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Top 5 Ways IT Can Stay Relevant in the Cloud Era

By Jason Stevenson

You have heard it said that “rock and roll is dead.” The same could soon be said about your IT department.

External pressures are driving an extinction of the IT department. Today’s business users are becoming more and more savvy, growing up with all kinds of technology in both the home and the office. Desk-side computing is dying off quickly, being left behind by technologies—like tablets, smart phones, and even wearable technology like eyeglasses and wristwatches—that make your employees more mobile and agile. This type of technology doesn’t typically need desk-side support, and when users are frustrated enough to need “human” help, they look for services such as Kindle’s Mayday for instant assistance that’s specific to the device/service that they are experiencing issues with.

The movement toward mobility and agility naturally drives organizations toward more cloud-based services, and software as a service (SaaS) rather than customized applications. This means that as time goes on, storage infrastructure, compute infrastructure, network infrastructure, and the data center will become less and less relevant.

Today’s business managers need to move at the speed of technology, and often consider the IT department a hindrance more than anything else. So how do you reverse that trend?

1. Become a “service provider” or be left in the dust.

Shifting your focus from technology to service management, you act as broker of the cloud services available within the marketplace. In order to “run IT like a business,” the IT department needs to have a clear picture of the services it provides and how these services create value for its customers.

Through full transformation of your organizational structure, core processes, and management tools, you are able to facilitate, combine, and enhance cloud services to add business value.

2. People are paramount. Your IT org chart should match your service-oriented approach.

Where today your organization is likely heavily vested in operational resources, a more mature organization will be needed. Your IT department will no longer deliver technology but will become a truly service-oriented organization and must be resourced appropriately.

You may find your organization chart actually reflecting a service lifecycle with service strategy at the top of the pyramid and service design, transition, operation, and improvement on the bottom of the pyramid. Consider how your services will flow naturally through the bottom of your organization chart, moving left-to-right/cradle-to-grave.

3. Perfect your processes. Even the greatest technology means nothing if there isn’t a solid plan in place to deliver it.

If you are still thinking technology is the solution, it’s time to get your head out of the clouds; or better said, into the clouds. An IT service provider that will last the test of time will have robust processes in place for:

  • Relationship and Demand Management
  • Portfolio and Finance Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Change, Configuration, Release, and Validation Management
  • Portal Management
  • Reporting Management

Without these processes in place your customers will never truly understand or appreciate the value of the technology you are providing.

4. Technology changes CONSTANTLY. Accept that and adopt it as part of your strategy moving forward.

Rather than blather on about technology, talking about what’s hot and what’s not, accept the simple fact that technology changes every day in real and profound ways. You must avoid resistance to change and embrace innovation when it makes good sense from a cost and risk perspective.

At this moment, technology is clearly trending toward attributes like mobility, community, utility, and self-service. Your customers (the business) are better informed than ever of these trends and are expecting their business to move at the speed of technology. Be an enabler of these new trends, not a roadblock.

5. Your customers (the business) will either love you or leave you. Focus on their experience with IT above all else.

You must provide service to not only meet user requirements, but also user expectations. Users want to feel empowered and immediately gratified. Become the preferred method to engage services. Provide a positive user experience that users want to engage with, and not just because they have to. Become a trusted advisor, aware of both the business and IT trends. Be impressive when it comes to managing suppliers/vendors, and be excellent project managers.

You must deliver services in such a way that your users are left not merely satisfied, but actually exhilarated by the service they received. Otherwise, you are not adding value and cannot compete.

Your focus must truly shift from technology to services. And, you must begin this journey now, before becoming obsolete like so much of the technology you have retired from your environments. Be willing to look outside your organization for solutions, and realize the paradigm shift from technology design to service delivery.


Jason Stevenson is a transformation consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services. He is based in Michigan and one of only seven certified ITIL Masters in the U.S.