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Want IT to reduce costs and demonstrate value to the business? Combine shift left with pay-per-use


tony price.JPGBy Tony Price, World Wide Lead for Strategy and Transformation Consulting, HP Software Professional Services


“Shift left” has been around in industries like testing for a while, but it’s a relatively new concept in the service management field and certainly new to think about as a strategy. Shift left involves finding a solution that is one step simpler, and frequently faster, than the current solution. Recently every time I talk about it, people come up to me and say, “Tell me more about shift left. How can we use this with our customers?” so interest is definitely growing in this area.


By working in a shift left manner, IT can deliver better customer service by redirecting users to resolve issues and problems in the most efficient way possible. And this is the key to shift left. It’s not about using technology for the sake of technology. It’s about improving efficiency and providing better service to your customers. So shift left may actually move a client interaction to a human being if that is the most efficient way of dealing with their requirement.


Also, when shift left is combined with a pay-per-use software consumption model, it can enable IT to become more effective, reduce costs, and demonstrate value to the business.


As my colleague Michael Garrett described in a recent post, in a pay-per-use model, you pay only for the software that you use, which can give IT much more flexibility. At HP Software Professional Services, we’re trying to make software easier to consume in a way that’s aligned to the business, but that’s also very efficient.


By following this model in IT, rather than paying for different bands of licenses, IT can charge a set fee per business user per month. Customers are really interested in this model, because they can go back to the business and say, you’re using this amount of software so you pay this fee. The business can then work out where that fits into the value and where that fits into the cost of their service, so it can directly recover the cost. Depending on the maturity of the organization, there will be different consumption models that range from pure usage to fixed fee.


Shifting left on the IT service desk

To understand how a shift left strategy can help you operate more efficiently and save money in a pay-per-use scenario, consider the IT service desk. Imagine each business user can log calls on the service desk as much as she or he wants, at a fee of $10 a month per user. Straight away you can directly relate the cost of that service back to somebody in the business.


But this can soon become a painful scenario: if you’ve got a hundred users making these calls, the business is being charged a thousand per month. Shift left would say, let’s not use the service desk. Let’s move that interaction somewhere else. It could be by offering self-service, or by offering a chat service. By reducing the number of repeatable interactions, you reduce the cost, which makes it more effective for you while improving your customer service.


Use business intelligence to match solutions to user behavior

If you resort to a purely technological solution, though, that could upset people and customer service satisfaction may drop. By using business intelligence, you can predict the behavior patterns that will emerge on your service desk. Then you can monitor the actual behavior patterns and determine that you need to provide a selection of different options. It could be talking to somebody, it could be chat, or it could be directing users to a menu of frequently asked questions. To work well, your shift left strategy has to involve a combination of things.


You also need to categorize your users. Consider brokers who work on the floor trading stocks and shares. You don’t want them using self-help, because every minute they’re not trading they could be losing millions. When their IT breaks they just want to shout and have somebody come fix it fast.


By coming up with multiple solutions within your shift left strategy, profiling your user base, and then applying that to the pay-per-use consumption model, you can completely change your cost profile. You can monitor the cost profile to make sure you can afford it and that it’s actually supporting what you represent as a business.


Learn more about choice in consumption models in our recent ebook "Deliver business value."


(Tony Price has 35 years of IT experience, originally starting his career in mainframe technologies and data center operations. Tony was also an author/contributor to the ITIL® publications and has extensive experience in IT Service Management. He has personally delivered several global IT transformation projects and has a passion for delivering business outcomes.)


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