At MMS 2015 we had some interesting discussions in the Ask the Data center experts session. One of the discussions was centered around how IT is changing and how to adapt. For a while there has been a paradigm shift happening in IT. It is hard hitting for those on the front line especially IT Pro’s.
With the advent of many technologies moving to XaaS (x as a Service) based and the challenges for IT pro’s to move from strictly the ops side of IT to more of a DevOps model as well as becoming an internal technology consultant to the business IT Pros can feel lost in the paradigm shift.
The goal of this blog post is twofold. 1. I want to expand on this discussion with my opinion of how an IT Pro can remain relevant in the future of IT. 2. My friends over at Savision asked me to write a blog post and I thought this would be a great topic for it because they have some tools that can help with this transition.
Here are key points and additionally skills/mindset needed as an IT Pro moving into the future of IT:
- Accepting Shadow IT….. Ability to manage anyway.
Shadow IT is the practice of business units spinning up their own IT solutions without organizational approval. With the expansion of cloud Shadow IT is becoming easier for business units to undertake.
- Technology Budgets are no longer 100% controlled within IT anymore. Many departments own their own technology budget.
- For so long IT has had the reputation of being “No People” and a dinosaur that takes forever to get things done. Embracing Shadow IT is about enabling the business, moving faster from conception to solution. Embracing Shadow IT will also change the reputation IT to “Yes People”.
- This will cause the business to come back to IT first as internal SME’s to help them select the right outside solutions bringing internal IT Pros back into the loop.
- Instead of focusing on how to stop business units for spinning up the technology solutions they need, help them. At the same time look for solutions that can help put governance and management around Shadow IT. A good example of this are three solutions from Microsoft such as Cloud App discovery (Discovery of cloud applications used in an organization), Azure Active Directory (Single Sign On, Centralized log on to cloud based applications and much more), and OMS (Management of cross platform clouds i.e. Amazon, Azure, Rackspace etc.).
- Embrace and accept heterogeneous environments….. IT is a diverse world of technologies
- IT Consumers will more and more dictate the platforms they use. Just think about mobile devices IOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry (fading I know). End users want to use the devices and platforms they want vs being locked in. This will only continue to grow.
- End users are now more advanced and will continue to advance (BYOD, setting up their own VPN’s, demanding more cloud applications, and self-service.)
- When Shadow IT occurs you have no idea what platform a business unit will chose. Be prepared get the right management tools to help you manage across heterogeneous environments. Be ready. Microsoft offers Operations Management Suite and System Center to help get a handle on management on cross-platforms. Combine these with some third party solutions from vendors like Savision and you will become an IT hero. Here is another article to dive into this further: ITSM and System Center Operations Manager.
- Embracing Agile, DevOps and Cloud….. Will you lose your job?
- The hard truth is If you refuse to change, retool, learn new stuff you might lose your job. If you embrace change then the answer is NO…Your job will change but you will not lose your job.
- To help with these new things first adopt good process. ITIL/ALM are great places to start.
- Here is a good ITIL for IT Pro’s course on MVA: ITIL for IT Pros.
- Here is a DevOps MVA course on ITIL and ALM combined: Modern IT: DevOps to ITIL, Creating a Complete Lifecycle.
- A good Business Service Management solution such as the one from Savision can help you bring good ITIL processes into a solution.
- Put as much of the operations side of IT on auto pilot as you can
- Doing this will free up IT Pros to work on more strategic initiatives. This has to be combined with a shift towards becoming an internal technology consultant to the business.
- Do this through things like automation and infrastructure as code and good solid processes such as using ITIL
- Here is a great article on adopting ITIL: Overcoming Obstacles in Adopting ITIL.
- Shift mindset from cost cost cost to revenue revenue revenue
- What this point is trying to drive home is that IT Pros rarely thought about the businesses bottom line. In the future it will be critical to shift your mindset on this and think about that new technology will either make the business money or save the business money.
- Focus on customer recruitment and retention…..Through technology
- Change your mindset to think along the lines of “How can what I do either gain new customers or help retain existing customers?” Ask yourself this every day with the tasks and projects you work on. Shift to this mindset and watch yourself move towards activities that impact the customer.
- Being in business is all about the customer all the way back to the technology that runs the business. Without the customer the business would not exist.
- Drive efficiency and Innovation of the business through innovation
- We live in the information age not the industrial revolution. Realize that innovation and efficiency is and has been driven by technology solutions for some time now. Shift to being a change agent. Help drive efficiency and bring innovation within your organization. This will make you way more valuable to your organization as an IT Pro then being strictly an ops guy/girl. Being just an ops person is seen as overhead to the business. When money needs to be saved overhead is one area that is looked at first to cut back on.
- Become a consultant
- One question. In a world of pure cloud do business really need you and on prem systems? The answer is yes. Good. Prove it to them. Become their strategic consultant they can trust.
- Take notice many large organizations are not placing “Consultant” in front of titles of IT positions. Don’t believe me. Go to Dice.com and do a job search. Businesses want you to consult for them even when you are an internal FTE.
- Become BFF’s with marketing.
- Marketing departments are starting to control the IT spend and drive more technology initiatives. This is because they are closer to the businesses customer and set out to drive a better customer experience through technology. Friend the marketing teams and help them, enable them, drive along side of them to improve the customer experience. It is time to step outside of the data center.
That wraps up this blog post. I hope you found some value in the content. I also hope this will help any IT Pro that is questioning how they will fit into the future of IT gain some clarity on a path to take.