Friday, April 11, 2014

How to Sell IT Projects to the C-Suite

By Lynda Stadtmueller
Program Director, Cloud Computing
Frost & Sullivan

If your company is like most, the IT department is facing a resource problem. Demands for new and higher performing technology are straining budgets (capital and operating) and technical staff. In fact, IT transformation initiatives are nearly always triggered by the need to do more with less.
Which is exactly the wrong approach when you’re looking to gain the support you need from your company’s leadership team to implement IT infrastructure projects such as a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC).
Truth is, the C-suite has better things to focus on than the IT department’s operational inefficiencies. Like corporate revenue growth. Market expansion. Innovation. Quickly responding to—or better yet, anticipating—changes in customer buying behavior. As the old business adage points out, “No company ever downsized its way to greatness.”
In this context, petitioning for budget to “optimize” IT infrastructure and operations appears narrow in scope and somewhat self-serving. The C-suite understands the concept of investing money to save money, but such projects will almost certainly be given a lower priority than projects that invest money to make money.
For this reason, IT managers must make an effort to step outside the data center walls and understand the decision as a strategic investment for the whole business, rather than a way to make life easier for IT employees. Furthermore, they must learn to position the initiative in terms that resonate with the C-suite. This means focusing on benefits to the business. For greatest impact, align the benefits with your company’s top corporate objectives, using the language that appears in your annual report or CEO’s “state of the business” address.
For example, you may want to address benefits such as:
  • Agility: To a business leader, “agility” means speed of execution, without compromise in quality. Good ideas and smart business decisions—whether new product introductions, new operating processes, or new technologies—need to be moved quickly to production, enabling the business to reap the benefits and move on to the next project. An SDDC helps the company in its quest to become more agile. By introducing high levels of automation and standardization to technology deployments, the SDDC platform enables IT to support business needs for new or enhanced applications. This enables the business to respond quickly to changing market or competitive conditions.
  • Innovation: The word “innovation” may get the prize for the most appearances in annual reports in the past few years, but few C-suite executives consider it a mere buzzword. At a time when global competition has increased customer choices in most industries, it is not enough to keep selling the same suite of products and services. Companies must retain and grow their customer bases by continually bringing something new to the market. To do this, they need to be able to attract the best and brightest employees to run their product organizations, operations, and IT. SDDC can provide the technical foundation to bring a culture of innovation to the business. With SDDC, technology solutions are deployed quickly. And, the solutions can be pulled down just as quickly – an important factor to innovative businesses that give their employees permission to “fail quickly.” For operations, development, and IT technicians, the SDDC automates many “grunt work” tasks of infrastructure management, thus freeing up time and mental energy to encourage creativity.
  • Customer responsiveness: In the old days, IT was responsible only to internal organizations, rather than to customers. No more. Today, most consumer and business customers expect to interact with their business partners via customer portals and Web interfaces. Furthermore, they have high expectations for the experience: 24/7 availability; account data that is accurate, fast-loading, and secure; integrated experience across channels (e.g., contact center, web portal, phone, email, live chat). With an SDDC, provisioning infrastructure to support high-performance applications is much faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective than in traditional data centers. You can assure consistent performance, even when the number of users fluctuates, and easily support a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. You can even configure your SDDC to support a hybrid cloud environment, offering your company maximum flexibility to deploy infrastructure resources as needed.
  • Financial responsibility: While cost-cutting may not show up on your CEO’s list of objectives, you can be sure that financial responsibility is of utmost importance to your leaders, board of directors, and shareholders. An SDDC allows your business to correlate technology costs with usage, thus giving your company a valuable window into its investments that was never possible before. Data from the SDDC management system can allow your company to allocate actual costs to the incurring departments, thus enforcing accountability and providing valuable real-time data to shape future decisions.
In some companies, C-level executives still think of IT as overhead: a budget-sapping necessity that more or less keeps the company’s technology running. SDDC offers an opportunity for IT to exercise its strategic muscles. By defining SDDC benefits in terms that align with corporate business objectives, the IT department positions itself to attain the budget and support it needs to transform.
For more information on transforming your business with an SDDC, visit the VMware SDDC website.

1 comment:

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