The difference between a good technology provider and a great one is the recognition that it takes far more than just technology to deliver business impact. It takes people.
In a previous blog, I outlined the multiple approaches you can take to deploy enterprise content management (ECM) “your way” in the cloud — like on premise, public, private, hybrid, and combinations of each. Equally important is a cloud strategy that considers all the people involved across your cloud services or IT organization, and how you want to make the most of your IT human resources.
Just as there are many cloud deployment options, there are an equal number of professional managed service options you can choose from to determine who handles what aspects of your ECM cloud management. Thought-leading CIOs and technologists often begin this determination by considering how the IT team is structured today, the inventory of skillsets, and what it is moving toward in the future.
Defining Your IT Roles
The enterprise is already amidst disruption that is significantly impacting the IT role. Digitization and automation are helping remove the more tedious elements of IT management. As a Harvard Business School study notes, the business expects technical solutions at a much faster speed, and users are rapidly self-selecting their own tools. Especially in sectors like sales and marketing, cloud has taken off for tasks like CRM and pipeline management, with IT brought in only when more cross-app data integration becomes a requirement.
These drivers need to be considered in how they shape your human resources. What looks like the IT department today may have nothing in common in how you expect to be in 24 to 36 months, let alone over the next year. Understanding your team dynamics is a good step toward formulating your cloud managed service strategy, because your ECM provider is essentially an extended part of your team.
Handing Off All IT Management
For organizations shifting their IT to strategic and innovative work, handing off content management in the cloud to specialized experts may be the best option. Leaving the entire solution stack to your provider, including the platform and all of its management, can free up your teams. Instead of procuring hardware, and configuring and optimizing the infrastructure, platform and application (not to mention ensuring the platform and virtualization software work seamlessly), your teams can focus on delivering the added value a digital business will need to gain competitive advantage.
We currently see a growing number of customers choosing our EMC Managed Service OnDemand model, for example, where a team of EMC experts fully manages a customer’s content management environment. These customers have decided to shift their IT team’s attention to prioritized innovation and strategic initiatives versus maintaining and supporting ECM solutions.
We find that customers are actually quite elated to hand over the full management of their ECM solution, especially to the same experts that built the software. From our customer’s perspective, they would rather leave the tasks of management, operation and maintenance of ECM to specialists who can execute the work quickly and easily behind the scenes. Delegating this work not only alleviates the customer’s on-going hassles of operating and keeping the stack current, but it also checks off another box on their requirements list – ensuring the optimal system performance they need to deliver an uncompromised experience and delight end users.
Delegating Everything Except the Application (OnDemand Services)
In other cases, however, a complete solution stack hand-off simply isn’t feasible, even if the customer’s IT organizational role is moving toward service brokering. There may be circumstances where it makes sense for customers to solely maintain management of their application, yet offload management of the rest – the underlying ECM software and platform software, hardware infrastructure and data center operations.
For example, when customers have complex customizations they are not yet ready to simplify, they may want to maintain on-going management control over the application. In this situation, they don’t mind leaving the underlying component management of the ECM Software — like virtualization, DBMS, security, compute and storage, and cooling and power management — to ECM experts through an OnDemand service.
Why? Because it ensures the ECM software is fully optimized, upgraded and patched on a timely basis by ECM experts. And the underlying platform software and infrastructure are proficiently managed. All of this happens without impact to their internal team resources, and while keeping control over their highly customized (and likely very sensitive) application.
Leaving Application and Platform Management to the Experts (Application Managed Services)
There is one other cloud managed service use case we see among our customer base, which is somewhat the reverse approach of OnDemand described directly above. (As I’ve noted in prior blogs, there are many different cloud approaches customers can choose from, and the same is true for diverse service types to manage those clouds!)
Rather than keeping the “top layer” task of application management in-house while delegating the rest of stack management to ECD, some customers choose to keep managing the “lower layers” instead. They may have infrastructure that is shared, or systems that are already touched on a daily basis anyway by in-house staff, driving this choice to keep underlying routine tasks with their existing maintenance teams.
They’re Only Human
In addition to these service options and your team skillsets, consider as well the unique motivations and drivers that help your team develop and grow. Some IT experts would rather work on new innovations rather than perform software maintenance. Other teams are currently heavy with maintenance team skillsets, while trying to move toward new service creation skills. Bear the important human factor in mind.
You may want your service provider to be less hands-on now, but increasingly take the reins as you continue to develop and grow your in-house team’s strategy and innovation capabilities. Or you may have a star in-house lead with such strong maintenance
competencies and passion, that switching out that set of work makes little sense.
Don’t Forget End Users
Besides your IT people, there are of course important end user communities. These are the people who count on your ECM software, who need to trust the technology and use it frequently, if not on a daily basis. They expect always-on functionality, and will judge most content management cloud services by whether they expedited or simplified their daily work routines.
Consider how and if these communities will be impacted as you determine the IT resourcing side of the equation. Will your service provider specialists manage solution stacks better and more cost-effectively than in-house teams? Do they know the ins and outs to deliver better performance or end user response time? If new end users demand different requirements, can outsourced professional services implement the changes faster or with less risk of service disruption?
On the contrary, do strict and complicated end user security policies make it easier to manage certain aspects internally? Are there legal or compliance reasons for prioritizing one end user community over another, impacting who should manage it? Business culture and organizational norms can impact cloud success. As you drive toward increased cost savings, agility to quickly adapt to changing business demands, and rapid time-to-value that cloud can deliver—bear all of this in mind.
Finally, as you select your content management solution and its delivery model and service options, don’t forget the most important factor – the people. Both those who manage your cloud and those who benefit from it play a role in getting the most from your IT investment.
Is your organization ready to let go of the reins and let ECM experts manage your content management solution(s)? What service option makes sense for your organization?