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Keeping Ops relevant—and making it better than ever


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By Tony Price, World Wide Lead for Strategy and Transformation Consulting, HP Software Professional Services


For decades, Ops has been indisputably critical to the health of the whole business. Today, as cloud providers vie for business and deliver solutions faster and cheaper, Ops can’t rest on old laurels. Discover Performance spoke with Tony Price, worldwide lead for strategy and transformational consulting at HP, in our May issue.


In this outtake, he discusses how relatively new pressures such as mobility and social collaboration are threatening Ops’ relevance to the business—unless it can grow into the kind of provider that the business wants and needs.


Q: If Ops doesn’t provide an easy way for employees to use mobile devices and engage in all of the collaborative things that come with those devices, the jobs of ops will certainly be easier. But by seemingly avoiding risk, what risks is ops actually taking?


Tony Price: The risk is irrelevance. The next generation coming into IT is driving things now at a completely different pace partly because of mobility, and the less mature IT organizations are struggling to keep up with it. The more mature organizations are seeing an opportunity and working to deliver because they know that not only does facilitating mobility and collaboration help employees from a technology perspective, but it also helps in satisfaction.


I can relate to this very personally. I’m 51 years old, and Twitter and the whole social media concept were relatively new to me a few years ago. In fact, the whole concept of collaboration was relatively new to me. My son, on the other hand, is 22 years old and works in business now, and he’s only ever grown up with technology like that around him. So he finds it appalling that IT organizations in the companies he has worked for can’t respond to his generation’s demand for that kind of technology. He wants to work with people who can respond. He thinks, “Why shouldn’t I be able to connect to my network? Why shouldn’t I be able to collaborate?”


Q: What are employees doing when they encounter that roadblock from Ops?


TP: First, they’re very dissatisfied because they don’t get the kind of service they’ve grown to expect. Big IT departments are not wise to respond and just say, “We don’t provide that.” Do they really believe people won’t find another way of doing something? They will—they’ll use their personal devices, they’ll collaborate outside of the core IT systems, and then Ops has lost control. So my view is: Welcome this change, bring it into your organization. Obviously, think about all the implications about security, but don’t—whatever you do—simply say, “There’s no need for it in our organization.” Because the youth of today will always find a new way of collaborating even in the most secure organization.


Q: So is this also a matter of attrition? The next generation of employees feels this way, but doesn’t also the next generation of IT leaders feel this way, too?


TP: Yes. I think people now are starting to see that mobility and collaboration go hand in hand. People recognize now that you can resolve things significantly faster by dropping into networks where you’ve got strong collaboration. And if you don’t recognize that, you’ll give IT a bad reputation. Look, it might take the traditional IT department days and days to diagnose a problem but you can get on some collaboration network and find the resolution within seconds? Why wouldn’t you do that?


Here’s an example. I was with a friend of mine, an IT director for a very small organization. One of his main business systems had failed, and it was during a very critical period for their business. And do you know what he did first? He tweeted. I was really surprised. I was thinking, “Who’s your supplier, what’s your support contract?” And he said to me, “Why would I be looking at the support contract? I’m connected to a local group of IT people.” Within a few seconds, he had about 96 responses to his Tweet, and 93 of them had the same answer. So he decided to try the solution that 93 people had suggested—and lo and behold, he was able to restore the app within seconds. That’s the power of collaboration.


Q: Most businesses are pretty clear that they want this kind of collaboration for their employees. And IT is increasingly at the service of the business, so why doesn’t IT embrace it?


TP: One of the things that I’m finding more and more is that IT doesn’t engage enough with the business to understand what is best for the business. That’s a big issue for us. IT organizations must have those business conversations now to work out what is absolutely appropriate for the business, and to work out a plan for how to get there rather than just saying, “We want to improve all apps, and we want to get higher levels of availability and better performance.” You need to know why, and then you need to demonstrate back to the business that you’ve actually achieved that. And then you need to demonstrate the value that’s created. Because if you don’t, you’ll quickly find that your department is no longer relevant to the business—and it won’t be long before you don’t exist. There are too many outside organizations that are happy to step in and provide those services in your place.


Read the rest of our interview with Tony Price in the current issue of Discover Performance.

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