The introduction to TM Forum’s Digital Disruption 2013 states that “the digital revolution is disrupting every industry” followed by “creating new possibilities and changing the way business is done”. With those two statements in mind, let’s talk about the critical needs of enterprise customers. Because most customer facing operations are well along in their adaptation to digital, this discussion is focused on enterprise IT.
First, some context. Contracting for external infrastructure and cloud services has a potentially wide range of benefits, scope, and risk. But, the closer the services are to the employees, the more work the candidate service providers have to do to prove themselves to IT leadership. For example, individual developers can autonomously build sandbox and development servers at a cloud provider, but proposing to move critical production workload to the same provider will take longer and involve operations leadership scrutiny, due to internal accountability.
We’ll touch on three major themes below.
Multiple Partners – The difficulty of introducing external partners into the delivery ecosystem is directly dependent on the service itself. If there is a clear boundary, and the service is somewhat self-contained with IT as the consumer, it is relatively easy to add a partner. If the service crosses multiple partners and/or multiple functional silos, there is great risk of what we call “finger pointing”. This is where two different parties claim the other party is having the issue, and no one takes responsibility for resolving the actual problem for the enterprise employee. Build these situations into your plans.
Service & Support – We have experienced service where the basic service is awesome, but the support infrastructure is poor. If the service is delivered to a more forgiving customer like IT, perhaps poor support is tolerable. But, if you expect to deliver to the employees of a medium-large enterprise, the table stakes to open the conversation with IT are: self service, single sign-on, Service Desk e-bonding, an ITIL/ISO-27001 class operations framework, and possibly more. Support is the key differentiator in the service delivery world, as everyone will eventually deliver the basic commodity service. Woe to those who don’t consider service and support.
Open Standards – They are good and enable a basic lowest common denominator. However, as the standards get more sophisticated, interoperability testing is still required to confirm that Open A, works with Open B. In the Telecom universe, most everything is built to 3GPP standards, but still gets rigorous interoperability testing. In the enterprise IT space, there are less tools, expertise, or time to test vendors such that the practical question is “does it work, and can an SLA be tied to the service?”
Finally, it is important to note that above all else, people make services work. Service Level Agreements “SLA” and Contracts are vehicles to measure and enforce. Contracts are the tools of last resort when the partner-partner relationship has broken down due to personal or business conditions. In our opinion, when you have to reach for the contract, the relationship with your service delivery partner is in trouble. It is healthy to maintain cordial and honest communications regardless of stresses. This pays off in the long term, compared to the alternatives because, in most cases, you are bound together for the life of the contract.
Please attend our panel for an engaging discussion:
Delivering Enterprise Services Forum
2:45pm on October 29th
INSPIRED PANEL: Understanding the critical needs of enterprise customers