By Ed Konopasek, Vice President, Managed Solutions, Logicalis US

A better question for the headline on this blog post might have been, “What’s your cloud strategy?” because that’s the way most of our consulting engagements begin.

That’s because the cloud is central to an important change taking place in IT departments around the globe today – a shift from fixed, premise-based, capex IT investments to an entirely new mindset leveraging the tenets of the third platform – cloud, social, mobile and analytics – to satisfy digital acceleration in the enterprise and deliver the kind of user experience (UX) an increasingly tech-savvy workforce demands.

This is what people are talking about in IT today, and in theory, it all sounds great.  The problem is, many CIOs are so busy just trying to keep their organization’s IT environment running – and by “running,” I mean delivering the kind of anywhere-anytime-any device user experience expected in today’s fast-paced business world – that they don’t have time to fully map out their cloud strategy.  In fact, if you ask many CIOs what their cloud strategy is, you’ll get responses like, “We use SalesForce SaaS, or we have a development environment running in Azure.”

The problem is, that’s not a strategy – it’s a tactic within the strategy.  How does that tactic satisfy the broader business goals of the organization? And what are those goals?

To succeed in this new paradigm, you first need a well-defined strategy centered around the business requirements that drive application adoption.  Then, you need to determine the best “safe harbor” for those applications based on security protocols, industry regulations and commercial economics, and you need to run those workloads in a way that promotes business agility and the IT department’s strategic value to the organization while satisfying the digital demands of the business’ end users.  This is where a professional IT consultant can help.

And there are thousands of us out there.  So how do you choose the right consulting organization? Ask yourself five important questions:

  1. Do they have a point of view? Having a point of view is very different from having technological expertise.  It’s about applying that expertise to develop an opinion about the best way to implement a particular technology or solution – and it’s about being so confident in that opinion that they’re willing to share their point of view with you. It does not, however, mean rigidly adhering to a single point of view when another option may work better. The key is to find a partner that has the expertise to advise you about what has worked well for other clients in similar scenarios, yet one who is open to what will work best in yours.
  2. Do they eat their own Cheerios? As clients move into the third platform and need help extending their capabilities, there are many consultants that can talk with them from a position of strength and experience.  But, if you want to limit the number of partners you have, look for solution providers that are deploying their own strategies and leveraging their own services where possible.  If they aren’t eating their own Cheerios, metaphorically speaking, then you shouldn’t either.
  3. Do they promote choice and flexibility? If the partner you select offers its own cloud services, for example, that can be a plus.  But when your business needs dictate using another solution, the right professional consultant will lead the charge.  It’s critical, therefore, that the partner you select is objective enough to be truly vendor neutral, promoting choice and flexibility even when that means helping you select a solution or service that competes with its own.  Many partners are now adopting strategies to manage solutions beyond their own portfolio promoting a framework offering flexibility and choice all delivered with a high-quality, consistent end-user experience.  In the end, partnering with organizations like these will allow you to leverage volume and scale and achieve the best commercial economics while spending less time managing partner relationships.
  4. Do they have a wide array of experiences? A partner that has served clients across a number of industries will often have a wide array of experiences and best practices that can lead to creative solutions that a more linearly focused partner might not have in its toolbox.
  5. Are they able to solve business problems outside of IT? If one of the CIO’s top priorities is to be seen as a more strategic partner to the business, it’s important to have a consultant behind you that can think outside the box – and sometimes that means outside of IT.  Savvy consultants can often leverage common IT processes and service management protocols and apply them to business problems beyond the traditional realm of IT.  Can well-oiled ITIL-oriented processes around incident, problem and change leveraged through an ITSM platform, for example, be applied to a manufacturer’s warranty returns process? IT consultants that get to know your business can offer creative ideas that will help you solve vexing business problems in new and creative ways leading to innovation and strategic value.

 

Want to learn more? Download a Logicalis report, “Five Points to Consider as You Develop a Cloud Strategy,” then find out how Logicalis Cloud Solutions can bring together the professional, managed, on-premise data center and protection services you need delivered on your cloud, its own cloud, or someone else’s cloud. Next, explore four IT trends CIOs need to know about as well as the six common characteristics of digitally driven organizations, then take a look at a WatchIT video featuring Logicalis CEO Vince DeLuca discussing the road to becoming a digitally enabled enterprise. Despite the mantra to do more with less, it’s important to choose a managed services provider based on skill and experience rather than price.