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Transform Your IT Department With IT-As-A-Service

Daniel Newman

The as-a-service model supplies businesses with scalable, consumption-based services to increase speed and agility while driving revenue and reducing costs. As businesses have turned towards software-as-a-service (SaaS), video conferencing-as-a-service (VCaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and even cloud-as-a-service (CaaS) to lower costs and increase agility, it makes sense that IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) is now available—and recommended.

Switching to an IT as a service model (and mindset) means taking the focus off the functional roles of IT and enabling an IT department that is much more agile, better aligned with business goals, and customer-centric. As an operational model, ITaaS delivers to an enterprise only the hardware, software, and staff needed at any given time. ITaaS can be internal or external or a combination of the two. It can be cloud-based or on-site—or a combination of the two. ITaaS should be as flexible in delivery as it is in ability.

Judith Hurwitz says of the benefits of ITaaS, “By transitioning to an IT-as-a-service model, IT organizations are transforming themselves from traditional IT groups to brokers of a variety of public and private cloud services, third-party managed service providers, and traditional data center services.”

If that statement alone does not convince you, here are four more reasons why ITaaS should be on every CIO’s radar:

ITaaS can be more effective and cost-efficient

As with so much change that has been driven by anything “as a service” and cloud computing, ITaaS enables streamlining operations and speeding up development. It also lowers cost because the up-front investment is minimal compared to having all hardware, software, and staff in-house. Businesses only use what they need, and the cost of doing so can be projected out. The services can scale if and when needed. Software upgrades and hardware are kept up-to-date. And the business can tap into an IT expertise without paying the high cost of having that expertise on the payroll.

Legacy business functions are still used

When using ITaaS, organizations can still use those legacy business functions that are at the core of their business. There is no need to completely walk away from the “old” way of doing IT, or from those legacy systems or functions. Sure, they might be slow and seemingly not able to keep pace with a fast-moving market. Supplemented with ITaaS, however, CIOs are no longer faced with decisions about optimizing outdated equipment as an either/or scenario: Either update the old, or invest in the new.

ITaaS can stabilize the environment

A third reason to have ITaaS on your radar screen is because it can stabilize your IT environment while also allowing for flexibility in the cloud. As mentioned above, the pricing is stabilized and predictable, and businesses pay only for what they need at any given time. In addition, ITaaS can improve security and lower risk, as well as ensure the hardware and software are up-to-date. You’re able to respond quickly to market changes and demands without putting any of your own infrastructure at risk—or rendering it unusable. Although the word “stabilize” might seem like an odd choice in this context, ITaaS can stabilize what otherwise might be a volatile and chaotic environment if your IT department tried to keep up with all the ever-changing demands placed on it using only internal resources.

ITaaS enables customized cloud computing and IT

With ITaaS, hybrid cloud and IT can be customized to meet your business needs, and offer an alternative to cloud computing vendors. As John Wellen puts it, “The goal is to transform and optimize enterprise-specific IT operations using self-managed service provider models that leverage cloud technologies more economically than licensed commercial cloud providers.” With ITaaS, organizations can use a mixed IT strategy to benefit from the best of both worlds: components hosted internally and components externally.

Organizations today want IT to add business value, and I mean in a monetary way as well. ITaaS makes this possible. However, it’s not an overnight change. It takes time to transition into working with an ITaaS model, because it is as much a cultural shift as it is a change in the way IT is viewed and the expectations the business units have of the IT department. Businesses can ease the transition and lower the risk with a gradual approach, implementing ITaaS only in higher-priority areas first—although that approach inherently has its own risks, as Peter Bendor-Samuel explains in an article for CIO.com.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit IT Biz Advisor.

Photo Credit: pinkhypo Flickr via Compfight cc

 

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About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

Driving User Adoption: Making Sure Your Employees Are Engaged

Brian Berns

Although technology should make tasks faster and easier, it doesn’t always succeed. Despite significant investments in new technologies over the past decade, many organizations are actually watching their operations slow down due to underutilization of technology. Furthermore, as an increased number of processes are being automated or being infused with artificial intelligence, human-centric processes are lagging further behind in terms of efficiency and optimization.

Why doesn’t technology innovation always lead to a commensurate increase in efficiency? Substandard user interface design, confusing user experience, and/or badly crafted processes are partly to blame.

Technology innovation has followed an upward curve since the beginning of the century, but worker productivity has largely remained stagnant. Poor user engagement related to technology usage is part of the problem. A Gallup study found that 32% of employees who work in the United States are engaged, while worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged.

People are working harder, but they’re not working smarter. Due to job complexity, poorly designed applications, and a general lack of training, many employees are just not accomplishing enough to leverage the innovation and drive growth that successful businesses require.

The organizational symptoms of technology underutilization include:

  • Low user productivity
  • Slower, complex processes
  • High employee turnover
  • Time wasted putting out fires rather than strategically planning and training for change and software upgrades
  • Increased time required for training
  • Poor onboarding process

survey of our customers revealed that only 8.4% of enterprise software errors are system-related; the remaining 91.6% of errors are related to the user experience, design, or process. It’s not that employees aren’t working hard—they’re just busy dealing with rapid technology changes and constant workflow interruptions. Did you know that the average worker switches tasks every three minutes and five seconds? Or that when severe interruptions happen, they wreak havoc: It can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover and get back to the task at hand. That means the average worker wastes three to five hours of each work day. That’s 40-60% of their work week.

Homing in on user needs

By understanding the reasons behind process bottlenecks and other errors, enterprises can more effectively allocate IT and human resources. User experience (UX) analytics help target investment in change management, IT, and other end-user functions to help organizations deploy best practices globally.

To improve technology adoption and usage, you first need to understand how the workforce is actually doing things. Using real-time analytics will give you a holistic view of organizational capabilities so you can:

  • Manage business change with minimal impact to end users and customers
  • Improve IT response to potential user errors before they are reported
  • Immediately notify IT as errors occur in order to proactively correct them before they impact operations
  • Better understand and address performance issues
  • Improve application design to drive efficiencies
  • Ensure smooth migration projects

This allows organizations to cut costs associated with human error—by identifying why and how employees experience and often create bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Paying attention to knowledge workers’ needs is essential to improving organizational performance. Higher user adoption has been shown to bring about increases in productivity and efficiency.

You need the right information

To ensure a successful user-adoption program, you first need the right information. Collecting detailed information about your IT assets is not enough. You also need to understand how these IT assets are actually being utilized by your employees.

An IDC report indicated that organizations that analyze relevant data and deliver actionable information will achieve productivity gains equaling $430 billion over their peers.

Consider the following recommendations:

  1. Understand your users and their needs: How are employees interacting with the applications they rely on for their day-to-day job? Do they find them intuitive, or do they get often stuck? Do they waste time waiting for the system to respond to their requests?
  2. Identify the issues: Find out if your current technology and solutions platform is being used properly before moving to a new one. Evaluate whether custom code, developed ad hoc and over time, needs to be replicated in the new environment.
  3. Measure actual user behavior with the business applications: Assess time spent on screens, wait time during screen refreshes, idle or think time, the number of process steps required to complete a task, volume of screen interactions, number of work-stopping errors, etc.
  4. Implement and evaluate: Sample actual user workflows to uncover inefficiencies like repetitive screen interactions, unnecessary steps, confusing warnings, and scenarios that require switching between applications or screen clutter that leads to excessive downtime.
  5. Always optimize: Identify opportunities to refine your workflows, minimize process complexity, and reduce the overall time to execute mission-critical tasks.

Encouraging effective adoption of new technology—by executives, mid-level managers, other employees, suppliers, vendors, and even customers—requires a thorough, relevant strategy for organizational change management. It’s a continuous process, one that requires creating positive expectations before an implementation, building skills during the implementation, and sustaining engagement and motivation after going live.

For more digital transformation adoption strategies, see Give Me Technology, But Help Me Deal With It.

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Brian Berns

About Brian Berns

Brian Berns is CEO of Knoa Software. He is a successful software industry veteran with over 20 years of executive experience, including as president at Ericom Software. Brian also held the position of Division VP at FICO and SVP of North America at Brio Software (acquired by Oracle). Additionally, Brian has been the founding member of several successful software start-ups including Certona and Proginet. Brian has a BA from Yeshiva University, an MS from NYU, including studies at the NYU Stern School of Business MBA program, and computer science at the graduate school of the NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

IT Roadmap For The Future

Daniel Newman

As new IT technology is introduced in the workplace, it’s likely that what worked last year won’t work in the next five years. It might sound like a cliché, but the only constant in the world of IT is change. While this continuous evolution isn’t always predictable, there are certain ways for CIOs to plan to help IT professionals achieve their goals for the organization. Here are a few suggestions to help CIOs create a roadmap for the future:

1. Consider the big picture

IT departments must no longer be merely concerned with their departmental goals. CIOs and the department in general need to realign with larger organizational goals to stay relevant in times of constant change.

According to Simon Chapleau, CEO of Green Elephant, measuring things like calls to the help desk, closed tickets, and so on are a thing of the past, catering only to the interest and investment of IT teams. “However, if you are including user satisfaction and happiness in there, if you’re giving IT a little more time and space to resolve issues to users’ satisfaction, then you’ll see improvement across the board,” Chapleau says. In this way, IT departments and CIOs need to consider the bigger picture, focusing not only on measurement and accountability, but on how to improve the overall customer experience to boost business. Gone are the times of an isolated IT department led by a CIO with limited capacities. The future demands that CIOs are versatile and refocus their strategy in a way suitable for the entire business.

2. Collaborate with other departments

CIOs will increasingly need to collaborate with other departments to meet organizational goals, as outlined above. Rather than the IT department being a place filled with tech professionals that other departments tend to avoid, more engagement and interaction will become the norm. The shift toward collaboration is partially driven by the younger generation in the workforce. Millennial workers are driving a shift that focuses on engaging and communicating across departments. What this means for IT teams is more engagement with each department and its staff, paired with a willingness to explain and provide strategies that are based in reason and logic. Business analysts will make up a growing percentage of IT staff, and it is the CIO’s job to integrate these members into the department while also facilitating inter-departmental collaboration to reach important decisions affecting both technology and the overall business.

3. Focus on innovation

Historically, the role of the CIO has been characterized by caution and predictability. With the new dynamism in the IT industry, CIOs will have to be more innovation-oriented and willing to take risks. “This new kind of CIO, who will move from chief information officer to chief innovation officer, will focus much more on being agile and adaptive,” states Alastair Behenna, principal analyst serving CIO at Forrester. The ability to continually adapt is integral and demands that CIOs be able to quickly rise above and learn from failure. Rather than organizations slowing innovation down, the next few years will see an explosion in creativity that can be met only with a focus on innovation and its implementation.

4. Continuous employee training

It’s no surprise that the transformation of the role of the CIO will require a transformation at the employee level, as well. CIOs will have to build a workforce that can focus on innovation and adaptability, provide excellent customer experience, and foster business development. It will no longer be sufficient to excel at one side of IT operations only. Rather, CIOs will need to train employees to consider the bigger picture in terms of technology. As I wrote in a previous article on Forbes, “Reskilling existing teams will be necessary to maintain agility, so it’s important to construct a team of employees who can handle the peaks and valleys of business.” Current employees need to get on par with the changing face of IT and learn to adapt to avoid failure. CIOs will play a key in role in facilitating these processes by reskilling legacy processes and seeking out adaptable talent.

Even with unpredictable and ever-changing technologies, the CIO’s role is far from redundant. In fact, as the workplace continues to evolve, CIOs will play an integral part in the leadership of any business and should appropriately be prepared for the same.

Don’t let your digital transformation break what’s working. See 4 Ways to Digitally Disrupt Your Business Without Destroying It.

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About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

Running Future Cities on Blockchain

Dan Wellers , Raimund Gross and Ulrich Scholl

Building on the Blockchain Framework

Some experts say these seemingly far-future speculations about the possibilities of combining technologies using blockchain are actually both inevitable and imminent:


Democratizing design and manufacturing by enabling individuals and small businesses to buy, sell, share, and digitally remix products affordably while protecting intellectual property rights.
Decentralizing warehousing and logistics by combining autonomous vehicles, 3D printers, and smart contracts to optimize delivery of products and materials, and even to create them on site as needed.
Distributing commerce by mixing virtual reality, 3D scanning and printing, self-driving vehicles, and artificial intelligence into immersive, personalized, on-demand shopping experiences that still protect buyers’ personal and proprietary data.

The City of the Future

Imagine that every agency, building, office, residence, and piece of infrastructure has an entry on a blockchain used as a city’s digital ledger. This “digital twin” could transform the delivery of city services.

For example:

  • Property owners could easily monetize assets by renting rooms, selling solar power back to the grid, and more.
  • Utilities could use customer data and AIs to make energy-saving recommendations, and smart contracts to automatically adjust power usage for greater efficiency.
  • Embedded sensors could sense problems (like a water main break) and alert an AI to send a technician with the right parts, tools, and training.
  • Autonomous vehicles could route themselves to open parking spaces or charging stations, and pay for services safely and automatically.
  • Cities could improve traffic monitoring and routing, saving commuters’ time and fuel while increasing productivity.

Every interaction would be transparent and verifiable, providing more data to analyze for future improvements.


Welcome to the Next Industrial Revolution

When exponential technologies intersect and combine, transformation happens on a massive scale. It’s time to start thinking through outcomes in a disciplined, proactive way to prepare for a future we’re only just beginning to imagine.

Download the executive brief Running Future Cities on Blockchain.


Read the full article Pulling Cities Into The Future With Blockchain

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Raimund Gross

About Raimund Gross

Raimund Gross is a solution architect and futurist at SAP Innovation Center Network, where he evaluates emerging technologies and trends to address the challenges of businesses arising from digitization. He is currently evaluating the impact of blockchain for SAP and our enterprise customers.

Ulrich Scholl

About Ulrich Scholl

Ulrich Scholl is Vice President of Industry Cloud and Custom Development at SAP. In this role, Ulrich discovers and implements best practices to help further the understanding and adoption of the SAP portfolio of industry cloud innovations.

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Why HR Is The New Marketing

Michael Brenner

In a world of infinite media choices, the best way to reach new buyers and new talent might be right under your nose. Your own employees represent the greatest opportunity to create meaningful marketing and to develop human resources programs that increase sales, while also finding and retaining top talent. Is HR the new marketing?

In the battle for new talent, HR departments have been forced to expand their role from hiring and firing, overseeing personnel systems and processes, and handling benefit management to include leadership development and training, employer branding, and diversity initiatives.

HR has been forced to adopt strategies that look, well, very much like marketing. These days, HR develops campaigns to grow employer awareness, to build the employer brand as a “great place to work,” and to retain top talent—all traditional marketing objectives.

While many in HR have embraced these traditional marketing skills, the most effective companies are moving beyond HR simply applying marketing techniques to a whole new opportunity. These effective companies are actually activating employees as a new marketing channel to achieve both HR and marketing objectives.

Proceed with caution

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving the potential of employees as a new marketing channel is the perception of marketing as advertising.

Asking (or forcing) your employees to share product content on their social media channels is just as dangerous as asking them to share (or guilting them into sharing) what a great place your company is to work.

Consumers are increasingly ignoring and blocking advertising messages, with some research even suggesting that promotional messages from brands can have the opposite of their intended effect. These misguided efforts can actually cause sales to decline!

While some employees may authentically share their excitement and passion for the products they work on, the projects they are engaged in, and the company they work for (and we should celebrate that), this is not a sustainable strategy for getting new customer or talent.

Content marketing and HR

Content marketing has emerged as one of the hottest trends in marketing. Marketers are learning to think and act like publishers to create entertaining, interesting, or helpful content that consumers actually want to read and share (vs. promotional ads). And this approach allows a brand to reach, engage, convert and retain new customers.

The opportunity to activate employees to achieve marketing and HR objectives starts by creating content they naturally want to share.

As the first VP of content marketing at SAP, I learned to tap into the power of my fellow employees to create a marketing program that delivered massive ROI. The biggest lesson I learned: HR is the new marketing!

With a limited budget for content, I asked our internal experts to write articles on whatever they wanted. We had one editorial rule: no product promotion. Our internal experts could explore their professional or personal passions and interests, even if it meant writing about cat videos. Because somewhere out in the world, I believed there was a potential customer, employee, partner or investor who might also loved cat videos. (No one ever wrote about cat videos. Bummer!)

I even created a slideshare deck to explain the value for these employees/budding content marketers:

  • Grow your personal brand
  • Increase or establish your authority on the topics you are interested in
  • Gain new social media followers
  • Maybe even find that new job or get promoted

We also encouraged this behavior by publicly recognizing our top articles and authors each week in a round-up post. We made rock stars of the best performers as their social connections and influence increased. And this drove more employees to sign up.

Today, that site has hundreds of employee contributors. All are growing their personal brand, while expressing their passions and expertise to the world. And many of the employees who don’t write articles voluntarily share the content with their social connections.

As LinkedIn’s own Jason Miller mentioned in his article, the trick is to define what’s in it for them.

Why does this work?

Because you can create massive momentum when we combine the needs of our customers, our employees, and our company based on THEIR own distinct interests:

  • Companies want more loyal customers and talented employees.
  • Employees want purpose and meaningful work that has real impact on their career and the world.
  • Customers want to form relationships with brands on their terms and based on their self-interest

What you can do to activate HR as the new marketing

1. Create a customer-centric vision

Look around your organization, and you will see people above you, below you, and beside you. The traditional org chart still exists to focus on your position in the hierarchy. But where’s the customer? Where is the customer in your org chart? 

Even if your company mission isn’t customer-centric (“we are the leading provider of widgets”), your marketing vision must be. And there is one simple formula to get there:

Become a sought-after destination for which topicin order to deliver what customer value or impact.

2. Create content employees who want to share

According to LinkedIn, the combined connections of employees on the LinkedIn platform is 10 times larger than any company’s followers. And just 3 percent of company employees sharing branded content generate 30 percent of the views and clicks on that content.

Platforms such as LinkedIn Elevate, social selling programs, and other tools can dramatically increase the reach of your content, grow your company’s social presence, and improve the effectiveness of marketing programs — without spending a single dollar on paid media.

But you have to create content your employees want to share. You might even ask them to help you. The trick is to explain what’s in it for them: creating or sharing content can help them build more connections, establish relationships with other leaders in your industry, and grow their personal brand so they can achieve happiness in their careers.

3. Measure the results

Measure the impact of your employee content sharing for your company. Demonstrate how it has benefited the employees (increased connections, awards, and recognition). Discuss ways to profile your best customers as well.

And partner with your colleagues across HR, marketing, and sales to determine the best ways to continuously optimize what is working for everyone.

If you’re in marketing, it’s time to start thinking about your colleagues in HR as your new best friend. And if you’re in HR, it’s time to think about how marketing can help you acquire and retain the best talent — while making the leadership team happy as well.

For more strategies that create a culture that drives business growth, see Employee Advocacy = Engaged Employees.

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.