92% of companies are implementing some form of hybrid IT.1
The digital transformation we are witnessing today has catapulted IT to a role of prominence, innovation and leadership. IT must now understand more than just technology architectures, it must understand the business drivers and goals of the company that it serves. Innovation and new ideas are the building blocks of business today and it is the job of IT to provide the technology to help make those ideas come to fruition. Organizations that are able to achieve that cohesion will have the greatest chance of success. For that reason, every CIO and CEO should be undergoing a self-actualization process to re-examine the role that the IT department holds within the organization by asking questions such as:
- Is the IT department an appreciated but enigmatic department within the organization?
- Does management only call IT when there is a problem or interruption to operations?
- Does IT have an active role within the company’s leadership to drive corporate strategy?
- Does IT simply navigate its own ship and direct large capital investments on its own?
- Does IT offer the services that users want or are users going elsewhere?
That last question can be an uneasy and awkward one. After all, aren’t company users a captive audience of the IT department? Doesn’t the internal IT leadership dictate the technology needs of the company?
They did, at one time, but no longer. Thanks to the consumerization of IT and the immense competition of external IT and the cloud, corporate IT is no longer the only brand within the organization. Welcome to the era of the disruptors. Just as Uber and Airbnb allowed thousands of automobile and homeowners to compete within what were considered captive industries, a multitude of IT service companies can now compete for the needs of your users.
It’s called Shadow IT, a term coined that depicts how users within an organization turn to cloud-based third party solutions and services without the knowledge or formal approval of the organization’s IT leadership. Often this is due to users searching for innovative solutions that best address their business needs. A survey published in TechRepublic in 2014 showed that 61% of business units circumvent their own IT shops and go directly to the cloud.2 A more recent survey of 200 global CIOs reported that 83% of them experienced some level of unauthorized provisioning of shadow IT. In addition, 72% reported not knowing how many shadow IT applications are being utilized within their respected organizations.3
The new reality, according to Gartner, is that companies are supporting technology, software and digital services outside of the organization. They go on to say, “The only solution to this problem is to improve the ongoing collaboration and communication between IT and the business so that the possibility of a surprise is minimized.”4 It is time for IT to better acquaint itself with its customers.
The problem of course is that users do not concern themselves with issues of security or compliancy when seeking external solutions, which may open the network to vulnerabilities and put the organization at greater risk. There may also be unknown conflicts with the network firewall and web filter. These solutions may also not be supported by the internal infrastructure. Unfortunately, it is internal IT that must then support these purchases and take the blame when a security breach of some type occurs.
No matter what type of business you are in, it’s about service delivery and customer satisfaction. The same goes for the internal IT department. Corporate IT can no longer be a gatekeeper of technology and information. Rather than saying “No” to user requests and inquiries, IT needs to say, “Let’s find a solution.” ITaaS helps brand internal IT as a trusted partner within the organization, rather than a technology caretaker. Using an ITaaS operational model, internal IT establishes itself as a distinct business unit, serving other business units within the organization.
Corporate IT must embrace the competition from external services within the cloud. With ITaaS, those challengers now become resources. Just as consumers no longer care if their products are purchased from the store down the street or from an online retailer, users no longer care where their required services are delivered from, be it in-house or from the cloud. Corporate IT must transition itself to the role of a technology intermediary. As an IT broker, corporate IT is able to:
- Align their efforts with needs of the business units it serves
- Find service solutions at the best cost, whether that be internal or external
- Retain control of these solutions in order to ensure proper governance concerning security and compliancy
By providing better service and attention to users, IT will become the one-stop shop solution provider for the organization, as users will no longer be induced to shop for alternate solutions around IT.
Corporate IT is no longer about a data center; it is about a service catalog. In order for IT to offer a vast array of services to meet the needs of its customers, it must possess a highly flexible and adaptable infrastructure to support it. Only Hybrid IT can achieve this by offering the right mix of private cloud, public cloud and traditional IT. Hybrid IT is about matching each workload with the optimum infrastructure. Workloads with large demand disparities for which only speed and agility are demanded can be matched with the public cloud. Other services that are inherently governed by security concerns or compliance issues can be hosted within a private cloud. Those solutions involving legacy applications and hardware that cannot yet be feasibly migrated to the cloud can remain in traditional IT until they are modernized.
While the traditional data center was composed of separated silos induced by multiple proprietary technology, today’s infrastructure is a compilation of unity and simplicity. Servers, network infrastructure and storage are standardized. Resources are seamlessly managed and administered using a singular interface. Standardization is not only important for managing workloads, but in providing a consistent user experience as well. For the end user, Hybrid IT is about automation and on demand provisioning. By minimizing the touch points of the deployment process, users do not need to wait for IT support. That translates into faster provisioning and lower costs.
In the end, Hybrid IT relates similarly to the basic premise of the hospitality industry. Those companies that can enhance the guest experience and meet or exceed expectations of their guests will succeed. Hybrid IT is about putting the needs of the customer first. What matters is the end user experience, not necessarily the technology itself, and ensuring that your users are happy.
1. IDG Research commissioned by WEI, June 20, 2017.
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