Posted on May 4, 2016 by Kelsey Johnson
Article Rebroadcast: Email Overload And The Future Of Systems Integrators In A Cloud World
Interview with Shane Smutz, Executive Vice President, Mythics Consulting
Email Overload And The Future Of Systems Integrators In A Cloud World
Anyone who has ever launched a project knows and dreads the 50-message email string that it typically spawns, as colleagues seek information, reassurance, and approvals.
Mythics, a 15-year-old systems integration firm, is all too familiar with that drill, as projects are its lifeblood. Its leadership knew that more efficient project scoping and proposal delivery could pay off fast, especially as clients move to cloud-based systems, requiring the firm to do more and faster and sometimes smaller projects.
Shane Smutz, as Mythics executive vice president, would see those 50 (sometimes 100) emails, since his approval is needed for many projects. To replace that deluge, Mythics has designed a cloud-based approach, using Oracle Process Cloud to manage the statement-of-work approvals workflow and Oracle Document Cloud to store information and do version control so there’s one source of truth when questions arise.
“Now I see one or two emails” for a project statement of work approval, says Smutz, who accesses the management app on his phone. Mythics has a geographically distributed and virtual workforce, so mobile accessibility is particularly important to let teams respond faster.
For Mythics, however, this project is about a lot more than creating a powerful new internal management tool, or even a tool that it expects to implement for clients. This project also reflects how the cloud is changing and expanding Mythics’ core business, in a way that will shake the role of systems integrators across the tech industry.
Over the years Mythics has primarily focused on technology consulting, specializing in helping companies implement Oracle systems. With the cloud, it still has plenty of tech consulting work, but there’s much more emphasis on business consulting, change management, and adoption services, since the cloud lets teams launch new apps more quickly, and once they’re implemented IT doesn’t have a big, hands-on role in maintaining the apps.
“It’s really helping them—or forcing them, really—to think about how, if you have this robust set of tools, and you have these highly integrated and flexible cloud platforms, and you don’t have to maintain it, you’re really just focusing on solving business problems,” Smutz says. “So what do you want to do next? What is your punch list, and let’s prioritize those projects, and let’s start checking them off.” The cloud shift lets companies focus more on improving their core business and less on managing IT environments.
Based on its recent experience implementing the Oracle-based process and document cloud services internally, along with its work with clients implementing cloud services, here are some lessons Mythics has learned about what’s different with cloud projects, and how the cloud will change what customers need from systems integrators.
Be ready—the impact comes fast.
Cloud implementations are much faster than on-premises software implementations—they take months or even weeks to get into production. IT organizations need to embrace that new mindset, and not spend nearly as many mental cycles on where the application and data live and how IT will manage the app.
“You can free yourself up from that and really think about how you’re going to be able to solve this business challenge, and that’s going to free you up to move on to the next use case,” Smutz says. “And you’re able to do that in a quick cycle.” That short cycle can mean quick wins, which drive demand for new cloud projects.
Business unit and IT teams must focus more energy, from the very first days of a project, on how a cloud app will change what employees do, and what the training and engagement strategy is to get people there.
Get user buy-in early—even more than with conventional software projects.
“Where we’ve had our biggest success has been making sure that you have the right engagement and involvement as early as you can,” Smutz says. “Where projects tend to go off track is when a decision is made by too small of a group without getting the right types of feedback, or enough of it, or enough perspectives.”
With the cloud, the process of gathering user input, choosing tools and platforms, and implementing it happens faster. So a new system or process can catch users by surprise, forcing them to change how they work without enough warning, thus fueling resentment.
“We mentor customers to make sure they’re including groups that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise—all the groups that might be impacted by the change,” Smutz says.
The cloud makes long-suffered headaches seem curable now.
Mythics wouldn’t have developed its new internal statement of work approval system with on-premises software, Smutz says. It would have taken too long, cost too much, and come with too much operational and maintenance overhead once completed.
Building the system on Oracle Process Cloud let the team focus on solving the business problem rather than technology obstacles. Plus, it embeds best practices Oracle has learned from other customers. “The Process Cloud, because of the nature of what it does as a tool, was a perfect way to push ourselves into standardizing,” Smutz says.
Cloud-fueled changes are coming quickly.
Mythics has seen many of its state and local government customers embracing the cloud recently. They’re also changing how they buy—letting out fewer large, multiyear contracts and instead demanding smaller, quick-win projects, where the cloud often is the best option. “Even over, I would say, the past 12 months we’ve noticed a change,” Smutz says.
Government agencies and companies with small IT departments, in particular, view the cloud advantage thusly: “I can reduce the distraction around IT infrastructure management, I can do it at a low cost and as an operating expense, the security’s comprehensive, and I can focus my IT staff on higher value activities,” Smutz says.
Cloud changes what companies need from systems integrators.
Mythics role with cloud projects is now more about front end planning and long-term sustainment, Smutz says: architecting systems, engaging users, and helping plot adoption strategies for that high-speed impact noted above. Critical technical elements will remain as well, especially as cloud systems and on-premises systems must be integrated, and will for many years to come.
But helping executives plan the business-technology strategy of how to move from one quick-win cloud project to the next will be of growing importance. “It’s going to be less about babysitting an on-premises system,” Smutz says, “and more about the continuous migration to cloud and how that cycle is sustained over a longer period of time.”
The change in Mythics’ business creates opportunity that resonates at the C level of its customers, he says: “CIOs are being asked to adopt the cloud, or consider cloud options first, and they’re putting their reputations on the line. We want to help make sure their users are adopting and that they’re successful.”
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