From now on, IT will not support the business - IT will be the business - Stoneseed
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From now on, IT will not support the business - IT will be the business


Digital technology has already changed the business service delivery landscape.

The thing that we call IT is evolving, you’ve probably felt it in your business. When school kids look back in history class at the era we’re about to navigate, they will reflect upon it on a par with the industrial revolution or the renaissance. Although, I think, its global impact will be greater.

What’s about to happen? Well, it’s happening already. Consider how business IT has evolved.

At first, IT supported your business. In other words, you needed a purchasing, transport logistics or stock control system - you asked your IT team to source options and recommend solutions based on your brief.

Then, IT aligned with your business strategy. IT, increasingly in tune with your mission, began to anticipate your needs and future requirements.

So far, so supportive.

In this next phase, ‘IT’ will BE the business.

Whether you call it SMAC, Third Platform or Nexus of Forces (I love Gartner's theatrical language), what we now call IT is about to become the driver of business change rather than just the facilitator of it.

That's exciting and scary too - the best roller coasters always are - so strap yourself in!

Customer value will increasingly be used to measure IT success, above and beyond traditional operational metrics or project success. Therefore, the business fundamentals of IT from here on is to grow end user and customer value. Innovation will be key – as one of my CIO friends puts it – ‘the two Fs’ efficiency and effectiveness will be at the heart of IT service innovation. To that end, if your IT outfit hasn't yet evolved beyond the role of a ‘keeping the lights on’ maintainer of legacy systems - it must.

As a business, your customer service “brochure” will grow exponentially when your IT department functions in this way – the potential is limitless. IT’s stock within the business will grow as a result. Social, mobility, big data analytics and cloud are the tools of this revolution – so now is the time to measure how well you are leveraging each of them. Taking the third platform paradigm, preferred by IDC, allows you foresight into just how disruptive this shift is going to be. Visualise the impact of the first two platforms.

The ‘first platform’ was the mainframe computer system, the ‘second platform’ was the client/server system. Both were very influential and disruptive, both gave adopters a real competitive edge but as many firms survived without a 'big iron', you could argue the ‘second platform’ was probably more of a game changer.

The client/server platform, which gave rise to things like network printers and email really mixed things up - you ask anyone who remembers communicating by fax or having a dot matrix printer tethered to their desktop! AND that's the thing, you can look back at the introduction of mainframe computing and the client/server model and you can reflect on which aspects of which businesses were most greatly changed.

When we look back at which aspects of which businesses got changed by this ‘third platform’ era the conclusion will be - EVERYTHING!

Business leaders must prepare for a change of this magnitude. Think how, in the late 70s and 80s, Japanese car makers started to increase their global market share - often outcompeting long established US manufacturers by innovating on delivery and efficiency. The change that IT is about to bring to the business landscape will see this type of scenario played out time and again. Newcomers will overthrow market leaders because they are more agile and more innovative.

Virtual and physical worlds, Gartner predicts, will become more blurred - more of what was once physical will become digitised and available 'as a Service'. What this means is small agile operators can climb their industry's market share league table quickly at the expense of traditional 'big players' by adopting new business delivery solutions or innovating them themselves.

Indeed, by 2018, IDC forecasts that in most industries one-third of the top 20 market leaders will encounter significant disruption from either new competitors or existing ones that have "reinvented" themselves.

What each of these competitors will have in common is that they innovate or use new services and business delivery models optimised for SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) – Gartner’s Nexus of Forces.

So, what should you do?

1 – Carry out (or have carried out by independent eyes) a Service Delivery Assessment. This can help you optimise your Delivery and Service Management to meet your business demands now and in the future.

2 – Carry out (or have carried out by independent eyes) a gap analysis focusing on your delivery of the social, mobility, analytics and cloud ‘nexus of forces’. Concentrate on customer value more than more traditional measures.

3 – Get excited! The potential is huge. Advanced Machine Learning, 3D printing, BIG data analytics, the next part of IT’s evolution is revolutionary – and you get to be part of it! What’s not to love about that?!

I think Ovum’s 2015 ‘ITSM Trends to Watch’ framed it nicely, “IT must be positioned as a business unit that adds value. A focus on enabling business objectives must be at the forefront of IT’s thinking. The management of multiple service providers in delivering business outcomes will become an increasingly important capability.”

In 2015 it was a trend to watch, in 2016, this will be an IT imperative.

Find out more about Service Delivery Assessments from Stoneseed

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