Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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The Changing Face of IT: part II of II

Question: How many IT Consultants does it take to migrate a business into the cloud?

Answer: What’s an IT Consultant?

Last week we trashed “traditional” IT – it’s too support-oriented and doesn’t deliver the client-side innovation that SaaS and cloud computing demand. Businesses need more from IT and IT technicians and consultants aren’t delivering. Well, who can? Where is this “new” IT guy? What does he or she call themselves? What are they?

This is a problem we deal with at VM all the time. We’re IT consultants, sure – but then again, we’re not. We’re also not the only ones thinking about this: Dennis Stevenson calls himself a “change agent,” a term appropriated from Seth Godin, marketer extraordinaire and self-proclaimed “Agent of Change.”

We like Change Agent, but it’s not sector specific and doesn’t capture the whole picture. We’re trying out “Value Migration Architect” but it’s only half-good. “Value Migration” captures the movement of business processes, but “Architect” ineptly evokes buildings, bridges, buttresses… it’s immobile, unchanging.

The world is at a digital tipping point where everyone, business included, is spending more time in the cloud. Dealing with that tipping point isn’t about construction and design, but about navigation and transitions. It’s about foresight, vision and the anticipation of a new technological era. It’s about minor corrections and major swerves. It’s about knowing that your sales rep could probably do 99% of their job from a smartphone but isn’t.

These days, IT consultants should be migrating business value, not building applications – leave that for the SaaS vendors. Compasses, GPS, steering wheels – these are the metaphorical tools we need. We blaze trails, build outposts and bridges. We connect generations, cultures, histories and ideas. It’s grand stuff. We are vanguards for the future of business solutions.

Enter the Vanguard

As ‘vanguards’ like ourselves and others replace the traditional IT consultant, our role is to squeeze as much value out of technology as possible. Vanguards must make informed decisions about emerging technology and develop strong relationships with innovative and responsible software vendors. We are buyer advocates, freelance CIOs, and are generally grumpy about poor user interfaces and retro-thinking. We start from the perspective of the business owner, and we genuinely care about the end-user (you know, those people who use the software?).

Throw out the systems solution consulting crap, your company doesn’t need it. If you’re a business owner or manager, insist that IT reinvigorate legacy solutions, and insist that users reevaluate legacy processes. Business should leverage ‘today’, not yesterday. Tomorrow demands it.

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.