Undifferentiated Heavy Lifting

Undifferentiated Heavy Lifting

Today, I met with the SVP of a $100M IT services company in Los Angeles. During our conversation, he said “The writing is on the wall that the role of IT is changing. A lot of the work that my team is doing today needs to be done, but not necessary by them. I want my team working on things that more directly impact the business. We need to start thinking about IT differently and positioning both the department and team more strategically.” The net of SVP’s message was eliminating what Amazon Web Services (AWS) calls “undifferentiated heavy lifting.”

Undifferentiated heavy lifting (UHL) involves cabling, cooling, datacenters, labor, networking, power, racking, servers, storage, etc. While UHL is necessary and important, it rarely helps companies differentiate the business and win against the competition. According to AWS, 70% of IT’s time is spent doing UHL while only 30% of its time is spent on business-related activities. AWS flips the equation. When companies run their infrastructure on AWS, IT is able to spend 30% of its time configuring cloud assets and 70% of its time focusing on adding value to the business.

AWS takes care of the UHL for companies so they do not have to 1) buy and install new hardware, 2) setup and configure new software and 3) upgrade or build datacenters. The AWS cloud enables companies to stop spending money on UHL. Companies can take their scare resources (e.g., network engineers, systems engineer, etc.) and shift them from UHL to high-value activities that differentiate the business. The more IT shifts its resources and activities to value, the more it will become a strategic asset for the organization versus a traditional cost center.

All contents copyright © 2013, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


One Response to Undifferentiated Heavy Lifting

  1. Marc Easter says:

    Typo alert. The sentence with “When companies run their infrastructure on AWS …” uses 70% twice.


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