Strategic consumption and the CIO
As CIOs move from maintenance to management roles, they are finding new challenges that have more to do with the services they provide to the enterprise than the equipment they run. Here are four critical tactics I&O executives need to understand and embrace to make their efforts effective.
Skills and services based resources definition
When CIOs manage internally based systems, it’s customary to have individuals assigned to specific duties based on their skills and on the equipment they are responsible for managing. External systems still require internal staff, but it’s likely that additional contract staff will be engaged to support the additional functions and systems that make up the on-demand components. The use of consumption-based services differs from installed systems in many ways, most importantly their options for dynamic resource allocation based on usage. It stands to reason that the scalability available from on-demand systems requires similar flexibility in staffing. While staffing levels may remain consistent, the skills need to shift from a mindset of ‘doing’ and focus more on understanding the processes that go into connecting various services and what’s required to keep them running. CIOs need to look at the makeup of their teams and provide opportunities for training and transition as needs change so they can leverage the domain experience of their current staff for their changing environment.
Resource management as a function
McKinsey & Company predicted the shift from ‘build’ to ‘consume’ IT models for a variety of platform types with traditional IT moving from its 77 percent adoption rate in 2015 to 43 percent in 2018. Similarly, it tagged the adoption of public IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) moving from 25 percent to 37 percent this year. Managing this assemblage of services requires a type of management that looks at how resources are managed. As new services and functions are added to the mix and as those facilities change with usage, CIOs are likely to need dedicated staff to understand, control, and generally manage what and how the company’s services are being used. CIOs should consider adding a staff position defined as resource manager with overall responsibility for tracking and managing the consumable technologies. They should augment their skills with leading-edge tools that can monitor and even predict usage and help control spend in the highly variable environment.
Define how resources are to be used before making commitments
Companies add services, make sales, make acquisitions, and generally change what they do on a regular basis. Consumable services ease the process of making these kinds of changes, but they can also give business leaders a false sense of comfort that IT can react almost immediately in support of their new initiatives. CIOs moving from traditional environments to consumption based infrastructures are finding that while they can deliver new services more efficiently, faster, and at lower cost, expectations can still outstrip their abilities to deliver. The CIO who expects to deliver on-demand needs to get in front of the demand and understand the business’s current and future goals so they can put plans in place and be able to respond to service requests with realistic timings and manage new levels of expectations.
Recursive analysis of optimization
The constant for CIOs is change. And successfully managing that change on a continuing basis is the hallmark of a great CIO. It isn’t enough to put new systems in place, migrate services from traditional to consumption based, and manage the right people to oversee and optimize these changes. Once those updates have been put into play, the CIO needs to develop processes for themselves to constantly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of them. They need to perform recursive analysis, going back to the original statements of their objectives and stepping forward through each with a cold eye to understanding whether they have succeeded. Even if each issue is judged as a success, they need to consider the possible alternatives and whether a different approach could have yielded better results. Some of their findings may be able to be injected into the current processes, some held for consideration in future projects, and others discarded as validation of well-made choices.
CIOs are finding themselves faced with directing a variety of changing infrastructures in the pursuit of more advanced and flexible ways of delivering computing services to their enterprises. As they move from premises-based systems to consumptive based services their ability to fulfill their missions will depend on how they are able to develop their own view of their environment. They will need to put the right people, services, and oversight tools in place to monitor and automate their efforts.