Refocusing IT’s role on business-enabling projects
I caught up with a friend recently who wanted to discuss his career. He is now a senior IT manager and likes his company. Nice culture, great compensation, and competitive benefits. But he was also quick to point out that something was missing. He doesn’t feel challenged in his current role and he’s absolutely bored. His skills, experience, and knowledge are barely being tapped, so naturally he’s looking around for other opportunities.
It’s not uncommon in IT organizations for engineers to continue growing in their expertise and yet find themselves taking on an increasing number of lower-level tasks. This can happen for a variety of reasons, notably via the growing complexity of managing networks. And it’s even exacerbated when organizational leaders are hamstrung by budget constraints and the inability to add resources. As a result, they default to asking their highly skilled network engineers to take on more.
It’s certainly not an optimal state to be in, and it is why IT leaders are rethinking not only how they retain talent, but also how they maximize the talent and expertise of their engineers and get the most value from their teams. This transition has been underway in recent years. IT leaders are shifting their business models from their networking organizations being a cost center to a strategic business-enabler. In order for their teams to take on new networking projects today, ROI plays a much bigger role in the go/no-go decision.
This notion of rethinking IT’s value stood out in the in-depth interviews we conducted with IT leaders as part of our research for our recent 2022 Global Networking Trends Report: The Rise of Network as a Service. We asked them what their reasons would be for moving to a NaaS model, what kinds of staff impacts they might expect, and the operational and financial benefits they were hoping NaaS would provide. It’s clear that these IT leaders see a lot more value in the innovation and new projects their teams can deliver versus being bogged down in the day-to-day minutia of troubleshooting and maintenance.
Taking a closer look, the global networking trends survey also revealed that the challenges organizations are facing are highly correlated with the benefits they hope NaaS will provide. For example, a third of the 1,500 respondents said that one of their top business-related challenges is the ‘ability to quickly accommodate new business applications or line of business projects.’ And correspondingly, nearly half (46%) said that ‘increased IT focus on delivering innovation and business value’ is the top benefit they expect from a NaaS solution.
Elevating IT’s role
At the end of the day, the best place for an engineer to be is in a role where their expertise is adding value, elevating both their career and their organization to a new level. We’re in the early phases, but Network as a Service will be a prime model that lets them do just that. No one would ask Picasso to spend half his time scheduling the portrait subjects. Nor would hospital management assign a brain surgeon to maintain the operating equipment. In both examples, it certainly wouldn’t be management’s best decision. The same should be said for our networking organizations. Managements’ goal should be to figure out if NaaS is that model that utilizes their resources wisely and gets the most value each engineer has to offer, while delivering the required services and service levels.
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