Among the challenges of wearing the multiple hats necessary to successfully to manage information technology and security in a mid-market company is the nagging perception of being a cost-center provider of infrastructure services.
Since business has a natural tendency to reduce costs, it increases the challenge of providing the right services, growth and proper level of security to meet the changing demands of business – while doing “more with less” budget, time and staff.
The rise of cloud solutions provides a unique opportunity to continue to provide necessary infrastructure services – but in a way that shifts the role from “provider of IT” to “trusted business advisor.”
Understanding three key business drivers
In my experience, a business is necessarily focused on three core elements:
- Make more money (commonly called top line revenue)
- Save more money (often called the bottom line)
- Use existing resources better (I call that common sense)
Key to making the transition from cost-center to trusted business advisor is understanding how each of these three elements impacts the business – and how the infrastructure, including security, impacts them.
Cloud computing provides a range of benefits; one of the more attractive draws is the opportunity to take advantage of the enterprise-quality security built into some solutions in a way that provides an advantage to the business.
The opportunity goes deeper: shift perception of role and value by engaging the business and involving them in a solution that successfully solves one (or more) of their challenges resulting in:
- Increased efficiency (and/or reduced costs): with the right planning and implementation, this means it’s actually possible to do more with less, freeing up time and energy to focus on other issues
- Improved security: selecting a cloud provider that adheres to industry standards to protect information can bolster overall security efforts for a lower cost, all while improving efficiency and benefitting the business
- Improves the business in a direct and demonstrable way: solving someone else’s problem while also addressing challenges of securing the infrastructure is a smart way to demonstrate a broader role in helping advance the business
Three ways to make the switch from cost-center-provider to trusted business advisor:
- Look for an opportunity to solve a business challenge, with a twist: prove it is possible to be secure and innovate while meeting one of the three core needs (outlined above)
- Invest in effective communication: effective communication puts the onus on the communicator to ensure the right message was delivered, mutually understood and acted on; it takes a disciplined approach, but the outcome is what drives success (stay tuned to this blog [RSS feed] and weekly newsletter [subscribe here] for continued focus on effectively communicating value)
- Translate experience and insight into functional outcomes: instead of talking about technology, place emphasis on the functional outcomes and the experience; use this to both gain buy-in (and recognition as an advisor) and to drive selection of the right solution provider [gain some additional tips from this recent webinar]
This transformation starts with a fundamental shift in mindset. By considering key drivers and the current business challenges, it’s possible to find a cloud provider that increases security, improves operations and directly benefits the business – and your career.
The key is to get started – and you are not alone. You have my support, as well as the support of an entire community of people focused on addressing the needs of mid-market challenges.
How can I help you pick the right path, communicate the value effectively and make the switch?
Leave a note in the comments, schedule some time to speak with me (no strings) or engage with me on twitter (@catalyst).
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.