Many of the expressions of love on this romantic day will be sent through e-mail and social media and many of the gifts delivered will have been organised and purchased in the same way and yet do we ever stop to consider that these mechanisms only exist because of the people and the effort they make in the often subterranean depths of the IT Department?
Do we ever feel compelled to find one of our IT Support guys and hug them and thank them for making sure our e-mail works? Of course we don’t. We take the existence of this staple of our lives for granted and have come to depend on it. Of course, when it does fail, as all IT does sometimes, we do often feel compelled to hug the IT Support guys. Gently. By the throat.
Many components within IT have become like a water supply in the majority of the World. Reliable. Dependable. A utility to be drawn upon whenever required. However, unlike many of the other utilities on which we depend daily, these utility IT services are not always delivered in that way. E-mail, for example, often sits on equipment in an organisation’s comms room and needs to be administered and cared for, a disaster recovery solution needs to be implemented and tested and there needs to be support on-call 24 hours a day in case there is a problem. All of this adds up to a high cost and, depending on the number of IT support staff, an unnecessary risk to an organisation.
And it isn’t just e-mail. Many systems in an organisation are standard and add no significant value, unless they don’t work. Identifying what is a utility within an organisation can be difficult because IT Departments will regard the majority of systems as adding value as those very systems are their reason for being. Catch-22.
However, if an organisation looks at managed service options for some core utility services the cost savings can be significant, not simply in the direct costs of not having to buy and maintain hardware and software but in the pressure on the IT support guys. It’s a rare IT support guy who genuinely enjoys supporting a standard system such as e-mail. They would much rather have the time for more interesting work.
There is still a degree of fear of ‘the cloud’ and moving important but utility systems into it. One of the most often cited fears is ‘lack of control’ of stuff in the cloud. The control argument often arises from IT itself who are essentially saying that a third party managed services provider won’t care for a system as much as an internal IT team. The likelihood is that a managed service provider will care more passionately because if they don’t then financial penalties will kick in and their reputation will be damaged. Also, IT support teams often don’t lavish that much care and attention on utility systems because they aren’t recognised for it. They don’t get the working e-mail hug! Managed service providers do hug their IT support guys for working e-mail though because it is a core deliverable in their business. It’s not a utility for a managed service provider: it’s a reason for their existence so the love dynamic changes.
So, you may never hug an IT Support guy for making your e-mail work, even on Valentine’s Day. However, you can change the way it is delivered and at least know an IT support guy somewhere who is making your e-mail work is getting a hug for doing it.