The Blind Men and the Elephant

Six blind men are asked to determine what an elephant is like by feeling different parts of its body.
• The blind man who feels an ear says the elephant is like a hand fan;
• The blind man who feels its trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch;
• The blind man who feels its tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe;
• The blind man who feels its leg says the elephant is like a pillar;
• The blind man who feels its belly says the elephant is like a wall;
• And the blind man who feels its tail says the elephant is like a rope.

Likewise, IT as a Service at EMC is different things to different people depending on their perspective. While one part of IT regards the model as a new way to present offerings to improve user consumption, another may see it as a means to clarify and allocate IT costs … or a better way to plan and use company resources…or primarily a competitive benefit.

As with the elephant, all of these things are true. It is our challenge to figure out what ITaaS is for EMC broadly and chart a path to get there. So what is ITaaS for EMC?

For IT’s Business Technology Group, ITaaS is a new engagement model that allows us to problem-solve with clients rather than struggling to manage down their demand. BTG consultants will have a clean and business-friendly catalogue of services to discuss with their business partners. This will take them from being on the opposite side of the table from those partners—struggling over what clients want versus IT’s capacity to deliver—to being on the same side of the table with clients. Now they will both be working together to make the best use of our client’s IT dollars.

ITaaS fundamentally changes the nature of their role from a group that portions out limited IT capacity to a group that can really collaborate with the business and help them figure out how to best spend their money. (See Jon Peirce’s blog on Channeling entrepreneurial spirit to launch ITaaS)

For Finance, ITaaS will provide improved accountability via fine-grained measurement of costs. Rather than funding IT via a lump-sum budget based on the previous years’ spending and company cost-containment goals, Finance will have an accurate picture of each business unit’s IT service consumption. Those expenditures will be based on client demand, giving Finance unprecedented feedback on the value the business puts on IT services being offered. (See white paper on Guidelines to Financial Transparency)

EMC IT, in turn, will provide Finance with detailed pricing and service performance metrics, as it strives to compete with outside vendors and gain increased client business.

While the overall spend on IT might change under ITaaS, that change will be driven by the value those services deliver to the business, not arbitrary budget decisions that create supply/demand imbalances.

For IT Operations, ITaaS is a way of packaging up our offerings to be easy for our clients to consume. Leaving behind its previously siloed structure, IT Operations will have broader ownership of an entire, standardized delivery package. Requests that come in will be much more consistent and require much less custom work.

For example, if a client requires a hosting environment, ITaaS will let them select from small, medium or large offerings. Eventually, clients will be able to order an environment through the catalogue and set it up themselves. Operations will no longer have to assemble the parts and craft each environment.

Freed up by the efficiencies of such standardization and automation, Operations can actually refocus on building inventory, concentrate on high-level management, and plan for the future. ITaaS will essentially get IT Operations out of the weeds.

For Human Resources, ITaaS will create new opportunities for staff who want to stretch their skills. This new IT model will require a host of new and expanded roles and accompanying training, both for new job-specific skills and for ITaaS in general.

Among these new opportunities is an under-recognized but vitally important task: change management. HR will need to lead the effort to get the organization to not just intellectually, but also viscerally, understand that this is a new way of doing business. IT will need to break out of the mold of our storage people just thinking about storage and our systems people just thinking about systems.

Change management will play a significant role in ITaaS for at least two years. HR must work closely with the communication team to get the word out, organize training, and even change EMC’s recruiting approach for some positions. In the future, we’ll be looking for people with broader skill sets.

Overall, HR will be able to construct a more interesting variety of careers paths for IT. EMC IT will become a more attractive place to work because many roles will be more sophisticated and, thus, more interesting. This is an opportunity for people who want to stretch the current bounds of their work.

For IT Service Operations, ITaaS will bring clarity to client expectations and service level targets. The new model will spell out for the first time specific levels of support services to be provided based on client consumption of ITaaS offerings. Service Operations will operate more like a business, measuring its performance against Service Level Targets and better aligning its resources with client demands.

Service Operations will also improve its efficiency and consistency by standardizing and, in some cases, automating its operations.

And lastly, for everyone, ITaaS will ultimately unleash free market forces to enable EMC IT clients to make value-based IT consumption decisions. This will allow EMC to make the most of its IT investment, gaining the greatest benefit for the business and all those who work for it. It will also provide a showcase for EMC to demonstrate to customers its role in the journey to the private cloud, of which ITaaS is a crucial part.

As with the blind men’s perspective of the elephant, sizing up ITaaS will vary from company to company and business group to business group, depending on their needs. The challenge is to shape this innovative IT model to accommodate the various needs of your operation for efficiency, agility, and flexibility for the future. What will ITaaS be for your organization?

About the Author: Dell Technologies