I am a foodie. I love cooking. I love eating, drinking good wine (and other stuff too). So as the holidays have come and gone my mind naturally goes back to all the eating (don’t get me started on how successful I was at trying to *control* all the eating). And it struck me that the piling of food on the plate at holiday meals offers a good analogy for what IT teams are struggling with an ongoing cloud and digital transformation environment amped up by a generational shift to remote and flexible work.
What should your IT team put on their plate, and what should they take off as they prepare for 2023?
More Cloud, Less On-Premises
I realize that this may sound like a gimme, but hear me out.
Every year, more IT spending shifts to the cloud. Witness the Flexera 2022 Tech Spend Pulse report’s data on how SaaS spending is rising dramatically as opposed to on-premises software, as seen below.
Of course, every year someone has to start a contrarian outlook on how enterprises are backing off and going for cloud repatriation, etc. Don’t believe the hype. Cloud solutions continue to proliferate and improve both their richness and economic competitiveness.
Every part of IT that can be turned into or can leverage a cloud architecture, should transform. I remember hearing folks at a large European enterprise sharing that their mantra was not only “cloud-first”, but also “build last.” Meaning that not only would they always look for full cloud solutions as the first choice, but they would only settle for building in-house as a last resort. This is a great rule of life for IT teams today.
More Innovation, Less Asset Focus
One of the best ideas I’ve heard about how IT leaders can orient to delivering higher value to their companies is organized around focus areas. The lowest value focus is assets. If your primary job as an IT team is to set up, maintain, dole out, and gate keep various assets, particularly physical assets, then you’re living in the equivalent of the primordial swamp of IT value. You need to move up your focus towards service delivery as a minimum, but even beyond that to transformation and innovation.
What portion of your IT plate is piled with hard assets? What portion is focused on end user service delivery? Are you only monitoring the uptime of IT assets, or are you measuring how well applications and services are being delivered and enabling users?
Further, what portion of your IT plate is set aside to help the business truly move forward, by innovating new products, new services, new approaches to problems that create competitive advantages for your organization?
More Strategic, Less Lights-On
Another way to think of what to put on versus what to take off your IT team plate can be stated as the difference between what will make a strategic difference to the business versus what is just keeping the lights on.
The challenge of course is that keeping the lights on is critical. There are tons of IT tasks that can fall into that domain. As an IT leader, you need to keep your plate from being filled with critical tasks that have no strategic value.
A good way to think of it is as follows. If you were to absolutely crush it and do the best possible job of some aspect of your team’s business, would it make a difference in the competitiveness, differentiation, or position of your company in the market? Would it contribute significantly to customer satisfaction? To revenue attainment? To profitability? To the future success of the business as a whole? If the answer is no, then it’s definitely not strategic.
Whatever is not strategic, you should limit its space on your plate, and find ways to transform those aspects of your team business via cloud, outsourcing, self-service, and automation initiatives.
More Flex, Less Stress
Flexible work is here to stay. IT teams need to deal with it. But at the same time, there needs to be less stress on IT. It is very difficult to support a remote and flexible workforce. Fortunately, cloud-based solutions are rising to meet that need. It’s high time to lean into them.
Another aspect of flex is related to staffing. Embracing flexible work can help you be less stressed about finding IT team members at affordable rates. There is a world of great talent to leverage if you’re open to it. If you’re not leveraging flexible work to build your team, you’re missing out.
More Up-leveling, Less Upheaval
Retaining top talent is difficult for any technical role and IT is no exception. In fact, retaining lower-skilled IT team members is also challenging because of the huge draw of higher-skilled roles. Anyone who is doing lower-level IT work and who has sufficient motivation can chart a path to higher pay and more interesting work by learning more skills.
It’s no secret that IT roles like desktop computing and helpdesk are prone to high turnover, mainly because the work and pay isn’t terribly interesting. Turns out that living down in the primordial value swamp of managing IT assets is not a great place to spend your career.
The answer is to create an up-level path for your team to more innovative and strategic-focused arenas. This means fostering up-skilling, motivating workers to stretch so that you can build and fly the IT team plane away from skimming the ground to soaring in the clouds.
The alternative to up-leveling is going to be upheaval. Staff turnover can cause continuity issues for the business. Further, if you don’t proactively find ways to push the team towards more strategic areas, you leave your team more vulnerable to being disrupted in a negative way due to cost-centric outsourcing or downsizing.
Trying to protect a status quo that isn’t sustainable in an ever-evolving business and IT landscape is not the way to “protect” your team. The only way is to keep evolving and leading your team up the value chain.
More End User Experience, Less End User Computing
Okay, to bring this blog to close, I want to take all the above points and apply them in recommending to get one particular thing off the IT plate. That’s end-user computing. In 2020, Intel published a prescient blog that declared that the “status quo of end-user computing is officially dead” because of remote work.
If legacy end-user computing died in 2020, well just imagine how bad it’s looking going into 2023.
With flexible work, end-user computing has become highly stressful, a churn factory for IT talent. And it’s very difficult to do well.
End user computing is now a classic case study for something that is a critical lights-on function that holds no strategic value for your organization.
The answer is to cloudify, automate, self-service, and outsource. Up-level your desktop services team to more strategic and innovation focus areas.
That’s where Firstbase comes in. We’ve built the industry’s first and leading cloud-based platform that delivers employee self-service, end user computing asset delivery and visibility, and fleet lifecycle management. We turn legacy end-user computing into superior end user experience.
If you’re ready to take a journey from end user computing’s past to its future, check out our webinar on How to Automate Your Remote Work IT Equipment Process (which features a demo of our platform), visit firstbase.com and request a demo, or simply reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.