Any good business owner will tell you, getting inside your customer’s head through firsthand interaction is invaluable for shaping services and products to meet their needs. And the value of user feedback on our new IT-as-a-Service catalogue is no exception.
That’s why I was excited recently to participate in our first focus groups to get business users’ thoughts on our new service catalogue portal, through which they will request services – the focal point of EMC IT’s transition from a traditional IT operation to an ITaaS model.
It wasn’t just what the eight business users from Massachusetts and Ireland had to say about the portal design, though their comments were immensely helpful. It was also the fact that we have begun this vital conversion for understanding their experiences and perspectives. After months of weighing whether we were ready to engage them, we are now hearing from them. The door is open to communicating with those we are trying to best serve. Positive or negative, I was fascinated to hear whatever they had to say and I can’t wait to hear more.
Learn from companies who’ve already made the journey
As EMC progresses in its transition from a traditional IT operation to a groundbreaking IT-as-a-Service model, I’m not ashamed to admit we’ve had a little help from those who have gone before us. In fact, we are unabashedly using as much material and as many processes and ideas as we can from three world-class companies who forged their own ITaaS programs in recent years.
Learning from their project pitfalls and best practices has saved us a ton of time and countless headaches in our own ITaaS pursuits. And it’s made me appreciate my own penchant for being, shall we say, persistent in getting information on what others are up to in the changing IT world.
We first discovered the three companies (we agreed not to name them) through our association with the Corporate Executive Board, the Washington, D.C.-based best practices organization which was using them as examples in presentations and material about ITaaS. Eager for more information, I cold-called each company months before the ITaaS project officially got underway.
Officials at all three—a large IT products company, a large manufacturer, and a manufacturing supplier—were happy to talk about their experiences. They actually seemed flattered to hear from me.
Six blind men are asked to determine what an elephant is like by feeling different parts of its body.
• The blind man who feels an ear says the elephant is like a hand fan;
• The blind man who feels its trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch;
• The blind man who feels its tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe;
• The blind man who feels its leg says the elephant is like a pillar;
• The blind man who feels its belly says the elephant is like a wall;
• And the blind man who feels its tail says the elephant is like a rope.
Likewise, IT as a Service at EMC is different things to different people depending on their perspective. While one part of IT regards the model as a new way to present offerings to improve user consumption, another may see it as a means to clarify and allocate IT costs … or a better way to plan and use company resources…or primarily a competitive benefit.
As with the elephant, all of these things are true. It is our challenge to figure out what ITaaS is for EMC broadly and chart a path to get there. So what is ITaaS for EMC?
When it comes to determining true costs and accurate consumer usage for the new IT-as-a-Service model, there’s a lot more behind your business unit invoice than you think.
At EMC a team of business analysts has spent months conducting rigorous reviews of EMC’s IT data and then mapping and costing out every aspect of each ITaaS offering to make sure the new, financially transparent model is accurate.
As EMC IT makes the transition from working with a lump sum budget to charging back or showing back costs to individual business units for the IT services they consume each month, users can be confident that their usage is being carefully tracked and priced. After reviewing and remediating data gaps, we estimate that we are currently at 92 percent accuracy and climbing.
Getting to that level of quality data shouldn’t be underestimated, nor should the importance of such an achievement to the ITaaS transition. After all, each time a business unit consumes a service via ITaaS, IT needs to make sure the amount it is charged for that service reflects all of the costs to provide that service, from the more obvious infrastructure on which it runs to the labor supporting and other non-direct cost such as data center overhead.
Harnessing the power of Big Data is a lot like harnessing the power of the Web. It has the potential to revolutionize business decisions much like the Web did for everyday consumer choices.
Just think of the pain you used to go through when trying to decide which car or VCR to buy. If you were more diligent than I, you would search for consumer reports, news articles, reviews, and maybe check with friends and relatives before making a choice. But that required quite a bit of effort so, more than likely, you would base your decision on advertisements, maybe some comparison shopping and gut feel from making purchases like this in the past. Now you can get many times that amount of product information on the Web in an instant to guide your decision.
Big Data holds a similar promise for corporate decision-makers, including those at EMC. With the right tools and know-how, they will be able to go from using the standard 10 to 20 percent of data now at their disposal to using many times that amount. The vast amount of information contained in Big Data has tremendous potential for improving the quality of everything from marketing and sales forecasts, to product quality guidance to company security alerts.
Rather than information for choosing the best car, the corporate world will use Big Data to identify the next customer to call on or the next product innovation to pursue.
But what exactly is Big Data and does EMC have it?
Transitioning to an IT as a Service (ITaaS) model will have far-reaching effects on how IT Finance structures, analyzes and manages costs and resources. It will also open up new communications between IT Finance and controllers in individual business units to optimize EMC’s IT investments, shape new priorities and create new cost efficiencies.
ITaaS essentially requires that we shift from a centralized, cost-center-based budget to a service-cost-based, financially-transparent system. In other words, rather than using siloed categories, we need to reshuffle how we group and apportion IT costs around the ITaaS offerings and how they are consumed. In this way, we will be able to share with business units exactly what it costs to provide services, so they can make their own IT expenditure choices.
Under the traditional IT model, Finance administers a lump-sum budget for IT operations and oversees employee, capital and operating expenses by breaking them down into 60 to 70 separate cost centers based on function. For instance, costs for Telecom falls into one cost center; Help Desk falls into another; and Database another.
But this doesn’t work for charging each individual business unit for the IT services they consume because costs for providing an ITaaS service offering, such as email or TelePresence spans multiple cost centers, including Telecom, Help Desk, and Network.
Jon Peirce - VP of Global Infrastructure and Services and corporate sponsor for the EMC IT as a Service project
Changing IT from a traditional corporate IT organization to a professional service provider offering IT as a Service is a bit like making the ideological leap from communism to capitalism. The transformation encompasses everything from the changing IT processes and technologies to getting people to think and behave differently as they begin to deliver services instead of technology piece-parts.
Not only that, but this seismic shift has to be accomplished quickly with limited resources because every day we delay this transformation, more and more of our business clients turn to other sources to get their IT needs met, whether it’s public cloud service providers or standing up applications on servers underneath their desks.
While the work is not taking place in someone’s garage, here at EMC IT our ITaaS launch has all the markings of a start-up business venture—which is just the mindset I’ve encouraged my team to adopt as we move forward. Think like an entrepreneur. Act like a startup. Continue reading
Reposted from Chuck’s blog entry on 10/25/2011:
Leading a transformational change in any large organization is not for the faint of heart.
Even more so when the subject of said transformation is a large, entrenched IT organization delivering mission-critical services. But that is exactly the situation so many IT leaders find themselves in these days.
At our recent IT Leadership council, Sanjay Mirchandani opened with an extended keynote detailing EMC’s IT transformation: the “why”, the “how” and the outcomes.
This post is part of an extended sequence recapping all the excellent content at the event. The back story and overview can be found here.
Why do I find this presentation particularly interesting?
There are undoubtedly IT organizations out there that are arguably “better” than EMC’s own IT. And I know for a fact that there is a large population of IT organizations that are still running in a tradtional legacy mode and have yet to begin their journey.
What’s fascinating to me about this story is the change: how a large IT organization went from one kind of IT organization to another.
Yes, EMC IT supports a large, global technology company, i.e. EMC itself. And, yes, our situation and experiences might not be an exact match to your situation and experiences.
But, as I’ve shared the story over and over again, there is plenty to learn for many IT leaders who are looking for clear (and successful!) examples on how a large IT organization can fundamentally change how it does business.
To read the full blog, click here…