You remember those television advertisements about the “3 AM calls”, don’t you ? Yes, the ones showing the cherubic children fast asleep as the phone rang incessantly and the announcer’s baritone asking you which presidential candidate you really wanted to answer that call at 3 AM. Well, I actually got one of those calls. No, I wasn’t running for public office and there was no nuclear meltdown – I was the CIO of a mid-sized organization, and the meltdown that was imminent was simply an application that refused to restart after a “routine” maintenance upgrade.
What ran through my mind in those few minutes at 3 AM as my Ops team was rapidly bringing me up to speed was not how I had a fully redundant, resilient infrastructure (I did) or had meticulously assembled a best-of-breed software platform, tested and tuned for scalability and performance (I had); my first thoughts instead zeroed in on the fact that in an hour, the first of six call centers we supported would start humming to life, and hundreds of agents would be unable to log in to their system.
Within minutes, average hold times would skyrocket and thousands of calls would queue up – each one representing a customer who wanted to buy something or pay their bill. We would be unable to serve our customers and lose revenue because our systems were not up. At 3 AM it truly did not matter if the technology was world class, the only thing that mattered was whether we had the support needed to get the business back on its feet.
I offer this perspective because the life of a CIO is not simply about the latest and greatest in technology – it is about business relevance. The true measure of technology is in how well it supports current business and offers agility to change and grow to customer and market demand. And in that journey, to take the new capabilities enabled by technology innovations and convert them to meaningful business impacts, IT executives often rely on a trusted partner who can offer them expert advice – and is also around to support them when the phone rings at 3 AM !
The role of “Services” in a technology company has never been more critical. Customers want the independence to make their own decisions, and in that process they want to understand why the technology from one provider is better than another. They want to understand not just the feature differences, but whether there is an architectural advantage that makes the whole better than a sum of the parts. They would like reliable, proven expertise to help them design and implement their solution. They want to know that their vendor will not just be their technology provider, but a trusted business partner who will be around to support them, day or night, from Auckland to Zurich. And above all, they want to have the final say in how their IT shop will run: the exact role of their own staff, perhaps the help of a local partner but always counting on the backing of their technology provider.
Cisco Services are unique in many ways: we exist solely to help you succeed in evaluating, designing, implementing and supporting the right technology for your business needs. Our data center perspective is unique: our heritage is in the network, and as you ponder virtualization or cloud computing you know that the network is where it all finally comes together. Finally, our approach is unique: we are proud to work with a great ecosystem of partners to design and deliver solutions. Together, we will do our best to make sure you never get that 3 AM call.