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10 ways IT can prepare for an industrial revolution

Glenn O'Donnell, Forrester Research | Feb. 25, 2011
IT must industrialize infrastructure and operations -- and IT workers must be taught to abandon their love affair with complexity, says Forrester's Glenn O'Donnell. Consider these 10 pieces of advice on how to do it right.

5. Listen to your customer. One of the main causes of consumer dissatisfaction is improper communication between the service producer and service consumer. When deciding what services to include, ask customers what they need and negotiate with them about pricing, performance, and features.

6. Practice sound systems engineering. A business service should be a single entity rather than just a collection of parts. I&O teams should take a systems approach and enforce collaboration across different IT groups.

7. Automate everything you can. The goal of industrialization is always to hide the complexity from the observer, so while automation might exacerbate complexity beneath the surface, it provides a layer of insulation between the complexity and the observer. And the less complication consumers have to deal with, the more satisfied they will be with the services.

8. Source from others what you shouldn't do yourself. Strategic rightsourcing is gaining popularity among I&O professionals. This more targeted form of outsourcing has clear service definitions and will be largely governed online. I&O teams should invest in the appropriate web services to aide with strategy and use automation to avoid unnecessary outsourcing.

9. Alter institutional behaviors. The only effective way to promote widespread organizational change is to combine strong incentives with strong penalties — the classic carrot and stick approach of reward and punishment. Incentives should be tied to business outcomes and key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure productivity, quality, and flexibility of services. Penalties for members who resist adapting should include education and leadership guidance, and even termination when necessary for the progress of the organization.

10. Seek continual improvement. At the core of industrialization strategies is the need to continually measure quality and adapt processes to ensure improvement. In the world of I&O, ITIL v3 introduced continual service improvement (CSI) best practices, can be used as a foundation for your own industrialization.

Like all previous phases of industrialization, the outcome of this disruption will be a new set of leaders. By adhering to principles and maintaining adaptability, these leaders will become long-lasting, dominant forces. This is classic Darwinian survival. Choose to adapt and you will be a formidable power. Otherwise, you become extinct.


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