Leading the Transformation to a Service Based Organisation via Cloud
// Cloud Computing, IT Processes and Organisation, IT Quality Improvement
IT is the backbone of the modern enterprise, not just another function within it. For businesses to continue to succeed in an increasingly technology-dependent world, CIOs must assume a strategic leadership role and drive change throughout the enterprise. Driving business strategy is not an entirely new role, but it is an added responsibility to the traditional CIO job function. While many CIOs possess the skills and ambition to impact business strategy, existing IT operational models and an aging infrastructure are holding them back. CIOs who have been successful in bridging the divide between IT and the business did it by first accelerating IT transformation.
Today’s successful CIOs transform IT by understanding the challenges of the business and aligning resources and initiatives to corporate goals. They market IT as a business enabler and do everything they can to dispel previous perceptions of IT as nothing but a help desk and a technology custodian. They inspire and motivate IT staff to participate in a service-oriented culture. They enable IT transformation by consolidating fragmented IT systems, by leveraging new sourcing models like cloud, by automating anything possible, and by offering business people an intuitive self-service IT storefront to get what they need to do their job.
Extensible and modern workflow-driven technology and proven IT service models can easily translate into business process automation.
From Help Desk to IT Self-Service
“Help desk” — the name is often associated with very negative connotations for most IT professionals. Today’s IT department has moved well beyond providing break-fix, one-to-one phone support. Yet, it’s often how business people describe their IT department.
Business people typically interact with IT when they need to order something or get help. When the employee’s personal online shopping or support experience is compared with their workplace experience, it’s no wonder why IT is viewed as lagging behind. Simplifying and modernising the interface between IT and the business at the point of service – a place of high business and IT interaction – can help to close this gap and immediately elevate the perception of IT.
Classical helpdesk organisations always complain about staff overload, in a classical approach this will never end. One innovative way to reduce the overload on the service desk is to take advantage of emerging social and self-service models. Some organisations have successfully outsourced large chunks of support to online user communities. Users – especially the younger generation – are often willing to help each other or to research and do things online for themselves. They are becoming smarter at searching for answers on the Web or
contacting a knowledgeable colleague or friend. For such users, calling the help desk becomes a last line of support. The flip side of the coin is that these smarter, more tech savvy users expect more freedom in the IT they use and how they use it. Organisations need to strike the right balance between freedom and standardisation.
Self-service not only caters to the expectations of today’s employee, it can also generate more efficient and controlled support processes. When implemented correctly, the self-service portal becomes the IT storefront — the interface that communicates what IT offers to the business in terms the business understands.
IT staff have to learn to be conductors of the orchestra rather than players, meaning that their role is to run the business of IT and help manage third-party SaaS or cloud providers that make up the service value chain. This in turn demands procedures to be defined and communicated across IT and the suppliers to ensure proper delivery of Services.
Driving Enterprise Self-Service
As IT tunes itself to become a service-oriented partner to the business, the business will begin looking to IT for direction. By demonstrating to colleagues in other disciplines the benefits of service automation, CIOs can further cement or even regain lost influence with their peers as business partners in their own right.
IT can capitalise on this momentum by facilitating shared services through a consolidated service and request catalog. Employees quickly get what they need to do their jobs on their own terms. Automated workflows back-ending the service catalog enable the appropriate routing of requests or information delivery to the necessary service providers, whether the user’s need is to obtain business cards, to resolve an invoicing problem with finance, or request vacation days from HR. Shared services hit full stride when the business service catalog leverages other shared resources such as graphical workflows, notifications, work queues, and reporting.
Automate to Accelerate IT Responsiveness and Innovation
Modern IT depends upon automation for its existence and IT organisations should look to automate services to reduce their own management responsibilities and deliver capabilities in a lighter, faster, “zero-touch” way. Automation does the work faster, more consistently, and in an auditable and cost-efficient fashion. When IT workers embrace it, capturing their knowledge and scaling it for the benefit of all, they elevate themselves out of the world of manual and mundane tasks and into one where they can help the organisation pursue more strategic endeavors.
Driving fundamental IT change involves shifting the model of IT from a maintenance function to one fully centered around service orientation. IT must re-tool to help their business partners transform operations and processes that deliver change and advantage. IT should embrace a vision of completing work of every type in microseconds. Rather than just managing services and operations, IT also needs to automate them, with human intervention designated only for activities that cannot yet be automated.
To effectively and more easily move to a single system of record, the cloud makes tremendous sense. The cloud, after all, frees IT organisations from the dependency on local infrastructure and limitations and complexity of client server software.
Clearly, IT transformation that is defined by and carried out with respect to the imperatives of consolidation, self-service, and automation will position CIOs to lead their organisations to a brighter future.
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