Systems management and IT operations platforms first became a ‘thing’ back in the 1990s and early 2000s. These ‘Technology Platforms’ were big and complex beasts, heavy on technology (and low on automation and intuitive interfaces) and slow to deploy, expensive and really only accessible to a very small number of skilled professionals in the organization.
Professionals who relied on the complexity and ‘dark magic’ associated with these platforms to further their careers, often jealously guarding access to the technology and acting as a conduit (some might say bottleneck) for any information requests from other stakeholders or parts of the organization.
The dominance of the ‘Technology Platform’ as introduced by the likes of CA, BMC, HP and IBM was challenged by the emergence of a new breed of platform, one focused on making more of their functionality available to a wider group of stakeholders, with a reduced need for advanced technical skills.
Salesforce and ServiceNow are perhaps two of the best-know ‘Workflow platforms’. They are designed to support a number of use cases and they are typically faster to adopt and implement (largely thanks to their cloud-hosted nature), and the focus on workflows makes them easier for non-IT staff to use.
This comes at the cost of less flexibility and customization, but it provides a balance that a lot of organizations have found to be favorable when compared to the behemoth ‘Technology Platforms’. Those organizations that have chosen to customize their Workflow Platforms have typically found that this comes with a significant ongoing cost as customization work needs to be repeated when the core platforms are upgraded, or vendors fail to support custom workflows not of their own design.
Another major drawback of a ‘Workflow Platform’ is that, without good data, the workflows themselves are pretty useless. We are all aware of the ‘crap in, crap out’ analogy.
Hence a new saying has emerged in the past 12-18 months, that ‘data is the new gold’. And that has led to something of a goldrush as software vendors and service providers stampede to add new data collection and manipulation capabilities to their offerings, leading to the emergence of the ‘Data Platform’.
However, as anyone that has looked at a Qlik or PowerBI interface for the first time knows, data in its raw state is rarely usable to make solid business decisions. Until technologies like AI and machine learning can replace the human brain (and I’m still not sure they ever will in complex judgment-based disciplines like Software Asset Management and IT Governance), the human user still needs to make sense of the data they are viewing in order to make the right business decisions for their organization.
What we’re seeing with Digital Transformation and the diversification of IT spending power is that the number of technology decision makers across the organization is exponentially increasing. With upwards of 41% of technology spending already residing outside IT, business managers are having to make important decisions about technology investments and consumption.
The old world of having to ask the IT specialists to access their mystical Technology Platforms and provide actionable intelligence are long-gone. Today’s business decision makers want instant self-service access to the data, presented in a way (and in an interface) that makes sense to them. They will not allow themselves to be straightjacketed into a vendor’s way of working (a common criticism of hosted Workflow Platforms) and they will not abide for meaningless data.
A new type of platform is required for a new breed of technology decision maker. A decision maker without a background in IT Asset Management or IT Operations. A decision maker needing to act now to seize a market opportunity. A decision maker not interested in, or tolerant of, red tape. A decision maker who needs to demonstrate that they are being successful and adding value to their organization.
And so Snow has identified that the route to success for managing technology investments and consumption lies not only in technology, not only in workflows and not only in data. In isolation, none of these platforms can determine in an organization’s efforts are successful.
Only people can decide if they are achieving want they want to achieve. Only people can ‘sell’ their success to other stakeholders. Only people can decide if they are happy with the platform choice and if it is delivering (or even exceeding) the value they expected from it.
Snow is the first vendor of its kind to turn its back on the old way of delivering products and services, to shun prioritizing technology over workflow, or data or technology.
Instead, Snow presents a fourth dimension in platforms – the People Platform. An approach that brings together cutting-edge technology, easy-to-adopt (and adapt) automated workflows and the most meaningful information and intelligence about what technology is being consumed by the wider organization. We are bringing these together with the sole purpose of helping the people making business decisions to do so faster, more effectively and with the ability to quickly prove the value delivered by those decisions.
That means presenting the right information, in the right context, to the right users in a manner and interface that suits their role and preferred way of working. And with more and more stakeholders consuming the output of the Snow technologies, that means removing the straightjacket of limiting reporting capabilities to our Snow License Manager interface.
It also means more enriching and augmenting of the data collected (or aggregated) by the Snow technologies – something you’ve already seen us do lately with the launch of the GDPR and Application security risk assessment modules.
There will be more to share on this subject in the coming weeks and months, particularly at our upcoming Snow Storm user events, but in meantime allow me to present our exciting 2020 vision.
Welcome to Snow, the People Platform.
To learn how Snow can help you gain visibility over technology consumption across your organization, why not take a 20-minute executive briefing with me or one of our experts? Alternatively sign up for one of our SnowStorm events near you to learn and experience Snow’s platform at first hand.