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CIO Playbook: How to pitch As-a-Service to your organisation

Doug Woolley, Managing Director, Dell Technologies South Africa.
Doug Woolley, Managing Director, Dell Technologies South Africa.

The CIOs’ work fuelling their companies amid the pandemic was critical to keeping the economy moving forward. IT leaders have rapidly stood up cloud services and stitched together various applications to support their businesses.

With digital transformations forever evolving in a world reshaped by various disruptions, C-suite leaders want assurances their CIO peers are putting the business in the best position to not only capture but sustain a competitive advantage.

More than ever, CIOs must be ready to adapt to change. As a result, CIOs are increasingly turning to as-a-service IT models which offer a cloud experience anywhere they operate—from the data centre to the edge, enabling CIOs to focus on achieving business outcomes and uncovering new business opportunities.

But this shift can’t happen overnight. As with migrations to any emerging technology paradigm, adoption of as-a-Service IT requires some logistical jujitsu. Operating models must be overhauled, and resources must be managed. Such disruption courts risks, which require buy-in from bosses and, often, boards of directors.

So how can IT leaders, many of whom are well into the work of articulating a multicloud strategy, tailor their pitch of as-a-Service IT to their C-suite peers and boards?

By showcasing how it helps the business be more flexible and agile, lure top tech talent to drive competitive advantage, and retain control over corporate assets. All in the name of achieving the best business outcomes, of course.

Tip #1: Stress the importance of control to satisfy compliance and security mandates

It wasn’t long ago when CEOs professed to their C-suites and boards of directors that they needed to move to the cloud. CEOs believed the public cloud, with all its attendant multi-tenancy, would make them more nimble and agile. The cloud would help them roll out new digital services for customers and employees with little fuss.

It made for a great story. Fearing business disruption amid a punishing pandemic, brands leaned heavily into multiple cloud applications and cloud infrastructure platforms to run everything from video collaboration to curb side delivery and new-fangled mobile applications.

Seventy-eight percent of organisations globally are leveraging multiple cloud providers, according to a 2021 survey by The Enterprise Strategy Group commissioned by Dell Technologies.

Yet as much as the public cloud carries the narrative in the digital world, most CIOs know migrating to the public cloud is challenging and courts significant risk. Some proprietary applications are too expensive to refactor for the public cloud and the return on investment for doing so isn’t there. Still other applications must remain on-premises to honour cybersecurity and compliance rules. Wherever an application resides, CEOs want peace of mind that CIOs will be trusted custodians of corporate data. The control, compliance and governance traits of as-a-Service IT can shape the perfect pitch for CIOs.

As CIO you’ll convey that as-a-Service IT affords the tech departments control over all data, applications and middleware. The control quotient is critical, especially as data volumes continue to soar.

Consider that a CIO seeking to build, test and run a home-grown analytics application housing sensitive data may wish to keep it close to the vest. The right as-a-Service solution includes the option to run this on-premises in a private cloud, or even managed offsite in a co-location facility.

Observability is also critical. A consistent as-a-Service solution includes a unified view of every asset from a single dashboard. With this approach, CIOs can assure the CEO that they can be good corporate stewards, monitoring critical computing assets while maintaining flexibility and agility.

Tip #2: Focus on the advantages of flexibility sans lock-in

IT leaders must also articulate the value of these new as-a-Service IT models which incorporate the flexibility of hosting infrastructure on-premises or in co-location facilities, with the option to connect to a variety of public clouds to create hybrid and multicloud computing environments.

With as-a-Service IT, organisations can scale up or dial down instance-based compute, operating systems, storage and networking resources based on business requirements.

Retailers with seasonal businesses, for instance, can easily procure additional compute and storage capacity during holiday shopping spikes and scale down when capacity is not needed—without needing to plan and pay for unnecessary capacity all year.

Moreover, as-a-Service models feature self-service provisioning—a critical capability that allows organisations to pursue their DevOps initiatives with confidence that developers will be able to procure the compute resources they require without protracted delays associated with traditional IT procurement.

This approach will also reduce speed to market while ensuring that the organisation has the computing assets not only deployed but tailored for every initiative—including those in flight and those to come.

As-a-Service IT can also mean leveraging the skills and knowledge of technology experts who will manage your IT environment and provide a secure and consistent multicloud experience.

Tip #3: Share how modernisation can mean a competitive advantage in the race for top talent

In what has become a highly commoditised cloud computing market, it’s hard to think of technology infrastructure as a competitive advantage. Yet that is another route you can take to pitch the as-a-Service model to your CEO and board: a recruitment magnet.

If you want to modernise and transform your organisation, you need a litany of programmers, DevOps engineers and infrastructure experts schooled in the ways of working with cloud technology. At the very least, they’ll expect a more cloud-like way of working.

For instance, few developers want to submit a help ticket and wait 30 days for IT to provision a database for critical applications they need to build. Talent will look and land elsewhere.

Leading technology professionals expect to work for the companies that work with the top technologies, including tools, processes, and programming models, which includes self-service provisioning and near real-time access to resources. This is the as-a-Service model’s sweet spot.

Because as-a-Service touches every computing delivery model—cloud, off-premises, managed services, edge networks—it is a magnet for programmers, DevOps engineers and other infrastructure experts, among other key technical roles seeking challenging careers in a continuous learning environment.

Overall, as-a-Service is better for your people, better for your organisation, and better for your company, because you can innovate faster. But it is a culture shift within IT, so don’t underestimate the inherent challenge.

The bottom line

Your business transformation requires a flexible, adaptable computing infrastructure that aligns with a digital business model at a time when your executives are seeking to create delightful and efficient new experiences for customers and employees.

An as-a-Service approach provides technology, processes and training while facilitating speed-to-market and agility in achieving business outcomes for such holistic transformations. Therein lies the case to be made for as-a-Service IT. And while it didn’t get you where you are today, it could help your business become more successful tomorrow.

The question is: Are you going to make the case for as-a-Service IT to your bosses and board?

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