Enterprise IT organizations have long been characterized as being bureaucratic, inflexible order-takers. Today IT is competing against a customer-centric world of unlimited external technology options. Add in explosive data growth, decreasing budgets, and increasing demands, and IT faces a seemingly insurmountable challenge to stay relevant.

Commoditized IT that’s readily available in the marketplace will always be more efficient because of its economies of scale. Instead of trying to compete against commodity solutions, IT must embrace them as part of its portfolio of IT service offerings. IT’s value does not come from commoditized skills; it comes from its intimate knowledge of the business it supports and its unique ability to leverage the right technology to enable the business to go to market faster and differentiate NetApp in the marketplace.

Reinvent IT.jpgA Vision of a ‘New’ IT

Take a look around you. Our users are already choosing their own mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to increase their own productivity. Social media has become a communications platform for sharing both opinions and information in everyday business. Users are already utilizing the computing power of the cloud to go to market faster with ideas and services because solutions are only a few clicks away. They are doing this without IT’s involvement. Gartner calls this trend the Nexus of Forces which states that four catalysts-cloud, social, mobile and information-are converging to challenge classic IT operating models.

The result of this is that IT can no longer assume that just because we are IT, business will come to us first for technology. The new IT will look very different if it wants to be considered as the premier technology provider by its business colleagues. The new IT will need to act as a portfolio manager and a broker of technology services in ensuring business adopting the right technology when solving business problems.

The new IT requires us to offer a combination of technology expertise, an honest perspective, and an understanding of the business. We will utilize our extensive IT experience to develop disciplined IT strategies that balance risk tolerances against business objectives to achieve solid results for our customers. We will differentiate ourselves by acting as a team that works in the business’ best interests. In the end, it won’t be checking off that we delivered a technology; it will be how well we perform to help business achieve results.

As IT professionals at NetApp we are on our way to achieving this new paradigm by leading with these four basic operating principles.

 

Lead with Customer

We will deliver solutions that solve customers’ problems and make it easy to do business with NetApp. This means that we will first focus on business capabilities that support our customers. The new IT will focus its energies on new and innovative ways to add value. We will apply automation and technology to improve ease and efficiency so NetApp can to go to market faster. By understanding the business needs and applying the right technologies, we will gain our customers’ trust. Some of our recent ‘lead with customer’ efforts include:

    • Enable a resilient infrastructure platform that supports the non-disruptive delivery of applications using NetApp® clustered Data ONTAP®
    • Enable shadow IT to accelerate application development at a low cost while providing operational discipline
    • Enable communications by leveraging social media, managed via policy and governance
    • Enable custom technology solutions for core processes that differentiate NetApp while automating commodity business processes with off-the-shelf or SaaS solutions

Lead with Architecture

We will partner with the business to set the future direction and prioritize technology investments against that blueprint. This will streamline technology adoption so that it aligns with NetApp’s business goals and objectives. By enabling transparency and building a partnership that follows a common roadmap, we will foster the trust required for a stable, long-term relationship. Recent examples of ‘lead with architecture’ activities include:

    • Enable prioritizing of IT investment against business goals in partnership with business leaders
    • Enable a technology roadmap by establishing a team of enterprise architects

Lead with Innovation

In the new IT we will constantly challenge the status quo to boldly go where no one has gone before. It is time to let our imaginations soar. Innovation is the cornerstone of every job in IT. At NetApp IT some ways we ‘lead with innovation’ are:

    • Enable the cloud by creating a simple decision framework to determine which business applications stay on-premises and which move to the cloud
    • Enable the discovery of unique ways to use NetApp products to solve business problems through our Customer-1 program
    • Enable the use of NetApp products and services in our global production environment, which resulted in two recent innovative solutions:
      • Ability to consolidate and manage enterprise-wide virtualization through the use of a clustered Data ONTAP transition zone
      • Improvement in nondisruptive operations by mapping business capabilities to IT assets in our data operations process by integrating NetApp® OnCommand® Insight with our configuration management database.

Transition Zone.jpg

 

Lead with People

As our business climate changes and service requirements evolve, IT will continually develop its people to fully maximize their knowledge of NetApp. The new IT will leverage this valuable experience by fostering talents in the areas of creativity, a passion for business, and the ability to be change agents. IT will train employees on “soft” skills like business acumen, communications, financial analysis, and customer service. These new skills will complement existing technical skills and experiences to help us better understand what the business needs so we can deliver the best technology solution. We ‘lead with people’ by:

    • Enable trust between IT and the business by establishing business relationship managers that understand how the business works to provide better technology solutions and ensure the technology is aligned to overall business goals and strategies
    • Enable career development opportunities that challenge the status quo and empower people to maximize their full potential
    • Enable investment in critical skills sets like problem solving, customer service, and creative thinking
    • Enable an environment that recognizes and rewards innovation and adopts automation for predictable, repetitive tasks

Staying Ahead of the Game

It’s time to reinvent IT. NetApp’s IT organization can be relevant in the face of the demands of a fast-paced, commoditized industry where external IT alternatives are increasingly attractive. As we emerge as the new IT, we will have gained the trust of our business customers so that IT is the first stop for technology solutions. Our people have the capabilities-the knowledge, the ideas, the passion, and the motivation-to understand our company’s business like no one else and allow the company to differentiate itself with its customers. Our true measure of success will come when business customers’ first thought when encountering a business problem is “Let’s talk to IT.”

The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to view learn more about the program? Visitwww.NetAppIT.com.

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MattBrown