The challenges for IT operations are endless: they need to provide the foundation for digital transformation; work out how to combine the apps everyone wants with the legacy systems the organization relies on; and manage the ongoing running costs of the latter. In addition, budgets are no longer under IT operations’ control but are determined by business stakeholders higher up the chain, and they also need to answer the demands and knowledge of a generationally-varied workforce.
And that’s before we consider how the pandemic has acted as an accelerant to change – in how the business operates, how employees can (and want) to work, and how IT must serve the wider organization. The discussions, trends and theories of previous years have very quickly become the reality.
Modernizing technology to support new ways of working
So, where does that leave IT decision makers? They have HR and lines of business knocking on their doors, wanting to change how employees are supported throughout their whole lifecycle – from onboarding, through their time with the company, to offboarding. And IT itself is still trying to work out the sort of model it needs to meet competing and occasionally contradictory priorities.
On top of this is the realization that they no longer have a monopoly on technical knowledge; that the days of IT in its ivory tower being the only function that understands technology have gone. They still have specialist knowledge, but their customers now know enough to expect better experiences.
This leads to employees being more empowered than ever and prepared to leave if the IT experience does not match up to expectations. And, while there is more to a job than technology, the fact is that in the digital era much of this experience is enabled, delivered and created by tech.
From tech first to user first
The problem is that most organizations still focus on the technology. Many are locked into an infrastructure-first mindset with SLAs focused on uptime and network performance. Procurement is dictated by the rhythm of hardware renewal cycles, with three- and five-year terms common.
This will no longer suffice. Employers are in an employee-centric market and putting IT first is not the answer. The business realizes this, and it needs IT operations to recognize it, too.
The alternative requires both a mindset and an operating model change of gear.
First, the mindset. If employers are operating in an employee-driven market, then the knock-on effect is that IT needs to be taking a similarly people-led approach. Or, to put it in more technical terms, a user-centric one.
That means building and deploying solutions that are geared to how people want to work, with variations and the ability to personalize based on individual preferences.
So, it’s having the ability to supply, manage and support the devices employees need to do their jobs, rather than taking a fixed, one-size-fits-all approach. This is an evolution of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend that was much discussed a few years back. However, rather than having the capabilities to support a variety of devices brought in by staff, the business is proactively providing them, irrespective of operating system.
Plus, IT needs to be able to deliver applications to those devices, keeping them secure and updated throughout their lifecycle.
But, there needs to be more. Requirements change, at both a business and an individual level, which can influence the type of work needed, and even how that work is delivered. Whether it’s changing an app, or even a device, the process needs to be simple, with as little contact from IT as necessary. Self-service portals that allow users to download apps based on persona-related access policies, or even order new devices, empower employees and free up IT to focus on more business-critical projects.
A new model for new ways of working
That then leads to a new procurement process, one that allows new devices to be deployed as required, not as determined by a multi-year contract. This is where the new operating model comes in, one based on user-centric consumption. Devices become leased rather than owned outright, with 30-day agreements that allow for new employees to be rapidly provisioned with out-of-the-box hardware, rather than hand-me-downs.
It is literally device-as-a-service (DaaS); in the same way that software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions move all the responsibility for infrastructure and platform to the provider, a DaaS solution moves the hardware headaches out of the business. It leaves the challenge to distributors that know exactly how to manage thousands of devices across multiple operating systems.
For users, it’s a quality experience. For IT, it’s a removal of thousands of assets that need to be managed, tracked and budgeted for, all covered by the contract with the distributor. IT teams are again freed up to focus on more important tasks, with specialist knowledge deployed to tackle detailed problems rather than distribute laptops.
Easing the burden for faster, agile IT
Businesses that want to operate effectively in digital marketplaces need workforces with access to the right tools to do their jobs. For too long IT has been expected to deliver everything, from infrastructure right through to applications. The fact is that no single function can deliver it all. Looking at new approaches to device provision and management could not only ensure users receive the experience they expect, it could also free up IT to be more proactive, agile and focused on solving business-critical challenges.
A DaaS approach could well be the model you need to ensure your employees have the right devices to work in the way that best fits them. To find out more about this new consumption model, read our latest ebook.
Bob is a sought-after consultant, recognized for his thoughtful and insightful contributions to digital transformation and for developing the Orange virtual desktop solutions. In his spare time, Bob competes in ultramarathons and long-distance treks. His next adventure is a 300-mile Arctic race in the Yukon.