Is the Cloud I.T. Manager the smarter I.T. Manager? #TheCTOBlog ep1

June 10, 2017

by Bluefort CTO – Mirko Bonello

First of all: welcome to my blog. This is the first episode from the #TheCTOBlog where I will try to share my hand-on thoughts on a regular basis. I do hope you will continue to follow my blog posts. Feel free to get in touch with me on mbonello@bluefort.com.mt if you have any comments or thoughts about my posts.

Now without further ado, let’s go straight to the subject at hand for the first blog post. Let’s have a look at the following statement, which is is taken from here and also roughly used by Microsoft and other Cloud providers’ marketing machines to justify moving to the cloud:

IT Pros will not become redundant but on the other hand they can have a more strategic role in the company, where their focus will shift from struggling to ensure that the light remains on (and business does not grind to a stand-still) to focusing on how the IT investment of the enterprise can continue adding real tangible value to the business.

At first you might just think that this is just some Marketing rhetoric to convince customers to move to the cloud. However, based on the next real-life experience I will explain in the coming paragraphs I firmly started to believe that this is one of the biggest values of moving to the cloud.

As you might already know “moving companies to the cloud” (specifically to the Microsoft cloud because we are, you guessed it, Microsoft Partners) is core to Bluefort’s corporate mission and strategy (although we love our on-prem implementations too, of course). As a result of that, within the last year, I’ve joined various pre-sales meetings, demos, presentations and what-not in order to evangelize this SaaS model. In most of the meetings the ever-omnipresent role of “I.T. Manager” was involved to take part in the discussions. Nothing strange here, right? Right but what really struck me was the large difference in stance, mentality and knowledge between the “traditional” I.T. Manager of the business that never experienced any cloud service to run an operation or business process for the business and the more “modern” I.T. manager who was already exposed to using cloud services to run their (their bosses’/shareholders’) company’s business.

I am in no way criticising or complaining against the “traditional” guy. I am sure that all I.T. managers I conversed with were very dedicated, talented and technically knowledgeable. They know all the ins-and-outs of cable management techniques, server-room air-flow cooling methodologies, hardware, networks, backups, redundancy, bits, bytes, bandwidth, command line scripts, Active Directory Forests and users etc This is indeed invaluable knowledge they must have and use on a daily basis to keep the lights and the show running. Without this knowledge, they will fail at their job and the dark theatre curtains crawl in from the sides casting a shadow of darkness on the business (wait is this still a technology blog or did we just go Shakespeare?).

However, when I entered an organization which was already using cloud services (such as Microsoft Office 365, Azure AD, SharePoint online etc) to up-sell to CRM/ERP, then it was here that I encountered the “modern” I.T. manager. Even though the apps I just mentioned in the previous sentence are just (what I coin) “entry-level” cloud services (when compared to CRM, ERP etc), the level of knowledge, enthusiasm and engagement from the I.T. guy in the business and business processes was of a much adequate level then just the technical knowledge of bits, bytes and the average correlation between the distance of a work-station from the nearest WiFi router and the latency/loss/ping which is experienced on the work-station. The “modern” I.T. manager duly understood the implications of the new SaaS system on the business, asked questions which would add more value to their business in the long-term and made it also more fun for us to convince the customer that “Bluefort is the best partner that can really help your business grow and scale with digital transformation on the Microsoft cloud specifically using Dynamics 365”. The “modern” I.T. manager also engaged in licensing and commercial discussions, could better describe the profile of the users who will be using the system, (such as what rights and privileges they are authorised to have, what kind of data and dashboards they require in their daily tasks) and thus could help match these to the appropriate licenses and security roles, could better describe business processes and general requirements and could easily map business challenges to technical challenges (or vice-versa). As you can already understand, this type of knowledge is of a different level of usefulness to the business when compared to purely technical knowledge of the traditional I.T. Pro.

I would like to stress again that within the sample of I.T. Managers, I am using to compare between the two types, none of the organizations had fully implemented a “real” enterprise-level cloud service such as Dynamics 365 for Operations/Sales/Customer Service. So just think about how much more “powerful” and of business-value will these I.T. Managers become when their organizations implement a flag-ship ERP or CRM system which is 100% SaaS and cloud-based? According to my estimations and previsions these I.T. Managers can truly unroll their suites, expose their super-man badge and become pioneers of Digital Transformation within their organization and the value they will add to their personal career will also be priceless, as they will truly become corporate officers, they will now become mangers of people and processes rather than cables and hard-disks. They will outsource the latter to the cloud i.e. the trust-worthy people who are running the secure and state-of-the-art Microsoft Data Centres in various regions across the globe!

 

To conclude this blog-post I will repeat the sentence that I pasted at the beginning of the blog-post for your convenience, meditation and reflection!

IT Pros will not become redundant but on the other hand they can have a more strategic role in the company, where their focus will shift from struggling to ensure that the light remains on (and business does not grind to a stand-still) to focusing on how the IT investment of the enterprise can continue adding real tangible value to the business.

Till next time!

Mirko Bonello
Chief Technology Officer
http://www.bluefort.com.mt