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The changing face of the IT customer

Who do you think you are?

I’m fortunate enough to spend the majority of my time speaking to customers, partners and industry peers to learn about your challenges, priorities, and more often than not how you are changing. The major IT trends of today like open source, ITaaS, Cloud, Big Data, mobility and security are forcing you to reevaluate what you need to achieve, who you need to work with to achieve it (both internally and externally) and what—if anything—you can afford to sacrifice in the name of innovation and business transformation. With such a dynamic and changeable landscape, I thought I’d take a moment to consider where we stand today as IT professionals and where we might be tomorrow.

 

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Prudence versus progress

We’re all familiar with the battle between keeping the lights on in the most efficient way possible and the need to innovate to remain competitive and stay current with customers. From the conversations I’ve had though, I’m starting to think that the two are not so incompatible after all; in many ways frugality drives innovation, and forces IT leaders to consider different ways of doing things. It wasn’t so long ago that many doubted whether Cloud would ever become a mainstream technology due to fears about security and reliability. These doubts have been completely outweighed by the cost and flexibility benefits, and even the so-called laggards are embracing ITaaS as the way forward. The pressure on IT organisations to step up to the plate and come up with new solutions to old problems is only going to increase, but I am confident that this will increase the rate of advancement within our customers rather than slow it down.

 

Who controls the purse strings now?

With the IT organisation more closely aligned with strategic business initiatives than ever before, the number of stakeholders involved in investment decisions has also risen. With rising recognition that the IT department is more than a mere cost centre, and can facilitate or even lead new ways of engaging with customers and partners, the inevitable consequence is that a greater number of functions have a stake in IT decision-making – from operations, to sales and marketing and even HR and administration. While the IT professional now needs a more rounded view of the business in order to prove his or her value, so representatives from other lines of business are becoming more savvy – and therefore more demanding – consumers of IT themselves. Estimates vary as to the proportion of tech budgets that are directly controlled by the IT organisation, but from what I have seen, it will soon dip below 50%, if it hasn’t already.

 

IT is dead, long live IT

So what does all this mean for those of us who live and breathe storage every day? As an increasingly integral part of every organisations IT strategy and operations, it means that those of us want to thrive in the new world alongside our customers need to take heed of the environment they are operating in and anticipate their future challenges. Put simply, we need to demonstrate to our customers—both within the IT organisation and outside of it—how we can:

 

  • Help them to make business critical decisions

  • Enable new go-to-market strategies

  • Lead their peers as a proactive and disruptive force

 

I believe that with HP’s open, collaborative and forward-looking storage portfolio we are well positioned to do this. The question is: who else will be able to prosper in such a changeable world?

 

You can find me on Twitter @ChrisJohnsonHP if you wish to comment...

 

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