Home > Blogs > VMware Accelerate Advisory Services > Tag Archives: Mark Sterner

Tag Archives: Mark Sterner

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how Millennials are changing IT in my next post, but here I’ll just add that young people who arrive at companies with outdated internal IT are going to be looking to leave as soon as possible, bringing all the associated costs and delays that come with having to replace people who were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 I’ve also seen highly experienced employees motivated to move because they’re asked to work with outdated systems, processes, and tools.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.

Collaboration Between AppDev & Infrastructure for ITaaS

Mark SternerBy Mark Sterner

Traditionally, IT organizations operated in a siloed environment. AppDev teams were tasked with meeting the needs of the business and Infrastructure teams provided the environment to support AppDev. These two organizations had little interaction and even less collaboration. Even worse, the infrastructure provisioning process was viewed as a roadblock to getting the business with what they needed when they needed it.

In today’s IT world two factors have turned this scenario upside down. The first is the trend toward virtualization and automation, which enable the infrastructure team to provide the supporting environments at the speed of business. The second is the desire of companies to adopt an ITaaS (IT as a Service) approach in which IT focuses on the outcomes the business needs and functions much like a business itself.  Evolving to an ITaaS approach requires a great deal of collaboration between all levels of the IT organization, including effective and structured collaboration between AppDev and Infrastructure.

One of the most powerful results of an ITaaS approach is the provision of cost effective, nimble solutions at the speed of business. To achieve this it is important for all IT teams to clearly define and understand the services they provide, particularly the end-to-end services delivered to the business itself.  Historically, defining end-to-end services has often fallen to the AppDev team who took an application-centric approach to the process. This led to a disconnect between AppDev and Infrastructure.  Ideally, this process is a collaborative effort between the two teams to clearly define the services, taking all aspects into consideration, including not only the applications, but also the infrastructure, the service level agreements for elements such as availability and performance and the relative importance of each service to the business operations.

While the process of defining IT services provides the basics of ITaaS, it is only the first step in truly transforming an IT organization. In order to deliver IT as a service, IT must provide the business with metrics that illustrate the benefits provided, particularly the financial value through increased productivity at a lower cost. To meet that goal the AppDev and Infrastructure teams need to collaborate on many different levels to realize these efficiencies.  Streamlining and effectively managing the allocation and deployment process is the first step to lowering the cost of IT.

Typically, AppDev teams of the past chose their solution to the business need with little thought to maximizing the efficiencies of the supporting infrastructure. Additionally, the Infrastructure team provided the environment with little understanding of the application architecture.  Leveraging the efficiencies of a virtualized environment can certainly provide a more agile environment, but only through a collaborative effort can IT truly provide the most effective solution.  AppDev and Infrastructure need to consider all aspects of delivering the solution. This includes availability, security, performance and scalability and reporting requirements. They must also understand and agree upon the application’s importance to the business. This will determine the disaster recovery strategy and define the support levels provided by both teams. Once all these factors are determined and defined, only then can the IT teams develop the most effective solution by aligning the application architecture with the most efficient infrastructure.  This effort will help to lay the groundwork for standardizing the integrated AppDev and Infrastructure processes and delivering measurable metrics that illustrate the success of the transformation to ITaaS.  Additionally, the standardization work can be leveraged to help implement Platform as a Service (PaaS), bringing even greater efficiencies to a virtualized environment.

Collaboration across the entire IT organization is not a new and trendy concept. Several models have emerged as best practice pathways to building and maintaining agile IT teams.  DevOps, for example, addresses the need for IT to provide rapid deployment of systems by breaking down the traditional barriers between IT teams. The “Dev” in DevOps does not simply refer to the AppDev teams, but includes all IT resources such as network engineers, sys admins, security teams and DBA’s. They are all part of the development lifecycle and have a role in the development of the most effective solutions to meet the needs of the business.  Through DevOps, IT organizations become a valued service provider and not a bottleneck to providing business solutions.

ITaaS requires organizations to rethink how they provide solutions to the business. Collaboration between AppDev and Infrastructure is central to successfully transforming to ITaaS. Traditional silos need to be broken down, blurring the lines between internal IT teams.  This may require an internal reorganizational effort to facilitate a more collaborative environment, but even without changes to organizational structure, working together towards a common, outcome-focused objective, is the key.  While managing this entire endeavor may seem a bit overwhelming, changes in the market, competition and technology are requiring most IT organizations to re-evaluate how they can keep up with the demands of today’s business environment.


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.