Enterprise IT has issues – acknowledge them

As you guys know, I am a big proponent of Cloud, Devops and all that good stuff. I would not look  kindly upon a vendor who tries FUD on any of those.  I am also not a big fan of Private Cloud, as it takes us backwards in technology adoption. I am not yet sold on PAAS because none of the vendors have demonstrated a clear value proposition so far. 

Having said that, I had realized over last few months that enterprises have problems and we need to acknowledge them. It is the task of vendors, pundits, gurus and shamans to work with enterprises to get them to the next stage of computing. A good understanding of the problems enterprise IT guys face is a good start. I will attempt to articulate few of those here, and look for your help in expanding them.

1. Strategic role of Enterprise IT – even today, in several large mainstream organizations, IT is a cost center and is seen as delivering a service that supports main mission of the enterprise, nothing more. Only a portion of the organizations have realized that IT is a competitive advantage. Do not make the assumption that each of the enterprise you speak to treats IT as a strategic investment. One test you can use is to see if CIO sits in the core exec team of that company. If CIO works for the CFO or someone else, you know that IT is not seen as a strategic area of the company. 

2. Company culture trumps IT culture – In many organizations, age old ways of doing business and treating employees as mere resources is still a norm. IT has to fit into this culture unfortunately – not many CIOs are empowered or capable of driving change to the culture of the larger organization they belong to. If the company has a culture of not tolerating any mistakes, then IT will be afraid of taking chances on new methods of doing things. One test you can do is ask the IT manager about what happens if the systems are down for few hours. You can learn a lot by that question about that companies culture. 

3. There is a reason some of the IT folks work in large companies – these reasons range from job security to having a predictable 8-5 job and location constraints. These folks are often risk averse. In my career, I had met many such folks. They thrive on a predictable, organized command and control structure. Any new way of doing things threaten these guys and will resist it vigorously. One test you can do is ask how long they have been with the company and how is their attrition rate – low attrition is likely higher “cling to job” mindset. Also, location of the company is a good indicator. 

Now, we can argue that companies that have these problems will not survive, but lets leave that to the management consultants to argue. 

So, if you are a software vendor that wants to sell to these IT guys, what can you do?

1. Do not attack their way of doing things as old, outdated  ( leave that to twitter  )
2. Find early victories you can give to these guys – for ex: instead of embracing Cloud all at once, how about encourage them to start with Cloud storage for files or use EC2 for only Dev/Test activities as stage 1?.
3. Do not say their previous investments are boneheaded. Especially if a CIO has spent few millions on a large enterprise software within last 2-3 years, don’t be going around arguing they made a huge mistake. They will defend their decisions. Do not fight it. Figure out how you can compliment what they have and show them a non disruptive transition plan.

However, do not do the following because you are not helping your customers or industry. 

1. Sell them a better on-prem software branded as private cloud – you really aren’t helping them.
2. Sell them training classes on new technologies or new methodologies that make the IT guys feel good for a day, but  can’t use them yet.
3. Tell them Cloud is insecure or will cause them problems meeting compliance – at best its inaccurate, worse, you are lying 

Thats all folks – back to tweeting. 


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