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Wissam Raffoul

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Dr. Wissam Raffoul is an IBRS advisor who specialises in transforming IT groups into service organisations, with particular expertise in IT Service Management (ITSM), process optimisation, outsourcing and cloud strategies, enterprise systems management solutions and business-centric IT strategies. Prior to joining IBRS in August 2013, he was General Manager strategic consulting in Dimension Data advising clients on applying technology to improve business performance. Prior to joining Dimension Data, he was a Vice President in Gartner /META Group and issued various research publications covering service delivery processes, centre-of-excellence models, managing outsourcing vendors, benchmarks, maturity models, IT procurement evolution and supply/demand models. In previous positions, he headed HP ITSM consulting Practice in Australia. He also acted as an infrastructure manager, reporting to the CIO at a number of large organisations in government and in the financial and petrochemical industries.

Conclusion: IT organisations adopting IT-as-a-Service practices are often challenged by limited resources to meet service demands, especially in the IT Operations space. IT operations groups should develop supply/demand models that link to business priorities and ensure funds allocation. These models will enable IT organisations to meet client necessities, clear workload backlogs, and set the foundation for effective resource management methods.


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Conclusion: with the increased adoption of SaaS for business systems (e. g. ERP), new SaaS providers continue to appear in the market. While those providers are offering easy-to-use products and low start-up costs compared to running in-house business systems services, there is a risk that some service providers might cease to do business. As a result, SaaS clients will be at risk recovering services on time and without data loss. To address this issue, several escrow services have been evolving. IT organisations wishing to migrate critical services to public SaaS should explore escrow1 services. Unfortunately, escrow service costs have to-date been fully absorbed by the buyer. In this light, IT organisations should incorporate the escrow services cost into the SaaS migration business case.


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Conclusion: Running IT-as-a-Service requires offering broad IT services tied to external-value that goes beyond meeting or exceeding SLA targets. This is because the majority of existing SLAs are IT centric and vaguely relate to business value. Much of this issue is related to IT Groups’ lack of business analysis skills and IT ad hoc methods to comprehend business strategic requirements. As a result, business lines perceive IT as a support function instead of being a strategic business partner.


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Many Australian IT organisations have been implementing Configuration Management practices since 1994. However, with limited success when assessed against the key objectives of Configuration Management process and its associated database (CMDB).


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Conclusion: Cloud migration should not be a quick and dirty job just to upload the current business systems with their inefficiencies, only to get rid of the in-house hardware ownership. It should be considered as an opportunity to clean IT and business inefficiencies at the same time. IT organisations wishing to migrate to public Cloud require a new methodology to avoid incurring unforeseen consumption cost and to address business processes overheads. Strategies are needed to measure code inefficiencies and develop a remedy roadmap whilst building the case for public Cloud. Only efficient code should be released to public Cloud unless there are other benefits which make the overall migration cost-effective. This will ensure IaaS usage remains within IT budget.


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Conclusion: To reduce Service Desk costs and improve resources scheduling, some IT organisations are exploring the potential of Virtual Service Desk Agents to either improve self-service and/or reach to the right subject matter expert at the right time. However self-service success depends on the quality of information available to the virtual agents. It is critical for the virtual agent tool to be enabled by a mature service management engine that describes the service’s known errors and their resolution alternatives. Failure to do so will leave the virtual agent with no alternative but to call the live agents, thereby making the investment in virtual agent technology questionable.


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Conclusion: IT organisations developing IT policies in isolation from business units1 will face challenges to tie policies to business drivers and limit policies acceptance rate. IT organisations should formulate policies by involving business units at an early stage in policy scope discussion. IT best practices2 should be leveraged to develop reliable and practical policies. The resources needed to develop the new policies should come from both sides and a business benefits realisation plan should jointly be developed and tracked.


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Conclusion: Business-centric IT strategies are critical to run IT-as-a-Service1 because they attempt to integrate IT with business strategies. The rationale is to support business operations by implementing new technologies that reduce business risks, create business opportunities and achieve high levels of customer satisfaction.

Business-centric IT strategies focus on addressing the business critical issues by implementing new IT solutions in a timely and cost-effective manner. The proposed IT solutions should provide capabilities that address the current and emerging market forces such as consumerisation, mobility, social media and Cloud. This will signal to business lines that IT is being modernised to meet consumers’ exigent needs.

It is critical for business-centric IT strategies to be developed within two months to accelerate IT-as-a-Service transitioning.


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Conclusion: To improve business performance and/or reduce the cost of doing business, forward-thinking IT organisations are trying to run IT as a Service. However, they are challenged by long software implementation timescales, fragmented delivery processes and insufficient skilled resources to meet business demands.

To address these challenges, IT organisations should emulate the commercial practices related to delivering quality IT solutions at reasonable costs.


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Conclusion: While many IT organisations believe that using public IaaS (e.g. AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google) to host business applications is a cost-effective strategy, the lack of IaaS usage planning will most likely increase consumption cost. IBRS recommends that IT organisations undertake a self-assessment of their usage management practices prior to migration to public IaaS1.


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