To Be, or Not to Be

Author: Michelle Nazath – FusionStorm Expert Services Consulting Engineer

A question I get over and over from various co-workers is, “How do I know if Expert Services is a fit for my customer?”

The answer to this question resides in the Expert Services process.  Because no two customers are the same, Expert Services is about helping a customer visualize where they want to be, it’s not about taking over brute-force operations.  The answer to “How do I know if Expert Service is a fit for my customer?” is far more obvious than you might think.  The goal of this article is to provide some background on the genesis of Expert Services and the shared philosophies which are critical to building great partnerships which is the key to the success of Expert Services.

Many years ago, engineers at FusionStorm began setting the foundation for what would become the Expert Services business.  Our long-standing, loyal customers presented us with a challenge and an opportunity: continue to provide ongoing operations with the level of service they experienced during project-based design and implementation.  Fast forward to today, what was a skunkworks project has grown into a high yield business and an engine for innovation.

Expert Services is differentiated; it’s not Managed Services.  When prospects and customers think about managed services they think of a finite scope, N devices, a provider who has instrumented up/down status alerts and a level one help desk person who has no intrinsic knowledge of the customer’s environment.  The term Managed Services often evokes a feeling of dread and worthlessness in many of our prospects, the story has to be different, the delivery model has to be different, and it is!

Process and Partnership is the bedrock of Expert Services.  Processes and Partnerships are evolutionary, iterative and never perfect, but it’s the unrelenting desire to iterate and improve that makes Expert Services innovative and differentiated.  As a team, we spend countless hours reviewing how we do what we do, what are our strengths and weaknesses, and how we can improve our processes. This foundation has allowed us to take our services and apply them to unique customer use cases that we wouldn’t have fathomed ten years ago.

The Nuts and Bolts

  • Integrated service delivery, which means that Expert Services is not just Expert Services, but includes a broader ecosystem including our Advanced Services team and external partners.
  • Unique escalations paths per customer ensure that we provide the best possible customer support and a customer experience that is unique and first class.
  • An enterprise-grade and agile framework for instrumentation, event management, etc…
  • Automation and a vision of a self-healing infrastructure.  Instrumentation which triggers automated resolution.
  • Integration with our customers with an emphasis on setting objectives, managing priorities and measuring execution.

Travis Kalanick, the former Uber CEO and co-founder, has become the poster child for toxic company culture.  It’s being said that in 2018, great products won’t be enough; culture will matter.  Good news: Expert Services is rooted in the belief that without a great culture, success is out of reach.

The Expert Services team values accountability and agility over responsibility and rigidity.  Not everyone will fit into this cultural approach; some customers will focus on a detailed map, confused by the idea that there is no play for a fumble recovery- everyone just runs to the ball.  Expert Services looks at this in two ways: we need a framework that is easy for people to understand this is the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework, however culturally ,everyone on the field needs to run to the ball and hold their peers accountable for not putting in 110% every time.

Aligning IT services with the needs of business

The ITIL framework and processes are automated within ServiceNow and this investment in both process and platform development has allowed us to open the door to customers of all sizes, with unique issues and requirements. The platform we have put in place allows us to easily scale from a small commercial customer looking for us to manage their data center infrastructure to managing all of a Client’s brick and mortar stores across the country.  Ten years ago, that kind of Client probably would have seemed out of reach, but given this process, we were able to sell our services confidently to an environment that greatly differed from anything we had ever supported. We were able to quickly integrate our teams, develop unique processes that improved the customer experience,  and create a partnership where set goals quarterly, measure out progress against those goals and we incrementally improve our offering and service delivery process.

So back to the question, “How do I know if Expert Services is a fit for my customer?”  Think strategically!  Is there a vision for XaaS (Everything-as-a-Service)?  Is there is a plan and path for operational growth vs offloading the status quo?  If so, we can overlay our people, process, and technology, develop and integrate solutions to solve unique and complex customer issues, measure progress along the way and achieve a partnership that delivers tremendous value which puts us in a position to grow and evolve with the customer.