives
  • Communicating changes in service profiles or volumes
  • “Selling” the improvements in service capabilities and helping to influence customer behavior and optimize the business usage of the services provided.

The Service Owner ensures that there is an understanding and awareness of the service as a whole, who utilizes the service, how it supports the business functions, the service capabilities and the current service performance. The Service Owner will be responsible for:

  • Quantification and codification of the overall service needs, resource proportions, configuration and operational dynamics to optimize the performance of the production service
  • Key input into decisions regarding resource capacity and configuration changes required
  • Creation of the environment profiles and service offerings used in the downstream environments (e.g. Dev, Test, QA) as required by the development and operational functions

Demand Management Benefits

Implemented successfully, demand management will enable improvements across all aspects of service provisioning but especially in the areas of capacity and request fulfillment.

Some of the key benefits include:

  • Increased customer satisfaction with services and requests being provisioned without the delays inherent in a reactive environment
  • Improved and faster understanding of service and business requirements with demand being objectively quantified
  • Capacity based risk is identified and addressed throughout the course of the above activities
  • Accurate demand and capacity trending will reduce “over-provisioning” and provide more accurate budgetary planning data to optimize resource / infrastructure costs
  • Basis for JIT (Just In Time) purchasing and release of capacity using confidence-driven forecasts
  • Improved alignment with business goals giving an accurate “picture” of demand activities required to enable business goal attainment
  • Increased confidence in allocation of IT resources and their readiness for service provision

Next Steps

So how do you get started with improving demand management? Some proven initial steps developed with our customers include:

  • Start talking to the business customers and associated development teams to open the dialog and establish the process
  • Enhance standard requirements capture with each line of business defining their requirements by service
  • Capture future needs and updates earlier in the lifecycle to feed the forecasting process
  • Update the guidelines for all requirements capture to be consistent regardless of type (e.g. innovation, run, grow etc.) in a common format for input into demand planning
  • Establish improved methods for collecting trend based run and growth requirements by service.
  • Develop Patterns of Business Activity for each service and monitor key performance and consumption metrics to model current and future operational needs.
  • Analyze and redefine the real-time metrics you collect to better track and report against ongoing capacity use, headroom requirements and growth

In my next post in the series, I will discuss the capacity management stage of lifecycle, focusing on the conversion of demand into capacity requirements and optimization of the overall capacity plan.

=======

Bill Irvine is a Principal Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Colorado.

IT’s Payback Time – Part 2: Avoiding the risks that prevent ROI realization on IT innovation

Les ViszlaiBy Les Viszlai

ROI In part 1 of this two-part series we discussed how economists use many formal models to calculate ROI (Return on Investment), TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), as well as some of the methods for determining IT Business Value and payback periods.  In this post we’ll dig into the areas that can delay or prevent you and your organization from realizing the projected benefits from this ROI activity.

It’s critical that your ROI initiative has a communication plan that clearly communicates the status, timing and risks to the ROI initiative on a regular basis.  It’s not unusual for IT organizations to spend a lot of upfront effort to get business approval to proceed with an initiative, disappear and later back pedal on why the ROI initiative failed.

Potential Risks to ROI

There are a number of risk areas that can potentially impact the realization and value of an ROI initiative.

Financial

Changes in the business may cancel/delay the ROI initiative.  The initial ROI may be based on spending money that has a longer payback period then the business is now willing to take on in the current budget reporting cycle.  

Human Resources

Describes the people component of ROI initiatives.  A lack of training or not having the right people to execute and manage the project results in project timelines that are delayed.  Additional unplanned staff costs can be incurred in order to rework or complete the initiative.  Consider adding the cost of using Professional Services firms that have the expertise to accelerate the project as part of the initial ROI calculations to avoid these often costly unplanned costs.

Legal/Governance

Requirements change due to unforeseen circumstances or new industry related compliance requirements that present themselves after project kick off, and additional resources (Technology/People/Funding) are required to complete the ROI initiative.  This additional resource requirement may wipe out any of the original ROI benefits due to unplanned delays or costs.  

Management

Priorities can simply change and management’s commitment to support and funding can be delayed or cancelled. Having a solid communication plan in place keeps the initiative on managements radar and reduces the chances that their interest will wane.

Market

Market changes and competitive pressures or new customer demand may cause management to delay or cancel the project.  Resources (people/funding) can get diverted from IT to other areas of the business.

Organization

Political infighting or parent company relationships may limit ROI benefits. There can be a dependency on the business unit to use technology/services that benefit the parent company, increasing costs at the subsidiary level and reducing the ROI benefit. For example, if the parent company institutes an accounting package that enables simplified reporting across all of its subsidiaries, the costs increase to maintain and implement this system and impacts any resource savings.

Dependencies

Reliance by the current ROI initiative on a different project or initiative is a common risk.  Key resources (people/time/money) can be tied up which can impact the projected ROI of our current initiative.

Technology

Implementation related ROI activities can be affected by chosen technology that is not compatible with an existing system (not uncommon).  Or the new technology could have limited scalability and can’t handle the current or projected system demand.  A simple example is the case of existing switches that can’t handle the new call center phone system volume, or a new cloud services provider can’t handle the volume the business is generating.

Users

ROI benefits may be based on when and how users will utilize the new capabilities.  Anything that prevents them from doing so will be a risk.  The ROI initiative should have a strong end user communication component that describes why/how/when the transition will happen, and don’t forget the end user training if its needed.

Vendors

When you engage vendors to provide critical services/technology, sometimes they won’t execute as promised or go out of business before the initiative is completed.

Keep Your Guard Up

ROI RisksBe aware of the potential risks that may impact your ROI initiative during the initial analysis phase and factor that contingency into your planning.  A strong predefined communication plan will go a long way in preventing and/or minimizing the impact of many of the potential risk areas described in this blog. I personally like the traditional high level red/yellow/green dashboards that give a snap shot of risk over time, but use whatever works best for your organization to keep these risks top of mind.

=======

Les Viszlai is a principal strategist with VMware Advisory Services based in Atlanta, GA.