IT is a little odd; success is not only measured by what you do - more often than not, it’s about how people feel about what you do. I used to know a guy who was so charming, he could take you to dinner, buy you a $5 sandwich, and you’d feel like you just got the royal treatment. That’s what your IT department has to be like: sandwich budget, filet mignon emotions. At Zendesk, the cloud plays a big part in making our people feel good about IT. It brings a positive element to our office environment, and as a result, we all work together that much better.
There are obvious reasons for IT people to love the convenience of the cloud; however, there are some qualitative benefits that are a little less talked about, and those have just as big an impact.
1. People are more likely to love the systems you give them. The consumerization of cloud apps allows IT pros to offer people systems that they are destined to enjoy. The new generation of enterprise cloud apps is being developed by companies with a strong creative and aesthetic ethic, so these solutions are simple, clean, extraordinarily user-friendly and even a tiny bit fun. They have easy rollout paths, and your people will love you for making them available.
2. Upgrades are stress-free. Okay, IT leaders, chime in if you’ve had a conversation with your CFO that goes like this: “Well, I’m sorry to break the news, but your license version is almost out of support, and if the servers go down, you’ll be unable to run your department for a week. Don’t worry, though. I can fix it in six months for only $2 million. And no, that won’t buy you any additional functionality.” None of that applies with the cloud. Never again will you have to pitch a time-consuming, expensive upgrade or DR project to the CFO, smoothing out the communication between you and your CFO.
3. Features come right to you. Features are like cake. Cake makes people happy. Interestingly, your colleagues don’t care if you slaved for hours in the kitchen and picked up special ingredients from across the world to make that cake. They would be just as happy if you had something good delivered by a nearby bakery, and a good cloud app is like having the best bakery in town around the corner. With the cloud, you’ve effectively hired an external team whose core competency is making great cake, but it’s your own team that gets to serve it, feel good about it and take all the credit. The cloud makes your team look smarter and faster.
4. Your team only gets involved with the tough, most gratifying work. By giving end users the features they need to easily customize their experience, cloud apps cut down on the noise. Once administration is safely delegated, smaller enhancement requests don’t reach you. The requests that do are the truly valuable, tougher asks: the strategic, cross-functional, high impact, highly visible programs. They may be revenue impacting, they may squarely address data cleanliness and decision support, or they may go to the heart of the customer experience. People will come to IT for help with those initiatives because they couldn’t make it happen without you. These are the projects your C-level executives need to meet their objectives, and your IT team will know that their day-to-day work really does make a difference in the fate of the company.
5. Your IT team is made up of people who understand the business, not just the technical minutiae. The new reliance on cloud configuration means that you are able to bring on an entirely different type of resource for the department. They may not come from IT at all. Your ideal new hire will bring deep collaboration and consultation skills to your team, blending right in as an extension of your operations groups. They will know the business as well as the business does, and can act as a connector between IT and the company at large.
Being in IT is more fun and more rewarding than it’s ever been. The cloud up-levels the ease, beauty and user-friendliness of the systems that companies use to run critical day-to-day operations, making the daily interactions between the IT team and the end users that much simpler and smoother. We run Zendesk on Zendesk for support, internal helpdesks and ITSM functions, and also use cloud apps for financials, business intelligence, integration, marketing, sales compensation, forecasting and several other key functions. New solutions are coming into the marketplace each quarter and many that are already on the market are more than ready for the enterprise, making now the perfect time to test out the cloud.
So if you’re looking into a new solution, try restricting your search to SaaS (News - Alert) apps. If you have licenses software coming out of support, try a side-by-side pilot in the cloud before going right for the renewal negotiation. It doesn’t matter what business process you choose, just jump in.
Mindy Lieberman is the VP of IT at Zendesk. Before Zendesk, Mindy headed the IT Applications group at Salesforce, building out technology solutions to support internal business units. Mindy has also served as VP of Operations and Engineering at Edgenuity, a SaaS start-up providing analytics for K-12 education, and had spent over 9 years in various technology and management roles in Cisco. Mindy is a champion for delivering quality and for employing Agile (News - Alert) development methodologies. She holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from U.C. Berkeley, and a bachelors from The Cooper Union.