The new wave of ICT services
IT has come a long way since the days of dotcom and frantic spending. Today, infrastructure doesn`t begin and end with the IT manager, business now dictates what is needed and wants to see some serious black on white ROI.
And the reality is that IT spending is only expected so see a minor improvement over the next year, with CIOs, according to recent survey by Gartner, reluctant to increase spending until the business environment improves.
So, together with this well-known shift - some would say seismic - in the IT industry, ICT providers have had to change the way they approach potential and current customers.
Box dropping no longer works, vendors must ensure that their customers fully understand solutions and the potential benefits derived from it, simply installing a product just doesn`t cut it anymore.
The key is to make your customers understand what they`ve led themselves in for, while at the same instilling a culture that is based on the latest industry standards and frameworks.
Take ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), for example. This framework enables companies to deliver high-quality IT services that meet both customer and their own business needs.
Indeed, ITIL helps guide organisations through the numerous steps they must take to create a services-led IT culture and department.
A good place to start is with an assessment that compares your actual practices with ITIL practices. Also, partner with an ITIL expert that can help you create a plan tailored to your organisation`s needs as well as offers you IT solutions that will enable its successful rollout.
This again puts the ball in ICT providers` courts, as they need to familiarise and become active advocates for industry frameworks and methodologies.
Proven frameworks, such as ITIL and Basel II, are the first real steps towards IT and business alignment and a stable and contextual way of starting off an implementation. Basel II is a perfect guideline to perform business aligned security management within a banking environment but the principles can be used for any organisation.
Secondly, is value management, which forms a critical part of customer service-delivery. A value management culture is the collective responsibility of the technology team to manage the value lifecycle from planning, building, run to eventual retirement.
The value we expect from technology investments form part of a portfolio of technology investments each with timelines and expiry dates. Three critical steps to remember are "stating the value", "monitor the value" and "communicating the value".
This means tracking value in a consistent manner, no environment stays the same. An organisation can go through major changes in a matter of a year, people resign, business changes and these are the realities.
ICT providers, therefore, have to provide consistent value-delivery, ensuring that their customers have an adequate view of the value of a project or technology through its lifecycle in the organisation.
Essentially, if the expected value is not delivered, many businesses resort to making IT decisions based on perception and emotion, rather than turning to their IT partners.
Lastly, and very importantly, vendors must drive more effective pricing strategies, offering shorter contracts (three years) or even rental options. This approach enables companies that are more cash-strapped to still benefit from the latest technologies, while at the same time also creating a more loyal customer-base.