I recently attended RES FOCUS 2014, a two-day event where our partners and customers in the Netherlands come together to discuss their vision for the future of IT, as well as their use of RES Software solutions to support that vision. Not only did I learn a few new Dutch phrases and that I enjoy croquettes, our customers taught me about the continual pressure they experience to move at the ever-increasing speed of business, while maintaining control over cost and compliance.
One customer’s philosophy struck me as a great guiding principle for IT organizations that strive for better business alignment. This customer begins every project by saying, “live for today, but deliver for tomorrow.” It’s critical to the success of his IT services that he identifies both what his organization needs today, and anticipates future user and business needs, as well as how best to meet them.
Predict and Provide
While the event featured multiple themes about the evolution of IT and the forces driving those changes, three key themes emerged:
- IT is business critical. IT is more than a cost center. Effective IT is necessary for a business to be successful. This has been a major theme for years, but with pressures from new, rapidly adopted innovations—including BYOD, the cloud, enterprise app stores, and other consumerization of IT offerings—this theme is a more urgent reality than ever before. Organizations that do not treat IT as a strategic differentiator and fail to support expectations about the way they do business and how they support their users, will become industry laggards.
- Fluid resourcing is making IT more decentralized. Quick reactions to users’ requests isn’t good enough anymore. Increasingly, IT resources are being provisioned by external providers via the cloud. If IT doesn’t adopt these new cloud services quickly enough, the business purchases them without the support of IT. Unfortunately, this doesn’t free up IT, as the business still holds IT responsible for the maintenance, support, and ongoing integration of these new services.
- People, IT consumers, are setting the agenda. Users are mobile and they expect to get the IT resources they need wherever and whenever they need them. Because meeting this need allows users to get more work done, organizations are prioritizing to meet these user demands. Predicting and providing what users need—when, where, and how they need it—both optimizes business performance and retains talent.
These trends are forcing successful IT leaders to better predict business demand and deliver services with greater agility than they have in the past.
Transform IT from Reactive to Proactive
For IT organizations to truly transform from reactive to proactive they must:
- Predict and anticipate both business and end user demands that will arise in this age of the agile digital workforce
- Build an IT team and a solution set that predict and support users’ needs
The most challenging question I see organizations face is, “How do I get started?” I always recommend that you start by reviewing the last several months of IT service desk requests. It’s amazing how, in just a few months of ticket requests from the service desk, you can quickly identify where your organization sits in the reactive/proactive maturity curve. Are users requesting access rights to applications, password reset assistance, new printer or drive set up, mobile device activation, among other things? These are all reactive tasks; through automation, these requests can easily be prevented because the needs are met before the user even has to think about them.
With automation, users have immediate access to the applications and services they need based on their role, which should be defined by the business. And it isn’t just role that drives access. Access to applications and services is best controlled through contextual indicators, such as location, device, and security clearance. These indicators show how best to qualify users for the resources they need; with these indicators, automation dynamically creates a personalized workspace environment, even for users who move and work in different spaces throughout the day.
As one customer put it, “When we transformed to a proactive culture, our engineers were helping users, not avoiding them.” Once your IT organization is freed from mundane, repetitive tasks, you can focus on strategic projects that enhance business performance and deliver solutions for tomorrow, not just today.