IT Management and Transformation
IT Management and Transformation
Digital adoption refers to the converged use of emerging technology themes to drive efficiencies across back-office and core mid-office business processes, and enhance competitive advantage by impacting market-facing front-office processes
Rio Tinto, a global diversified mining company, recently announced a groundbreaking initiative they are undertaking with Accenture. This can best be described as moving Rio Tinto’s enterprise IT function into an as-a-service model. Game-changing benefits permeate this deal, and it’s an eye-opener for enterprises in all industries.
Let’s look at what Rio Tinto gains by pulling the as-a-service lever to achieve greater value in its IT services.
First, it changes the relationship between the business and IT. It breaks down the functional silos of a traditional centralized IT organization and aligns each service. In doing so, it creates an end-to-end relationship in each service, whether it be SAP, collaboration or any other functional services.
Second, this initiative moves Rio Tinto’s entire IT supply chain to a consumption-based model. This is incredibly important for a cyclical commodity industry, where revenues are subject to the world commodity markets. Rio Tinto’s core product, iron ore, is a commodity that can result in revenues slashed in half in the course of a year, leading to the need for cost reduction initiatives. Correspondingly, in boom times, commodities can double and triple in price, resulting in frenetic energy to expand production. The as-a-service model ends this commodity whiplash impact. It gives Rio Tinto a powerful ability to match costs to their variable consumption patterns.
This move will change the pace of innovation within Rio Tinto, allowing it to future proof its investments in IT. As many enterprises discover, multi-year IT projects often end up being out of date by the time they are implemented. Rio Tinto sought to shorten the IT cycle time so it can take full advantage of innovations the market generates. In the as-a-service model, it can pull those innovations through to the business quickly – which is a struggle for traditional siloed centralized IT functions.
These are game-changing benefits. It’s important to recognize that the journey to capture these benefits required a complete rethinking of how Rio Tinto’s IT (applications and infrastructure) is conceived, planned, delivered, and maintained. Moving from a siloed take-or-pay model to an integrated consumption-based model required wide-ranging re-envisioning and reshaping the ecosystem for deploying its technology; it touched IT talent, philosophies, processes, policies, vendors, and partners.
Clearly this journey will be well worth the effort given the substantial game-changing benefits. Challenging times call for breakthrough answers. The cost benefits alone are significant; but even more important is the ability of this approach to accelerate the transformation of the company into a more digital business. Rio Tinto chose to partner with Accenture to move its organization to this fundamentally different action plan for delivering and consuming IT and meeting the rapidly evolving needs of the business.
Photo credit: Rio Tinto
If you read the technology news in the press and social media sites, it’s apparent that we’re in the midst of a big sea of change in which the as-a-Service and public cloud models are transforming the services industry. HP and IBM’s travails and Oracle’s slowdown are laid at the feet of the SaaS providers. But when you pile all the current cloud activity together, it amounts to a hill of beans, not a mountain. Why aren’t we seeing evidence that disruption from these models is happening on a significant scale?
In the famous words of an American hamburger TV commercial several years ago: “Where’s the beef?” Everyone is talking about big agendas to rework workload portfolios and making big efforts to to do that. Yes, Accenture has invested well over $1 billion around cloud and several Indian providers have invested $100+ million a year in mobility and cloud work. And the HCL-CSC alliance is predicated on the fact that there will be a huge cloud sandwich for which they want to position themselves.
If you give providers half a moment, they’ll wax with great eloquence and excitement about the prospects for the cloud model as a high-growth area in services. But if cloud disruption is coming to the services industry, it must be walking; it sure isn’t running.
Where are the billion-dollar practices that do cloud? Why don’t we see service providers launching entire new practices or start-ups reworking applications so they work in the cloud? Who is doing all the work?
The answer to the above questions is that disruption to service providers is happening occasionally but not en mass.
It reminds me of a conversation I overheard around the impending revolution about self-driving cars. Supposedly a Google executive was saying that it’s not likely that new self-driving car will come on the market and people will buy them when they arrive. Instead, he believes the more likely scenario is that we’ll find ourselves using cars that park themselves and then over time become incrementally more capable and eventually driving themselves. But we won’t have gone through that aha moment where we went out to buy a self-driving car.
I think the same thing is happening with cloud disruption. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence that companies are driving huge transformations to the cloud right now. Maybe it’s a timing issue in which CIOs and large enterprises will become comfortable enough with the technology that they’ll move en mass to rework their ecosystems to embrace this model. But maybe they won’t embrace it like this and, instead, the industry will wake up one day and find that we’ve incrementally adopted SaaS, public cloud and private cloud.
Perhaps the tide bringing cloud disruption is coming in slowly rather than in as a tsunami. What do you think?
Recently I had a conversation with an executive at a large software house known for its ERP. One of many things that struck me in our conversation was the change in whom the sales team targets. Their primary target is no longer the CIO; now it’s the CFO.
Apparently, in today’s business outcomes-driven world, CIOs are no longer authorized to drive tech spend decisions of this type, nor do they have the ability to write the check.
As I reflect on this change in decision rights and executive focus, I don’t find it at all surprising; after all, it is consistent with what I’ve blogged about several times. As she put it, the reasons for buying technology today are driven much more by business need and the impact that the technology can drive; it’s increasingly less about the technology itself. In this shift in mindset, the CFO and senior business stakeholders have become more influential because they have the best understanding of the business impact needed from the technology.
The lesson for a global services business
If the technology players are shifting their focus to the CFO as the influencer of tech spend, I think this underlines the changing dynamics or decision rights for the global services industry and the imperative to engage with and serve others outside of the CIO.
Consulting in IO contracts rises with technology complexity and need for transformation; buyers are depending on service providers to help transform their infrastructure setup and manage technology complexities arising from adoption of digital solutions
Buyers continue to assess their existing infrastructure portfolios and expect their infrastructure service providers to drive-up productivity levels and deploy next-generation technologies.
Did you see the news earlier this week about the Avon – SAP relationship in Canada? The eye-grabbing headline, “Avon halts work on big SAP implementation, cites lack of ROI,” thrusts the deal to the attention of both service providers and enterprises planning or in the midst of business transformation deals. The services industry has decades of piercingly clear evidence that large-scale implementations can be problematic and disruptive, and Avon stated that its decision to halt the further roll-out was to stop further disruption to its business. But I believe we can conclude much more than that from this news. In short, this action by Avon suggests that a good deal of change is happening in the services market.
In uncovering what is behind the headlines in the Avon – SAP relationship, let’s start with the fact that both Avon and SAP affirmed that the products company will continue using the SAP system in Canada, the system is working as designed, and their relationship “remains solid.” And they had experienced an earlier successful pilot of the project. So what sparked this recent decision to end the full-scale implementation?
As the saying goes, often what you don’t know will cost you. Here’s what you need to know about this deal.
We see this as a shining example of a phenomenon we are observing in the marketplace. The SAP implementation was part of a broad-based business transformation Avon was trying to drive. But in today’s market companies now are skewing away from the $100 million-plus or large-scale ERP implementations and instead look to buy outcomes and functionality or capability on as as-needed basis.
Fundamentally companies don’t want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on transformative IT implementations because it’s too expensive, takes too long, and usually the return isn’t there. However, they still need new functionality or capability for competitive advantage so they can drive their businesses forward. This is where the as-a-service models come in; these models allow them to get the new capability without replacing their entire ERP system.
We see a significant movement in this direction. It manifests itself sometimes by companies asking for outcomes. (“We need these results.” “Just give us the insight from the analytics.” “Give us this new market access.” “Allow our retail business to deal with stock-outs.”) They are willing to pay good money for these capabilities, but they want to pay for it in this manner:
We find that the as-a-service models open opportunities for a different kind of sale. It allows a new breed of vendor or new breed of offering to get the customer out of the complexity of buying the component parts of a solution and focuses purely on the outcome of what the company is trying to accomplish.
Avon is happy with its existing ERP vendor, SAP; but it no longer wants the cost and time of the large-scale transformation project and replacement of its ERP system. We see the Avon decision as important.
Buyer and providers, take note: Avon’s action heralds a new set of industry offers that allow organizations to buy parts of ERP as a service and layer it on top of existing ERP implementations. How will the as-a-service models impact your business?
Photo credit: Marlon Malabanan
A lot has changed in the short six months since our initial blog on on the emerging enterprise cloud adoption paths. Recent discussions with cloud infrastructure service providers clearly show that CIOs and corporate IT seem to be interested in talking about cloud, and RFP flow is definitely increasing, but we’re not seeing conversion to contracts and revenue. One statement by a leading cloud service provider was particularly interesting:
“The cloud RFPs we’re seeing from enterprise IT are really strange, and poorly thought out. It’s like they’re just going through the process to get someone off their back…”
At the same time, there does appear to be an acceleration of enteprise spend on cloud, including SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.
So what gives?
While there are a number of factors in play, we’re finding the biggest one is the role of the business user, and how cloud is eroding the monopoly corporate IT has traditonally had over information technology, services, and even infrastructure. People tend to forget that developer teams are frequently embedded in business units and deparments. They have budget approval limits, but typically high enough that they can spin up dev / test environments on Amazon AWS, for example, with no flags being raised. They no longer have to go to corporate IT to get a server provisioned, or a test environment setup. This is IT budget now flowing through the business, though through technical and not business resources.
As a result, IT is under significant pressure as it sees its budget dollars being threatened. It hasn’t fully figured out the implications of cloud for its IT organization, but can’t appear to be a roadblock to the business. What we see, although not in every enterprise IT organization, is a pretty substantial increase in tire-kicking, pilots and “RFPs” to give the illusion of progress.
Based on an additional set of conversations, analyses, and insights from recent client work, we’ve updated our enterprise cloud adoption framework to more strongly reflect the business buying dynamic. This new framework is defined by two major dimensions:
Based on these factors, here’s our new framework and overview of the different ways we’re seeing enterprises migrating to the cloud:
Enterprise Cloud Adoption Paths
A quick note on the different models:
By far the most common enterprise adoption model we’re seeing is driven predominantly by business users implementing cloud solutions for new business capabilities, improved agility, flexibility, or reach. This adoption is coming in several flavors:
Adoption is largely driven by individuals, departments, or functions around and outside of IT (even in the case of IaaS and PaaS). Business users want to innovate, recognize they can do it themselves, and feel empowered to do so.
The next most common model is corporate IT driving cloud adoption, albeit for specific, focused use cases. The goal is not broad transformation for “how IT does business,” but targeted adoption to prove the model, or to demonstrate improvements in efficiency and cost. Some of the most frequent use cases include:
The private cloud is still the preferred model for corporate enterprise IT, with most CIOs looking to play it safe with known enterprise vendors like IBM, VMware, or VCE. Note that the 20 percent in the Cloud Adoption Paths graphic above does not refer to the percentage of enterprise IT organizations that are pursuing cloud, but rather the number of companies in which cloud adoption is being driven predominantly by an “IT opportunist” model.
While they are the exception, a few enterprises’ CIOs are using next generation IT platforms to drive wide-scale modernization and transformation of their environments. These CIOs are viewing private, public, and hybrid cloud models as vehicles for fundamentally changing their infrastructure strategy, and are actively seeking to get their organizations out of the data center business. Although rare, two of the more interesting examples we’ve recently seen include:
These are enterprises using cloud and other next generation IT platforms to create new disruptive business models, transformational improvement in growth and profitability, and strategic advantage. The starting point for their discussion is not around cloud technology, but how to use the agility, flexibility, reach, and cost effectiveness of cloud to enable new business strategies. Business executives are typically the emerging change agents. The best example in the public domain is:
While Transformers is the rarest adoption path today, we do believe it will become far more frequent as the market matures, and as cloud changes the competitive dynamic in some industries.
Note that there are still a small (and shrinking) number of enterprises that are still purely in “Observer” mode, and not actively deploying SaaS, Paas, IaaS, or private clouds anywhere across their organizations. We haven’t reflected them in our framework, and struggle to see any enteprises where at minimum there isn’t at least an individual or department using a cloud-based collaboration or productivity app.
Stay tuned, as we’ll soon be posting more here about implications for both enterprises and the cloud service provider community.