aNewDomain.net — The looming IBM Apple alliance highlights IT’s need for agility and IT brokerage as a full-fledged service. The IT service brokerage becomes key to unlocking value from business apps. The alliance between former market antagonists IBM and Apple makes a lot of sense. IBM possesses world-class data mining and analytics technologies that allow companies to generate actionable business intelligence from their Big Data resources. Meanwhile, Apple is great at making complex information intuitively navigable to mobile end users. Together the two companies should do a good job of delivering ready-to-deploy BI solutions for today’s hyper-mobile workforce.
Image credit: Tracey Mustacchio
But as IBM, Apple and an ever-growing legion of cloud vendors empower IT to more easily expand its service portfolio, is it similarly enhancing its ability to connect the right users to the right services in that larger, more complex portfolio? Or, put another way, is IT’s ability to broker services evolving as quickly as its ability to acquire them? Service brokerage models put IT in the position to become the most agile and achieve true IT as a service (ITaaS). As a result, the business gains more value from the apps and technology services made available by IT.
IT: Between the Back-end and the Front-end
The issue of IT moving toward a brokerage model is important for two reasons. The first reason is that IT is getting “hollowed out” by cloud on the back end and consumerization/BYOD on the front end. If services are increasingly running on third-party provider infrastructure and users are increasingly accessing those services via their own iPads and ‘Droid devices, then IT’s mission will increasingly be to effectively broker connections between the two. This brokerage gets more challenging as IT keeps adding new services run by an expanding cast of providers — and as consumers’ needs become more fluid. This latter reality should not be underestimated. People are changing jobs more quickly. Companies are making greater use of contracted “virtual” staff. M&A activity looks to be on the upswing. These factors and others are adding to the fluidity of end-user populations and their daily needs, making it more important than ever for IT to understand their users and deliver agile services that match their users’ needs.
A Requirement for the Agile Enterprise
The second reason why IT must shift into a broker-oriented role is that it’s becoming more important to do this job exceptionally well. Business success depends more and more on the effective technological enablement of everyone across the extended enterprise — including contractors and other trusted partners. If you can’t quickly connect your constantly changing cast of users to the services they need, your business will suffer. And you won’t get maximum return on your investments in new services. Well-managed service brokerage can help you in other ways, too. It helps you see which services are actually being used by the business — and which ones aren’t. It helps you safeguard compliance with regulatory policies regarding service access. It can even help you better allocate enterprise IT costs to your various LOBs. So service brokerage excellence isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s an indispensable discipline for the agile enterprise. That’s why CIOs contemplating the impact of the IBM-Apple alliance shouldn’t just think about how it may help them roll out a few good mobile applications. They should also take it as yet another signal that it’s time to look at service brokerage models as a strategic priority.
About the author: Tracey Mustacchio is the chief marketing officer at RES Software. As chief marketing officer, Tracey is responsible for market strategy, plotting the course for the company’s continuing growth and spearheading global product marketing and communication initiatives. Tracey has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, business development and product management, in addition to a long track record of helping companies strengthen their brand to dominate specific market niches.