The digital transformation we are witnessing today has catapulted IT to a role of prominence, innovation, and leadership. IT must now understand more than just technology architectures, it must understand the business drivers and goals of the company that it serves. Innovation and new ideas are the building blocks of business today and it is the job of IT to provide the technology to help make those ideas come to fruition. This is one of the factors leading companies to adopt a Hybrid IT model. But this shift has less to do with technology and more to do with operations management, policies and procedures and the delivery of IT services. A good exercise for developing a hybrid IT strategy begins with asking leadership to re-examine the role that the IT department holds within the organization, with questions such as:
- Is the IT department an appreciated, but enigmatic department within the organization?
- Does management only call IT when there is a problem or interruption to operations?
- Does IT have an active role within the company’s leadership to drive corporate strategy?
- Does IT simply navigate its own ship and direct large capital investments on its own?
- Does IT offer the services that users want or are users going elsewhere?
That last question can be an uneasy and awkward one. After all, aren’t company users a captive audience of the IT department? Doesn’t the internal IT leadership dictate the technology needs of the company?
They did, at one time, but no longer. Thanks to the consumerization of IT and the immense competition of external IT and the cloud, corporate IT is no longer the only brand within the organization.
Taking a look at the non-technical challenges of Hybrid IT
What are some challenges companies face when making this transition to custom technology solutions like Hybrid IT? This past June, we teamed up with IDG to conduct industry research amongst IT decision makers to get a snapshot of the real or perceived hurdles involved in switching to a hybrid IT model.
When we asked IT decision makers if there have been challenges to implementing a hybrid IT model, we found that only 8 percent of enterprises are not embracing hybrid IT. But those who have transitioned are facing some barriers; only 16 percent of those migrating to a hybrid IT environment report to facing no challenges along the way. While there are technical hurdles, the following two challenges revolve around the people at your organization.
Challenge 1: Acquiring and Retaining Talent for a Hybrid World
In a survey conducted by SolarWinds, 63 percent of IT leaders said a skills gap was one of the five biggest challenges of hybrid IT and cloud. Similarly, 62 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicated that was requiring them to acquire new skills while 11 percent say the cloud and hybrid IT have altered their career path.
What skillsets are needed? In a recent whitepaper, Microsoft lays out some of the critical roles required by organizations implementing hybrid IT. These include a Business Liaison, Data Center Manager, Security Specialist and Software Architect. The high demand for those professionals with the desired skills sets is evident in the certification industry. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect was the #1 most demanded certification in 2015 and #3 today, boasting an average yearly compensation of $125,000.
What’s stopping companies from filling these roles? Finding talent with the knowledge base to support emerging technologies can be a real inhibitor. Compounding this challenge is undergoing the delicate balancing act of retaining one’s current staff that has the expertise and experience to support the existing on premise infrastructure. Just as difficult, motivating your existing talent to constantly learn while still performing their regular job duties can be a challenge.
Challenge 2: Navigating the Politics of Change
According to our very own David Fafel, “The biggest hurdle of implementing hybrid IT isn’t technological, it’s political.” This is understandable as change always encounters some level of resistance; it’s in our human nature. By increasing the agility and flexibility of IT, the enterprise is also negating the centralized power and gatekeeping role that has been adopted over time. Hybrid IT is about decentralizing resources and technical authority.
It can be difficult to dismantle the traditional IT infrastructure when it took years to create. After so much invested time and resources, many IT leaders will not want to simply rebuild it all in the cloud. Because of this, morale may suffer as those who feel they lack the skills to succeed in the new environment question their role and future in the organization.
It is important not to underestimate the importance of being prepared for political backlash. IT leaders need to identify change agents within the department who are willing to help promote the transition. Selling the team and senior management on the advantages is important, and giving others a forum to express their concerns will help lessen any automatic resistance.
The challenges of custom technology solutions like hybrid IT are indeed real, but the payoffs are enormous. Elasticity and agility are compulsory attributes required by organizations today in order to succeed. Those that approach these challenges with the same sense of flexibility will be able to quickly reap the rewards of hybrid IT. To learn more about the benefits of hybrid IT, read our white paper, "An Introduction to the New IT Approach Called Hybrid IT."