If you think Google is just a search engine, then come out of your cave and take a good look around you. Google might just be the ultimate IT service provider. If not now then certainly in the near future. After reading through Jason Hiner’s Tech Republic post on Gartner’s view on Google’s role as an IT service provider I want you to think about your current IT department and the services they provide. Particularly if you are a small business struggling with internal and/or external IT service providers. Is Google in your future?

For what it’s worth, we use Google a lot . . . for search as well as Google docs and Gmail. I like the idea of being able to access my documents and email anywhere, anytime from any computer. I still use Microsoft Office occasionally but more out of habit and familiarity. When the next version of MS Office comes out I plan on moving over to software as a service/cloud computing and save myself a lot of money.

The statement from Gartner that caught my eye was this,

Google is disruptive and disruptive technologies produce big winners and big losers,” Hunter (Gartner Vice President Richard Hunter) said, “One of the big losers is potentially traditional IT departments.”

What other disruptive technologies are in recent memory (mine at least)?

  • personal computing – Apple and Microsoft were the rebels back in the day!
  • world wide web – it’s everywhere!
  • wireless networking – it allows us to work anywhere, a huge convenience!
  • cell phones – and the evolution of smart phones and mobile computing!

I remember when these things first appeared and how disruptive they were to the status quo of traditional IT operations and even corporate work flows. Can you tell me which one of these your company could live without? Is Google’s disruptive technology going to become the next can’t live without? For some it all ready is.

As to the statement “big winners and big losers“, there are always great business opportunities when paradigms change. Traditional IT departments are already being eroded and the model of services which Google brings to the world might finish them off completly. Don’t get me wrong, I love IT and have great faith in IT departments, but they need to evolve their operations whether it’s in application development through agile development or on the operations side by understanding and applying utility computing strategies.

To finish off this post, let me tell you about a meeting I had with a potential client. This was a small company but they had business units spread across four western Canadian provinces. They had one full time IT person, the manager, one part-time tech and called in local service providers in their remote locations when needed. The IT manager was late to the meeting because he was struggling with the email server and it’s erratic behaviours. He had screwdrivers in his shirt pocket. He looked tired. His phone rang four times in twenty minutes. He had to leave early because the email server went down – again. The business manager was receptive to what I had to say but the IT manager was too distracted by his email server problems to truly focus on the value of my presentation. To me the pain point was obvious, the value of the solution was obvious. I didn’t get a contract out of this meeting and after doing my follow-up with the business manager I found out that they hired a full-time junior tech to help out. Did they ever solve their email server problems? According to the business manager – sort of. It didn’t go down as often after two weeks of dedicated work from the IT manager. 

The solutions I offered consisted of disruptive technologies – cloud computing, utility computing services, outsourcing of basic infrastructure tasks and an IT strategy based on industry best practices such as ITIL.

I guess they weren’t quite ready to be disrupted.

Dean

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