Dynamically managing the IT supply chain

  • As IT becomes automated, organizations can dynamically stitch pre-existing services together.
  • Now, IT talent can focus on critical business processes, delivering more value to businesses.

Thanks to information technology, just about every process has been automated except for one: The actual management of IT itself. More often than not, IT organizations are still manually provisioning applications and systems. There have been some advances, to be sure, but it can still take weeks (if not months) to build and deploy an application.

Toward IT automation

The good news is that automating IT is now a major priority. Every business recognizes that its ability to respond to changing business conditions in an agile manner is the difference between winning and losing. Indeed, companies are keenly interested in cloud computing these days because of the cost savings the model enables, and perhaps even more so because of the flexibility cloud computing services provide. Organizations that leverage cloud services can more easily scale their consumption of IT services up and down as needed.

In an age when just about every IT function is going to become an automated service, the role of the IT organization fundamentally changes. Rather than being a builder of IT applications and services, the IT organization is evolving into a broker of pre-existing services that organizations will dynamically stitch together to drive new business processes. In effect, this creates a new IT supply chain of services that, while highly automated, still need to be managed.

IT as service broker

In a recent survey of more than 1,000 business and IT leaders conducted by the IT services firm, Avanade, 35 percent of the IT organizations inside companies were already acting as service brokers. In the next 12 months, 58 percent will be expanding their service broker roles.

Regardless of who creates and delivers an IT service, the services themselves will still need to be managed and governed. For example, managing who has rights to access a service, how a service is used, and the security of a service is the responsibility of the internal IT organization. In fact, instead of having dedicated network, storage, and server administrators, the internal IT department will consist largely of administrators of applications and services.

From a business perspective, this means nothing less than being able to provision new applications and services in a matter of minutes and days versus weeks and months. It also means that instead of paying IT pros to essentially babysit equipment, companies can more effectively leverage the insight and talents of IT staff for critical business processes. This means IT personnel will bring even more value to businesses than they do today.

Managing the culture clash

While absorbing this rate of technology innovation will no doubt be a major challenge, the biggest issue will be managing the cultural changes within the IT organization. Every IT process is about to change. Increased reliance on the automated services delivered via “virtual data centers” will be the new norm. Arguably, the entire enterprise will become a “software-defined” entity.

None of this is going to happen overnight. But the organizations that start evolving their IT processes today are clearly going to be in a much better position than their rivals to take advantage of the industrialization of IT.


Michael Vizard is an independent business writer and the author of this blog. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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