Enterprise IT Management is a discipline that has evolved well over the last decade. The widespread adoption of ITIL as a framework for IT Management has brought in standardization in the way IT managers across enterprises define the kind of work they do (terminology) and how the work gets done (process). Of course, the ITIL framework itself is evolving to include aspects of service strategy and service design in its fold, but the operational aspects of IT management have matured well.
So will IT Management remain the same in the context of the fast emerging digital enterprise? Given the furious pace of change, it is certain that IT management has to change as well. Let us look at some major changes brought about by digitization and their impact on enterprise IT management.
New technology skills
At the forefront of the digital revolution are technologies such as cloud computing, mobility, analytics and internet of things. The IT organization of the past has absorbed new technologies in its stride all the time. But what makes it challenging now, is the rapid coming together of these technologies at the same time, increasing complexity enormously.
Acquiring new skills in these areas is an obvious challenge to enterprises. The pace of change is so fast, that is almost impossible for IT managers who are busy with their daily routines, to learn, apply and master new skills in a short duration. Enterprises will have to dedicate resources and create new organization structures to rapidly assimilate new paradigms into the way they manage their IT. Partnering with a service provider with specialized skills in the new areas can shorten time to competency.
‘Born digital’ companies have it relatively easy because they don’t have a legacy IT environment to deal with. But for most enterprises, it is impossible to shed their legacy infrastructure, applications and processes. As they digitize specific business processes, such as for a mobile workforce or a cloud-based customer facing application, they will have to add several new technology elements and systems that have a fundamentally different architecture, one that is designed for speed, agility and on-demand delivery of services. This will have to coexist with legacy architected infrastructure and applications, which are designed for scalability, stability, and reliability. The two environments will call for vastly different service levels, processes and tools, and that in itself is a challenge for the traditional enterprise. In a McKinsey article ‘A Two-Speed IT Architecture for the Digital Enterprise’, the authors capture the essence of this challenge very well.
A key trend that is accelerating the digital revolution is the consumerization of enterprise IT. Employees demand the same level of choice (of technology, devices, applications) inside the enterprise, that they have outside. They would like the same performance and availability of applications to be delivered irrespective of where and how they are accessing them. Enterprise mobility strategies need to factor in the huge growth in the number of mobile / cloud based apps that need to be supported. Several SaaS applications (such as sales force automation or file sharing) end up being bought and consumed directly by end users, often with no visibility to the IT managers – referred to as shadow IT. A new IT management framework for the digital age, therefore needs to support delivering a large bouquet of services, several of which may come from external providers. The focus of IT management thus goes through an important shift – from application delivery to service orchestration.
Velocity of business
One of the main reasons that enterprises are going digital is the promise of agility and speed. The ubiquitous availability of applications and services increases usage and need for support. Naturally, this translates into new demands on the IT organization, such as:
- Rapid infrastructure provisioning and launching of new applications
- On-demand provisioning of services / self-service options
- Zero tolerance for downtime and poor performance
- Near real-time incident detection, fault isolation and resolution
- 24×7 support for end-users / customers, with stringent SLAs
It is unimaginable that such growing expectations can be met through traditional IT management processes and tools. We are seeing growing adoption of automation tools across all of the areas mentioned above. Enterprise IT will have to build in automation into every IT process in order to deliver on the digital promise. The availability of autonomic / self-healing technology is improving the IT manager’s ability to identify and fix issues before they impact end-users. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is another interesting area of progress that aims to reduce dependency on human beings for IT support, thus improving speed while minimizing errors.
Digital speed business generates vast amounts of data that need to be stored, protected, analyzed and insights drawn. Equally humongous is the amount of machine data that gets generated in the complex IT environment with hundreds of thousands of devices / elements / services that need to be monitored and managed. Just as business analytics can be a source of competitive advantage to the business managers, machine data / infrastructure analytics can be a great source of insights to the IT manager. Predictive analytics, when applied to this data can help IT managers become truly proactive by anticipating performance and availability issues and taking appropriate, possibly automated corrective action.
To sum it up, delivering IT services to the digital enterprise is a new ball game. Traditional paradigms, tools, and processes must give way to new ones. Enterprise IT management in the digital age will evolve around two important pillars – automation and analytics, in order to deliver on the digital promise. We at InKnowTech understand the emerging challenges of delivering industrialized IT management services in the digital era and are making serious investments in this direction. Because, we see ourselves as the IT Managers to the Digital Enterprise.