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Upside down and inside out: Welcome to the era of service-led IT

Andrea_Shumaker

Guest post: Matt Foley, Director, Solutions and Technology, HPE EMEA

 

In my interactions with the market I run across customers, partners, and competitors all struggling to grasp what has happened over the last few years to our existing IT ecosystem. It all used to be straightforward: We built computers and related infrastructures, marketed our products based on the attributes of that infrastructure, and our customers then used the infrastructure to support whatever applications needed supporting in a relatively stable manner. That was the benefit of standardizing parts of the IT ecosystem, which evolved further to encompass a sales channel to handle inventory, payments consolidation, and customer engagement and support. The IT ecosystem was vast, and customers relied upon specialists to whittle down the universe of choices into something useful for their particular niche of economic activity.

Fast-forward to today. Due to the proliferation of consumer technology, the average business IT consumer is far more technology-aware than his predecessor. Application expectations are no longer set by experienced IT teams, but experiences available on ubiquitous smartphones. This development has implications across the entire IT market, and in particular for the customers who need IT and the resellers who provide it. Some have claimed that the "channel," as it was, no longer needs to exist. However, I reject the notion that significant portions of the customer population are ready to navigate the universe of services as a full-time occupation. Rather, I expect that IT customers still need that aggregation and advisory level of service that IT resellers have always offered, if only in passing.

Just browsing an application store or catalog will provide anyone ample – overwhelming, really – evidence that some assembly is required. And as more and more IT procurements shift from building an infrastructure to consuming a service, the level of detail required to understand and consume services is all of a sudden bigger than the universe of infrastructure options we worked with in the past. Ergo, customers will need much more advice, help, options, and general hand-holding in order to make better long-term decisions about which services they should use regularly to support their economic activity.Two men...reviewing doc.jpg

So the game has changed, but the players remain the same - the vendors vendors, the resellers, and the customers. The difference is in the topic: Rather than infrastructure expertise, customers are now much more willing to pay for someone to unscramble the services universe to their benefit. Partners who see this opportunity quickly realize that the world we inhabit has been turned completely upside down: Rather than selling infrastructure based on generic capabilities, we now have to know specifics about a service and either provide it from a third party, or derive the infrastructure to support it. Industry participants without significant, specific knowledge of applications (or, more precisely, software services) will cease to exist.

In order to facilitate this new perspective, it is important to support the creation of meaningful, differentiated services that can be offered in creative and custom ways. It is for that purpose that Cloud28+ exists … we firmly believe that while interest in service consumption is high, that the excitement of engagement will surely turn into the drudgery of ongoing attention and maintenance. And, furthermore, that the ongoing evaluation and maintenance of the services estate will soon become a time-sink. That distracting world needs management, and it is precisely the management of that services universe where forward-thinking partner organizations will invest in order to offer more relevant, useful, differentiated, low-maintenance services engagements to their customers.


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About the Author

Andrea_Shumaker

I manage communications and enablement activities for Cloud28+. Previously, I was the marketing communications manager for HPE's Hybrid IT group in EMEA. I have a keen interest in community-driven technology innovation. Follow me at @AndreaGarcia31

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