Once again we’re heading towards the end of another year…. I am not sure if its age or the much quoted “rate of change” in our industry but 12 months seems to feel shorter and shorter!
2017 has been a fascinating year in a number of ways. We’ve seen key strategy and organisational changes from a number of our key partners, a major ramp up in activity of our customers and the market in their quest for “Digital Transformation”, and as ever, technology has continued to evolve, morph and transform our thoughts of what is and could be possible.
Before I turn my thoughts to what the next 12 months may have in store, let’s recap on the key topics and themes that have dominated my agenda this year. I’ll keep it to a “top 3”
1. Adoption is Key for Digital Workplace Success.
I often cite in my presentations to colleagues and customers alike, that my focus is less on the technology, and more on driving cultural and user behavioural change to maximise the benefits of Digital Workplace transformations. Throughout 2017 adoption has been the most prevalent topic of conversation. Many customers have made sound technology and platform decisions, have invested wisely, often deployed modern features but have then struggled to achieve the anticipated business value and benefits. The reason for this is invariably down to poor user adoption. This is not communication as we have classically known it, but a more meaningful, ongoing effort to understand the requirements of users, deliver solutions and capability in context of their needs, and then campaign users to embrace the features and drive changes to their behaviour and working practices.
As far back as February I signposted the tensions that exist in this area and it has been a prevalent theme throughout the year. We often say we don’t deliver technology for technology sake, but it would appear we might have been doing that and have failed to create the connection to the users. Expect more on this in 2018 as the transformation agenda ramps up.
2. “Evergreen IT”
The dramatic change across all sectors of our industry to “as a Service” is having two profound and related effects. The first is a transition in budgets from a traditional “Capex” model towards an operating expenditure (Opex) bias, but also the inherent rate and pace of change of these platforms and the impacts and pressures this has on customers (both at a business and a technology level).
In Computacenter, and more widely we’ve labelled this “Evergreen IT” to reflect the need to maintain platforms at a highly current level. Quite a challenge for the large scale enterprises we deal with when these changes can be quarterly, or at best bi-annually and represent a lot of “heavy lifting”
Most of 2017 has been dominated in this context by Windows 10 Evergreen (Windows as a Service) though the concept pervades all cloud platforms (e.g. SaaS including Office 365, Salesforce, Workday etc). We’ve spent a lot of time working with key vendors, building robust service models and educating our customers and the market on what this shift actually means. It is a profound and fundamental shift in our entire industry and we’re just at the start of delivering and operating in this way, but it’s certainly here to stay!
3. “Small t” transformation
Had a small personal fight with myself to pick theme number 3 of my self-imposed limit, but in reflecting on the year, I’ve gone with “small t” transformation.
First I need to explain what I mean by this. We are engaged in a raft of transformational activity across a vast array of customers. Many of them are doing fascinating and ground breaking things in their B2C business model which is to be heralded widely. What we’ve tried to do is encourage such ambition into the end user enablement agenda, i.e. the “Digital Workplace”. Through Digithons, workshops and other engagements throughout 2017 (and before), we’ve seen and heard all kinds of topics and agenda in this area.
However, perhaps controversially I would define what we’ve seen and heard (in the main) as transformation with a small t. The requirements and objectives have been around projects that you might term as “fix the basics”, “quick win” or “foundational” (I prefer the latter term) to address immediate and existing challenges and frustrations in the user experience and ways of working (poor WiFi, ineffective meeting room systems, aged hardware etc). Each of these things are VERY important, to quote the term above they represent the FOUNDATION upon which an effective Digital Workplace needs to be built.
However we need to move quickly to a more connected agenda, looking at how we enable and support business outcomes – really exploiting the tools and functionality to challenge and modernise business processes and ways of working – as that’s where the opportunity and return from the Digital Workplace investments exists.
Hopefully this blog does not end on a negative note. There has been lots of great development and activity in 2017 and we expect it to continue and accelerate further in 2018. But this is largely the story of the year (my year) and so inevitably will be a core part of my focus for 2018.
As this blog has now got quite lengthy I’ll defer my star gazing to the 2018 agenda and cover this in the next blog post…..in early January after a bit of a rest!
I’m Tom and welcome to the fourth instalment of the Projects Practice Graduate Blogs. We’ve been with Computacenter around four months and have had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the business. I’m here to take you through the most recent month of our rotations which we have spent with Consultancy, GIO, Presales and TRG.
But first, some background info about me. I’m originally from Peterborough and studied French, German and (a bit of) Spanish at the University of Exeter. So as a company with major bases across the European mainland and operations across the globe, Computacenter is a perfect fit for any graduate with an international outlook.
As someone who is technically minded, our rotations with Consultancy and GIO were two of the rotations I have been most looking forward to – and I wasn’t disappointed by them. With Consultancy Practice, we had the opportunity to meet key members of the Consultancy team and also witness their expertise ‘in the field’ at customer sites. The highlight for me was most definitely the time I spent collaborating with one of our data analytics partners, Splunk, at Transport for London. The session was all about helping TfL learn how they can best make use of Splunk’s powerful analytics intelligence and it was great to see Computacenter working with our partners and our customers in the same room to achieve a common goal. Our thanks to Jay Horsley for organising the week.
Our time with Global Infrastructure Operations (GIO) was an opportunity for us to discover our managed services from another perspective. Over the week we learnt how GIO operates a 24/7 service with global reach, meeting members of every Service Line team to give us a full understanding of the services we can provide to our customers. From a projects perspective, this was an important rotation as it teaches us the need to communicate well with the GIO teams from the start of a project when we are transitioning a Customer’s service to a CC provided solution. This focus on collaboration is something we are all hoping to bring back to the Projects Practice at the end of our rotations. Many thanks to Karen, Louise and Jo for organising the week.
Our week with Presales was a particular highlight for the whole graduate group. Nigel Reeve, the Practice Lead aligned to Presales, arranged for us to take part in the fantastic Commercial Negotiation course alongside some of last year’s graduates and other members of the Projects Practice. This was an incredible learning opportunity for us since this course is usually only reserved for Level 2 Project Managers and Senior Project Managers. There are two main lessons I took away from the course: Firstly, a negotiation will only go as well as the planning and preparation that goes into it. Secondly, a negotiation is about establishing a Win-Win with our Customers, not a Win-Lose. This means that collaborating with our Customers is the key to both of our successes. A thank you on behalf of all the graduates to Nigel for a great week.
Our most recent rotation has been with the Technical Resources Group (TRG) where we had the opportunity to learn more about Computacenter’s largest department. My highlight of this week was seeing our engineering team in action at Heathrow and Sky: both were busy Customer sites undergoing lots of changes and our engineering team are at the forefront of enabling this. Something that has been mentioned to us as projects graduates is that we are often some of the best sales representatives of Computacenter as we are constantly working with the Customer at their sites. Though this is true, it’s only half the story: it is in fact our engineering team who have the most day-to-day interaction with the Customer’s end-users and they’re the ones who ultimately effect a change or resolve an issue for the user. As a result, it was great to hear some of the fantastic customer feedback about our engineering presence at Heathrow and Sky. Thank you Bhupa for organising a fantastic week.
What I want to leave you on is this: the thing that has struck me most since joining CC is our can-do collaborative attitude. No matter how technically challenging, no matter how nascent a solution and no matter how tough a customer request may seem at face-value, as long as it’s good business for Computacenter, we always go the extra mile for our Customers. We work with our Customers to enable their users and their business to achieve their goals. This is something we have seen internally as our rotation hosts go the extra mile for us projects graduates, and externally as we have visited various customer sites where Computacenter collaborates for a Win-Win with all our Customers.
Over the coming weeks we will be on the road visiting our device recycling partner RDC, our Romford Datacenter and will be jetting off for a very exciting trip to Barcelona to see our International team in action; but I’ll let Issie Ferris tell you all about that as she will be writing the next blog.
Thanks for reading!