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Don't be an IT Janitor! - Move to Cloud BPM

Malcolm Ross, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Appian
March 14, 2011

Please don't read this post incorrectly. I don't mean to disparage anyone in the janitorial profession. But if you're an IT professional seeking to show value to your upper management, this is a question you need to be asking yourself.

Is your job turning into the IT janitor?

IT Janitor Cloud BPM

If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, it might be the case.

1) Are you more concerned about hardware performance than software use cases?

2) Do you spend more time worrying about the "up-time" of your servers than the productivity of the employees who use those servers?

3) Do you complain about how much disk-space users take up in their email and network drives?

IT systems management today is plumbing. It's like lights, telephones, and cleaning the garbage cans every night. Business executives know they need it, but just expect this stuff to work and aren't interested in the details. And who can blame them, in tight economic times you need to focus on your core value. If you're in retail, that's increasing sales; Hotels, booking more rooms; Airlines, filling seats on planes; Banking, reducing risk and getting more customers; Health care, healing patients; etc... Few to none of these executive have priorities that include tuning the memory performance on the web server. (Maybe there's now more than one reason memory management is often called Garbage Collection).

The devaluing of those IT professionals that provide these skills is inevitable as applications move into the cloud. Unless you happen to work for a cloud provider like Appian or Amazon Web Services, it is unlikely hardware and server management skills will be highly prized in your organization over the next 10 years.

Over the next decade, IT professionals must show value to executives by showing how new technologies can grow a company's business. IT professionals must share the same goals and objectives as the business executives and bring a unique technical viewpoint on how leading technologies can be applied. As cloud offerings in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) become more widely adopted, the job of keeping the servers up and running will be managed by a 3rd party at a much lower cost. The internal IT staff must refocus 100% of their time on applying technology towards business innovations.

So where to start your new IT career in technical business innovation?

Packaged SaaS solutions can be tempting but don't really differentiate. Traditional SaaS vendors like have actually specialized in by-passing IT altogether and deliver packaged solutions directly to the business. SaaS offerings can be great for quick fixes, but can deliver little in business differentiation as adoption of the same cookie-cutter solution extends across the market.

Cloud BPM and PaaS is where IT should focus. BPM platforms like Appian delivered through the cloud, enable IT to put 100% of their effort on direct business process innovation. Processes are often at the core of business innovation and the unique processes you build will differentiate the business in the marketplace. Through simple web interfaces, process flows and interactions can be quickly modeled that join your customers, employees and systems into unique process patterns that drive cost savings and new customer acquisition. Cloud BPM systems like Appian are further designed to grow with your business from small departmental processes to enterprise wide engagements with millions of process instances, removing the need of IT to worry about scaling servers, and instead focusing on scaling revenue.

Malcolm Ross, Director Product Management