After 15 years working for some of the largest food & beverage companies globally; Mars Incorporated, Orora Group and Carlton & United Breweries, in 2013 I entered the world of technology full time. Previously I had been the frustrated IT client, a department within business that started with such promise, ultimately became another cost centre and actually a inhibitor of innovation - it seemed any significant IT project was met with a response of $1million and 6 months before the scope had even been defined…
Upon entering the technology industry I arranged to meet with our major clients, located all over Australia, to seek feedback and guidance. The consistent message I received was the following "I currently deal with 3 to 4 IT providers, I know one of them is ripping me off, I just don’t know which one…". For those outside of the IT department, technology is a bit of a mystery where faith is provided to those that can confidently discuss the properties of WAN, SAN and LAN, mainly because it is difficult to argue against that of which you don’t fully understand.
Business engage external tech companies for a variety of reasons, often a benefit either directly or indirectly is an opinion on whether they are putting in place the right strategy and approach to deliver their business objectives as effectively and efficiently as possible. This can mean that often internal IT Teams are apprehensive of the role we play, having real concerns that our objective will be for our client to outsource everything IT related they can to us - this is a real because I have seen myself how many other IT providers operate.
Last week I attended a business strategy session with an audience of non competing CEOs, facilitated by Ashton Bishop of Step Change (www.hellostepchange.com). One of the tasks he gave us was to choose a selection of history's greatest leaders and apply their approach to a business challenge we are facing. My partner for this task was the principal at one of the premier schools in Australia, his role was to take a leader chosen at random and try to apply to my business. The leader chosen was Kerry Packer, his greatest achievement identified as founding 'World Series Cricket' and my partners application was the following; "take something that was once great that has become tired and make it fresh and exciting again". Immediately I thought of the internal IT department.
Technology is moving faster than it has ever before, hence it is becoming more difficult for IT professionals to keep pace with what is the best solution for their business as well as delivering the day to day requirements. We see our role is to complement the internal IT department rather than take it over. There is no cookie cutter approach, each business environment, user requirements and strategic objectives are different. We provide the knowledge and experience in bleeding edge and specialist technology given this is our core business, working closely with the established team to ensure the right balance is reached between effectiveness and efficiency, ultimately delivering confidence to the client that the best practice solution is being applied.
Therefore, we see that the best way for a business to maximise its internal IT team is to complement it with the right partner, someone who will become an extension of the team providing the new and specialist technology that generally doesn’t require full time roles to manage within a business.
The evolution of Cloud Computing has seen this approach accelerate, as considered experts (Comunet enjoy strong partnerships with Amazon Web Services & Microsoft, global leaders in Public Cloud) we have recently seen an increase in new client enquiries as businesses look to take advantage of what the Cloud can offer whilst trying to avoid the misconceptions (see http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-true-cloud-mark-ogden?trk=mp-author-card). The Cloud facilitates simplicity, automation, flexibility and cost effectiveness that is unparalleled, providing huge benefits in effectiveness and efficiency. We have already seen some of our clients "free up" 20% of their internal IT resources through embracing new technology via a complementary engagement with us. These resources are often reallocated from maintenance roles (traditional infrastructure) to value add, often in the form of Big Data Utilisation (crunching numbers to generate insights to assist in decision making).
IT can once again be the department of business wonder and excitement, moving from a cost of doing business to an enabler of growth. We see our role is to complement the internal IT teams to enable businesses to achieve this.
Mark Ogden is the CEO of Comunet.