When the term "PC as a Service" are discussed, one of the first thought that many end users and IT teams think about is out sourcing or out tasking. To differentiate between the two service delivery strategies, the following definitions are offered (... but before I do, the disclaimer, the thoughts and comments on this blog represent my own opinions and not those of my employer.)
Out tasking represents a service delivery strategy that is based upon an umbrella set of terms and conditons. The term is typcially three years and is driven by a service level agreement. Typically, out tasking is leveraged in a spike of resources such as W7 deployments or a new application roll out. The out task model is leveraged in isolating the Closed Loop Lifecycle Planning elements such as deployment, IMAC, disposal, warranty/maintenance (as examples). Part of the objectives include securing the best practice level, with an eye on sometime either bringing the operation back in house at a best practice level or continuing the out task model over a period of time.
Out sourcing, on the other hand, represents a decision of an enterprise to exit certain lifecycle operations. In out sourcing, more than out tasking, there is an entrance cost since the scope of the out sourcing agreements are generally longer (5 to 7 years) and deeper in terms of scope. Out sourcing usually entails the acquisition of personnel and assets. Lastly, out sourcers would prefer the scope to include asset management and help desk, which are critical to deliver best practices.
The Great Recession has brought many consequences our IT strategies. We have seen our IT budgets reduced, staff's downsized, and the training budgeted slashed (I know this may be a generalization but it clearly represents the perceptions I have observed). Even if this is half wrong or half right, what this implies is that the upcoming technology refresh cycle or resuming a planned technology refresh cycle given the new operating system, chipsets, management tools and other drivers, would quite possibly accelerate fesabiliy of PC as a Service leveraging out tasking and out sourcing given the constraints that we in IT are faced with today.
One of the questions I always as in an engagement is - "as an IT organization and as a enterprise, which businesses do you want in". I compare this to declaring your major in high school and college, what is your declared core copmpetancy.
With PC as a Service potentially more viable than ever, these questions now take on more meaning than before. Entering and exiting business operations is never a simple decision. In the upcoming refresh cycles, my opinion is that PC as a Service could be the catalyst for the paradigm shift where services led, whether out tasked or out sourced, will become top of mind. The trend will likely be cross industry and regardless of the size of the business itself.
The retaining of a business as usual model as well (the stable or existing state) may also drive the PC as a Service model since new technologies that we have discussed such as the cloud and virtualization are more easily packaged as a service.
As always, your thoughts and comments are encouraged. Are you seeing the same trends and are the same series of questions being asked in your business?
The Great Recession may very well provided the impetus for new service delivery strategies to be introduced into the business or at a minimum discussed in a more serious tone for consideration.
One of the key questions to be asked in exploring PC as a Service is - precisely what services are we scoping ? Depending upon the definition lifecycle for client computing, the answer may be a challenge to arrive at.
As always, the opinions expressed on my blog are mine and not those of my employer.
One can look at lifecycle in three suites- the commodity suite which is all of the point of sale types of services such as warranty, imaging, tagging, deployment, IMAC; the value suite- which includes asset management , help desk, tools, project management; and finally the economic suite which includes disposition, TCO, refresh. Many businesses opt for different service delivery strategies in the different suites.
The challenge that we are all facing today is that with the upcoming technology refresh cycle, and the dramatic alternatives available, how best to align the suites to the service approach. If lifecycle is viewed in the context of the three suites, these answers may assist in terms of adopting a service delivery approach that can be embraced in a modular manner.
Where the discussion could start is with a somewhat simple series of questions - What is my core competancy? How do I want to spend my capital? Is my business prepared with resources and skills?
Entering and exiting a business is never easy, however, in this economy, the decision is much more meaninful than ever. As always I would like your perspectives on this topic.
The first approach is to ask yourself the question at the core- does my company want to be in the client lifecycle buisness? If yes, the bill of material is considerable. The follow on question is whether the technology has changed to the point where lifecycle itself has changed. As one blogger asked- is lifecycle still relevant as it was. With service delivery alternatives such as virtualization, BYOC, in source, out source, buy, lease, et al. the answer is not a straightforward as it was pre-W7.
In this blog, lets chat about in sourcing.
Many businesses desire to remain in the IT infrastructure operations to support client computing. The decision is that it is core to the business and IT. Among the rationale shared with me in my field work are very solid comments such as - client computing may be the best touch point for IT and the end user relationship, the company is at the high competancy level and the cost model is optimized, there is no compelling rationale to change, the headcount are my employees and retaining them is a key factor, the business has implemented cost improvements already, any other relationship (out source, out task, etc) results in my losing control. These are valid points to be made about in sourcing as the service delivery strategy and there are certainly many more.
In sourcing is comfortable because of its legacy and that many, many businesses are really, really good at delivering client computing services. So why consider change?
A key reminder first- in client lifecycle management there are no right or wrong answers only conscious and unconscious decisions.
The challenge for in sourcing is embracing innovation and new technologies. Reskilling the workforce, and in the case of virtualization as an example, altering where and who delivers the services internally may well be as impactful as changing service delivery resources or partners. With the new form factors and innovations, see netbooks and PDA's, technology itself presents a change in the in sourcing requirements that are becoming more diverse.
One of the rationales for remaining in sourced may be that there is a high competancy in client computing. My opinion is that the single greatest challenge in the in sourced model for PC as a Service is to adapt and be agile on embracing the pace of innovation. Bleeding edge may not be required, but there is a point where adoption of change is inevitable. This seems to me to be the key misson in the in sourcing as a service - keeping current in the in source model.
In future blogs to follow, we will together explore other service delivery strategies - strengths and challenges.