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Does Fast IT work in Government? It sure does: check out the case studies.

In my previous post, I explained how CIOs are reinventing the mission and role of the IT department in order to support the Digital Transformation of their organisation. And that adopting a Fast IT model is less about technology and more about progressive cultural and process changes.

But is this realistic for public sector organisations as well? It sure is.  In this post and 2 following ones, I’d like to share some of the outcomes from the Fast IT engagements done with 3 IT organisations in the government sector, a sector that often has the unfair reputation of being overly conservative. I’ll show that public sector CIOs are motivated to change the status quo and disrupt the current operating model to better serve the needs of the public administration, of citizens and of businesses. Naturally, the details are confidential, so I am using pseudo-names to preserve the anonymity of our customers:

  1. Central IT department of a Large International Government Institution: let’s call it “GovIT-A
  2. Central Government IT Service Provider in Eastern Europe (providing IT services to all ministries in the country): let’s call it “GovIT-B
  3. IT Department of one of the major German Government Institution in Germany: let’s call it “GovIT-C

In each engagement, we have used the same methodology (“Strategic Roadmap to Fast IT“) consisting of 3 phases:

  • Phase One – Focus on BUSINESS: Clearly identify and document the strategic drivers for IT from the business’ perspective (or ministries, or government agencies). Indeed, you can’t ambition to build Fast IT organisation if you haven’t clearly captured what’s holding you back (the main problem often being culture, organisation and processes), and put a remediation plan in place.
  • Phase Two – Focus on IT: Build the IT Value Map to demonstrate — visually – how IT is structured to deliver value and how success will be measured. Long report are read (sometimes) and then forgotten. But you shouldn’t underestimate the communication power of a large poster in every room of the IT department (and the business): this is how you create alignment in the long run.
  • Phase Three – Focus on ROADMAP: Using output from phases one and two, identify and prioritise the key programmes and projects – the Strategic IT Roadmap – that will deliver the biggest impact, enabling a successful execution of the IT Management Plan for this year, the next 3 years and beyond.

In this post series, I’ll illustrate the outcomes from the 3 phases, using 1 client for each phase. Let’s get started…

Case Study #1 – Focus on BUSINESS

When we first started talking with GovIT-A about 2 years, the previous CIO (technically-minded) had just been replaced, mainly due to the dissatisfaction of the client departments that he was providing services to. The new CIO (business-minded) was determined to avoid the errors of the past, and wanted to build a strong foundation, based on excellence in customer services. Cisco proposed to engage on a Strategic Roadmap to Fast IT, and we received the list of 8 key stakeholders *outside* of the IT department (the “customers”), as well as the list of 8 key stakeholders inside the IT department (the “providers”).

We started by interviewing the people outside of IT, to get their perspective on the quality of the IT services they were getting. We used COBIT5 as a way to structure all the information that we collected (advantage: COBIT5 was already used by the audit department as well). COBIT5 provides a list of 17 generic enterprise business drivers, of which we identified 8 as being crucial to the future success of GovIT-A:

  1. A culture of partnership for business and IT innovation. 
    GovIT-A had a major issue: the complete lack of trust between IT and business stakeholders. Fostering collaborative attitudes was absolutely crucial for Fast IT to become a reality one day. We looked at how to build multi-level partnerships and agree on roles and responsibilities to create common goals within a shared IT Capability Framework.
  2. Managed business change programs. 
    Quickly identifying and empowering “champions of change” (both in the business and in IT) was seen as key to accelerate the transformation to Fast IT. Innovation was to be supported by top management and coordinated through agile, virtual teams. We looked at how well the operational model supported an effective change management.
  3. User-orientated service culture.
    IT was focused on its technology stacks, not on the actual services delivered to the users. A move to service-orientation was a key step towards Fast IT. Monitoring KPIs and improving processes would support this. We confirmed what the IT department and LOBs were responsible for, and reviewed how we could cut the overall cost and complexity of IT processes.
  4. Agile responses to a demanding business environment.
    IT needed to be much more agile – responsibly meeting the needs of the business in terms of time to service, flexibility and interoperability. We reviewed flexibility and the layers of authorisation that got in the way of creating a responsive IT department.
  5. Financial transparency and value for money.
    The whole procurement paradigm of GovIT-A was incompatible with a move towards Fast IT. For example, each technology team (network, server, storage, etc.) was still ordering the equipment it needed, more or less independently from the others. This meant for example that it was impossible to order an integrated compute stack. Or to order Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS). The IT department was unable to tailor its services to meet the unique expectations of the different departments in terms of cost, security and flexibility etc. This lead to each departments trying to avoid GovIT-A as much as possible, and trying to do it themselves – dramatically increasing the share of IT spend outside of the GovIT-A (around 75%!).
  6. Managed Business Risk.
    Being a government institution, no compromise could be made around information availability. However, the security team was really seen as “Doctor No”, so departments would do anything they could to find workarounds. We established the need to balance – on a per-application basis – the business benefits with its cost and the security requirements.
  7. Operational and staff productivity.
    Many employees within GovIT-A expected IT to work the way they knew was possible. With mobility. From home. Video-enabled. We discussed with the IT team how to adopt a user-centric model, powered by technologies that drive collaboration and delivered in an environment of Continuous Service Improvement (CSI). We identified quick wins, such as BYOD, mobility and telepresence initiatives, with positive results for the end user.
  8. Skilled and motivated people.
    As the IT environment evolves, so must employee’s skills. Continuously. We looked at how to create a learning curriculum that was blended, easily accessible and collaborative. Proactive, forward-looking training would help them to take on new roles and adapt to the new technologies or processes that Fast IT brings. This is all too often the piece of the strategy that’s missing to IT roadmap.

Of course, these 8 strategic drivers are not something to we can solve over the matter of a few months. It takes at least 5-7 years, to gradually evolve the IT Department to Fast IT. Today, we are pleased to continue our ongoing collaboration with GovIT-A, and seeing initiatives and projects that are approved by management, implemented in the field, and gradually reaping their benefits.

Don’t hesitate to post your comments if you’d like to get more details on some particular aspects of our engagement with GovIT-A.

In my next posts, I’ll cover the work we did with 2 other government agencies:

  • Case Study 2 (“GovIT-B”): the focus of the post will be on the IT Value Map
  • Case Study 3 (“GovIT-C”): the focus of the post will be on the Strategic Roadmap to Fast IT.

Stay tuned!


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The Origins of Fast IT

Fast IT – It started in our Data Center, and now it’s everywhere

“Fast IT” started for Cisco as “Easy IT”. It was our data center infrastructure engineers who saw that they could automate a 3-week job (building virtual server infrastructure in the data center) in under 15 minutes, and of course they jumped at the chance. They built a set of scripts to automate these processes and saved themselves a LOT of work.

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Fast IT for Cisco Partners: embrace Digital Disruption

Digital disruption. IDC says that 40% of market share leaders in their respective industries (our customers!) will be out of business in 10 years, because they will miss their transformation to Digital. What they need? Fast IT. Cisco experienced (both first hand and with our customers) that Fast IT is the key capability that enterprises need to build to successfully transition to a digital model. Over the last 8 years, Cisco has built a truly unique approach to Fast IT, grounded on our own internal IT transformation, which led (among others) to the Cisco eStore. We learnt that adopting a Fast IT model is less about technology and more about progressive cultural and process changes. The transition requires pervasive shifts in the way IT is organised; how services are defined, delivered, consumed, and financed; and how IT measures success, evaluates costs, and assigns roles and responsibilities.

This week, at the Partner Technical Advisory Board (PTAB), we have the pleasure of hosting around 40 Cisco Partner CTOs for three days in beautiful Marbella, Spain. The objective is to hear and gather their views and advice on the vision, strategy and deployment to market of Cisco technologies, products, architectures, services, and solutions. We are having a fruitful open exchange, ultimately helping us meet our mutual growth and profitability goals as we together deliver business outcomes to our customers.

PTAB - day2

On the agenda of the day 3: Cisco’s approach to Fast IT Business Transformation, and more specifically what is the opportunity for Cisco partners. To understand Cisco’s core message for Fast IT, you can watch the following short video.

Here are 3 collaterals summarising our message:

Interested to know more? Read further.

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New white paper: “Build your Strategic Roadmap to Fast IT”

Fast IT has the power to completely transform the role and the value of IT to the business. It is a critical imperative for those CIOs who want to transform themselves from the mere owners of technology stacks to the drivers of their enterprise’s digital transformation.

CIOs must reinvent the mission and role of the IT department. It’s no longer good enough to be a competent internal IT provider. Going forward, CIOs and their teams must become what analyst firm Gartner calls “trusted brokers” of all IT services, delivered either in-house or by a dynamic roster of external suppliers. Quite simply, it’s a matter of survival: if nothing is done, the traditional IT department will be “Uber-ised”, just like the traditional taxi industry is currently being disrupted.

Fast IT Model

To understand Cisco’s lean, results-driven approach to Fast IT, please take a look at our latest white paper:

Build your Strategic Roadmap to Fast IT


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Cisco UCS and Intel Xeon E7v3: bringing the horsepower you need for analytics

UCS B460 M4

Cisco UCS B460 M4

I’ve heard it said that CIO’s like their ERP systems the same way they like their cars: big, fast and German. Setting nationalities aside, IT pros craving more horsepower for something like SAP HANA need look no further than our UCS B460 M4 and C460 M4 servers, which now supports Intel’s new Xeon E7v3 processor family.

You may wonder why news like this is this important in an age where hardware is so often taken for granted. The answer is speed, in two flavors:

  • Faster Applications
  • Fast IT

Organizations across the spectrum are working to become intelligence-driven throughout their operations, in real time, in order to create a perpetual and renewable competitive edge. Taking a long-term view in choosing the right infrastructure accomplish this important. Here are two reasons why:

  1. You never hear about an analytic environment getting smaller. Massive increases in data volume mean these environments inevitably grow.   For many, this will mean continuously expanding clusters of hundreds or thousands of servers for scale-out big data apps and bringing in ever-larger systems for the scale-up, in-memory analytics.
  2. Data is the lifeblood of the digital enterprise. As the use of big data becomes pervasive and critical to day-to-day decision-making, the performance and predictability of these computing platforms will become increasingly paramount to success. So too will be the speed at which they can be deployed and expanded. You want to choose partners and technology you can trust.

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