IT Sales People Need to Sell to Both the CIO & the COO
The roles of the enterprise CIO and COO are rapidly coming together around IT strategy. This means that sales people from vendors and service providers of all sizes are going to have to develop far more compelling propositions if they are going to be successful in this new environment.
Although the roles of the enterprise CIO and COO have always been on a convergence path, with public, private and service-provider cloud services increasingly driving an IT industry-wide revolution, maintenance of service levels, risk mitigation, compliance and cost control are going to be even more central to determining the levels and focus areas of enterprise IT investment over the next two years.
The new Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has heralded four ‘mega trends’ that constitute the future of a modern enterprise infrastructure:
the software-driven data centre;
the ‘consumerisation of IT’ (transforming IT to be much more people-centric while still being able to be able to set compliance and policy, which is very much in line with Cisco’s BYOD);
Big Data (that can only be managed across distributed platforms);
and DevOps (reengineering the way developers and operations professionals support and lead the ongoing improvement and continuous integration of the new environment).
Collectively, these trends may simply form a Microsoft-centric view of the world. However, Microsoft is still a dominant player in the enterprise and VMWare, Cisco, HP and IBM are all pretty much aligned to this view.
Although all of these concepts have been around for at least ten years in one form or another, enterprises are now reaching the point where they have to have a strategy for distributed computing that embraces private, public and service provider cloud environments. Similarly, sales people are going to have to develop a strategically compelling proposition that enables and de-risks that strategy, with a clear line of sight in terms of how the proposition directly contributes to the strategic and operational goals of the buying enterprise.
In a recent TechRepublic survey, only 2 percent of corporate enterprise respondents said that they were planning public cloud projects due to technology readiness and compliance and regulation issues. However, it said that the most popular technology for adoption will be cloud platforms, followed by management and automation tools which are necessary for virtualised data centres. Most enterprises are taking a wait-and-see attitude to new ‘micro-server’ technology. The survey concluded that spending on infrastructure will plateau over the next two years as IT decision makers pay more attention to service-provider solutions and software-defined data centers.
Satya Nadella has already said that the critical success factor for Microsoft and other vendors persuading enterprises to truly adopt the cloud is the true realisation of distributed computing. The four enablers for this happening are as follows:
next generation identity management;
performance guarantee across a virtualised ‘workloads’;
making the management of the complexity more simple;
and service consistency across multiple (private, public and service provider) clouds.
However, we believe the enablers need to be far more strategically articulated at the CIO/COO levels and need to focus on the realisation of corporate goals; the maintenance of service levels; risk mitigation; compliance; and cost control.
For today’s IT sales people, the main competition in the high-value enterprise solutions space is the buyers’ ‘let’s wait and see’ mind-set. If they are to be convinced that investment will deliver the benefits, then solutions sales people will need to raise their game and lead both the CIO’s and COO’s thoughts through this critical stage in the revolutionary journey.