Blowing past ITaaS to arrive at ITaaV!

IT as a service. It’s the next big thing. Or is it? Is in fact IT already a service just not one that is recognized at times? As a long time service to IT in many businesses I have come to realize that IT is already a service. It already builds and delivers solutions that are consumed by the business.

Is it however an actual service based offering? Consultants are rental experts. Skills that are expensive to maintain on your team that can be a shared resource. Its why consulting exploded in the mid-70’s and beyond.

The dictionary definition of a service is something done for something else. Or something provided (the 2nd definition to others such as electricity or regular buses.) IT has been doing that for years. Email, CRM and a myriad of other business processes have been automated and improved. Services the business consumes every day.

Within the concept of ITaaS is the problem. The business would like to pay for IT that it consumes and well who can blame them. It is just really hard for two companies to share an IT department. So we push workloads and solutions to the cloud where we gain a bit of IT as a Service. We get infrastructure provided for us. We still have to manage the rest of the overall solution in house but in theory we pay less. Well at least that is a theory.

Let’s stop for a moment. Let’s get off the ITaaS merry-go-round. Its time to evaluate the reality of IT rather than the perception of IT. In 1820 if you wished to get an urgent message from San Diego to New York City you paid someone from the Pony Express or a courier to basically ride a horse across the country (do the math – average 12 to 20 mph and travel 2200 miles or so). That wasn’t effective and in the end the Pony Express was replaced by the telegraph. It was expensive to hang wire so you still had to get from the telegraph office to your place of business and back but the message could be sent in hours not weeks. From there the telephone, facsimile and then email.

That was IT cutting months out of a communication process. The speed of business increased radically. In fact you can take many examples of IT speeding up the business. Cloud presents some really interesting opportunities to speed up your business.

First off for a new company you don’t have to buy IT gear anymore. Other than someone to manage your actual local area network you don’t even need IT anymore. You simply rent a consultant to manage your LAN and you purchase everything else as SaaS offerings. The cost in the end of growing a business quickly goes down with cloud. So does the time it takes to get an infrastructure that supports your business up and running.

That isn’t ITaaS that is a cloud offering. The ITaaS is the person managing the LAN. You bring them in when you have an issue, otherwise you never see them or pay for them. That works great for small startups and new companies. Larger companies end up running into issues that slowly require bringing some manner of IT staff on-site. Going back to one of my personal favorite books the Blue Ocean Theory companies embroiled in a cost cutting red ocean would love ITaaS. Until they create a Blue Ocean advantage.

You see once you have created the advantage that is your companies Blue Ocean, you have to work really hard to keep that advantage. Innovation can end up being “a what have you done for me lately” game, if you don’t watch out. So then we introduce the new concept. ITaaV. That’s right IT as a Value add for the business. IT as a partner in the Blue Ocean and a driver in that process. ITaaS is a great start but in the end ITaaV is a better end.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.