The 5 New Habits of the Successful IT Organization
July 17, 2019
Kevin J. Smith | Senior Vice President | Ivanti
As we navigate the remarkable transformation of IT and the many challenges that lie ahead, we now understand the strategies and tactics that can help IT to be successful in the decade ahead. This session will explore:
- Proven models employed by the most successful IT organizations globally
- What specific actions can be taken now to start down the path of transformation
- Key mistakes to avoid
- Framework and best practices that can be helpful in building a more proactive and strategic IT organization
Erica: Hi, everybody. We are going to get started, so Kevin, if you'd like to share the presentation. I'm just going to do some housekeeping while Kevin is doing that. As part of our webinar today, we're running this live, but if you need to leave during any part of the presentation, or are wanting to send it to any friends or colleagues, we will be recording it and sending out the presentation to everyone who is registered after, and we'll also be posting it on the Ivanti website.
So, don't worry about that. If you have any weird audio issues or dial-in issues, feel free to send us a chat as we go. I'll be monitoring that. Also, just a general thing I noticed with Webex, often I notice that dialing in directly usually works a little bit better than computer audio if you do experience any issues. So, that's something that might help.
This is the first of a three-part series that we're running. Kevin J. Smith is doing our first two, and then we have the Ivanti CISO Phil Richards jumping in for our third. We ran this series last year, and it was really popular, so we wanted to do something similar. I'll let Kevin get a little bit more into that, but with that, thank you so much for joining us, and I will turn the time over to Kevin for our webinar.
Kevin J. Smith: Thanks, Erica, and thanks everybody for joining us. We know how busy you are, although hopefully being in the middle of summer, you're a little less busy than you normally are, but in the theme of the summer, I know. Remarkably, it's already the middle of July. We wanted to bring you this series that we call Summer School, Ivanti Summer School, and try to inject a little bit of learning into the fun of your summer.
Today's session is the first of those three sessions, and I'm going to talk a little bit about the habits that we see forming in successful IT organizations. I wanted to give you a heads up as you're working on your calendars. You can see what to expect. We're going to do another session on August 7th, what we call The Seismic Shifts in IT, and How to be Ready when they Come.
So much is happening in IT today. It's a really exciting time. I'm going to talk about that more today, but so much of what we've always taken for granted is going to change, and I'll talk about that in more detail on August 7th. Then on August 28th, Risk Management. This is a great title. Risk Management, and it says so much. Risk Management in a World that's Gone Mad, and our CISO will talk to that. I encourage you to put both of those on your calendar, and I hope you can join us and be with us as we close out the summer at the end of August.
So, what I want to do today is just talk a little bit about this landscape of what's happening in IT, and what's happening today is unlike anything that we've seen in the global economy. The thing that's remarkable about this change is it's not just about IT. It's what's happening in the world around us, and in all businesses. Virtually every business globally is being affected by this, and what's happening is what I call this collision, and I think that's accurate.
That's appropriate in that the changes in our world and the changes in technology are now colliding to reshape IT, and if we take a step back for a minute, we have to realize that where technology and the business come together is in the IT organization. IT are the stewards of technology, the stewards of data, and we feel this change more acutely than any other part of the organization, and the organization is relying on us to help lead the way forward.
So, if I can just figure out my slide here, here we go. One premise here is that the business can't succeed, and even beyond that, the business can't even survive without successful IT. Our fates are now linked like never before, the future of IT and the future of the organization.
It doesn't matter if you're a hospital, if you're a law firm, if you're a university, if you're federal or local government, if you're a retailer, if you're a manufacturer. It is affecting all of us, and the organization simply can't have a future without successful IT. What that does is it raises the stakes on everything that we're doing in IT every day, all the decisions we're making, and all the investments we're making.
What I'm saying is that successful IT organizations are reshaping their habits in a certain way, and this is not super complicated. These points are pretty simple, and in the spirit of summer, in the spirit of not wanting to make you think too hard, I'm going to propose five simple things, and I like countdowns, so I'm going to count down from five to one, and yes. We could argue that on the numbers, one might be number three, or five might be number two, but I think the five things are the right things.
Again, what I want to ask you do is just reflect on what you're doing in your IT organization, and how many of these things you're currently doing today. Now, what I would expect is that you're doing some of them, and if you're a more advanced IT organization, you might be even doing most of them, but I would imagine very few of you are doing all of them. So, what I hope to do is give you something to think about, and something that will affect your plans going forward because I want to promise you it's not too late.
Don't think for a minute that if you're not doing all these things today, it's too late for you, and your doom is sealed. That's not the case. Even the very best IT organizations, the very best of the very best, recognize they're on this journey, and it really is a journey for all of us. Our challenge is to reshape IT over the next 10 years, and I want you to think about that period of a decade, because we can't do all this.
This is big stuff. This is a lot of work. We can't do all this in six months or a year. It's going to take a little bit of time. The key is we have to get started, and we have to be thinking differently, and we have to be planning differently. That's the challenge that I want to give you on the call today is to be thinking about some things you may not have been thinking about before, and that brings us back to our list, and so I'm going to go through each of these points.
I'm going to raise this point. I'm going to raise each point. Then I'm going to give you some talking points around it to give you a little more detail. Now, I don't want to take a lot of time today, and I want to leave a little time for questions at the end. So, I'm going to run for the next 20 minutes or so to get through these five points, and then you can send in your questions, and if you can't think of your question today, you can feel free to contact us at any time.
I have my email at the end. You can contact me directly. You can contact Erica directly, or anybody at Ivanti, and we'd be happy to hear from you, and happy to talk more. I have sessions with companies all the time where we just talk on the phone for a few minutes about what they're doing, and what they might be able to do differently. With that, no more delay. Let's go into the list.
Number five, best practices and frameworks in moderation. Now, this is a mouthful because here's the thing. We are fortunate. We are really fortunate today to have all these wonderful frameworks, and best practices guidelines, and standards, and whatever you want to call them. We have ITIL, and we have COBIT, and we have DevOps, and we have Agile, and that's just the beginning. All these things are wonderful resources, but here's the key.
Don't confuse any one of those things as your strategy. These things are here to help you bring your strategy to life, and if you go all-in on one of these frameworks, it could cause you to lose your way. So, moderation is the key, as your grandmother probably told you. Moderation is everything, and the key is know your IT strategy first. I'm going to ask you to go through a mental exercise here for 10 seconds.
If I asked you, if I was sitting in the room with you and I said, "What is your IT strategy?" Do you know what that is right away? Is that clear to you? Is that clear to everybody in IT? If the answer is yes, that's fantastic. However, for many IT organizations, that is not clear, and what I would impress upon you is that you need to know what that IT strategy is because it's difficult to make good decisions if you can't do that in the context of your IT strategy.
For this topic, and talking about best practices and frameworks, you only put those to work for you in the context of your IT strategy. They can't become the thing that everybody in IT worships because you'll lose your way. They're not enough. ITIL doesn't hold the secret to your IT strategy. Your IT strategy should be something ... People will ask me, "Well, okay. What should it be? What should it look like?"
It should be very simple and it should be aligned with the business strategy, with the strategy of the entire organization, and it should identify the key things that IT is going to deliver to the business to ensure the business and your customers are successful. It's different for everybody, so yours is not going to be the same as the person sitting next to you at a big IT conference, but know your IT strategy first, and that will be a guiding light, a lighthouse for all of IT as you go forward.
Now, what I see the best IT organizations doing is using more than one framework for a specific purpose. For example, Agile has some wonderful concepts in it that can help many elements of the business work in a more lean manner, in a more responsive manner, and reduce waste, but something like ITIL, if you're going to be implementing change management in 2019, ITIL can give you a good framework for how to implement change management, give you some best practices that have been proven to work.
Now, Agile is not going to be the answer for change management, and ITIL is not going to be the answer for how you may want to run your business in a leaner, faster way. So, know the key elements you need to deliver, and then deploy these wonderful best practices and frameworks to meet a specific goal.
The next point is something that we can all take to heart, and that is simplify. It's a very powerful concept, but it's amazing how little of this we've done in IT. IT has been operating, in many respects, pretty much the way we have for the last 30 years, and now the time has come for us to simplify. We need to do a cleansing because that's what it is. Think of it as a spring cleaning times 100.
Take a look at, and here are the things you want to look at. Tasks that you perform every day, and business processes that are performed on a regular basis. You may not perform those business processes every day. You may do them once a week. You may do them once a month, but they're performed on a regular cadence in IT. We need to take a fresh look at all of those blocks of work, and that's what tasks and business processes are. They are the primary blocks of work in IT, and simplify.
Never underestimate the impact of even a very small simplification, and when I say simplify, it means eliminate an approval. Reduce a step in the business process or eliminate a step in the business process. Eliminate a work product that's no longer required. Maybe eliminate reporting. Reporting is one of these legacy things that we do, and some of those reports are no longer required.
Anything you can do, every minute you can save in simplifying a task or a business process is precious. So, I challenge you to simplify everything, and that is going to better prepare us for automation. It's going to better prepare us for AI. It's going to better prepare us to scale. It's going to better prepare us to go faster, to improve the velocity of IT. All these things are vital. All of these things are the future of IT. Another thing that the best IT organizations do is they focus on service value.
The final point there is kind of similar. Value and outcomes. If we're doing tasks, performing tasks, and performing business processes in IT, if we're delivering a service, we have to know exactly what that value is, and what business outcome we're supporting. Now look, I understand that sometimes we get disconnected from that and over time we drift away from that, and for some of our work, we may not have a clear view of that, but it's really important that we come back to that, and you can find the answers.
You talk to key business owners, you talk to IT leadership. All you have to do is decide this is important, and you'll find the answers. The answers are there and the answers are not hard to find, and our partners in the business are eager to share that with us. So, just make sure you can connect what we're doing, that work, with service value and business outcomes.
Okay. Well, I hope that was helpful. That was number five, and so that's the format we're going to follow for the next four. Again, these are habits that we need to form over the next couple of years because these habits are going to reshape how we operate IT every day for the next decade.
Number four is about innovation, and note that I use the word business innovation because IT needs to be a center of innovation. IT has always been focused on operating operations more naturally aligned with tactics versus strategy, but we have to change that because there's so much dependence in the business on technology now. Think about the organization. Think about your overall organization, and with technology moving so fast, who else in the organization is going to innovate?
Who's going to bring innovation to the business? I know this is not the traditional model of IT. I know this may not be natural to you and your team, but I can assure you that this must become a key part of the charter of IT in the future. We have to think of ways to innovate, and I'm going to give you a couple of examples of how that happens, but the key is don't wait for somebody else to do this.
We can't wait for another part of the organization to figure this out because it's not going to happen, and when IT begins to bring these ideas to the business, these innovative ideas, innovative systems, system improvements, it's going to change everything. It's going to change how the organization and how the business operates, and it's also going to change how IT is perceived.
Hey, guys. We all know that IT has some challenges around how it's perceived by the business, and we have to change that. Nobody is going to change that for us. We have to do it ourselves. This is a cultural priority. This is not just going to happen. We need to make this a part of the culture of IT, and what I've seen consistently is that the VP of IT, or some directors of IT, the CIO for example in the best IT organizations, they understand how important it is to change culture.
We're going to talk about that more a little bit later, and not surprisingly, you may see the theme of culture again in our list, but make innovation part of the culture. A great place to start, because I hear the question a lot, "Okay. Sounds good. Where do we start?" Start with the user experience. Just start. Think about that. Start with the user experience. How many people in your organization are touching a system of IT every day to do their job? Think about that.
It's 100%. It's telephony. It's email. It is using a mobile device. It's the CRM system. It's order entry. It could be procurement. It could be getting into an HR system. It could be logging a service request. Every one of those user experiences are managed by IT, and every employee uses those facilities, uses those assets and uses those systems to do their job every day. If we can make those user experiences even a little bit better, we are making every employee more productive.
Think about that fundamental dependency that every employee in the company from the CEO down through every part of the organization, the dependency they have the systems that we manage in IT. If we can make their user experience better, we're saving them time. We're making them productive. We're making them happy. All these things are good. It's all good, and then we're in turn putting them in a position, every employee, in a position to better serve our customers.
It doesn't matter what your organization does. You are delivering a product or a service to a customer, and imagine the potential we can unlock if we help every employee do their job better. We've got to embrace a little bit of risk taking, people. We have to understand that IT has always been about managing risk, about mitigating risk. Well, I'm not talking about reckless risk here. I'm talking about taking some thoughtful risk in order to innovate, take a little bit of risk to do things differently, taking a little bit of risk to change the model.
We have to think in terms of that. Doing things fundamentally differently that people might think are crazy, those ideas are the ideas that change our life. Those are the ideas that change the business for the future. You will find willing partners across the business in key business owners if we go to them and say, "It's a very simple question. We want to help you do your job better. We want to help you and your team be more productive every day."
That is an easy conversation to have, and that very discussion, that is the root of innovation. That is the root of innovation. Those will bring us the ideas, and okay. How do we save time? How do we deliver a service faster and better to a customer? How do we help our employees get what they want to get done today, and to complete that work faster and more conveniently?
It could be doing some of their job on a mobile device. It could be simplifying the amount of time it takes to get an approval done. It's everywhere. When you start to look, it's everywhere, and then my last point here is the IT concierge, and I wanted to raise this as an example of a new kind of role that's going to emerge in IT in the next few years. I call it the IT concierge. You may have a different name for it, but the idea is this. It's very simple.
A gentleman or a lady in IT whose job it is to reach out to the business and to make their life better, and to make them happier, and to make them more productive. It's an outreach. It's an externally-focused position, not just focused on internal IT, but looking at every organization, every team in the business, and helping them to be more productive, and to help them better leverage the resources of IT, the technologies of IT, the data of IT.
So, I'll leave that there, but just something to think about. Now, I know some of you already had that position. You may call it something different. Some call it, I've heard, IT business manager, but the key is that they're focused. They wake up every day and end their day thinking about how they help key business owners and other organizations be more productive and do their job better.
All right. Let's move on to number three. A roadmap for automation and AI. Now, think about this. I think most of you would agree that automation and AI are going to fundamentally change business in the next 10 years. I'm assuming 90% of you are shaking your head and saying, "Yes." So, think about where that leadership is going to come from. How are we going to bring automation and AI to the business?
It's going to have to be IT. This is a place where IT is going to have to lead. This is not a place where IT can wait. It's not a place where IT can be reactive. IT has to lead here. IT has to be strategic here, and IT has to show the business how the business, how the full organization can leverage AI and automation tools. These tools are wonderful. They have come light years in the last five years.
How can they better leverage these incredibly powerful resources? So, it's too important to not have a plan here, and again, I'm submitting if you remember one thing from today, remember that IT must lead. One area where IT must lead is in bringing AI and automation to the business because a business in the next 10 years can't compete without achieving a high level of automation. A business can't be successful without leveraging AI.
AI is going to change and touch virtually all of what we do in the business in the next 10 years. At IT, this is a time, if IT was ever proactive, this is a time to be proactive. I know this is complicated. I know this is not easy, but the business needs us, and the business may not even know it yet, but the very best IT organizations are going to create a two-year roadmap. Now, your roadmap might be three years. I mean, the time horizon is not critical.
What's critical is that you have a roadmap, and what it does is it defines in rough terms how we are going to deploy and leverage automation tools and AI in IT and in the business. By the way, IT could be a great proving ground for some of these tools. We can pilot them effectively in IT before we bring them to the organization and to the business, and I know bots. Bots is a great example.
IT is piloting bots that ultimately are going to be a big part of customer service in an external manner across the organization, but create a two-year living roadmap, and I say living because you can update that roadmap. Define where and how we are going to bring AI and automation to the business, and then engage those key business owners as partners in how we're going to help their teams leverage AI, and leverage automation, and how we're going to raise the level of automation across the organization.
This is the perfect opportunity for IT to step forward and lead, and you're going to find those key business owners in sales, and marketing, and finance, and HR across the organization. They're going to be thrilled to work with us to make this happen. Now, I mentioned complexity earlier. Yes, I know this can be complicated. Yes, I know it can be overwhelming.
So, let's just start simple. Let's get some early wins. Let's not take on the biggest, most robust use case in the business first. Let's just start simple to get some traction, to get a cadence established, and to get some early wins, which will make it easier to be successful with the next thing we take. There are examples of this everywhere. A very simple task that can be automated, well-understood business processes that can be automated.
Some of the early elements of AI where we can use them in some of our internal applications. I mentioned bots. That's an easy example, so just think about that, but I encourage you again. This is a time for leadership, and bringing automation and AI to the people, bringing automation and AI to every part of the business is where IT can really make a difference, and bring a tremendous amount of strategic value.
Okay. Number two, a renewed passion for the customer. Yes, we all care about our customers. Yes, there's very little apathy for customers today. We all agree that customers are important, but the key here is how closely is IT connected to the customer? Are we two or three levels removed from the customer and get our customer information from other organizations? Well, the answer for most IT organizations today is yes.
Well, that has to change because there's just too much at stake. IT is becoming more strategic. IT is becoming more proactive. IT is becoming more innovative, and we simply can't do all those things unless we have a closer connection to the customer. Maybe that has faded a bit for us. I know all of us would agree that we know how important the customer is, and this is something where it happened gradually over time where we're not as close to the customer as we would like to be.
When I ask the question if I'm doing a workshop, or talking to a client, or meeting with a new IT organization, I always ask the question, "When is the last time you talked to a customer? When is the last time you met with a customer?" Normally what I hear is, "It's been too long," or, "Not as often as I would like." So, we simply need to rededicate ourselves to that customer connection, and not accept that we are two or three levels removed.
Now, that doesn't mean we're going to push customer support, and account management, and sales, and marketing out of the way and say, "We are now the face of the business. We are now going to be the primary connection to the customer." No, no, no. What I am proposing is that we join those discussions, that we sit at the table, that we join these ongoing dialogues, and that we now, as a benefit of that, we now enrich our direct connections with the customer. We can provide more transparency.
We're going to have new roles in IT. We're going to create new roles in IT over the next two to three years. The best IT organizations are doing this. I mentioned the IT concierge. We are going to have people in IT whose job it is to support customers, to work as a business manager or as a key initiatives manager with our peers in the business, and work directly with customers to make sure that we are delivering the best possible product and service.
Now, again, I know. You guys may not agree with all I'm saying here because I'm proposing some fundamental changes, but I believe as you reflect on this and as you start to see the speed of change in IT grow, and the nature of what IT must have to do in the business as it continues to evolve, that there is a fundamental element that has been missing for the last 10 years, and that is our closeness to the customer.
There is no future in IT, there is no strategic future to IT, there is no innovative future to IT if we don't hear the voice of the customer more clearly. I think many of you will agree with that. Many of you might question that. I would just ask you to think about it, and to reflect on it, and to evaluate how that might enrich the planning and the work that we're doing.
So, I mentioned new roles and then the final thing is that we are going to have to look at the comp plans of IT. I know some people might think that's crazy, but we need to incent our people. We need to reward our people that are doing the amazing things that IT is capable of doing, and we need to nurture our people because, and I think 90% of you would agree with this, is we need to improve the tenure in IT.
We need to make people excited about working in IT for their whole career. We need to bring superstars, the young and most talented people entering the workforce. We want them to see themselves being part of IT, and it requires all these things. I would even propose, let me go one step further. I'd propose that five years from now, some of the highest paid people in any business are going to be in IT.
You know how we talk about rock stars? Oh, she's a rock star. He's a rock star in the business. How many rock stars are in IT today? Think about that. Probably not as many as we'd like, but I'd propose, and I think it's almost urgent that we ensure that they are part of IT in the future, and this is part of how we do that.
Okay. Let's move onto our last item, and then I'll go back to Erica to see if she has any questions we can address, but the culture and people of IT. This is really important. The greatness of IT is not in technology. The greatness of IT in the future is not in data. Yes, those are remarkable resources that we need to leverage, and IT will always be associated with technology.
It's in our name, for goodness' sakes, but the key to greatness in IT, the key to the very best IT organizations, if I think about the very best I've ever seen, and had the good fortune to see them at work, it was about their culture and about their people. Investing in that at a just frantic pace, and incredible passion around our culture and our people, so I'm going to talk about that for a bit. I would say if I had to put my finger on the number one success factor for IT being great in the next 10 years, it's culture.
It is about culture, and let me give you a simple example, a very simple example, and that's just being open to new ideas. We have new workers entering IT. Yes, we have people who have been in IT for 20 or 25 years, and those experienced, wise people are critical to IT, but many people in IT are retiring in the next 10 years. We have a very different kind of worker entering IT, and for those of us that have been in IT for 10, or 15, or 20 years, one of the most important things we can do is to listen to new ideas, to never say, "That's not how we do it here. No, no. That would never work."
It is to listen to new ideas and embrace new ideas because they can be the key to the future, and I would propose that the very rich experiences that we've had, the most experienced people that we have in IT coming together with the new workers in IT who think differently, work differently, they approach everything differently. To a 20-something-year-old working in IT, watch what they do every day. It's fundamentally different than the person that's been in IT for 30 years. Neither is right or wrong. The future is actually a combination of both.
An interesting idea I want to propose to you to think about is we think about people mentoring people. Think about people mentoring technology. Everything AI knows, it learns from people. Realize that we have to think in terms of the future where our people must be freed up, so yes. They can mentor people, but also we need people mentoring technology. As technology becomes more advanced, I'll use AI as an easy example. Some of the more advanced behaviors of AI must come from the people of IT, the experience of the people of IT.
Empathy, insight, complex decision-making, the ability to balance multiple factors to make a decision that's not clear, negotiations, customer relations, the list goes on. We need people. Our future is about this new mentoring model where people are the only resource that can make technology better. People are the only resource that can bring AI to a whole new level.
We also need a more diverse and entrepreneurial IT. Yes, that word is an important word. Entrepreneurial. Think about the business. Hey, how can I help the whole business do better? How can I help the business achieve a higher level of revenue? How can I help the business deliver better earnings? Those are questions we need to be asking ourselves in IT, and questions that were not common in the past, and yes. Goodness, I hope we can all agree we need a more diverse IT.
We need more women in IT. We need more diverse ethnicities, geographic coverage, and the list goes on and on. This is a really important part of the culture, and the very best IT organizations understand that and are committed to diversity, and I want to close with something that is a very important point. It has also not been part of traditional IT, but mental health is a really, really important consideration for our future.
The people in IT are under tremendous stress. The people in IT have been asked to do more with less for decades. The people in IT understand the incredible responsibility we have to the security of the business, to managing the precious resources of the business, and we need to understand this. This begins with awareness. If you see a colleague that doesn't seem quite right, talk to them. Lend a helping hand. Take them for a coffee. Take them out to lunch. Ask them if they're okay.
We are not mental health professionals, but the first level of help we can provide is just simple awareness. Just listening makes a huge difference, and then yes. We have mental health professionals in HR and other resources across the company, and we can help connect them with our colleagues that may be hurting, but the first step is just our awareness, our commitment because we care.
We care about the people that we work with, and this is an important part of the make-up of IT, all these things here. Diversity, thinking like a business, being entrepreneurial, and caring about our coworkers, and us helping each other through this journey that is incredibly challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. So, I would propose that right now today, it may not feel like it at every minute of every day, it's the best time in history to be part of IT.
We have a chance to make a huge difference and fundamentally change the course of business, and if you look at the very best businesses in the year 2025, I just picked five or six years from now, they will, by definition, have a strong and strategic IT. That is the key to our future, and I hope we can all renew our energy and our passion every day because it makes a difference across the business. With that, Erica, that concludes the slides. Did we have any questions we want to take on for today?
Erica: Yes. Thank you, Kevin. We do have a handful of questions that have come in with the chat, and just so everyone knows, you can continue submitting your questions through the chat or there's the Q and A function. Both of those work and that's just on the right-hand panel of your page, so continue sending those in, but we have a handful of questions. Let me just start with a couple logistical ones I received.
First we had someone ask how they can register for other webinars in this Summer School series, so I put both of the links to the future webinars in the chat for everyone. So, you should be able to see those and register if you're interested. Then we also had someone ask when they'll receive the recording and the slides, and I would say usually it takes somewhere between 12 to 24 hours for us to get that email out to everyone, so expect it within the next day.
Now, as far as a little bit less logistic questions, I wanted to ... One we got was around the concept of the IT concierge, and someone asked, "How do you find the time to reach out proactively when we feel like we're constantly putting out fires?"
Kevin J. Smith: Yeah. That's a great question, and I think that's a challenge that every IT organization faces, and it's couple things. One is, is that we can have a new sense of awareness of just how important this is, and what it means is, is that we've got to, either through automating some of our work, which I've seen be very successful just in the last few years, automating some of the very common tasks, some of the high-volume tasks that we perform at IT every day.
Even an hour a day, even 30 minutes a day. Don't think this has to be a full-time thing in the beginning. In the beginning, it can be part-time. It could be a matter of also delegating. If we've identified the person that we want to start to take on this role of the IT concierge, either through a combination of automating some of their work or offloading, delegating some of their work to another member of the team just to give them a little bit of time to start the outreach because the outreach, once we begin that outreach, it really changes everything.
We're creating a whole new dialogue with other people in the business. These are going to be non-IT people we're talking to, remember, and just asking them how we can help their teams be more productive, how we can help their team save time. What's going to happen is they're immediately going to tell us a few things that are frustrating to their teams because those things are always there.
It could be systems-related. It could be access-related. It could be all kinds of things. It could be anything, and that's going to give us our short list of stuff to go after. We take that short list of two or three things that are frustrating the team in sales, for example, frustrating our teams in marketing, frustrating our teams in finance. Go after those, just one or two of those things. It makes a huge difference, and it makes it a little bit easier to get to the next thing. So, it's not easy. We just have to find a way to carve out a little bit of time each day to start that outreach.
Erica: This actually might have a similar idea. This person asked, "How do you get the buy-in from the business regarding tools for security when the issue of attacks may not be happening now, just to be proactive? And that could be with anything that IT is seeing that could happen in the future, but they aren't seeing the issue right now?"
Kevin J. Smith: Yeah. I think of it as you got to hit them high and you got to hit them low. So, you've got to have the operational teams that are engaging with a business and talking about managing risk, and talking about how we have to protect the business, and I think I heard in this case the example is security. There are just so many events that have made headlines around the world about the impact that a security breach can have on the business, even if it's never happened to your business.
Then you've got to have some assistance and alignment with IT leadership, because they're going to have a dialogue with their colleagues in the business as well. I mean, realize this also won't be easy, but this is part of what we have to take on as IT is being more aggressive around the discussions we have with the business, and it looks something like this.
We can't wait for something really bad to happen to address this issue, and that's how it's normally been in the past. Let's not wait. We've got to be better than that. We've got to be smarter than that. Let's protect the business. Let's prepare the business now to ensure that these terrible things don't happen in the future.
That makes the things that we do, the work that we do every day even better because there are other benefits to being proactive about, for example, improving security, improving access, improving identity management with our employees and with our customers. Those have immediate operational benefits, but they also have strategic benefits, and we have to drive that dialogue. Let's not wait for something to be on fire, and the business come running to us because then it's too late.
Erica: Perfect. So, we have another really interesting question that I think should apply to a lot of people. She's asking, "If we bring in automation, employees feel that there is no job security. So, how can we bring confidence in employees that automation will actually help them?"
Kevin J. Smith: That is an awesome question, and I think this is very much at the heart of what we've talked about with some of these cultural things is the key with automation, and even the key with AI, and let's tape those together and let's call them intelligent technology. The key to automation and AI is not to replace people. That is completely missing the point.
What it is, is taking on ... Think of it as we're delegating to automation and AI to free up some time for our people to do more strategic work, and I'll give you a few examples, and we touched on them today. Number one, more time on mentoring. We would all agree that we don't do a good enough job in IT of mentoring and of developing our junior staff, so free up a little bit of time to mentor.
Number two, to assign some of our people to the innovation work. We would also all agree that innovation is really important, but gosh, we just never have time to work on it. Well, automation can give us that time. Automation can give us ... and in the beginning, it may not be eight hours a day, but it could be an hour a day or two hours a day where automating some common tasks frees us up to spend time on brainstorming with our teammates on how we innovate, how we improve the user experience.
The third example I want to use is just around that customer connection. That's another thing where I think we'd all agree. If we're all sitting around a giant conference room table, we would all agree we'd like to get closer to the customer. We'd like to better understand customer needs, but we just don't have time because we're so busy operating.
We're so busy trying to get through today, but automating an AI can help save us some time, so we can then redirect some of our precious time every day to focusing on those customer needs. So, let's change the perception of automation and AI as not replacing people, but allowing our people to work on the more strategic activities in IT, which we have wanted so desperately to spend our time on in the past 10 years, but we just haven't had the time.
Erica: Perfect. Okay, so one last question I'm seeing is around the third point that you made about building connections to the customer. He asks, "Do you have an example of how an organization you've seen went about establishing these direct connections to the customer?"
Kevin J. Smith: Yeah. That's a great question, and I have two different examples. I'm going to cite one organization that they would bring strategic customers in for a corporate visit, and normally they were quarterly. Timing doesn't matter, but this business, this was a healthcare business. They would bring strategic clients in for a planning session, strategic meetings at the corporate offices, and that IT organization would ...
Those meetings were already happening. They were already on the calendar, and they just joined those meetings. It was very simple. They were happening in the executive briefing center. IT got a schedule for those meetings. There would be customers coming in about once a week. The customers themselves were on a quarterly or a once-every-six-months schedule, but those meetings were happening about once a week, and IT rotated.
They would send an IT representative to the meeting, and they got just incredible information from those meetings. They heard customers' frustrations. They heard what was working well, what the customers were happy about. They heard the customers' wishlist, and guess what? By the way, many things in those wishlists coming from the customer were technology and systems-related that IT could help with.
So, that was one example is just joining customer meetings that were coming to the corporate office. The other IT organization I'm thinking about, their model was a little bit different. It was still quite effective, is escalations. When they had customer escalations, IT would normally receive actions from that, but IT wasn't on the bridge. IT wasn't part of the escalation communication process, and so that IT organization joined the customer escalations.
When those escalations happened, they had a cross-functional team that worked them, and IT was added to the cross functional team, so now when they had set up ... They had a war room, and the war room was activated when there was a customer escalation. IT was never in the war room, and at that point IT, for this business, they're a manufacturer, they joined the escalation war room.
They now had visibility of all kinds of direct customer engagements, including the customer being on the bridge and telling them about the issue, and IT even being part of the brainstorming and the discussions about how they would address the escalation. That opened up a whole new dialogue and channel for information that they brought back into IT, and I'm sure there are other great examples. Those are just two that come to mind.
Erica: Great. I hope that was helpful. I think that's all the questions we have, so we can wrap things up.
Kevin J. Smith: Okay. Well, thank you Erica. Thank you guys for joining us. I hope you heard one or two interesting things today that can help you. On the slide in front of you is my email address. I'd love to hear from you. Nothing is too big or too small. Send me an email directly at [email protected] I've got my Twitter name on here. You can follow me on Twitter.
Also, some of what we discussed today, I've published in my books on IT that are available. I've got a book on ITSM called World-Class ITSM. A book on the new agenda for IT that's called The IT Imperative. Then the need of IT to come together with a business, as we talked about today, which is my newest book, which is called One IT, One Business. So, they might be a helpful reference for you as well, and would love to have you join us at our next two Summer School events that we showed earlier on the call. So, with that, I think we're done for the day, Erica.
Erica: Okay, great to hear everyone. Thanks for participating, and again, we'll send that link with the recording just within the next 12 to 24 hours. Thanks, everyone.