Home > Blogs > VMware Accelerate Advisory Services > Tag Archives: IT Innovation

Tag Archives: IT Innovation

IT Innovation has a Major Impact on Attracting – and Retaining – Talented Staff

Mark Sternerby Mark Sterner

When CIOs adopt leading technologies like self–service provisioning, software defined networks, cloud native applications, and mobile solutions, they’re typically motivated by the significant business efficiencies and agility that these new technologies can deliver.

Those are essential considerations, of course, but I’m going explore another, often overlooked, reason to upgrade to IT’s cutting edge: that the technology you deploy for internal use plays a major role in attracting – and retaining – talented staff that will transform your business to a digital enterprise.

You’re only as good as your talent, after all, and anything that frustrates them or otherwise drives your employees – especially the best ones – to think about jumping ship, is a problem you need to deal with.

Attracting Millennials

Attract Top TalentThis problem is becoming more urgent as Millennials join the workforce. Young people joining the workforce today have expectations of mobility, interoperability, ease of use, speed of technology upgrades, the consumerization of IT and more based on their experience with technology since grade school. With next year’s new hires, those expectations will only increase.

This has an even greater impact on companies that are making serious investments in customer-facing technology. I’ve heard young employees at a well known IT enterprise, for example, say, “I can’t believe I work for a tech company and I can’t get everything on my phone and that the applications are so slow and so hard to maneuver.”

I’ll write more about how Millennials are changing IT in my next post, but here I’ll just add that young people who arrive at companies with outdated internal IT are going to be looking to leave as soon as possible, bringing all the associated costs and delays that come with having to replace people who were performing well.

Retaining Top Talent

Of course, attracting and retaining talent isn’t just about your newest hires. I’ve also seen highly experienced employees motivated to move because they’re asked to work with outdated systems, processes, and tools. These employees know how much better they could be performing with better technologies at their disposal and are simply frustrated at dealing with antiquated infrastructure, manual processes, paper-based systems, and having to constantly put out fires instead of focusing on innovation.

This was made even more apparent to me when I worked with a large pharma company that spun off one of their divisions with a new greenfield approach to internal IT (but no real difference in their customer-facing business). They advertised jobs in the spin-off internally, and a large number of their best people jumped at the chance, leaving the parent company badly lacking in experience.

Ambitious IT professionals can be even harder to keep.  Those individuals take it on themselves to keep learning and pick up the very latest skills. If their company isn’t supporting their personal development because it has no ambition to deploy those technologies, employees will take that as a signal that they should be working elsewhere.

There’s one further cost to holding back on new technologies that future-oriented employees – of whatever age – are keen to use. If you finally spend money on new technology after the best of them have left, you’ll be short of the skills to make full use of the capabilities you’ve invested. And in the age of the fully-digital enterprise when IT is no longer simply a support function, you’ll be failing to get maximum benefit from an essential competitive differentiator.

How Do You Stay Ahead? (Spoiler: It’s not all about technology!)

Clearly, this adds weight to any efforts you have underway to advance your internal systems. It bolsters the case for investing in flexible, virtualized work environments that are mobile-friendly and device agnostic. As you free employees to work from anywhere and on any device, and on modern systems that are fast, adaptable, and efficient, you will set yourself apart in the marketplace for talent. Existing employees will view your company more positively – meaning they’ll be far less likely to look elsewhere and that you’ll get a reputation among talented, forward-looking people in your sector as the place work.

But investing in internal IT for talent retention isn’t just about the technology. People and process are crucial considerations, too.

Your best staff will know about and want to use the latest solutions, but they can’t be expected to make maximum use of them without training and support. So when you do update your IT, you need to be sure that employees are supported in the transition and that your organization is prepared to shift its operating model to fully exploit the systems you are putting in place. And you need to be ready to get help to do that if needed.

In addition, empower your tech staff to help guide the technology roadmap you create. It helps build the sense of ownership that will keep them attached to the organization, but it’s also smart management. These people have experience, knowledge of the business, and proven ambition. You’re always going to build a better system if you include them in your planning than you would if you present them with a plan that’s already a done deal.

========

Mark Sterner brings over 14 years of experience in IT Service Management. He has worked in both the process development and ITIL implementation areas for large IT organizations. Mark is currently a Transformation Consultant at VMware, Inc.

What Is DevOps, and Why Should I Care? — The IT Leadership Perspective

kai_holthausBy Kai Holthaus

One of the newest buzz words in IT organizations is “DevOps.” The principles of DevOps are contrary to how IT has traditionally managed software development and deployment. So, why are more and more organizations looking to DevOps to help them deliver IT services to customers better, cheaper and faster?

But…what exactly is DevOps anyway? It is not a job or a tool or a market segment; it’s best defined as a methodology, or an approach. It has ideological elements that are in common with techniques like Sigma Six and Lean. More on this later.

Software Development and Deployment Today

DevOps todayIn today’s world, there’s a “wall” between the teams that develop software and the teams that deploy software. Developers work in the “Dev” environment, which is like a sandbox where they can code, try, test, stand up servers and tear them down, as the coding work requires. Teams working in the “Ops” environment deploy the software into a production environment, where they also ensure the software is operational. Often, the developed software is literally ‘thrown over the wall’ to operations teams with little cooperation during the deployment.

Why Was It Set Up That Way?

This “wall” is an unintended consequence of the desire to allow developers to perform their tasks, and operational teams to do theirs. Developers are all about change; their job is to change the existing (and functional) code base to produce additional functionality. Operations teams, on the other hand, desire stability. Once the environment is stable, they would like to keep it that way, so that customers and users can do their work.

For that reason, developers usually do not even have access to the production environment. Their work—by nature—is considered too disruptive to the stability of the production environment.

The Problems with Today’s Development and Deployment

Because of the separation between developers and operations, deployment is often cumbersome and error-prone. While developers are usually asked to develop deployment techniques and scripts, these techniques first have to be adapted to the production environment. Then they have to be tested. And since the deployment teams don’t usually understand the new code (or its requirements) as well as the developers, the risk to introduce errors rises. Worst case, it will lead to incidents, which are all too common.

Additionally, in today’s datacenters that are not yet software-defined, new infrastructure—such as compute, storage or network resources—is hard to set up and integrate into the environment. This further slows down deployments and raises the possibility of disruptions to the environment.

DevOps to the Rescue

At its core, DevOps is a new way of developing and maintaining software that stresses collaboration, integration and automation. It attempts to break down the “wall” between development and operations that exists today by removing the functional separation between the teams. It uses agile development and testing methodologies, such as Scrum, and relies on virtualization and automation to migrate entire environments instead of migrating just the codebase between environments.

The main goal of implementing a DevOps approach is to improve deployment frequency—up to “continuous deployment”—of small, incremental improvements to the functionality of software. Essentially, “dot releases,” and with software updates evolving from manufactured media to online streaming, this makes complete sense.

DevOps_graphic2

Why DevOps? Why Now?

With the increased availability and utilization of software to provision, manage and decommission resources—such as compute, storage and network in datacenters and IT environments—the DevOps approach is becoming more and more common. IT organizations are now able to create new resources, integrate them quickly into environments, and even move them between environments with the click of a button. This allows developers to develop their code in a particular technology stack, and then easily migrate the entire stack to the production environment, without disrupting the existing environment.

Sounds Great, How Do I Start?

The three main aspects that need to be addressed to implement a DevOps approach for the development and operations of software come down to the familiar elements of project management:

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology

On the people side, teams have to be established that have accountability over the software across its entire lifecycle. The same teams that develop the software will also assure the quality of the software and deploy the software into the production environment.

From a process perspective, an agile development methodology, such as Scrum, must be implemented to increase the frequency at which deployable packages of software are being created. Reducing the amount of change at each deployment cycle will also increase the success rate of the deployments, and reduce the number of incidents being created.

On the technology side, DevOps relies heavily on the Software-defined Datacenter (SDDC), including high levels of automation for the provisioning, management and decommissioning of datacenter resources.

VMware Is Here to Help

VMware has been the leader in providing the software to enable the SDDC. VMware also has the knowledge and technology to enable you to use DevOps principles to improve your software-based service delivery. VMware vRealize Code Stream enables continuous deployment of your software. And if you like to be on the leading edge of technology, check out VMware Photon for a technology preview of software that allows you to deploy new apps into your environments in seconds.


Kai Holthaus is a delivery manager with VMware Operations Transformation Services and is based in Oregon.

3 New Year’s Resolutions to Make “IT Relevance” a Reality

Sue Holly-RodwayBy Sue Holly-Rodway

It’s that time again―the dawn of a new year, and its accompanying surge of post-holiday, re-energised intention and commitment to improvement.

My team and I work in the shape-shifting world of technology, helping customers drive business transformation through IT transformation. And that can be challenging simply because today, technology is the business. As Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE Corporation, said, “If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up today as a software and analytics company.”

That makes the CIO and IT team central to shaping business strategy, including planning and execution. And of course, you still need to optimise the operation of core systems while reducing operational budgets as well. Based on our experiences over the past year, I wanted to suggest three resolutions to help you meet these goals.

Resolution 1: Put IT in the Driver’s seat

In order to shape successful business transformation, the CIO must be in the driver’s seat. By the end of 2015, act as the “Chief Innovation Officer,” and play a central, creative role in shaping business strategy where technology is the accelerator for growth.

We believe that many businesses still have a long way to go in recognising the central, critical roles of the CIO and IT team in guiding business strategy through expert understanding of how technology can drive growth. So what gets in the way? Often IT is seen by the rest of the organisation as old-fashioned and a roadblock to innovation and agility. All too frequently IT itself is stuck in the mindset that their job is just to keep the systems up and running—and let “the business” worry about the rest. For real transformation to happen, both of those mindsets have to change.

To be in the driver’s seat, the CIO must first be heard in the boardroom, proactively advocating IT-driven business transformation. In addition, the IT organisation needs to change focus from traditional, operational, project-based thinking to innovative, cross-organisational business growth initiatives where technology is central.

In 2015, the transformational CIO will be working to put more focus on innovation. That means sponsoring initiatives that assess the gaps between the current and desired state, and plotting incremental steps toward improvements that don’t disrupt the whole IT organisation. External advisory partners are really helpful in this area, where the challenge isn’t purely the capabilities of the technology, but people and processes as well.

Resolution 2: Drive the journey to the cloud

Nearly every organisation is at some stage of exploring cloud services, especially in terms of enabling innovative new business initiatives to fly―or fail―quickly. Cloud-enabled IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) should be the natural domain of the CIO and IT, based on their years of experience putting technologies such as security, integration and connectivity at the centre of their strategies. Cloud strategies should be no different.

But this past year, our team has seen multiple examples of organisations lurching toward using so-called “open” or “free” cloud-based services, rather than having a well-thought-out strategy with an execution plan for robust, secure, cloud-based services to support the business as part of a wider technology capability, delivered or brokered through the IT organisation.

As the CIO, make a resolution to create and own the “travel plan” for your organisation’s journey to ITaaS through the cloud. This is a journey that can involve a number of potential potholes along the way – and like all successful journeys, it requires a well-thought-out plan, informed by experience, expertise and appropriate risk management.

An important part of preparing for the journey involves encouraging closer working relationships between the operations and development teams. In a recent VMware Europe CIO event in Barcelona, Spain, IT leaders agreed upon the importance of bringing these teams closer together to build more collaborative ways of working to deliver better outcomes for the business.

Resolution 3: Protect the business with proactive security investments

Today, almost every user in your organisation has one or more mobile devices, which they use—or would like to use—to access business-critical information and applications. The process of closing the gap between IT’s capabilities and end-users’ expectations creates serious cyber security implications that warrant the full attention of the business.

This has typically been regarded as the domain of risk managers, and has not been seen as central to business success. However, the speed of change in technology and the blurring of lines between external and internal IT requires the insight and leadership of the CIO and their technology experts and security teams to address it.

As CIO, resolve to convince the business that cyber security is a business-critical topic and one that merits proactive investment. My team and I have had many conversations on this topic with CIOs and IT leaders in EMEA this year. Elan Yanovsky, ex-CIO of Israel Post, and now part of the EMEA Accelerate Advisory Team, shares this view:

“Though much has been said and written regarding cyber security, this is still the largest threat for the CIO. Many organisations still believe this will only happen to others. Mobile, Cloud and Social push us―IT―toward interesting times but also closer to the hands of evil players. What happened to Sony recently can―and actually does on a daily basis―happen to others.   See this infographic from Business Insider on the world’s biggest data breaches.  The CIO needs to be allowed to invest more on understanding the threats, exposing the vulnerabilities, and preventing the usage of them. The technology capabilities, such a micro-segmentation in the network, which VMware offers through NSX technology, or managing mobile email through Airwatch mobile management technology, are now available. Now it’s not just an option, it is all about survival.”

In Europe, specifically, IDC predicts the passage of recent EU Data Protection Legislation will also require incremental investment in IT governance and security. The CIO has a critical role to play in guiding the business in the best ways to apply the time and money required to complete a full assessment of the organisation’s security vulnerabilities and take action to eradicate them.

These are just three ideas around goals which might help to reinforce your focus for 2015 – and whatever they are, all the best for a successful and exciting year!


Sue Holly-Rodway is VMware’s Senior Director for Advisory and Professional Services Business Development in EMEA. Sue has held this role since January 2014 and is responsible for driving the deployment of the skills and capabilities in VMware’s Advisory and Professional Services teams.

How Do You Know if IT is Truly Transformational?

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl Bishop-crop“Transform your organisation by leveraging the convergence of cloud with the inherent synergies between the information superhighway and the innovation confluence between crowdsourcing and viral inputs.”

We’ve all sat in meetings and presentations listening to meaningless strings of words like these being thrown around with reckless abandon. The biggest offender among these terms is the word transformation. It seems that every IT organization is undergoing a transformation of one type or another.

In the dictionary, transformation is defined as a marked change in form, nature, or appearance. By this rationale, any IT project could be considered a transformation, however I think it’s a little more nuanced than this.

For example, a number of years ago I was involved in a mail platform migration from Lotus Notes to Exchange. Within the technology department, this project was heralded as a major transformation. Was this really a transformation? The first step in deciding is ensuring that we’re all speaking the same language, i.e., we have a common definition.

To decide whether an initiative is truly transformational, there are some key attributes to consider:

  • Aligned to a business transformation
    The surest indicator of an IT transformation is whether it is aligned to a business transformation. When the business undergoes a transformation, for example moving into digital markets, then IT needs to follow suit.
  • Touches technology, process, and people
    Transformation should not be limited to just technology; it needs to reach across the IT organization to include the elements of people and process. The software-defined data center (SDDC) vision is a great example of a transformation that drives efficiency and automation across the entire IT organization and fundamentally changes the way IT does business.
  • Usually a large program of work
    Larger programs of work have more touch points across the IT organization. This is not solely an attribute of transformation, but it’s certainly an indicator. In my earlier example, if the mail migration were a component of a larger activity based working (ABW) program, then it would be a transformation!
  • Often has a cost reduction coupled with a productivity dividend goal
    IT is continually being asked to reduce cost while delivering improved service levels. As a result, transformation almost always has cost reduction, efficiency, and productivity dividends. Otherwise, why would you bother?
  • Is innovative, introduces something new, or modernizes
    By definition a transformation is a change — and real transformation is driven by innovation within the IT organization. Businesses survive and thrive based on driving new innovations within their markets. IT is no different and must continually innovate to remain relevant and deliver the services the business needs, all within budget.

Using my previous mail exchange migration example, the outcome was not transformational as it was purely technology-focused with the business impact being a change in mail platform; evolutionary perhaps — certainly not revolutionary.

Now that we understand and have defined what constitutes a transformation, I’ll talk about how to transform your IT organization using VMware’s end-user computing vision in my next post.

In the interim, if you think of other elements that are required for a transformation or have any feedback, please drop me a line.

——
Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

CIOs Need to Restructure to Deliver Today’s Innovations

No doubt you’ve heard the argument that CIOs are merely technology brokers who “don’t matter” in the world of digital business. We all know that the opposite is true: CIOs who understand the intersection of business and technology matter more than ever. What also matters is that you understand when it’s time to change your organization to meet the needs of the business.

infoweek coverTake a moment to check out this InformationWeek report, which provides practical advice on when and why to restructure, what guiding principles apply, how to get help, and where it pays to take some calculated risks.

Related: Infographic distills 2014 Strategic CIO Survey results

Why CIOs Need to Make Time for Transformation

As businesses depend more and more on technology to drive innovation, IT is being asked to rethink the way it supports the company. How does the business currently understand the role of your IT organization? According to Gartner analyst Leigh McMullen, CIOs need to reposition IT from a process and technology organization to a service-focused organization that promises agility, responsiveness, and innovation.

The front office, in particular, presents an exciting white space for IT to demonstrate a positive impact on business differentiation and effectiveness. IT leaders can make inroads here by forming strong relationships with the lines of business most responsible for the business’ mission or revenue generation, explains McMullen in this video.

Forward-looking CIOs build a foundation for this transformation with more sophisticated automation and other efficiency measures, freeing up bandwidth for them to build the relationships necessary for a service-focused IT strategy. “If your attention is focused on operating the enterprise and keeping the lights on, you’ll never be able to give these new growth opportunities the focus they require,” McMullen says.

How do you carve out time for long-term strategy and transformation? What steps will you take in 2014 to free up more of your attention to focus on innovation and business drivers?

Software-Defined Data Center Adoption in the Banking Industry

By Enrico Boverino

While organizing my notes on my flight home after meeting with the CIO of the IT Shared Services organization for a large global bank, the metaphor “selling ice in the Arctic” came to my mind. Like me, some of you may have been subjected to play it out during a job interview, in order to demonstrate your creativity and persuasive skills.

The main topic of my meeting with the CIO was how a software-defined data center (SDDC) could help his IT organization accelerate its ability to modernize the delivery of services while achieving the 3-year cost-saving objectives set forth in the company plan. However, our meeting was not about me (as amazing salesperson) trying to sell a technology solution to someone who didn’t need it, or to persuade him to go against his best interests. My role was to understand my customer’s business needs and the unique challenges the banking industry presents to his IT organization.

Our discussion centered on how technology, processes, and organizations can be managed to achieve business objectives faster and more efficiently. Today’s banking industry is moving past a few challenging years. And while many banks are still executing for cost savings in back-office optimization or making the necessary investments to adhere to new regulations such as SEPA payments or Bank of Italy Continuity Controls, I do see a strong movement to quickly modernize. In fact, many banks are embracing technology innovations to adopt a digital strategy and to create new services to transform from a transaction-centric to a customer-centric model.

This innovation leads to the development of new personalized services such as digital wallets, new online payment processes, and personal finance applications that can be offered as value-add services to the existing online banking experience. These new services also create requirements for dynamic customer front ends that address mobility and new social behaviors. There are examples of banks developing two unique customer experiences that are demography-based—simpler and limited interface for traditional customers; richer and more dynamic interface to attract Generation Y. And of course, there’s the rising demand for more data storage and richer data analysis—mostly related to customer transaction history, spikes of trades, and social data insight.

In the banking industry, innovation can have different meanings to different IT organizations, based on their resources and constraints. And, there are tradeoffs and negotiations on how to fund “RUN the bank” versus “CHANGE the bank” initiatives that shape corresponding IT strategies, as shown below:

RUN the Bank

  • Front-to-back office modernization
  • Financial transparency of IT services
  • Regulatory compliance and operations continuity
  • Efficient procedures and selective sourcing

CHANGE the Bank

  • Accelerate M&A and geo expansion
  • Share commodity functions across bank communities
  • Enhance customer experience and grow mobility offerings
  • Data consolidation and rich analytics to create new offerings

So how can a software-designed approach enable my customer’s IT organization to deliver on new service requirements and accelerate innovation for his business stakeholders? Today, he manages to distribute budget and resources to support both sides of the bank’s initiatives, but I pointed out that his IT organization remains too anchored to the RUN side, which is slowing the outcomes he could realize from innovation.

In my next blog, I’ll compare an SDDC greenfield approach to a build-and-replace model. While there are different approaches the bank can pursue, creating a new data center platform—an SDDC greenfield strategy—can put the CIO and his IT organization on a fast track toward meeting business objectives.
____

Enrico Boverino is senior business solution strategist for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services based in Italy. You can follow him on Twitter @eboverino.

Join this Live Hangout to Get a Glimpse of the Future of IT

( Access replay here )

Join VMware for a live Google Hangout on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. PST to talk about the future of IT with futurologist Paul Saffo, Mark Burgess of CFEngine, eWeek‘s Chris Priemesberger, VCDX Michael Webster, and VMware’s VP, Global Infrastructure & Cloud Operations, Paul Chapman. Details on how to participate available here.