Have you noticed everything in called a Service these days? To mentioned a few, there is: Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Desktop as Service, Security as Service, Hardware as a Service and the one I just heard last week: Game as a Service!
“Everything as a Service” is not a just a trend but a way of thinking where the end-state allows for faster innovation to drive revenue at reduce costs. This state of mind is by no means new, but it has certainly flourish in the cloud era, and become the standard mode of operation for many organizations.
Let’s step a bit back and explore how this evolution has changed the way IT Departments, Consulting Organizations and System Integrators function and operate.
The traditional definition of a service used to be:
“The action of helping or doing work for someone.”
The way the term “Service” is defined by ITIL follows:
“A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.”
Can you see it the difference? I think this summarizes perfectly the state of transition of the IT industry and in particularly the state of “IT as a Business”
In the past a services meant people (either one or many) doing a particular set of tasks for a fee. This task could be a tactical (install a server, setup a desktop, develop a report, integrate two separate systems, perform a health check on a system) or strategic (develop a technology roadmap, capacity planning, methods of implementation, technology bake-off )
Today a service does not equate to people at all. Instead it focuses on a desired result and performance of that result, regardless of the underlying platform that supports it. Today’s services are technology agnostic, requiring no management and consistently deliver the expected results. The key take away here is that the value proposition shifted from the “doing of the task” to the “value the service provides the end-user”.
This transformation has been hard for IT departments and consulting firms, as the larger providers and product makers have been able to provide systems that are either completely hands free or very low touch to IT personnel and integrators, whether they are on-prem or off-prem . The technical level of effort to stand-up and maintain these system are on a trend to near zero, if not already there.
A quick example to illustrate the point: As with many of you, we spent hundreds of hours in designing, standing up and monitoring systems to provide end-users with a reliable and secure way to communicate. Integrating the many different elements: servers, software, storage, clusters, networking, replication, disaster recovery, and on and on. When was the last time you spent time standing up an email environment? Today you can stand up a better-than-any-enterprise level / secure environment for a fraction of the cost in just minutes.
Now think of another system your users may need to support a business function or process (CRM, ERP, Point of Sale, Inventory). The same concept applies. The IT professional is no longer burden by the details of the actual implementation but instead is focused on meeting the desire business function that needs to be met.
This transformational mindset, has also affected the established financials model which IT services providers and their customers have been used to for so many years. Since the focus is no longer in the implementation and integration of specific technology services to deliver a particular solution, but rather in the end-result and the business value of it, service providers have shifted to a per-use consumption financial model (subscription-based) with minimal spend or up-front investment and no-long term commitment agreements.
The value of traditional IT, and associated services, has been disrupted. The “Everything as Service” / utility-consumption-model has removed the complexity of technology implementation and traditional organizations (internal or external) have had to adjust to this change. “IT-as-a-Business” has been transformed and the traditional service definitions and cost models, except for a few still remaining pockets, no longer apply.
We intend to explore the changing role of the IT architect and IT operations in future articles.
Would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment below or contact me directly.
The IT as a Business Series of articles included:
- IT a a Business Series – Introduction
- Cloud Computing is like Cable TV
- The Business of IT In a Cloud Era
- Disintermediated: IT Consulting Firms and System Integration
- Everything is a Service These Days
- IT Architecture Role has Changed
- Newsflash: Hybrid-Cloud is Cloud
Please let me know what you think!