Monday, 27 May 2013

The Forecast Calls for Clouds – Talk to the Business


We have reached a point in time where your business is expecting to be more empowered at work, much like they are at home, some of whom have been there longer than others. They have high expectations with regards to tools and their availability. They want them to be collaborative and easy to access. It is in these where your business may find challenges with enterprise applications and see IT as the “bottleneck to their financial progress”. There will be a point (if it hasn’t happened already) where your business might say “that’s ok; I will just expense this new application and not have to wait for IT to drag its feet!” In other cases where the customer base may not have that financial freedom and they may search out free software. It is even possible that since the dialog between IT and your business has been lacking that they are already using these services (SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS) in some capacity without you even knowing it.

How we got to this point, you may ask yourself. To start with IT as a unit hasn’t been particularly good at marketing itself. While our cloud competitors have marketing teams that help them , they are likely telling your customers that they “feel their pain” when it comes to the slow processes that “hang them up” even though they are probably following the same best practices.

The way that you need to start having conversations with your business is about their service. They will be more inclined to discuss their goals and challenges that face them rather than the processes you employ, so start the discussion on that level. If your customers are shopping for another service provider, find out why? What is it about their current service that is the issue? You may be surprised to find the results. While you may even think to yourself that the cloud is the best option given the business needs you are in a position to stay ahead of the curve. Where before you may have been the last to know? It is even possible where your service desk had an escalation for a service that was being used by your customers that you had no idea was even in use. How does that impact the image of IT when you seem completely unaware of an entire application?

Granted, if you have some maturity in whichever processes you are currently using, even an IT organization in a silo should be aware of what is happening within the customers environments. The communication with the business is the great equalizer for this. It may even help you to determine where immediate improvements within the way you deliver services may be possible. Regularly scheduled discussion points with the business stakeholders would probably produce some a-ha moments that previously were unavailable.

Remember, the cloud also has outages, despite what degree of 9’s your competitor is talking about, things can still go wrong. The less we know about our business , the more likely that they have some service(s) we do not know about. Our cloud competitors also have sales staff whose sole function is to sell their product. They will tell customers that application “A” has a plug in for application “B”. While this may be true if IT is not available to review this there may be some issues with application B down the line. And it is possible that without any knowledge our service management processes will not be able to perform the activities that the business needs.

Overall the theme here is to stay engaged with the business on all aspects of their service needs. It may not always be easy, but the returns on this is invaluable.

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