On a recent trip to Silicon Valley, I stayed at a Marriott near the office. Although it was my first time at this particular hotel, I generally knew what to expect; comforts of the room, consistency of friendly staff, pervasive wireless internet access, and a simple bottle of water upon arrival, having stayed at other Marriott properties in the past.  I count on this familiarity, this experience, to keep my work/life balance in check while I travel. Many well-traveled IT Pros can relate to this scenario as it plays out many times a day, across multiple industries all over the world.

Marriott and other customer-focused organizations are living and learning the benefits of digital transformation on a daily basis in front of every single customer.  However, what was unique for me this time was that it all started with an improved mobile experience.

Efficiency of a Mobile Experience
While waiting for my connecting flight, I used the new mobile app to check in hours before arrival. This activated their intake process and prepped the staff in advance so they could be more efficient when I arrived. I immediately noticed that much of the manual data entry during the “old-school” check-in process was eliminated. Upon introducing myself, the receptionist knew my digital profile, thanked me for using the mobile app and asked for my initial thoughts. This simple question highlighted the exact moment when a digital experience transitions into the traditional human engagement experience.

Only Two Options in Every Digital Experience
A digital experience only has one outcome: you either like it (yeah!) or you don’t (it’s the end of the world, mass hysteria, dogs & cats living together kind of chaos) – there is nothing in-between.  Whether my experience carries forward or not is determined in a split second by the human integration and a streamlined customer-oriented process.  As of May 2016, ~23% of users abandon a mobile app after a single use (source: Localytics)  The stakes are high for brands to get their mobile engagements right.

It was Positive.
It was still early in the morning and I needed coffee.  Instead of keying in customer information, preferences, and waiting for system response, the receptionist used my positive app experience to highlight the new hotel features aligned to my digital profile. She even extended a “3rd Party” partner promotion for a free Starbucks while a room was finalized in a matter of minutes.  Can you imagine your standard IT department offering this level of customer service?  It is simply not possible without reimagining the benefits of a digitally enhanced, cloud-enabled, service-oriented culture.

Reimaging Cloud for a Hybrid IT World

Your IT organization is only as good as the service they provide to the business and their customers. The point of this lengthy story was to highlight the various pieces (modern technology, skilled people, value-added partners and efficient services) that need to be tightly integrated in order to accommodate customers’ expectations in the digital era.  Customers may not always know what they want but they definitely know what they do not like.  Below are seven steps to consider when transitioning a traditional, reactionary IT organization into a customer-driven, value-added service provider to the business.

IT Service Broker Checklist: 

  1. Value Oriented Business Services – Concentrate on ensuring your services contain real customer value and provide an accelerated time to market whether they are delivered in-house or brokered by a cloud service providers.
  2. Define Approved List of Services – Offer your consumers a list of approved, vetted cloud service providers. The value they provide will be transferable to your consumer. Your choices between commodity unmanaged clouds and a managed cloud will be based on the consumer use case.
  3. Relationship Management – Ensure that you provide relationship management with a clear engagement model to collaborate between your consumer, service owner and service provider.
  4. Simplify Consumption – Identify repeatable business services that can be consumed by the broader organization and provide a single pane of glass for the consumer to select them using a self-service or brokerage tool.
  5. Multi-Provider World – Construct hybrid service offerings that span multiple service providers to prevent consolidating all your eggs in one provider.
  6. Know Thy Service – Regularly audit service owners and service providers to ensure the services being brokered are meeting your financial, regulatory and service level expectations.
  7. Sharing is Caring – Provide transparent usage and monitoring for services with policy-based controls to alert the consumer when resources are over- or under-utilized.

Mind the GAP

The GAP between what cloud applications require and what IT organizations are capable of reliably and confidently supporting today; is growing exponentially in the digital, customer-centric era. IT organizations that embrace cloud-enable technologies, streamline service processes that focus on efficiency, automation and anticipating the needs of customers will ultimately be successful.

We are all in this digital transformation together. Our position at Cisco is to remain Cloud Neutral and help our customers capitalize on new opportunities to delight their customers, just as Marriott did with their improved mobile app.

Wondering where to Start?  Take a 15 minute Business Cloud Maturity assessment today!


Scott Whitright

Data Center & Cloud, Marketing Mgr.

Global Partner Marketing