Building a Business-Savvy IT Services Ecosystem

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Removing the IT Blinders

Business leaders want end-to-end visibility into business processes in real time. That's a tall order for IT as business processes now span any number of applications, databases and systems.

The problem most customers have with IT services firms in general is that the firms are always telling them that they can help run their IT departments better. That may be true, but it's not really the major problem facing business customers today.

The real primary problem for these customers is how to run their overall business better. Reducing the cost of IT one time by 10 to 20 percent is nice. But helping the company be more profitable or increase recurring revenues is what's really top of mind for most business executives.

The good news is that IBM is starting to invest in making its IT services partners a whole lot smarter about the business. This week the company announced a skills initiative specifically designed to make IT services firms that work with IBM technology a whole lot more business-savvy about a variety of vertical industries.

Obviously, it's going to take a little time for all this training to permeate the ranks of the IBM services ecosystem. The simple fact is that many of the companies that make up the IT services ecosystem were founded by "accidental entrepreneurs" who saw an opportunity to deliver an IT service. As the business grew, many of these companies never made the conscious leap towards using IT to enable a business process as opposed to merely servicing the IT equipment.

Naturally, IBM wants its partners to make this shift because in theory it means they will be generating demand for IBM technologies. But best of all, says Sandy Carter, IBM vice president of SOA and Websphere strategy, from a customer perspective, many of the IT services firms that will be calling them in 2011 should be a whole lot smarter than the ones they did business with in 2010.