What’s the Best Predictor of Success with IT Transformation?

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On the road to IT-as-a-Service, transforming your IT infrastructure and applications is the easy part, comparatively speaking, that is. The really tough part is transforming the people and processes, and it’s also what differentiates the most successful IT transformations.

So you’ve virtualized your environment, set up your on-premises private cloud and connected it with a public cloud solution. You have a hybrid cloud up and running and you’re on your way to delivering IT-as-a-Service. Now that you have the hardware and software operating, how do you get your people operating in a new way – with new processes and structure — that allows your business to capitalize on the new IT agenda to deliver more business value than ever before?

Chances are your IT department is skilled and organized around delivering component technology, while your lines of business could care less about the technology – they just want IT services and applications to help them get their work done. If they’re not getting that from their IT department, they go outside the company for these services, bypassing IT altogether. A September 2014 Gartner Group report showed that 40% of IT budgets are being spent by business partners outside of IT – marketing, sales, HR and finance, to name a few. They go around traditional IT departments not so much because of cost, but because of the immediacy, convenience and simplicity of the service experience with a 3rd party.

IT:  It’s time to carve out part of your organization and retrain, retool, and retitle, as many IT responsibilities move from the back office to the front office. EMC’s Global Services teams have helped accelerate thousands of IT transformations for our customers, and a new operating model has been a critical element in the most successful ones, including our own EMC IT transformation. Jon Peirce, SVP of EMC IT, shares a bit of our own experience in his blog.

What does the new IT department look like?

The new operational model focuses first on identifying the business needs of your company’s various functions, and then supplying IT services to meet those needs. This demand-and-supply model is what EMC is adopting for its own IT operations. We will have IT business relationship managers aligned to key business functions. Job descriptions will call for people who understand business, have great interpersonal and communications skills, can proactively identify technology solutions for their internal customers’ problems, and then collaborate with others to build or broker the solution.

Also, with the silos breaking down on the technology side, we will need our people to have a broader understanding of multiple IT components. There will always be a place for those with deep technical knowledge in one area, but increasingly, we will need people to widen their perspective.

So you may have a “demand center” made up business relationship managers who translate the business needs into IT solutions, and a “service center” that supplies these solutions back to the business. But it all starts with business needs – not the technology.

Questions to ask yourself

Much of this sounds simple, but in reality, there are layers of tough questions you’ll need to engage your stakeholders in answering. How do we assess our talent’s current capabilities? Do they have what it takes to transform? Can we retrain our current talent? Who will the business relationship managers report to – the business function or IT? How many will we need for each function? How will they engage with the business functions and with IT? Who pays for what? How do we operate the current IT organization while we are building the new model?  Knowing what questions to ask is just the beginning.

The new IT agenda presents a great opportunity for IT leaders to be more relevant to their business than ever before, but it takes some courage to stand up and help your own business leaders understand the new value you can bring to them.

If you’ve already gone through this with your business leaders, use the comment box below to tell us how you addressed this and got their attention.

If you’re going through it right now, what questions do you have that I, or others reading this blog, might help you with?

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