The common feature of the last decade (and moving into the next) is the impact of digital transformation on Enterprise technology in the workplace.
However, I believe it is the ‘nature of work’ that is the driving change, NOT simply Enterprise technology.
The Enterprise is being forced to change in order to deliver the nature of work that is expected by the modern workforce. I am not alone in having discounted job opportunities because of the ‘backwards technology’ provided for the organisation’s employees.
Why we have to be consumer, not technology, focused
As consumers we are used to selecting the device/s we are most comfortable with, using the tools we prefer and, when we need a new tool, just downloading it from an app store. If it doesn’t do what we want, we try another one. This, coupled with an expectation of ‘always connected’, is driving the changes…I would argue this has been happening for the last decade.
Therefore, IT teams are no longer about managing what an employee (or contractor or partner) can have and access; they are about managing the risk, compliance, availability, performance and accessibility to the tools and services demanded by the modern workforce.
Shadow IT use is a wake-up call
If the IT team is still in the realm of trying to control their users, then ‘Shadow IT’ will ultimately win. Any organisation with a significant Shadow IT challenge is demonstrating that their IT team is failing the business.
This democratisation of IT not only presents a threat to the IT budget (with a significant percentage of ‘IT spend’ coming from outside of the IT department) but, most importantly, to IT security. The statement “you can’t protect what you can’t see” is often used here. Don’t try and stop Shadow IT—you’ll drive it further into the shadows—try to understand why there is a need. Educate and empower business users with the appropriate tools and services.
Evergreening is essential in building a digital workplace fit for the next decade
The move to evergreening through Windows 10 (and indeed iOS devices) has now reached critical pace due to the end of life of Window 7. A recent article from ComputaCenter explains why the large resellers are all experiencing growth in this area.
“Customers are not only looking to deal with the challenge of Windows 7 end of life, they're also looking at it as an opportunity to drive a new digital workplace with the right collaboration techniques, the right ways to enable their business further and get more from the data and the information they have within the boundaries of their building.”
“Coming to buildings, we're seeing building rationalisation, which is another driver for that modern workplace: it gives them an opportunity to step back, and in doing that we've seen more diverse ecosystems, with significant growth in non-Windows platforms, especially around Apple.“
Continuous team development to keep up with rapid and continued change
Evergreening is not just about software, hardware and systems; the rate of technology advance requires evergreening of skills. In the past, refreshing a certification every 3-5 years via a formal course was sufficient to remain relevant and effectual. Now, the rate of change is exponential (look at the rate of releases/features on AWS alone) so identifying which capability can offer business value and then successfully exploiting that capability is an ongoing task. Employee training, skills and education becomes a continuous activity as opposed to a ‘point in time on a development plan’. This is termed ‘continuous learning’.
When I first built an AWS team back in 2015, they were targeted on NOT being utilised more than 80% of their week. The remainder was set for ‘experimentation and learning’; they even had a $100 per month budget per person to use on AWS services as part of that. This sort of commitment to learning, coupled with access to online learning environments such as Cloud Academy, ensures you are investing in your teams and in turn they will invest their skills in your business.
In terms of the biggest challenge facing IT teams, I think it's more around recruiting and retaining the talent with the skills they need. For IT professionals it’s keeping pace with the new technologies, tools and demand for innovation, and therefore developing the necessary skills to deliver.