IT Companies: When the Cloud Revolutionizes Services

If the Cloud unquestionably responds in an innovative and effective way to a continuous enrichment of the many features it offers us, combined with an efficient business model, what about the services offered by the IT Service Companies to operate them?

Between the mechanisms specific to the Cloud model, the evolving customer needs and employees who aspire to other modes of operation, the IT Service Companies are facing the risk of disappearing from the necessary revolution of their processes and their business model, and to the redefining the human being at work as part of an extended enterprise.

An increase in functional richness thanks to the Cloud

Who would have bet this, in view of the resistances especially related to the data security, that the Cloud model would impose itself so quickly in France and all over the World.

An adoption facilitated by:

  • The economic aspects of such solutions: we only pay for the products used, but moreover we no longer manage operating constraints, backups, migrations from one version to another and other technical topics that are costly in terms of time and skills, all of which are supported by the publisher.
  • Their tactical and strategic interest, since we benefit continuously from all the improvements made to the product by the editor (modifications of the existing functionalities but also innovations) without going through the releases and the versions which, in the past, did not very often allow our business to continuously improve their practices and processes. This way of providing software services is also accompanied by an extraordinary proliferation of specialized features: If we compare the On Premise version of Lotus Notes, major star of French Key Accounts for many years in the field of Messaging and Collaboration services, with Microsoft Office 365 that has dethroned it, we see a number of features that are incredibly richer and more numerous for the latter.

So we live, it seems, a great time, with at our disposal rich features usable on various devices, from all places and at any time, and offering us in addition continuous improvements, for a known set price.

But a more delicate Operations Management activity

At the same time, we are seeing some very significant new developments:

  • The need to continually process and maintain optimal operating conditions, many complex organizational and technical issues related to governance, technology watch, innovation, support for digital transformation and use, system hybridization , security, massive use of mobile devices, …
  • A proliferation of short requests from our users, unpredictable demands over time, depending on their appropriation of products and the functional richness of the solutions.
  • The difficulty of committing oneself as in a conventional outsourcing, on a perimeter defined by a catalog of services, whose field will be modified and adapted continuously to take into account the evolutions of the existing functionalities, but also the innovations of the Cloud solution considered.

Which does not mean, as we will see later, that we cannot engage with more relevance than in the past, when the majority of IT Service Companies respond by simply proposing technical assistance

With employees whose aspirations change

At the same time, we are also seeing the appetite of young, or not so young, engineers to want to be free of their choices and their missions, thus leading them to freelance functions rather than salaried positions, with, without doubt, some financial advantages. but with the disadvantages of low participation in social life and difficulty in projecting teamwork.

A team work that on the other hand seems to us to be the alpha and the omega of the practices of our jobs which become more complex and do not allow in any way to a consultant alone to be able to claim to Master a platform such as Office 365 as a whole.

Just define the ideal profile of an Office 365 technical architect to realize that unless you are a mutant with many brains and a work force that allows you to work and at the same time to analyze and to continuously absorb the hundreds of annual evolutions of the product and all related third-party products, there is no salvation out of teamwork.

Cloud platforms respond to necessary changes, but do not always respect the Human

Another important observation of our time is the emergence of Cloud working platforms, which are supposed to accompany the transformation of our service supplies.

Apart from marketplaces bringing closer customer requests and offers provided by IT Service Companies, the majority of them are addressed exclusively to Freelancers.

Many of them release the Freelancers from the “administrative” aspects of their work, but they are often limited to a more or less sophisticated relationship between the client and the supplier.

For others it is a question of proposing to carry out often low value added tasks, and to propose them “on the fly” to a multitude of actors able to execute them.

In any case, the current emerging models are mostly exclusively economic models that could be described as hyper capitalist as the human seems to be only a variable of adjustment of the production, these platforms being concerned at best to ensure that a task is adapted technically and financially on demand, and to monitor customer satisfaction.

The human at work is only perceived on his dimensions of punctual know-how and financial adaptation, and in no way seen as a social actor.

IT Service Companies with practices of another age

And during this time the IT Service Companies continue for the most part to function as before the advent of the Cloud, and are very far, for the vast majority of them, to have understood, integrated, and began to support the necessary change to operate in their habits and ways of doing things that date back to “another century”.

As if nothing was to change, they continue to reason in terms of:

  • Technical Assistance, model built on the following principles:

o The external consultant who operates services is almost considered an employee of the client, who contributes greatly to providing and organizing his work. Comfortable position for IT Service Companies but which makes it very difficult to adapt responsively and flexibly the necessary and sufficient production capacities to optimally respond to the upward or downward variation in users’ demands for unpredictable service, while only billing what is actually consumed.

o To respond to a given need, call on a “knowledgeable” consultant, rather than an extensive team, who would know how to divide the problems to be addressed and assign them to the experts for resolution. It is however an imperative in the Cloud model, where the great functional wealth and its continuous evolution, makes it impossible for a consultant to master all the necessary knowledge

  • Flat-rate Commitment, which requires, to be contracted, to define a finite scope of intervention, a nonsense in a world where modifications and innovations are questioning continuously this finite perimeter of intervention.

With a few exceptions for well-defined projects, these two intervention models are both unsuitable for Cloud solutions, and only one On Demand service is suitable in all other cases: This consists of responding to demand and billing accordingly a service to provide, by designating in an extended community, the consultant or consultants best suited to treat it, with the certainty that one pays only what one consumes. This model is in fact a succession of mini-commitments made on demand.

The Cloud will become what it needs to be: A product on demand with a service on demand. Paying only what you use finally becomes totally possible.

eCom CS: An Extended Enterprise operated through a CoFactory

The path will probably be long, and eCom Cs has been going since 2015 to transform itself especially on the service offering around Microsoft Office 365.

Our methodological approach of services is called OnWay and the CoFactory, term which we use to designate the concept of platform Cloud which it seemed us necessary to build to operate it, was called OnTime.

Based on the notion of extended enterprise, a CoFactory is a Cloud working platform, operated by a community of employees but also freelancers, which allows for a customer and for a given product:

  • To establish its technical and governance referential
  • To follow the evolutions and innovations of the product
  • To help with digital innovation and support for usages
  • Through continuously evolving catalogs with the evolution of the product’s functionalities, to provide on demand and thus to invoice on demand many services (you only pay what you consume), with most of the commitment with Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and fixed Work Units (WUs).
  • To provide these services 24 hours a day with a primacy of the team compared to an individual, as talented as he is
  • To guarantee administrative, contractual and financial aspects by committing to optimal quality assurance and security.

Beyond all the mechanisms for receiving, distributing and supplying our customers’ requests, a CoFactory provides the extended community (employees and self-employed) with the devices and tools necessary to:

  • Train continuously
  • Share the know-how
  • Participate in evolution projects of the platform and its services
  • Share gains and benefits
  • Participate in social life and build a strong community with decision-making and bargaining power

This concept of CoFactory based on the notion of extended enterprise, is the only one to allow, faced with the new challenges induced by the Cloud model, to respond with the greatest relevance and responsiveness:

  • To the many unpredictable demands of our users,
  • Complex organizational and technical demands
  • Maintenance of a product that the editor continuously updates
  • Making the most of innovations to help our businesses be relevant and responsive
  • For those who operate the services provided to customers, to be fully considered as social actors.

Angel Morales

General manager

This post is also available in: French