December 2013

A new era of usability is helping to drive the reinvention of the workplace

Published 4th December 2013- written for ASI Cloud

Obviously ASI Cloud is an advocate of cloud services (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS and so on), but as yet, these are still only an emerging way for businesses to procure their corporate IT infrastructure. The SMB has driven the uptake of IT as a service in the UK, but to date, still a relatively small overall percentage have established a strategy for adopting the cloud. Given the growth in available cloud (or hybrid) solutions, those that have yet to develop a cloud strategy are risking business competitiveness. IT s a service is beginning to lead IT into a new era of usability and visionary IT decision-makers see the opportunity to reduce their infrastructure complexity and focus on developing more specific business enablers.

80% of businesses in emerging markets benefit from cloud IT services as an enables and accelerate their business. SMB’s that embraced this technological change grew 15% faster and created jobs twice a quickly than those that haven’t. This growth is consistent across geographies, genders and industries.  89% of IT customers want to buy services forma local provider.  (Source Boston Consulting Group)

The total cloud computing spend is expected to reach $150 billion in 2014 and with this new technology giving us access to our data and services wherever we go, it makes sense that more than half of server workload is expected to be virtualized by next year. As uptake of the cloud increases, (overall cloud computing growth rate is currently 5 times greater than the overall global IT growth rate), it provides businesses with new options to evaluate how IT that’s built on a shared platform performs in delivering more flexibility and greater efficiency in the workplace.

Cloud computing does not have to represent a revolution in IT use or provision, but rather an evolution as a result of combined emerging and existing technologies that are delivered as a service. However, I am certain that we are witnessing a sea-change in the IT supply chain like that which saw the server replace the mainframe – and the Internet’s domination of how we all work.

With this in mind, forward thinking business IT leaders should be working on cloud readiness and pilot projects; the channel I’m developing aims to bring IT customers ISV’s, vendors and resellers together and what we are now witnessing is both users and providers working hard to develop integration technologies and best practices. Integrating and managing a wide range of solutions comprising on-premise or dedicated components and different cloud services will soon need to be the core competence of IT departments as they begin to take on a completely new role.

Today, it is the younger, more dynamic users that are driving IT consumerism they expect to use the technology they have at home, in the workplace as well.  As a result, IT departments are now facing the challenge of protecting their networks and managing technology that they did not procure– further proof that the workplace is being re-invented as the workforce becomes more mobile. BYOA (Bring Your Own Application), a by-product of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend, is driving some businesses to look at how their networked systems can handle the integration of apps that employees are bringing to the party.

A recent Gartner report states that approximately 70 percent of BYOD workers are using their own applications for their work and this is putting pressure on CIOs to keep pace with them. To balance enterprise security and manageability with providing end-users more control over how they do their jobs, businesses are beginning to look into creating their own app stores. Gartner suggests that by 2018, as many as 25% of businesses will have these, where end-users can choose from a range of (screened for security and usability), business productivity apps provisioned in line with IT policies.

The smarter CIO’s are also investing in systems for mobile application management (MAM), as a solution that protects and manages publically downloaded or privately developed apps, instead of the device.

But before you empower your users to help drive the reinvention of your workplace by incorporating BYOA into your enterprise, take a good look at the options available to you now. Whether you decide to invest in a MAM solution or your very own app store (or even both), you should talk to a provider that is experienced at delivering end-to-end mobility solutions to make sure any deployment is secure and fully aligned to your business.

I believe that among our channel of partners, you’ll find just the provider you are looking for. ASI-CloudBank is a portal ecosystem that brings together vendors, ISV’s and channel partners to deliver complementary, integrated cloud apps and bundles straight to IT customers and end users.

  • Are you already thinking about creating your own enterprise app store?
  • Do your users already bring their own apps to work?
  • How will you manage the mobile apps being used in your business?

 

Service Is Everything – What the cloud will mean to IT provision in the longer term.

Published on 2nd December 2013 – written for ASI Cloud

It is true to say that every aspect of modern personal and professional life is enabled or hindered by good or bad service experiences.

I often talk about the re-invention of the workplace and how the emergence of cloud computing, as a way for businesses to procure IT as a Serviceis empowering the modern workforce and driving organisations to find even more efficient ways of working.  But if THE service is poor, it can quickly become a disabler.

Some of my previous blogs have touched on the rapid changes in how business IT is delivered and managed. Apart from the obvious quick wins and short-term gains to be had when IT buyers move to a cheaper monthly subscription billing model, organisations shouldn’t underestimate the long-term effects and how the service levels received will have the potential to compromise or accelerate their competitiveness in the future.

To analyse the return a business can expect to achieve from any initial investments in IT as a service, the two main metrics for assessing the short-term business gains are improvements in efficiencies and reductions in cost.  But as we move forward, IT buyers will (and should) expect to benefit in the longer-term, from rapidinnovation.

The cost benefits are certainly a dominant part of the IT buying decision making process, but forward thinking business executives also see IT as a service as a way of getting much wider access to best-in-class applications and solutions from vendors, ISV’s system integrators and resellers, that have the potential to transform how they do business. The IT supply chain will need to adapt to his change in customer demand and the primary longer term impacts of cloud computing for IT product and service providers will be:

  • The importance of service performance
  • The shift away from products, towards business services
  • The transformation of vendors, ISV, SI’s, VAR’s

It’s all about the customer experience

As greater numbers of customers become more savvy about the cloud and its’ possibilities for improvement,, their expectations will rise, increasing the importance placed on IT providers of delivering an effective, well performing service—the quality of the customer experience will become a clear differentiator within the IT supply industry.

It takes high levels of customer service to deliver always on IT and this will change the fundamental character of technology companies; IT providers will be forced to raise their level of service competency, adopting a 24/7 focus on availability, security and quality of performance.

So, if customer’s service experience is one of the keys to the future success in IT service provision, it is vital that the metrics are in place to assess these service capabilities to identify any areas that may need improving – let’s be honest, none of us are perfect.

You’re not shifting products any more

Resellers IT-based products, however well established will have to adapt to the shift towards business-oriented services in the longer-term. This trend has gathered pace over the past three years and cloud computing is responsible for dramatically accelerating this shift, underpinned by the uptake of such services as Microsoft’s Office 365.

Because organisations are now expecting always-on, always updated office software to be available a service, increasing numbers of suppliers are focusing on service provision. Almost every reseller and larger systems integrator offer some form of technical services that add value to products, but cloud providers should be equipped to deliver cloud enable bundles and solutions into a new set of value propositions and offer them as standard (service) commodities, like a Hosted Desktop an Email Migration or a secure file transfer

Two main factors will drive this trend in supply and demand:

  • the degree to which clients and suppliers can work together to identify & provide for new possibilities
  • the core cloud (and therefore service orientated) competencies of technology suppliers/partners

Evolving IT supply that sets the standard

We are beginning to see a more diversity in the IT supplier industry and an increase in outsourcing external services is resulting in many businesses reducing the size of their internal IT functions. Business IT supply will (if it hasn’t already done so) fall into three main categories:

  • Bulk cloud utility and platform service providers – typical enterprise applications or services for customers to scale up or down as they need, like storage, apps, email, security.
  • Specialist providers with distinctive line of business expertise (for example, banking, manufacturing or retail) or specific functional, business intelligence skills like HR, sales or CRM. As these providers become more sophisticated they will adapt beyond simply software-as-a-service capabilities and providing enterprise-wide business processes as a service will become the norm.
  • An elite group of service integrators with real depth in consulting and technology expertise that will partner with enterprises for the design, management and continuous optimisation of a comprehensive services ecosystem.

Virtual business infrastructures are the future – sooner than you may think, easier than it sounds.

The greatest longer-term impact of cloud computing will be the increase in the number of enterprises becoming partly or even mostly virtual. Mobilising and empowering an evolving workforce will require cloud providers, IT suppliers, business process outsourcers and a host of other parties to be able to provide greater numbers of their customers with complex ecosystems.

As customers become much more demanding of cloud IT operations, collaborative, service-led relationships will require a change in perspective from all sides. Solutions (service) providers will themselves need to leverage a service-led partner eco system to continually develop new ways to deliver what customers need. Innovating with these partners will be a vital competitive differentiator for IT providers who now find themselves in the business services industry.  .

ASI-CloudBank is a portal ecosystem that brings together vendors, ISV’s and channel partners to deliver complementary, integrated cloud apps and bundles straight to IT customers and end users.

But whilst the short term financial gains of as a service are easy to see, the longer term effects of cloud migrations will ultimately benefit us all in changing the way we do things – for the better.

  • Do you have a view on the longer term effects of IT as a service as the new standard for business IT provision?
  • Are you looking for a cloud enablement partner to help you define your longer-term plans and cloud strategies?
  • Are you an IT reseller that needs to keep pace with the increasing numbers of IT buyers that are choosing the cloud?
 Peter Stephen is a Surrey based freelance creative and marketing copywriter – to hire, call 07917 36 01 01 or email peter.stephen@astutecopy.co.uk
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