Many customers I speak with are challenged by the fact that their business users are already adopting cloud. These customers are challenged with resource, time and budget constraints, and for them, the prospect of reining in shadow IT seems overwhelming. In reality, cloud computing presents an opportunity for IT organizations to re-engage with the business, learn why they’re going around the IT shop, and leverage lessons learned from any “rogue” cloud initiatives.
As IT professionals, many of us are not good marketers. This must change, and I believe that cloud computing will drive us to improve our marketing skills. Our inability to define our product, price it properly, promote it, and position it properly for our target market is often weak. For example, when our business users go to an app store, whether it’s Apple’s or Amazon’s, they get clear product descriptions, pricing, and non-technical explanations of what those apps do. If that same business user wants to know what his/her own IT shop offers, s/he typically is not presented with a catalog of services organized into a slick user interface. He or she might not even know who to call, or what to ask. These dramatically different shopping experiences are driving business users to adopt public cloud services – it’s just plain easier. People hire products to solve problems, and hiring company IT is typically a hassle.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
First, you have to find the cloud consumers in your organization and start a dialog. Find out what they’re using the service for, and if they’re happy with it. Ask them why they went around the IT governance process to procure cloud services. If they found something that really works for them, do three things:
- Adopt it – make it a “standard” IT offering
- Celebrate it – tell other business users
- Work with the vendor to put appropriate monitoring in place
Presto, you’ve got your first cloud offering, and hopefully a new advocate on the business side.
The next steps are to build your own catalog of services and serve as a broker to your business users. Work with them to identify new services that meet their needs, and constantly review your portfolio of offerings against those requirements. Develop a standard way to define service offerings (yours, or another cloud vendor’s), and apply that definition model to your existing offerings. The things you do internally today may not be “cloud” services, but they are services, and it’s useful to present them as a portfolio to the businesses you support.
If your business users are going around you, there’s a reason. Figure out what that reason is, and address it. Earn a seat at the table during the project planning sessions and business strategy sessions, and structure your governance organization and processes accordingly.
The opportunity that cloud presents is the chance to make IT a true partner with the business. That may sound overly optimistic, but I’m here to tell you I’ve seen it happen.
For more information on Cloud Services from HP, click here.