In the third of a series of blogs about the future of the CIO and the IT function, Chris Gabriel looks at some of the changes he expects CIOs to make as they seek to transform IT functions into ‘internal enterprise service providers’ (IESP).
There is no doubt that CIOs worldwide are facing a challenge – according to recent research carried out amongst CIOs at Logicalis customers, almost two thirds expect line of business managers to gain more power over IT decisions over the next few years.
The challenge, then, is to adapt or be sidelined – relegated to the role of maintenance overseer that CIOs have been trying to break away from almost since the role was ‘invented’. I’ve already covered in parts 1 and 2 of this series how CIOs want their roles to change, and the issues driving that change – ultimately it seems CIOs are focused on re-inventing the entire enterprise IT function, transforming it into a pseudo service provider that bridges the gap between technology and business.
The remaining question is ‘how’ – what do CIOs need to do to effect that change? Really, there are two parts to the answer. The first is operational and is about clearing the way for change. Our research found that CIOs first want to reduce the support and maintenance burden on IT departments, for instance by streamlining and optimising legacy IT infrastructure and making better use of managed services partners.
The second aspect of change is probably the toughest, since it is about changing minds. In my view, however, it is an essential change – there is simply no way CIOs can turn IT functions into what I call internal enterprise service providers (IESP) without first changing perceptions – the way IT specialists see their roles and the way the wider business perceives the IT function.
So, what will define the IESP?
Quite simply, a services-centric approach – focusing every action on delivering what the business wants most – a transformative user centric experience built using services from the most appropriate source.
In broad terms, that means:
- Delivering a 360° user experience – recognise that the business user is being bombarded with external sourcing options for all of their IT needs, and the IESP must compete based on business value
- Moving from managing technology to offering a well-defined service portfolio – the IESP will operate and manage a portfolio of services, both internally built and externally sourced, and the business will not be able to differentiate between the two.
- Selling the IT function to the business based on service value – the IESP will take on the traits of the service provider, communicating its portfolio’s value and its ability to deliver new business differentiation.
- Adopting pre-validated architectures – the IESP will see validated architectures, primarily Data Centre Converged Infrastructures, as a fast track means of building out the higher layer services their customers are willing to pay for.
- Embracing operational automation – the IESP will strive to put people into roles focused on business innovation, and automate the processes and technologies where people add little value and significant cost.
- Transitioning staff from being experts in technology management to best practice exponents of service definition, delivery, and user experience – the IESP will train its staff to engage with the business to help ensure near perfect service definition, and to engage with service partners and providers on best practice service management.
- Adopting Service Management (ITSM) best practice – best Practice IT Service Management processes, systems and platforms will transform the IT department from manager of products and technology, into best practice service management.
- Being unafraid to look externally-first – the leader of the IESP will task their colleagues to scan service providers offerings, looking for the services business users are demanding before deciding to build the service themselves first.
Is this really happening? Well, our research amongst CIOs suggests that the will is there. There is a greater willingness than ever to put core infrastructure – from networking to security – in the hands of service provider partners.
What’s clear is that CIOs do want to focus more on defining and delivering services that deliver tangible competitive advantage. Specifically, their top two priorities are ‘mobility strategies’ and business analytics and, overall, they want to focus on ensuring technology enables businesses to achieve their strategic goals.
Whether CIOs will succeed or not is open to question, but it will be very interesting to see how things shape up over the next few years.