5 Ways IT has Changed In the Last 10 Years

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IT is still going through a massive evolution so it’s good to inventory some of the changes that have happened that may be concerning the guys and gals of the IT Shop.

1. Digital Transformation

To the point of trying to re-brand the CIO to the Chief Digital Officer, IT has a bit of an identity crisis. For years IT has worked towards utilizing technology to reduce the cost of doing business within their organization. Typically that meant through automation, data collection, and file management.  Although we have a new name for it, the “Digital Transformation” is still the same thing with an even greater reach. The new aspect to the promise of IT is the use of the data that was collected to identify trends, opportunities, and performance issues within our businesses. The ultimate goal is to grow the business where as traditional IT sought to reduce the total cost of ownership. So to clarify this Identity Crisis, IT is still IT, we are now part of the revenue stream instead of only a cost center. Where IT used to make it easier for each employee to do business, now, IT also identifies new revenue opportunities, performance efficiencies, and cost saving opportunities more aggressively. This is why many have referenced the fact that IT is now strategic.  If your business wants to grow, become more efficient, or even move into new revenue opportunities, IT needs to have a seat at THE table.

2. Solution Buyers in Each Organization

The employee’s tasked with purchasing new solutions have found themselves working outside of our traditional IT shops. Is this good? I believe that it is time to retire the term “Rogue IT.” It has become the norm for service providers to market to non-IT personnel as well as building solutions for non-IT personnel. With all of our vendors creating internal training programs on “Solution Selling”, each are identifying the appropriate contact within each organization to sell too. And this is not always IT.  So how will our IT Departments adapt? By turning to an internal service provider themselves. We have always called our users our “customers” but now we need to take that next step and enable our fellow employees to easily buy and manage their own solutions. With the Single Sign On trend sweeping the world along with an ever increasing need for a more secure operating environment, IT needs to enable its “customers” to identify, buy, and integrate a standard security and onboarding procedure with SLAs. Become that easy button for whatever they find to build or grow their business quickly. And I’m not even going to breakout the agile topic at this time.

3. Consumption Based Buying

Consumption based buying is typically identified as subscription buying. Also buying only what you need when you need it or even on demand buying. So what does this mean for your company? First, you have a for sure method to shut down an unwanted sales person, if they truly understand their own business.” Most software vendors that have an on demand or subscription license offering only compensates their sales team based on what you are using instead of what you are buying. This does two things. The first is, you should not have a sales person selling you something you cannot use. If they are trying, all you have to do is say, “I simply cannot consume this solution in anyway at this time.” This also should stop the concept of shelf-ware. Second, the idea of a value added resource is currently on the ropes. Its a tough business model to provide a resource to answer presales questions on the prospect that a client will not only buy but use a new solution and thus result in compensation from a service provider much further down the road. This means that you will be asked to pay for a service to help you identify what your needs are along with what your technical solution options are based on those business needs.  This is simply because sellers are measured on sales, technical resources are measured on billable hours, and sales are compensated on consumption of a solution by an organization.  So it’s time to make a decision in the IT Department, either hire experts in each solution need, or budget for these services that help you identify your technology portfolio, strategy, and adoption techniques. You IT vendors are not just about IT deployments anymore. Just like digital transformation has expanded the reach of IT in our business, IT Vendors have had to expand their services to stay relevant.

4. Cloud-ification  of Your Infrastructure

Does this mean that your infrastructure folks are headed to the unemployment line? Does it also mean that your data is more exposed for attackers or intruders or even compliance issues? The answer is the same as if asked about our own data centers. If we architect our cloud to be secure and compliant, then the answer is “no”, cloud does not mean our data is at risk or out of compliance. But a lot of IT departments have mistakenly slept walked into the cloud. This is the idea that the cloud provides some of the services we typically manage in our own data centers. And in the case, the cloud will create risk in your IT Strategy.  There are a couple of keys to a cloud strategy and they begin with the understand and communication around the need for your infrastructure admins to shift their focus from hardware to business needs while maintaining their solution administration roles. For example server admins become cloud admins, Exchange Admins become Office 365 Admins, and desktop admins still focus on desktop solutions, they just integrate cloud into their strategy. Second, adopting a cloud solution that is consumption based (i.e. Microsoft Azure, AWS, IBM Softlayer, Google Cloud, or VMware vCloud Air) creates a situation where the consumption could create an unanticipated cost. Therefore, the customer must have a way to manage the cloud costs on a real time or daily basis.  Which is to say, you need a solution to report on what the cloud is costing you, which services in the cloud are costing the most, and the administers that are spinning up resources that cost to run. Cloud providers are improving their reporting services on a daily bases but there are also solution and software providers that will provide these reports to you as well. So to sum this topic up, Cloud-ification does not mean your admins will lose their jobs, it does have to mean you are adding risk, it simply means your hardware belongs to someone else.

5. IT Employee Focus

One of my favorite sayings is that “cloud allows your IT employees to shift their focus closer to their organizations’ customers.”  Becoming a full fledged business employee with IT Tasks may be a little extreme, but it is not completely out of the realm of possibility.  Today we have SharePoint Admins, business process owners, and Saas admins working in the business side of our companies. But what about the personnel that have traditionally provided technical services to the business? Now that IT has a seat at the business strategy table, it’s time for IT employees to start thinking like they are part of the business. This requires a shift in the IT admins thinking. From updating operating systems to enabling sales to sell more. This sounds like common sense, but we still have IT leaders and admins that have not firmly grasped this concept. Yes, updates have to be done, but if we can document the “why” behind it, we can make better decisions and avoid being called a “cost center” forever!

These 5 topics seem to be the most misunderstood or surprising discussions had with clients as the IT industry transforms on all sides! From IT departments, to service providers, to traditional IT vendors, this industry is transforming and we all have to do our part.

If you would like to discuss further, email me at ben@theitstrategist.net

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