ABC's of Modern IT Operations Management: A practical IT leader's guide in today's service value system

Romeo Siquijor, Head Of Information Technology / CIO, Cemex

Romeo Siquijor, Head Of Information Technology / CIO, Cemex

According to ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), “the objective of IT Operations Management is to monitor and control IT infrastructure and services. It executes on day-to-day routine tasks related to the operation of infrastructure components and applications. It is responsible for managing the capacity, performance, and availability of all the components in an organization’s IT ecosystem”. While this is a good definition, it is a little deprecated. The role of IT operations had significantly evolved in this era, and the old skills that brought us where we are now, may not necessarily keep us there. We need to re-tool, re-invent, and repurpose ourselves to stay relevant and be at the forefront of today’s service value system to co-create value within the organizations we belong.

This article intends to rethink the “WHY” behind the “WHAT” of Modern-day IT Operations Management, how we must evolve with the changing times and cope-up with the rapidly evolving Information Technology requirements.

Act fast and deliver fast. Fast IT is the new norm. Leverage strategic speed (i.e. clarity, unity, and agility).

Business and not IT must be the end-goal of any technological and digitalization efforts. Don’t implement technology for the sake of technology. Technology is a mean to get to a business end.

Customer centricity is key. Collaborate and work diligently with your users and customers. Listening and understanding their requirements better will improve your hit rate in delivering quality IT services and co-creating value.

Design with your users and customers in mind. Develop products that provides meaningful and positive experiences to keep your users and customers loyal to the product or brand necessary for your business to thrive.

Evolve or be extinct. What brought you here, will not keep you here! Innovate or die.

Focus your efforts in contributing to the bottomline. Everything boils down to increasing throughput, reducing inventory, and lowering operating expenses. If your digitalization efforts do not pass this litmus test, then maybe you need to rethink your strategy.

GSA (Go, See, and Act). You’ll learn more about your users and their pain-points by going out there in the field and experience what they are experiencing. We can no longer hide behind our desks and develop things according to our limited imaginations then expect a breakthrough to happen.

Hire the best, train them to be better than you, promote them, then repeat. True leaders breed other leaders. People is still the best asset of any company. In IT, cheap resources oftentimes become more expensive in the end.

IoT devices will inundate the world. With 30B devices that are connected to the internet and our private networks, cybersecurity will be the main challenge that IT Operations will need to handle with a lot of care.

Just do it. IT folks are notorious for over-thinking, over-designing, and over-complicating things. Sometimes implementing the minimum viable product and evolving it through small iterations through time is far superior than delivering things after 2 years. Fail fast, succeed fast.

Kill obsolete applications and the underlying infrastructure that are simply wasting your money, space, energy, and computing power. We have the tendency to hoard systems and applications, thinking that one day we will potentially need them. Talk to legal, have an archiving strategy. It will save you a lot of money and energy.

Lean and agile are not just buzzwords, you need to live and breathe by it in managing your projects. Lean means you need to be nimble and quick, and agile means you need be flexible and willing to change or do course corrections.

Measure what matters and manage them with system. Simply measuring IT uptime is passé. You need to be able to correlate your IT uptime with business uptime. Measure what counts to the business, not just to IT.

OKR (Objective and Key Results) is a methodology developed by the legendary Andy Grove of Intel. It is a framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes. If you don’t have one, develop yourself one. Again, make sure it’s lined up with your company’s goals and objectives.

Promote safety, health, happiness, and well-being of your team. Without them, we are nothing.

Quick response to IT incidents and problems is still the raison d’etre of IT Operations Management. Good IT Operators are the ones who can bring systems back online fast when an outage occurs, but the best ones would build high availability and redundancy to prevent them.

RTI (Real Time Infrastructure) is sharing IT infrastructure resources across different consumers or customers that can be dynamically optimized to achieve the best end-to-end service levels at the lowest price. Gone are the days of waiting for IT resources to be purchased, delivered, and deployed. wTake advantage of cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service solutions.

SDWAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) enables companies to build higher-performance and efficient networks using lower-cost and commercially available cable internet or 4G/5G technologies. This allows organizations to replace their more expensive-inefficient-hard to deploy traditional MPLS networks.

Transformation to digital requires breaking through the generational gap barrier. It requires time and a lot of influencing before your customers and employees alike become naturalized digital citizens.

Unified communications by converging voice, data, and video into the same network infrastructure will not only reduce cost but will improve overall user experience by integrating other work tools and providing the mubiquity.

Value creation must be your corefocus. ITIL v4 emphasizes that the service value chain (the how’s) and service value streams (the detailed activities) must be clearly mapped to the value they provide in form of services and products a.k.a. service value stream.

Working remotely is becoming more popular nowadays. IT must be ready to support pervasive computing, to enable employees to work anywhere, anytime, and by any means.

Xby Y should mean, “output X by date Y” instead of “X given Y” which is an expression of conditional probabilities. Rather than a condition, it should be treated as declaration of a target, for example X (99.99% availability of the network by Y March). There is power in declaration.

Zero-in on what really matters. Cut to the chase. Your organization needs you to make it more efficient, sell more, serve the customers better, and spend less. Everything that you do must connect to one of these to co-create value and perpetuate your relevance.

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