Many businesses outsource their IT infrastructure or parts to the cloud. They do it to reduce time to market and cost – both CAPEX related to ownership of hardware and software and OPEX typically related to operations, maintenance and labor. Time to market? As all IT processes (should) (directly) support the business – the sooner the process is up the better – the sooner the product can be delivered to the end customer the higher chance that the company makes more money.
The IT department challenge
Do all IT departments see clearly the connection to core business? IMHO No. They interact with the business departments but often don’t see beyond that. It could be hard to overcome – but why would you care about a particular IT process if it does not INCREASE the company revenue? Well yes regulatory compliance could be one exception – but what else? Would you as CIO keep investing into an application or infrastructure only because it’s cool? I don’t think so. The business side sees IT as a hurdle to doing more business and being agile. Now that is interesting – the misalignment between business and IT is increasing and it has negative impact on the organization itself – on ability to innovate, get more happy customers and drive more revenue.
Cloud – ultimate solution?
Now how to get out of it? Should the business think about cloud to “by-pass” their very own IT? Should IT step back and rationalize their processes and infrastructure and align it with end business? Should the IT be totally outsourced? Should the exiting IT be looked at as a separate revenue generating business?
It really depends, but the ultimate action should streamline and align the processes in IT with the end business to reach agility. The cloud is indeed a way to move some of the infrastructure out of the way in the restructuralization effort.
The cloud is not answer to all questions however. Business solutions are initiated by business need that should be formulated by the business and include all the ROI math. The same math should be considered in the business solution itself.
Business Need => Business Solution
The challenge of a business solution
From the “IT” side the “Business Solution” EQUALS “IT Services” PLUS “Solution Implementation”. Looks like a simple equation for overall effort. Let’s analyze it a little. Moving IT Services to the cloud clearly decreases or *may* decrease the overall effort. Depending on type of business solution the implementation usually plays tremendously important role. Let’s say the business need is to implement e-mail system, the implementation itself could be more automated and simpler than answering complex multi-departmental portfolio need. But is the workload really the right way to look at things? Not really. The cloud can deliver what you need when you need it and it washes away the workload “problem” for “IT Services” today, but not for “Solutions Implementation”.
Getting back to our equation
Business Solution = IT Services + Solution Implementation
– cloud can help with lowering the effort for “IT Services” today. I still think about “IT Services” as a tool – like a wrench that can be used to tighten a bolt. But we need to have just the right bolt and the bolt needs to be tighten with just the right torque and re-torqued as needed – and that is exactly what the “Solution implementation” should take care of.
As no one wants to end up as a fool with a tool, implementation is the real important part that documents details, envisions, implements and trains; drives more adoption and continuously maximizes ROI of the entire solution. We clearly don’t want to under-spend in the solution implementation as it’s the vital part of every successful business solution. The cloud is the CATALYST of IT transformation that SPEEDS implementations of business solutions and REDUCES some cost aspects and complexity. But the cloud is not the ultimate answer to all the questions.
Would there be one day a “smart cloud” that would deliver the entire business solution? I truly believe so!