by Juniper Employee, Paula Lender-Swain, Head of Content at Juniper Networks, EMEA. on 07-03-2012
Consumerisation of IT (CoIT) has many implications affecting the business and the way that the business uses technology, but the most important implication is the change of role for the IT manager and the new skills they will need to develop and incorporate.
Lets first look at why:
IT departments are used to being prescriptive and precise, this culture has served them well as the data security implications of getting this wrong have deep impact on the business, so we are used to this function playing the command and control role. However, due to factors out of any of our control the stage is set for a momentous change and that is the CoIT phenomenon. This will directly impact on the IT Manger in a personal way. It directly affects the role of the IT manager and the whole IT department. To ignore this would put the organisation in a risky position.
You see we know that the IT manager will need to address this problem by being less prescriptive and autocratic, but there needs to be a change in attitude towards the customer. In Paul Gainham’s blog on Autocracy to Democracy: No way to treat an IT department? He talks about the future CIO who will be measured more on ‘processes’ and less on ‘product’ – the ‘Why’ and the ‘How’ and less so on the ‘What’. It is easy to see the IT manager will need to offer a suite/menu of services to the internal customer, but, that is easier said than done. This is where IT can learn from marketing.
So, what do we know about our customers?
In marketing it is essential to know who the customer is and therefore it is imperative that IT takes on a more customer centric approach. The individual needs of the customers have changed hugely in the last five years, we can speculate as to whether its generation Y, the proliferation of new technology, easy to use free software or cloud based services and mobility, but what we can be sure of is that it’s a trend that is building and we will not return to the world where autocracy rules. The implications for the IT manager are a change of role from making policy and policing this policy to a far more customer centred approach – starting with a dialogue with those customers about how they work, what they want and need from IT services. There will be some similarities in these needs, but also major differences – how do we provide services for this diverse population?
Enter the marketing world. Marketers are used to dealing with a customer base (market) made up of diverse and complex needs and know that if you can address all of these simultaneously and efficiently you will have a successfully business. Who does this well – let’s take Tesco’s as an example: Fundamentally they took the UK retail FMCG market and segmented it into Tesco’s value, Tesco’s finest and ordinary Tesco’s customers. Some were prepared to pay more for quality, some wanted low cost and others were somewhere in the middle. This broke the mould as most supermarkets at the time only catered for a certain type of customer and their proposition only addressed a subset of the market. Tesco’s did this by knowing the different needs of the market, grouping these needs into logical groups (segments) and then delivering each segment what they want at the right price and level of quality. Have you segmented your internal customers or are you using a one size fits all approach?
How can you do this in your organisation?
Step 1 is to understand the customer. What IT needs do they have? What frustrates them? What’s missing? What would delight them? How many IT managers know this? How many IT managers care?
Step 2 is to understand how they need to change both in terms of organisation, teams, resources, infrastructure in order to provide these capabilities. This is where a well orchestrated and scalable approach is key. There is no use looking a year ahead; you need to design a solution for 5+ years time (we know CoIT won’t go away).
Finally deliver the solutions with flexibility in mind as they only thing we know is that the demand for greater bandwidth, mobile apps and the next big thing is round the corner.
Easier said than done, but enormously satisfying if you get it right. Unfortunately failure is not getting this wrong, but not attempting it at all. The result of not attempting this change is what all marketing departments fear……being outsourced, because there is always someone getting it right! So beware IT dept, you are not indispensable! The person who has knowledge and good customer service will be the victor in this environment.