Dec 21 2011   5:08PM GMT

Trend without end, ‘IT as a services broker’ will go beyond 2012

Karen Goulart Karen Goulart Profile: Karen Goulart

Just as surely as you’ll hear that Mariah Carey Christmas song 900 more times between now and Sunday, you’re sure to keep running into 2012 prognostications on your daily travels around our family of sites between now and mid-January. Because it’s such a cheery time of year, I like to think of these as little gifts to our readers. I hope you don’t mind if I add one to the pile.

What I have to offer is not so much a guess at a trend as a sure thing. How do I know this? Because it’s already happening. I’ve been talking to analysts and CIOs about the idea of the IT organization as a services broker. IT as a services broker is a trend my colleagues have written about previously, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere but forward. From small and medium-sized businesses to large enterprises, IT organizations more and more are responding to the one-two punch of the consumerization of IT and an unstable economy by getting lean and decidedly less “mean.”

To keep up with the demand for flexibility from the business and to keep costs in check, IT leaders are positioning their organizations and themselves as facilitators of technology services rather than as the managers and mainframe-minders of yore. To remain relevant and keep tech missteps by the business at bay, IT is retaking the cloud reins from customers and stepping in to take over a myriad of cloud vendor relationships.

It’s not an overnight change. It requires a lot of planning, of course, and a lot of talking with the business to get to know customers’ needs and soften the Grinch-like reputation of the “Department of No.” The biggest benefits (sure to make eyes light up and hearts grow three sizes in the C-suite) are the financial ones. Done right, Chief Technology Officer Abdullah Haydar said, the financial benefits are huge. Think no more periodic hardware refreshes, leaner staff, less downtime for maintenance. In fact, a focus on finance is really the key here, he said.

The most important thing to do when setting down this services path, Haydar said, is to evaluate the ROI and present a business case. And for goodness sake, don’t rush it.

“Any CIO can tell you a huge number of projects fail because people rush in,” Haydar said. “If you migrate haphazardly, you risk having colossal failures, you risk having your systems fail. You have to have proper planning and proper management … there is nothing about this [strategy] that says the same lessons don’t apply. You need proper planning and a business case. You have to prove it’s worthwhile and have a plan of execution.”

I hope you’ll check out the full story after the holidays and share your thoughts on the whole concept of IT as a services broker. And when you do, feel free to “regift” it on the social media platform of your choice — I won’t be offended at all!

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