The way we consider, design and operate ‘End-to-End’ IT is about to end, or at least going to go through a fundamental change. There are plenty of evidence points; Shadow IT. Analyst organisational restructures. M&A transactions. Converging technologies. Current cost of I&O. The P&L’s of many organisations. New roles emerging in the enterprise such as the CDO – Chief Data Officer…The list goes on. We are all about to witness considerable convergence, or ‘Digitisation’ of our respective worlds.
There is a realisation that the world we operate in has radically changed. Our ultimate end customers and our own staff are now significantly more ‘savvy and demanding’ and the landscape we all operate in is significantly more competitive and ‘real-time’…. But we know this. However, have IT (or more importantly the business supporting and funding IT) reacted accordingly?
Welcome to the digital economy. An economy where cross-silo agility, integration, automation, data, mobility and compliance are key watchwords. An economy where we should revisit core questions like; ‘How are we doing the things we do?’ and perhaps more fundamentally, ‘Why are we doing the things we do?’
In fact one of the big questions IT should be asking is, ‘Does the organisation want IT to build and operate a basic IT platform where its users define competitive advantage from the data / services IT provides, or does the organisation want IT to build and operate a digital IT platform where competitive advantage comes from digital trends, analysis, automation and are real-time. For example, an advanced platform may empower and extend the ability for business units to build workflows and applications to remove tedious and costly manual processes without the involvement of IT, or perhaps IT themselves to ‘see’ trends and plan for eventualities across multiple silo’s of technology or process. Furthermore wouldn’t it be great if IT could effect change in one area and the implications in other areas are all taken care of. Not only joining up the data (which we typically do well), but also the processes, the management and admin.
We are entering a world where we have to dramatically improve 3 areas:
- Core Service / function of IT – What we do and the way we do it
- Discovery / Detection and analytics – The ability to process business value data
- Reaction & Change – The ability to respond in an agile way
So let’s consider how we achieve these goals. First we need to define who we are serving and what or perhaps why we are doing this. Then we should consider where does the raw compute, storage and application stack come from to serve our audience. Finally, we can consider what happens ‘in-between’ the supply and the demand.
PART 1. Who, Why & What are we serving?
Let’s start with the ‘What’ – What we ultimately deliver is a trading platform that optimises communication, competitive intelligence and competitive service. Regularly, it is not seen that way, more often than not, IT is seen as the providers of defined or ‘canned’ business services (i.e. mail, ERP, SFA, storage, kit, etc) and the managers of I&O (Infrastructure & Operations). i.e. we are told what the business needs, in short:
- Provide XYZ business applications to the BU’s and staff
- Provide information/data/reports (not intelligence)
- Manage, support and secure all of the above
Change is going to have a massive part to play in ‘What’ we do going forward. In the past, business change was positively ‘glacial’… we lived in an analog world. It took time for information to flow and be processed. Executive leadership, BU’s or staff took time to draw the conclusion that ‘change’ or a response was required… The majority of commercial Change requests come from outside of IT as the ‘intelligence’ was ultimately analogue, or a human connecting the dots between one set of data and another…. Or perhaps worse still, emotional.
This leads nicely onto the ‘Who and Why’. Who we serve can ultimately be divided into 5 categories:
- The ultimate end customer
- IT itself
- Business Units
Each requires different services, information and tools. All need our security & compliance skills. All could benefit from our domain expertise in process and integrations and ultimately, all could do with ‘real-time’ cross data analysis to make informed ‘digital’ recommendations rather than decisions being made very slowly in the analog modus operandi.
- The ultimate end user wants relevancy and respect
- IT wants to know if some element of their ‘trading platform’ may be going AMBER and why…
- Staff want intuitive tools, services and intelligence
- Business Units want to remove the burdens, costs and improve agility
- Executive want to see and measure and need value (ratio of investment to return)
The ‘why’ we do / or should do the things required in the new digital economy are fundamentally economic, whether your organization is commercial, government, charity, public or private, we all have bosses. We all have customers. Our role is to provide better services, products and financial performance that are secure and compliant.
PART 2. Where is IT coming from?
This has to be broken into three parts. The first is, where do the core applications, compute, storage, etc services come from, the second is where does the end user support for the disparate services come from for the ultimate end user, and third, where does the intelligence and ‘Change / React’ thinking come from.
The first area of ‘where core applications and services’ come from is quite straight forward, as they regularly come from a mix of on premise (physical or virtual), cloud (public and private), outsourced and of course the inevitable shadow IT conundrum.
The Second area of ‘Where does the end user service & support come from’ for the 5 types of customer is regularly a mess, primarily as the systems, processes and data is not joined up. In fact some of the applications and therefore its data do not even reside within IT’s domain.
And therefore, it’s a very similar story is the third area of ‘Where does the Intelligence and ability to Change / React’ reside…Its key to note that we are not talking about where the data or information resides, this is known, but where are the applications that use the data in order to make informed real-time decisions? They do exist in many organizations, but they are sporadic and isolated. Perhaps APM (Application Performance Management) technology is used for one customer type, and a marketing tool used for another customer type. This is an area where the ‘End-To –End’ thinking delivers optimum service, competitive advantage has its greatest effect.
PART 3. Joining the end to end dots.
In reality there are three roles for IT.
- Providing the core services
- Providing a service on those services
- Providing real-time and cross platform intelligence
And making all of these intuitive, agile, secure and efficient
Simple….no, but IT is in the most powerful and influential position to design, build and conduct the ‘New IT’ DNA. IT will place an increasingly pivotal role in the organisation, its strategy, its people, its technology platform. New ITOM platforms are going to revolutionise how we architect IT. Its no longer about whether its cloud / Saas or on premise… it’s about End-To-End IT. We will see significant convergence, from APM, PPM, Web CMS through to ITSM / ITAM and Analytics, CRM and AI…
IT is the business. We are now in the business transformation game. Embrace it.