Communications as a Service: Who Owns the Responsibility?

I presented this week at Gartner’s Symposium/IT Expo (what an awesome event! 6500 attendees and nearly 2000 CIOs). I presented along with Erwin Thomas of Philips Healthcare on the subject of moving communications to the cloud. During my part of the presentation I covered some to the reasons that are compelling companies to switch from premised-based communication systems and move to communications as a service (CaaS) offerings. One of the reasons I gave was worded something like this:

"A migration to CaaS allows companies to push the IT responsibility to a third party and better focus on their core business." After the presentation concluded, an IT VP from a large Canadian insurance company came up and challenged me. "You’re not pushing the responsibility to a third party. If something goes wrong, I’m still the one who has to answer to the CEO. I still own the overall responsibility."

Well, I fumbled through some explanation that was barely comprehensible. Then as I thought about it more later that day, I realized that he was right! CaaS affords companies the ability to push "IT workload" to a third party, but the responsibility remains with the IT chief of the company. His or her job is still to ensure that expectations are met; that the tools and applications are available to users; that security risks are mitigated; that performance is acceptable, etc. He or she doesn’t abdicate "responsibility," but instead is simply using outside resources to do all or part of the work (and choosing a different model of payment for the functionality delivered).

I still advocate the fact that a CaaS deployment allows a company to better focus on its core business instead of building out its IT group, but I thank my challenger for pointing out that the "responsibility" remains an internal item.

Agree or disagree? Let’s see your comments.

Joe Staples — CMO, Gartner presenter, and a guy who stands corrected