On the Road to a Services Defined Enterprise

people in the information spaceThe relationship between the IT organization and its business customers is ever-changing. In-house, line-of-business customers are demanding an enterprise IT experience that parallels the same type of user experience they enjoy in their daily, non-work lives. They want a user-defined experience that is agile, flexible and always on. Their experience includes movies on demand streaming to multiple screens, cloud-based storage shared among multiple devices, instant connectivity with friends and family members for quick messages, and social sharing of impactful information with a single click.

These are the things that we as consumers enjoy daily. Inside the walls of the enterprise the user experience can be quite different and sometimes frustrating. Today, IT organizations are struggling with a fundamental shift, from managing a Technology Defined Enterprise to managing a Services Defined Enterprise. CIOs and IT directors must understand and prepare for this complex and non-negotiable, transition.

A recent survey of CIOs and IT directors conducted by Logicalis, in line with other industry analyst research, noted that CIOs expect their line-of-business colleagues to exert more influence over IT spending in the next 3-5 years. The view is that the business is paying for IT and therefore it should have a greater say regarding what drives their organizations business strategies. This is one of the factors weighing on IT organizations as they consider the shift from a technology defined enterprise to a services defined enterprise.

The Technology Defined Enterprise
IT organizations have traditionally focused on delivering technology to support and drive their organizations. The IT organization of today is focused on providing technology solutions. This has led to hiring experts in provisioning hardware and software solutions and purchasing ever-changing product sets that deliver faster, more cost-effective and efficient “speeds and feeds.” Accordingly, IT organizations have placed a high premium on hiring IT staffers with technology certifications and experience.

The Services Defined Enterprise
As IT organizations evolve and adapt to customer needs, they are beginning to focus on delivering services that deliver value on demand to their customers in much the same way those business users experience their consumer lives. The IT organization’s new role is to help customers recognize greater business value from their technology. And these IT organizations are beginning to place a greater premium on hiring internal team and external service providers who can view business needs through a business lens, not a technology lens.

The IT organization of tomorrow will look quite different, both in-house and outside. It will include experts in providing services brokering – locating, purchasing and managing the best available services; services governance – setting standards and applying rules to manage business services and initiatives; and services provisioning for vertical line-of-business needs – understanding and defining industry-related business requirements and best practices.

Services Defined Enterprise Roadmap
There are a few questions that IT organizations must consider to prepare for the evolution from Technology Defined Enterprise to Services Defined Enterprise. As they build a roadmap from where they are today to where they will be tomorrow, there will be challenges that require planning and organization. Here are three questions to consider:

1. Can the IT organization provide pervasive mobility? The Services Defined Enterprise is not bound by traditional corporate walls. It is, in fact, an anytime, anywhere and on any device type of world. IT organizations must balance the need for agility and flexibility with the need to maintain security and corporate governance requirements.

2. Can the IT organization deliver “Everything-as-a-Service”? IT organizations must evolve past the mindset of thinking about the technology requirements and consider instead the business realities of selecting, subscribing and managing services that meet users’ ever-changing business needs. This is often an area where IT organizations struggle today to avoid “shadow IT” cloud purchases made by rogue or frustrated users. IT organizations will need to think about the third party providers of these services and how they can integrate and partner with them to meet user demands.

3. Can the IT organization prove their value to the business based on services knowledge, rather than technology knowledge? This is perhaps the most difficult question. IT organizations will be measured by the business not on how well they can manage and maintain hardware, software and vendor relationships, but on how well they can recommend, select and deploy services that provide true value to the business. This is like the old marketing adage that says a homeowner doesn’t want radiators and pipes and oil, they want a comfortably heated home during wintertime. The IT organization of tomorrow needs to embrace this shift in perception and customer demand.

Consumers have little or no visibility of what consumer cloud services must do behind the scenes in order to make their experience satisfying. Similarly, as business users they don’t understand the complexity that has grown within their own IT departments to support the growing IT demands of their organizations. The difficult and bitter pill in both cases is that the user doesn’t really care. They simply want – and place the greatest value – on the experience delivery that their services provide. And that ability will be the governing factor for IT organizations moving forward.