There are many job roles that are perceived to be innovative and leading the charge in digital economy – Data scientists, Digital Marketers, Social Media Specialists, etc. Additionally, DEJ’s research shows that:

  • IT Operations are lagging behind developers when it comes to delivering services for 59% of organizations
  • 53% of organizations are reporting that they are looking to allocate more IT resources from just keeping “the lights on” to innovation
  • 39% are reporting that their IT staff (mainly IT Operations) need to learn more skills to be successful in digital economy
  • 64% are reporting that one of the main barriers for managing IT are silos created by different IT groups

It might be perceived that becoming a digital business is being bogged down by the work that IT operations is doing (or not doing).

DEJ’s research shows that the key goals for CIOs and digital transformation leaders for 2017 are:

  • Use technology as a source of competitive advantage (61%)
  • Make IT more strategic (57%)
  • Enable seamless deployments of new technologies (38%)

A look at the goals of CIOs and IT Operations shows that they are fairly similar and the work that IT operations is doing enables some of the key initiatives for CIOs. From there, it could be concluded that improving the effectiveness of IT operations is very high on CIOs agendas. On the contrary, it is not even in the top 5.

DEJ’s research shows at least 16 major challenges that 30% or more IT operations professionals reported, and many of these have been on their list for over 5 years. So why it so hard to fix IT Operations?

One of the key reasons is that, for many issues in IT Operations, no one is solely responsible (other than maybe a CIO himself – but on a much higher level). Also, for many organizations, IT operations tasks are often being conducted reactively and ad hoc.

There are many different theories and strategies about to how to transform an enterprise or IT departments, but there are very few about how to strategically transform IT operations and the role that it plays. Digital transformation and most major corporate initiatives run through IT Operations and the areas that this team is responsible for. Modernization of IT operations should be a key item on the agendas of organizations and this will require an introduction of a new job role.

IT Operations Transformation Principal (ITOTP)

Before we propose what this role could be, let’s first take a look at what it should NOT be:

  • This is not a business role. This is a role for someone who knows IT Operations inside out, has a strategic way of thinking and is business savvy
  • This is not, by any means, a C-level role
  • This is not a supervisor role for someone who just wants to ensure that members of his team do their job and are following the same rules and procedures from the past
  • This is not a Service Delivery Manager or some type of IT generalist role that is in charge of a single IT service (VoIP), Web, etc.), but in charge of the entire work of an IT operations group instead
  • This is not a member of the “other part” of a bi-dual IT team

This is the role for someone who can ask questions:

  • Why do we have this many tools when we are not even using most of them (or using partially)? Where can we cut and how?
  • Why can’t I manage my entire infrastructure through a single platform?
  • Why are we trying to build our monitoring capabilities ourselves, while we already proven it doesn’t work?
  • Why are we trying to monitor hybrid environments with legacy tools? Why are we using different sets of monitoring tools, one for on premise, one for the Cloud? How is that working for us?
  • Why is it that only my team is the one on call, if we are not the ones that end up fixing the problem?
  • Why have we been struggling with alarm fatigue for years and what can we do to fix it?
  • What is our strategy around automation, machine learning data management?
  • And FINALLY – how do we become an example for an entire organization of how things can be transformed and push the entire organization to learn from us?

This is also a role for someone who knows how to:

  • See the big picture and recognize the business value created by IT Operations, which sometimes ends up being locked within the IT
  • “Manage up” and knows how to push practices that work for his team all the way to the boardroom
  • Communicate where his team fits into all major strategic initiatives of the organization
  • Manage his own P&L statement well

This person ‘s job doesn’t overlap with the CIO’s. With the introduction of this role, a CIO can focus on putting  a technology into place that can be used as a source of competitive advantage, while ITOTP’s job would be to either ensure that whatever technology a CIO puts into place performs well, or has enough power to say “this will not work and I am not taking responsibility for it”.

An ITOTP’s job does not overlap with the IT Director’s responsibilities either, as this person is not in charge of running and building services and systems, but rather “breaking glass” and setting the direction of where IT Operations should go and how it should work.

In short, an ITOTP should be someone who has enough knowledge and experience to see problems across entire IT Operations teams and has been given power and a budget from the C-level to resolve them.

Digital transformation is a complex and challenging task, and many people are still struggling  to understand what it means and what the end result will look like (if there is a such a thing as “the end result” in digital transformation). Transforming one department is an often very difficult task and trying to transform an entire organization could be an overwhelming mission that could easily set it back. However, one smaller, transformed and improved part can be the cell from which healthier and more advanced organisms can grow.