The end of the year is often a time to reflect on our past, from the year just gone to even further back in time, and then to look to the year ahead. However, it’s not necessarily an easy thing to do for a number of reasons.
Firstly, we might be so caught up in today that we have little time to think about either yesterday and tomorrow. Secondly, it can be difficult to be self-aware and accurately self-congratulatory or critical. So it can often be easier to self-reflect through the lives and experiences of fictional third parties – such as Ebenezer Scrooge and his three ghosts in “A Christmas Carol“ or George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” So, when it comes to 2017, and the IT service management (ITSM) challenges it might bring, let my short story below get you thinking about the challenges you and your colleagues might be facing in 2017 and beyond.
Shots and Last Shots
From outside Smokey’s Bar on Highway 5 you can hear the hubbub of conversation and smell the BBQ. Inside, John is sitting at the bar talking to his friend Jane. He’s an IT Director of a $50m revenue business, and she’s an Operations Director for another company. Their conversation has gone from kids and family, to current affairs in their industry and considering 2017. So far they agree that they are numbed by 2016 and troubled by 2017.
John looks vacantly at his half-empty glass, “We’re going through our budget process at the moment, getting ready for 2017.” John sighs. “I’m being asked questions I’ve never been asked before.”
Jane looks sideways at John, “Let me guess: Why can’t you be more agile? Why aren’t you ‘doing’ cloud? Why aren’t you faster? Why don’t you have more security controls? Can you reduce your headcount? Why do you need more budget?” She slams her drink down, exasperated.
John doesn’t even flinch. “Yep. All of that. In previous years, we did our capacity management, project management, all that ITIL stuff, and forecast what we’d need next year. Then we worked with procurement, the vendors, our partners – we did the same dance. It was like Dancing with the Stars: predictable, measured, and judged according to known rules.” John takes a long drink of his beer. “Now I’m being told that none of that matters anymore. It’s outdated and outmoded, apparently.”
“Yeah, John,” jokes Jane. “So have you solved all that yet? What’s holding you back?” She slaps him on the back and at last he lets out a small laugh.
“I know, I know. But seriously, I’ve already got 200 projects, I’m time-poor, I’m budget constrained, and most annoyingly of all, I’ve got these ‘new vendors’ talking to my CxOs about how great they are and how bad I am, we are. That really annoys me. All this extra stuff is more projects. Shall I just throw business-as-usual in the bin and act like a fresh-faced, green-assed start-up?”
They both stare into the mirror behind the bar and look at themselves. What’s going on? What do we do next?
“You know what’s the worst, though, Jane?”
Jane puts her drink down and swivels her chair to face John. “What?”
“The board is going to start asking me about IoT, AI, ML and gosh knows what else. And I just don’t know about any of that. My days feel numbered.”
After a slight pause they both raise their arms and shout, “BARTENDER! Shots!”
John knows his business, the retail business. He knows its needs and he’s got the right IT in place. These outside demands to be agile and cloudy are not based on his company’s needs. In fact, it seems to him like hammers looking for a nail.
What John did next is an emerging, practical trend in IT of finding the right “bite point,” just like the old driving technique of balancing the clutch with the accelerator. Draw a horizontal line and to the extreme left is “all-in on-premises” and on the extreme right is “all-in public cloud”. The real answer is often somewhere in-between.
In John’s case, it was answering the question: “How do I provide cloud capabilities on my premises, where there are paid up assets that I need to sweat?” The answer for John is not public cloud, it isn’t hosted cloud, the answer for him is bringing cloud systems onto his premises.
John spent time talking to his retail colleagues, the consumers of IT, especially the people he found using Shadow IT (cloud services that weren’t approved). He found these Shadow IT users by getting Finance to reveal whose corporate Amex was spending on AWS, Azure, and Google.
His colleagues quickly bought in to getting cloud-like services on premises, especially when they saw the budget benefits. Agility AND budget benefits: deal.
So as 2017 fast approaches, with the continued challenges and opportunities of cloud and a plethora of IT acronyms, are you able to find your cloud bite point? Like John, are you able to juggle the pressures of CxO selling, the changing technology landscape, and a business that wants the benefits of cloud now while you still need to get the most out of your existing IT investments, at least in the short term?