The combination of technological advances around cloud, mobility, big data, analytics and virtualization has redefined how IT Services are estimated, shaped, delivered, maintained and billed. The days of fixed-everything are over. In today’s volatile markets, the fixed-everything model is ludicrous. Businesses want flexible, on-demand, right-sized solutions to fit their immediate business needs. But the marketing hype around services and the way they are packaged is making IT buyers nervous. Few can make sense of it with confidence. If you are among those who wake up every day in a sweat—and who isn’t—wondering what the right approach is, here are some key Dos and Don’ts to acquiring On-Demand IT.
These Do’s and Don’ts may appear simple, but are frequently forgotten. They are handy in a world that is getting globalized, where time-zones don’t matter, where M&As are changing business models and where everyone wants to shave off waste from their budgets. These Do’s and Don’ts can help you strategically change business using On-Demand IT without losing sleep:
Do opt for agile over customized. If you want On-Demand IT, don’t go down the path of customization. Few can customized anything overnight, satisfactorily. The entire theory of on-demand is based on the modularity of a service and its ability to scale in fractional increments. Agile systems are what you need. Customization must be almost completely ignored or lowered considerably in priority. And remember the cardinal rule for On-Demand IT: configurable does not mean customizable. On a more practical note, customization can also be fairly expensive. This means that unless customization creates a difficult-to-ignore business differentiator, you should stay away from customization.
Do ensure mobile is at the heart. Regardless of the service your business needs, ensure that it can leverage mobile technologies either immediately or at the point you may need it to. Without mobility at the core, IT services will rapidly decay in relevance. They will show signs of being handicapped to meet business requirements. Mobile technologies are at both ends of business enablers such as cloud, data and analytics. On one side, the mobile technologies help pull in data from disparate sources in real time and, when processed, help rapidly distribute intelligence on the other side across the value chain.
Do increase productivity without increasing headcount. This may not seem like a disruptive idea but it is. If the service you are considering can increase productivity with absolutely no increase in headcount, it is already winning the battle for you. New IT services come with a hidden cost. They can add innocuously to headcount. IT departments justify the headcount increase through a productivity increase. But over a period of time, the extra hands on deck begin to hurt as the cost of maintaining them goes up—or worse, they become irrelevant.
Do consumerize the experience. The larger an enterprise, the more tempting it is to opt for On-Demand IT services. But does the service scale automatically? Is there need for employee intervention? If yes—and there invariably is a human component in all such services—ensure that the experience is consumerized. Make it easy for employees to understand when a service needs to shrink or stretch. Make it easy for them to understand the options and the ROI of their decisions. Make it simple for them to take action on the decisions.
Don’t let technology drive the solution: On-Demand IT is modular, flexible and elastic. This makes it easy to get sucked into the idea of On-Demand IT. But don’t let technology alone drive the solution. Make your business goals shape the solution. What are your business requirements? Is continuously right-sizing internal IT part of your goal? Which markets are going to be your chief growth centers? How will On-Demand IT, especially those involving new technologies around cloud, mobility, big data and analytics and virtualization, change your internal processes? Once you have satisfactory answers to these questions, you are ready for On-Demand IT.
Don’t ignore performance measurement: One of the problems with On-Demand IT can be a degree of complacence that sets in. Since rigid business rules dictate how IT provisioning will scale, it is easy to ignore everything else. Budgets tend to stay predictable—and importantly, these are directly proportional to output—so IT departments get blindsided with performance efficiencies. But smart IT buyers will ask themselves the hard question, “Am I measuring performance? Can it be improved?” On-Demand IT’s goals are often to keep all SLAs green. But business could still be unsatisfactory. Can IT performance be linked to business outcomes and business KPIs?
Don’t ignore on-site support for mission-critical IT: Practically all IT services can be supported remotely. This reduces cost and ensures that every required skill to troubleshoot and develop fixes is centrally available. However, there are mission-critical systems that cannot wait. Ensure that you have on-site support for these. Knowing that you have on-site support builds a high level of comfort but it is practical as well.
On-Demand IT is not a trend. It’s the new normal. It is what you must consider for all your IT initiatives. If it isn’t at the top of your agenda, you’ve already lost precious time—because your competition is using flexible, cost-effective On-Demand IT.