The Exciting (and Surprising) Future of IT
July 25, 2018
Kevin J. Smith | Senior Vice President | Ivanti
IT Summer School Series
The role of IT as a leader in the business is very different than how IT has been seen in the past. The business needs the leadership of IT more than ever. As IT professionals, we will be part of a remarkable transformation of IT over the next decade. This will change virtually all of what we do. Join Kevin as he dives into the factors that are driving these changes and how you can rise and extend your career in the midst of the changes.
In this webinar, we will explore:
- What changes to expect
- What we can do now to be ready
- How IT will undergo these changes while at the same time remaining true to the fundamentals of IT
Erica: Hi, everybody. Welcome to our webinar. If you missed the beginning introduction, I just wanted to remind you, if you're having any audio issues, go ahead and dial in and that should fix any problems you're having. If you have any questions on how to dial in, feel free to send us a message in the chat and I can give you the numbers and show you how to do that. And with that, let's get started, Kevin.
Kevin: Thank you, Erica. Can you hear me okay?
Kevin: Okay, great. Everybody, again, thanks for joining us. Good morning and good afternoon. We know we have callers coming in from everywhere. I'm Kevin Smith with Ivanti and a warm welcome to our second installment of our Ivanti Summer School Series. We hope you guys are having a great summer. Surprisingly, we're in the middle of summer, so this is the second of a series of three. This is the July installment, at the peak of summer. And I would ask that you mark your calendars and remember to join us on August 29th, not that far away now, for our final episode of the Summer School Series. That's going to be a fun session on AI, and the growing role and evolving role of AI in any IT organization.
For today, we're going to take on what I think is a very fun topic. I can't think of anything more fun than looking at the future of IT. It is exciting and I think there will be a few surprises as well. I know all of you are thinking about this as IT professionals. Something very much on our mind.
So one more reminder that before we get started to send in your questions as we go. We're going to queue those up just in managing the audio for the call. We'll queue those up and take a look at some of the questions as we get to the end. I'm going to keep a brisk pace as we go through this. We know how busy you guys are, I'm not going to run a full hour. So we'll talk for about 30 minutes or so, and then take on a few questions, and try to give you guys back a few minutes of your day.
So with that, I wanted to touch on four things today. One thing is just give you a little bit of context in how our world has changed. Our world has certainly changed a great deal. Some of those things we're all aware of, some of those things have snuck up on us a bit, but the change in our world has everything to do with changes in IT. Because we as IT professionals are very much at the crossroads of the business and how the business is getting pulled in different directions by technology, by data, by what has changed in the global marketplace and much, much more.
So I'll give you some examples of that because I think it's really important to consider some of those changes when we look at what's happening with the rebirth of IT. I would propose that IT has always been changing, and IT will always continue to change, but we're going through a period of accelerated change. I think, a period of change and the pace of which is unlike anything we've seen in the 30 year history of IT. And yes, it's true for those of you veterans out there. It's true that we've been doing this for 30 years now, if not a little bit longer.
And it's one thing that is keeping IT fun and new and exciting is that there's always new technology. There are always new challenges. And for the purposes of today, we're going to look at those with kind of a view those through the lens of how it's impacting IT and how we're going to have to change IT just over the next 10 years. And I want to focus on 10 years because if we say over the next 25 years, that's a really long time. The next year, much will change, but we just can't get everything done in the next year. So I think a lot of this change will happen in the next two to five years, kind of the fast track items, but we're going to see a dramatic shift in IT. And I would propose that the next 10 years will see us change more than we have in the past 30 years combined.
So I'm going to do something very daring, something I want to do in the order of making the best use of your time and recognizing that we have a lot on our mind so I'm going to keep it simple. And I'm going to describe the future of IT in 10 words. Well, of course, I have the right... I'm going to reserve the right to describe each of these, but each of the things I introduce, I love countdowns. I love lists. So I'm going to share with you my list for today, which is the top 10 things that are changing IT. And then we'll talk about each of those for a few minutes and then again, send us your questions and we'll get to those. And as always, don't hesitate to contact us after the formal section today because we always want to hear from you and we always love to hear your thoughts and ideas, and what you agree with, what you might disagree with. And at the end, I'm going to share with you my email address and my Twitter information so you can…we can continue the dialogue beyond today, and then, a few thoughts, at the end, on what's next.
So with that, let's jump right in. And I mentioned this context so, hey, let's look at the IT of yesterday, the IT that we've always loved, the IT that brought us to where we are today in this journey, in this marvelous journey that we're enjoying together. So we are very technology-centric. That was sort of the birth of IT is all these technology was pouring into the business. And you might remember going back a ways mainframes and many printers, which have always been part of our life.
Cell phones made an appearance 10 or 15 years ago. But back then, in the beginning, we had to telephony, we had office systems. But there's always been technology and with technology, we recognize that we needed technology experts that knew specific technologies to help keep our business productive, to help keep the organization and our wonderful people productive. And so as such, we tended to have these experts that were very specialized. They had very local domains and we had experts that knew those mainframes. Or knew the many, if you can remember, the Vax [SP], for example, it had a huge influence on business 20 years ago. Portable computers made their appearance. Laptops began to make their appearance.
And as such, we had these specific pain points and it was very natural for us to focus on these pain points. And to a degree, that is how the culture of IT was shaped is these experts that had a very specific domain of understanding on these specific pain points. Because there were so much to know about these technologies and many of them were so new, we couldn't know everything about all these technologies. We were very focused in our scope.
And I think that's a good way to describe it. Because whether it was the data center or whether it was computing resources or whether it was phone systems or printers or security, the birth of the Help Desk, which occurred 20, 25 years ago, and managing increasing number of endpoints, that has always been our model and it was a very understandable, very natural and very necessary model.
Now, we've always had our tools. In the beginning and even today, we have some manual tools. The good news is, is our tools have become more sophisticated, our tools have become more automated, our tools have become more advanced, but we still have tools nonetheless that help us manage our daily work and get our jobs done. And so we continue to leverage those tools today. So we'll talk about that more. And again, the good news is the evolution of those tools is very much accelerating.
And then because we had all this people stuff going on, and a lot of what I've described is people stuff, we certainly had technology and the people were moving forward hand in hand with technology, we built an organizational model around all that stuff, around our experts, around our technology, around our tools. And that is, in just two or three minutes, that is kind of what shaped the IT organization and the IT people of today. And now whether you want to call it very functional-driven or whether you want to call it silo-driven, that is what we've had.
And so now we have global markets that are changing everything that we do. We are very, very much living in a mobile lifestyle. We have cloud which has gone from a new and somewhat unknown technology of 10 years ago to something has become more accepted, better understood. We have increasingly sophisticated security threats. We have the need for a personalized service. We have speed that is becoming strategic to us. We have a blurring of our personal lives with our professional lives and our business lives.
Now, again, in every one of these things, there's a vast story that is fascinating. We're not going to have the time today to take those things on AI. AI is going to help to reshape IT, the world of IT, machine learning, deep learning, AI, automation, intelligent assistance and much, much more. We're really at the beginning of what is likely to be a 10 to 15 years ascension of AI in the IT organization.
And the interesting thing is, is that if we just go back 5 to 10 years, how many of these 8 items, if I'm counting correctly, would have been at the forefront of our discussion just 5 years ago or 10 years ago? Most of them would not. Well, we have issues today that simply were not issues for us as IT professionals just a few years ago, but now this is the stuff that we're thinking about. These security threats and what we have to do to protect the business, what we have to do in compliance and governance. How we manage these mobile devices that are exploding.
AI becoming real, I think for the first time. Yes, we talked about it 10 years ago, but how real was AI and how it could help us every day. You know, all that stuff just wasn't front and center for us. We were focused on other things, but that is the context of today. And all of these elements are powerful individually, but they're all colliding to drive this accelerated evolution of IT.
These are the forces. And I've mentioned eight just because I ran out of room on my slide. I could have mentioned 25 of these powerful forces that are now carrying as forward and I think they're sweeping us forward. And this unstoppable force that is what is going to reshape how we think every day, how we act every day and reshape the IT organization of the next 10 years.
So I wanted to give you that background because this is not going to shock you. I mean, you're very much aware of these things as IT professionals. If you're listening on our call today, it's very likely that you're working in IT every day or very close to IT every day. This is what we're thinking about. Now, I haven't even touched on demand in customers and how competitive the marketplace has become, and how business must leverage technology like it never has before.
And if business is not leveraging technology and being great at technology, business is not going to thrive and business might not even survive. And we're seeing businesses fail, traditional market powerhouses simply disappearing. So that is what's on our mind. That is the context. So let's move forward.
And if I can get my... There we go. There's always the danger that I'll mess up the WebEx, so just bear with me. So let's go to the top 10. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to go count down from 10 to 1. Some of these things are going to be no surprise to you, but I'm going to talk about each of them in turn. Some of them... There might be a few things on my list that are a bit of a surprise. And I know you guys are incredibly smart so I don't expect all 10 of these things to be news to you. But what I do hope is that you'll take away one or two things that maybe you weren't thinking about before. Maybe cause you just think a little bit differently about what we have to be doing in the next few years to realign IT for what's going to happen.
And I'll give you a disclaimer. I'm in beautiful New York City. I'm sitting high above the streets of Midtown Manhattan. And if a fire truck drives by or an ambulance drives by, well, you'll know what's going on. It doesn't mean our building's on fire, it just means that I'm sharing with you part of the wonderful sounds and culture of New York City.
So number 10, entrepreneurial. Would you have used the word entrepreneurial to describe IT in the past? No, probably not. Probably not, but increasingly, it is going to be entrepreneurial because IT is so much at the center. I would say even more so IT is at the heartbeat of the business over the next 10 years and increasingly, that's the case. So we have to think, we have to kind of think along the lines of this great duality of, yes, we are technology experts. Yes, we are the stewards of technology and the stewards of data, but increasingly, we're thinking like business people. We are thinking like partners. We're thinking about, how can we help to reshape the very fabric of our business and helping it to leverage technology and leverage information?
And in doing so, here are a couple of questions because this is, you know, this is kind of an abstract term, we need to be thinking about, okay, how do we make the business more successful? What can we do as IT professionals to better support key business owners? And that can even include an outreach program where we go to business owners, and we go to people in the business that we know are driving the business in any organization and say, you know, "Hey, we'd like to talk about how we help you do your job better. Tell us about what you're going to be doing that's new in the next 12 to 24 months and we can help. Because chances are no matter what you're doing in the business, it is relying on technology."
I also like the idea of how we improve the user experience. We're going to talk about several themes throughout this that keep popping up. And that's one of them is, if we make the customer experience better and if we make our user experiences better inside and outside the business, everybody's happy. Everything gets better. So just add that to the daily dialogue of IT is we got to think like entrepreneurs and those are skills we're going to be bringing into the business.
Of course, we can't go hire a lot of new people but, for example, if we do have a new rack or if we're even doing a backfill, we have to think a little more broadly about the skills that we want to bring into IT and this is one of them. All these are important by the way. And I mean no disrespect to number 10 here, our thought on entrepreneurial, by the way, that is not an easy word to spell. I actually had to go to the dictionary to get that spelling right. I didn't want to start off our top 10 list with a misspelled word.
Okay. Number nine, communicative. Yes, I know that as IT people, communication is not necessarily our sweet spot. It's not something we necessarily might think we're great at. I would say you're probably better at it than you think, but we have to be more naturally inclined to communicate because so much in the business is relying on us, so much information that's coming from the technology, from the IT estate, from data, from our security systems, from the services we deliver, the world needs to know about that. The business needs to know about that. Our partners and the business need to know about that.
Now the good news is, is that back in the day, any communication tended to be like a long email or a memo. Do you guys remember the days of memos? Amazing. Paper memos that would go around the office, written activity reports. And that kind of stuff seems kind of crazy now because that communication model was more formal. It was more infrequent. It was more structured. It was long. All that stuff has gone away. We now understand there's a better way to communicate. And the better way to communicate is short, frequent, informal, honest, open, transparent. That's how we want to communicate.
Now, social media has had an impact all of us, on our personal lives and more and more on our professional lives. And one of the good things, I mean, you could make an argument about the upside and the downside of social media like any powerful force, it has advantages and disadvantages. But one thing I like is that it has shown us there's a better way to communicate. Text, how many of us utilize texting in our personal lives? Well, I mean, I would say virtually all of us do because it's easy, it's convenient, it's fast, it's short.
All of that is having an influence on how we communicate at work, how we communicate in business, how we communicate as professionals. So what I'm suggesting here is that as part of your natural day, the natural structure of your work day, we're going to do more communicating in IT. Both inside of IT and outside of IT to encourage this dialogue that is going to be more and more frequent, more and more informative, but it can be comfortable. It can be informal. It can be natural. And, you know, social for IT. We have chat features that are coming into IT, all kinds of new technology, but just think in terms of how you share.
More often, sharing is a great concept for us and how IT is going to share across IT. But also share with the business important updates, new things that are happening, new systems that are coming online, upgrades that are happening, anything that's happening. I guarantee you, never underestimate the interest that the business has and IT has in new things that are happening. And the cool thing is that we have our hands on that stuff. As IT professionals, we are the stewards of this technology and technology has become so wrapped into everything we do in the business. Guess what? With that, everybody cares. But, you know, everybody cares what we're doing.
So don't underestimate the power of a little communication, and don't underestimate your own abilities to communicate. Even if we would call ourselves introverts or call ourselves not naturally social, I'd bet there is just all kinds of great ideas and thoughts that you're ready to share, and you will in the years ahead within IT and all across the organization.
Okay, number eight, cross-functional. Yes, we gave you this context, I started talking about how focused we were in historical IT and the wonderful history of IT. How we grew up with domain experts and functional experts, and how this cultivated a model that was more localized, more functional, more silo-based. Well, that was then and this is now. And over time and just over the next few years, we're going to start to do things more cross-functionally. And here's the reason. The reason is, is that when we do things cross-functionally, we think about our work differently. We make better decisions. We have a more balanced perspective.
When you take these elements of IT, the traditional elements of IT, it could be the data center, it could be security, it could be governance and compliance, it could be the Service Desk, it could be the client team, the server team, endpoint management, the PMO, the list goes on and on. But these primary functions of IT have not always worked closely together. When we formed the new teams, these teams were often a mirror of our silos or of our elements or of our primary organizational structures.
More and more, we're going to work cross-functionally, and more and more we have to be thinking about don't do things as a single element. Don't do things within a single silo. Everything we do, and I'm going to talk about this more later. I'm going to propose a specific model. But when we mobilize a new team, when we mobilize a new initiative, we need to bring some of these elements together. We should be doing everything in the future with three or four or five of the primary IT elements, the primary IT silos working together.
Because what's going to happen is when you get... Think of it in these terms, experts working with experts. Yeah, an expert working on their own, they're probably going to do great work and they're probably going to be productive. But we go to a whole another level when we bring three or four or five or six experts together and unite them around a common cause. Unite them around, "Hey, we're going to deploy this new system in 12 months. Let's start getting ready for that." "Hey, the Board of Directors has announced a new organizational initiative for 2019 and IT plays a key role in that and we're going to form a team, a tiger team." I'm going to use that term few times because I like that. That's a lean, mean, small team focused on getting something done that's important to the organization, make it cross-functional.
We got to do everything cross-functional, in a cross-functional way. This needs to become natural because we just get a better result. We just think more in a more balanced way, we move faster, we're more in tune with the business and we begin to bring IT together. A big part of our future is going to be bringing it together to create more leverage and to create more speed. And this is one way we can do that is by working cross-functionally. And then once we start that, we have to be those agents of change, we have to do that ourselves from within IT. And once we've started to do this, it's just going to become natural and we will all look back on the heads down isolated silo model of the past and be amazed that we ever worked that way. Yeah, there are 100 good reasons why we did that, but today is a new day and we are seeing the dawn of a new model.
Okay, that was number eight. Now, number seven. Yes, personal. You're reading that right. So much of what we've done in IT in the past was kind of optimized around the efficiencies and optimizing costs and optimizing staffing. And because of that, we had a lot of pressure on those metrics and IT was not able to be personal. It was really not in our discussion. It was really not on our shortlist of the critical things on the IT agenda.
IT was fundamentally impersonal, but that too is changing. And I would see, I clearly see a place, a really important place for being personal for us as an IT team going forward. And the reason is that it makes everybody better. It's going to make our employees better when we deliver more personalized services to our employees and then this circle of influences grows. And what we do for the internal organization then ripples and to value that we can deliver to our customers.
I don't care what you do, what type of an organization you're in, we all have customers. We all have an organization that we serve that we can call the organization proper, the internal constituents. And then we have a client out there, a client that consumes our services, a client that consumes our products. And again, it doesn't matter if it's higher education. If you're government and supporting citizens, if it's healthcare operating a hospital or delivering a service, manufacturing, retail, consumer goods, legal services, real estate, the technology. The list goes on and on. All of us deliver a product or a service or both to customers.
And what I'm suggesting here is that IT can become an engine of more personalized service. And then that has this huge influence on the organization and will ultimately reach all the way to our customers and to our clients. Because when we enable the organization, when we enable the business to be more personal, we are then setting the business up, the organization up to be more personal to deliver more personalized service to our clients. This is a chain of dependencies that we should never underestimate.
And by the way, we need to start this. This needs to be coming from IT. We don't want to wait until the business or the organization comes to us and says, "Hey, we've got to be more personal." We want to get ahead of this issue. And that's kind of a lifestyle change that is an important part of us looking at the future of IT and that is getting ahead of this stuff. We're going to be more proactive. We are going to start getting ahead of issues versus waiting for issues to hit us over the head. That's a lifestyle change. That's a cultural change, and never underestimate culture. Culture is going to have an incredible and powerful influence over what we do going forward.
So start that now, start thinking about, "How can we get more personal? How do we accommodate preferences? How do we know the history of each individual? How do we know each individual that's consuming our services, leveraging our assets? How do we know more about them?" Those are the questions to ask. And we start asking ourselves those questions, everything starts to change.
Number six, passionate. Oh my goodness. We have got to bring more passion into IT. This is, I would say that, you know, work is incredibly fulfilling some days. It can be incredibly challenging some days. We never know what lies ahead of us. But with passion, we can overcome anything. And IT is another unlikely birthplace of passion, but we can make it happen. I mean, this is on us. This is on us together to bring more passion to what we do every day and it's incredibly contagious. When you bring more passion to what you're doing every day, the people will, they will notice and they will want to be part of that.
And, hey, let's change the perception of IT. And that's part of what we have to do is as IT professionals, we have to do some things that are going to surprise the business. They're going to surprise the organization. And if we start showing more passion, we start showing more conviction, people notice that and that is another thing that is highly contagious. Passion is incredibly contagious. By the way, apathy is contagious too, and we just can't have any tolerance for that. We can't accept the apathy in any form.
And I know the job of IT can be hard and we get people calling us telling us stuff is broken. We hear from the organization that things are not the way they want them to be with systems or technology or availability. I mean, that's okay. That's okay. We can handle that. But that doesn't mean it can take our passion away. So let's take our passion to a whole new level in 2018. Let's put it on our list of priorities for 2019 and beyond, and let's make this a fundamental part of culture.
And as we go through this list, you'll see that a lot of these things are cultural. Our top 10 list for what the future of IT looks like, because we simply can't fundamentally change IT without changing our culture. Where culture takes us and so shall go the organization and the business. And so be thinking about these things and that we got to, I mean, we would all agree that we have to continue to be great with technology, we have to continue to be stewards of protecting the business, securing the business and delivering services, but that's not enough. That is not enough. We have to do these other things, too, by thinking about how to be a great partner, being more passionate.
Okay, that was the first five. That went pretty fast. You guys still with me? I hope so. So that was our first five. Now let's go and take a look at five down through one and then I'm going to have some final thoughts and we'll take some questions.
Number five, automated. Boy, this is going to change our life. More and more, we have we have awesome tools that can help us. If you go back even four or five years ago, automation tools were much more limited. We may have wanted to automate what we do every day but we weren't getting enough help from our technology, but the tools are fantastic. I feel strongly about this because I think, for example, Ivanti automation tools, it's a focus of our strategy and the tools are very rich. But lots of organizations out there offering good tools in many different kinds of markets and we have to start to automate.
And I'm going to give you several examples of why. And we know how to do this. We know that we perform many tasks in IT every day that are very predictable, that are very well understood, that are very repeatable and those things need to be automated. If I asked each of you, "What percent of your daily work product in IT is automated? What percent of your daily business process is automated?" I normally hear things like 10% or 20%. Yes, some but not a majority of our work. Well, my friends, we're going to make a big push over the next 3 to 5 years and we're going to get to 90% and beyond in what we automate.
That does not mean that we're taking humanity out of this. If anything, it's going to make humanity more valuable, because we're offloading some of that repetitive stuff allowing automation to handle that so we can take our wonderful and talented people, and let them focus on what humanity does best. And that's beyond the scope of today's call. But I'm going to talk about that humanity and technology relationship at lengths in our August 29th session. So I hope you can join me for that.
But we have to be more automated and there are so many benefits to that. More consistent execution, more speed, more velocity, allowing people to focus more on great new ideas. How do we innovate? How do we get more personal? You'll notice that many of these things are closely related. So you got to have automation initiatives in place today. And if you don't, we need to focus on those because automation is fundamentally going to be part of what changes IT. And the good news is that technology is ready for us. The technology is there and workflow tools and automation tools and business rule tools, AI, increasingly intelligent assistance, and the list goes on and on and on and on.
So my proposal is that we've got to get to 90% of our work product has to be automated in the next 5 years. That may seem like a big number, but I'm confident we can get there. With the tools that we have, and with a good people that we have and just with our focus on automation, it's going to help change everything.
Number four, easy. Wow, easy is incredibly powerful. Now, again, this is another concept in IT that we may not have focused on in the past and people may not have used the word easy to describe systems but we have to make any system of IT easier to use. It's just got to be easy. Everybody loves Easy. Easy is charismatic. Easy is sexy. And don't underestimate the value of sexy in what we do.
We've got to be thinking about that experience of anybody anywhere. Think about that for a minute. Anybody anywhere that touches an IT system, that touches one of our systems, that touches our technology, that utilizes our data, how do we make that easy?
Because when we do that, everybody does a better job. We save people time. We make people fundamentally reevaluate how they work every day. Think about the things that we naturally gravitate to in our personal lives. It's probably the stuff that's easy because easy is liberating. Easy makes every experience better. It makes it richer. Easy makes us smile. How many things make us smile? By the way, I would say in IT we need to smile more. If you're sitting at your desk, or you're in a car, you're listening to this session today, now how often do you smile in an average day as an IT professional?Don't underestimate the power of a smile in changing the perceptions of IT. We should be having more fun.
And that brings us back to easy. So no, I haven't gotten way off track although I'm capable of that, but think in terms of the fun in IT, and easy is fun. Easy is very appealing. So think about how we make everything that is done every day with systems IT easier, and easier is the road to easy. It's a very, very powerful concept.
Fast. I've already touched on this a couple of times because I couldn't help myself, but fast and strategic. When we get a little bit faster, that doesn't change our life. But when we get a lot faster, when we take a quantum leap forward with speed, it does start to change everything. It's going to change the business. And that is a key relationship because we have to make everything in IT fast so the business and the organization can be faster because that is a new competitive differentiator. Because our customers and our future customers, they expect that everything they do will be faster. Nobody likes to wait.
We live in a market, we live in an age of immediate gratification. People can't stand to wait. And that's why we're seeing all these social changes. We're seeing all these cultural changes. And that too has to be reflected in the cultural shift of IT. Fast. And so I'm going to invoke my 90-90 rule here, which is 90% automated and 90% faster in the next 5 years by 2023. Everything we do in IT has to be done in 10% or less of the time.
And we have to focus on this automation level reaching 90%, which is 90% of the work product and business process of IT today will be automated so that we can leverage humanity. Humanity, our great people, our talented people can't just be trying to keep up. We want to leverage their expertise and their incredible talents. So think in terms of speed and think in terms of how you achieve that 90-90 threshold.
Innovative. If there is an engine in business that has to be created in the next few years to make sure that your organization as a market leader, your organization is thriving, we must innovate. And what I'm suggesting here is that IT can be a new and maybe a somewhat unlikely center of innovation. And the reason we can do it is because IT has got their hands on technology. IT is close to the data. IT takes new technology and deploys it into the business. IT is building new systems for the future. All of that as a natural complement to innovation.
And so be thinking about how we innovate and we're going to bring new great ideas, innovative ideas to the organization, to the business. And that will be yet another thing that reshapes how the organization sees IT. We've got to assign people to this. And that's one reason why automation is so important because then we can begin to automate some of what we do and automate now an additional 20% of what we do every day, an additional 30%, an additional 50% of what we do on top of what we're doing today, it starts to save us precious time.
And with that time, we are going to take our people, our talented people, our knowledgeable people and we're going to have them spend part of their day and part of the week on innovating, on creating crazy ideas. Most innovative ideas come from an idea that…most innovations come from a crazy idea that when we first heard it, we thought, "That's nuts. That's crazy. We could never do that." Well, not all of those are going to make it to reality, but some of them will. And most innovation started with a crazy idea.
We need more of those in IT. We need to do more brainstorming. In the beginning, maybe it's a 30-minute meeting once a week. Maybe we do it over lunch. Maybe we do it at the end of the day, but we need to be thinking in terms of this is that the business desperately needs innovation, and IT can be a really important center of that thought.
And then number one, and probably number one not just by coincidence is creating a new increased level bordering on obsession with our customers, more of a customer-focus in IT. When is the last time as an IT professional we talked to a customer? When is the last time we sat in on a customer meeting? When is the last time we went on site and saw what a customer does every day?
Well, it hasn't really been in our remit, it really hasn't been our focus, but that is going to change. And that means we're going to join the discussion. It doesn't mean the existing customer-facing organizations get pushed out of the way or they go away, it just means that IT joins that discussion. IT is at the table. IT is standing side by side with sales and marketing, and tech support, and development, and field service, and all those functions that are touching our customers because IT has great ideas to share.
This brings... This is a fuel for our innovation focus. This is a fuel for the future of creating this engine of innovation and customer engagement. And yes, we can't wait to be invited. We have to invite ourselves in to these discussions, and this customer focus then turns IT upside down. It makes us...it fundamentally transforms us from an inside-out organization to an outside-in organization. There's a huge difference there. And we don't have the time to explore that any further and I'm going to go on to...
With those top 10 items, I hope you hear a few things... Have heard a few things that can help you kind of validate or start to reshape your plans. And now I'm going to make some specific recommendations. No surprise but these are some of the things we need to be doing, six things we need to be doing in the months ahead and the quarters ahead. And yeah, it does start with changing the culture. And I hope that today's list, our top 10 list has given you some ideas about how we can be more entrepreneurial, how we can communicate better, how we can get closer to the customer, how we can bring new skills into IT. All of those things change the culture. How we could be more proactive.
Keep those things in mind because many of you are leaders of IT, and it is up to us to begin that change, and then people know a good thing when they see it. That change begins to ripple and then roll through the organization. Take the time to focus on innovation. And it doesn't have to be…it can't be half our time. We can't be spending half our time and innovation starting today, but we can take small teams and assign them to innovation as a brainstorming session or bringing new ideas or just throwing ideas around. And those help to take shape, help to give some shape to the new systems that IT will be delivering in 2019 and 2020.What does that two-year roadmap, two to three year roadmap look like for IT and those crazy ideas can help to shape that. It could even create new systems we didn't think about today?
And yes, I mentioned getting to 90% automated in the next 3 to 5 years that ultimately is going to take us to 100%. And, you know, realistically, it's probably 99% because there's always an element of humanity and the work that we do every day. And again, this is not replacing people. This is about leveraging people better. Leveraging people in new smart ways that take advantage of what humanity does best, like being creative, like empathy, like the dialogue that we have to have with our customers.
Another thing and I'm conscious of time, we're about 15 minutes before the top of the hour and I do want to take some questions, but we have to be thinking in terms of IT running around the clock, which ties us back to automation. It ties us back to speed. Yes, we offer some things around the clock today in IT, but not everything. What is it going to take? This is a question we need to ask ourselves that we need to push ourselves on. What is it going to take to make all of IT available 24/7?
Think in those terms because that has to happen because the business is increasingly have to run around the clock. And they can't be waiting the business, the organization can't be waiting on IT. Let's get ahead of it and let's put our own plans in place to be aggressive and creative in getting IT to 24/7. So we're ready when the business realizes they need this and this push, this force is building.
Yes, we need to obsess over speed. I mentioned some specific benchmarks. Speed is everything. Speed is competitive advantage. Speed builds customer loyalty. Speed brings us agility. Speed brings us flexibility. And think about in terms of getting to that 90% mark. If something takes a week today, what do we have to do to do it in four hours? If something takes a day today, what does it take to make that happen in 30 minutes? If something takes an hour today, how do we do it in five minutes or less? That is the kind of compression that we're looking for. And it might start with benchmarking everything, putting a metric against everything and exactly how long it takes. All the work product of IT, we have to put a tape measure to.
And then finally, we have to build this customer engagement model. How do we get closer to the customer? How do we bring what the customer's thinking and doing into the everyday workings of IT as a vital part of aligning with a business, as a vital part of innovation, as a vital part of understanding easy? Again, all these things are connected and really, virtually everything we're doing in the culture go back up to number one, ultimately runs and connects to what's happening with a customer. And we should understand how it's bringing value to the customer because all the cultural changes we talked about today ultimately do have a direct linkage, a direct benefit to the customer.
Whew, well, that was a lot. We covered a lot of ground in our 45 minutes or so and so I want to say thanks for joining us. We're going to take some questions in just a minute, but it is only an hour together that we have today. I really, really appreciate that. And I want to encourage you to send me an email, send me an email to anybody at Ivanti, but that is my email address. Follow me on Twitter. I'll be sharing ideas every day about IT today, the future of IT @kevinjsmith4IT.
I think we have some questions coming in, but I want to remind you of our final session of the Summer School series. It's coming up on August 29th. We're going to wrap it up and say goodbye to summer sadly, but we do still have a good solid month of summer remaining. And with that, Erica, do we have any questions that we should discuss?
Erica: Yes, Kevin. We have a couple. And just a reminder to everyone, you can keep submitting your questions in the chat or in the Q&A function, and we will get to them in our last 10 minutes. So the first one, this isn't as much a question, but just a comment that someone had that I thought might be interesting to our other listeners of the webinar. He said that his team every other week, they have a brainstorming session where they bring in pizza for everyone or lunch and they just kind of sit and spend two hours talking as a team and brainstorming. And he says that's been a really beneficial practice for his team. So I thought that would be an interesting thing for you to hear.
Kevin: Yeah, awesome. Awesome idea, yeah. And, you know, from that, again, never underestimate what kind of energy and excitement comes from sessions like that. So thanks for sharing, whoever that came from, thanks for sharing. Great idea for the group.
Erica: So we do have a couple of questions. The first one was about the passionate slide. And that question is, "As a manager, what ideas do you have to encourage my team to be more passionate about their job?"
Kevin: You know that's a great question. And I would say it kind of starts with you. As a manager, rededicate yourself to bringing passion, and conviction, and excitement, and energy to your leadership because never underestimate the effect you have on people as a role model, as a leader, and so it starts with you. So look yourself in the mirror, rededicate. Maybe you have that passion today, that's fantastic because that will have a really meaningful impact on your team.
The second thing is that when you see something good happen, recognize it. If somebody on your team does something good, if they go up above and beyond the call, if they do something for a customer, if they fix an escalation, do something admirable, recognize it. And that can be, you know, that can be a coffee gift card. It could just be bringing everybody together and saying thanks. People thrive on that stuff. People love that stuff. And in IT, we don't get enough of that recognition. So recognize it when something good happens, and then the people of your team will want to do is they'll want to do it too because they want to be recognized.
And then the third suggestion I would have is just make sure we're doing some stuff that's fun in the day. And it can be... It doesn't have to be spending money. I mean, it could be quick and easy, but just do something fun because passion goes together with fun. And if you are showing passion yourself as a leader, and reminding everybody of how much...how exciting IT is going to be over the next 10 years, how much responsibility we have as IT professionals, when you recognize people on your team when they do something well, and you inject a little bit of fun into the day, good stuff is going to start to happen.
Erica: Great. One last question that we have was, "What are some of the first steps that teams can take to implement more automation?"
Kevin: So one thing is to identify the list of things. There are a couple things you want to look for. Identify the list of the work you do every day, the tasks you perform every day. And which of those tasks are very well understood, which of them are very consistent, very, very well-defined. Those are great tasks to automate.
The second thing to look for is high-volume stuff, high-volume task because that's going to save you time. And so the things that you're doing on a regular basis, high-volume things and we all know what those things are within IT, those are great candidates for automation as well. So that's you've got your targets, things that are very predictable, very repetitive, high-volume items. The really high-complexity items, the things that are variable, we probably need to wait on those for a while.
But then take that list we were talking about with a very repetitive, very predictable items, the things that happen all the time. Then you need tools to help you, you need technology to help you. But there are great workflow tools, great automation tools, great business rules tools. We certainly automate to a very high degree and what we're providing in Ivanti solutions. There are a number of other tools out there that you may already have in-house that you can take advantage of. Leverage those tools to offload those things that are your targets.
So you've got your target list, just be committed to automating those and start with just a few of them and try to get those done in 2018 over the next 5 months. And that will give you a springboard going into next year because we got to start making progress and we got to start now in order to do that. But you've got to have some…take some discipline with you when approaching that and picking the right things.
If you pick the really unusual, high-complexity, very dynamic workflow items or work product items, that's probably not the right place to start. You want to start with stuff that's very well defined, well understood. Get some, you know, quick wins, get some victories under your belt, and then, you can get a little more ambitious beyond that.
Erica: Great. Those are all the questions we have, Kevin.
Kevin: Okay. Well, again, we're coming up to the top of the hour and we'll give you a few minutes back in your day. So, again, thank you for joining us. Hope you got a few ideas that are helpful from today's session. We know how much pressure there is on your schedule so we are really appreciating you sharing your calendar with us for the day. And hope you can join us on August 29th, put that on your calendar. We'll talk about AI and the changing role of AI in IT, and I think there'll be some content there that's very helpful for you. So hope to see you then. Enjoy what's left of your summer. That's going to conclude our session for today. Be safe out there and goodbye for now.