If you're a CIO, innumerable challenges accompany your responsibilities. You have to ensure your organization's technical environment is running optimally. You have to constantly watch for cyber threats. You have to align your goals with business and finance counterparts. And on top of everything, your CEO is expecting you to drive transformation by setting the company's digital vision. But all of that is easier to say than done when you're stuck keeping the engine running.
Think about it: what was the last cool project you worked on? When 70% or more of your resources go towards addressing routine IT problems and you're focused on reducing expenditures, how do you fuel the strategic changes you need to make sure every project is worth talking about? Traditional levers for savings have been exhausted, while the remaining 30% of your budget goes toward just keeping the lights on or worse: charging strategic business initiatives a "change/upgrade tax" and further reducing your transformative potential. So, how can you escape this cycle?
To influence the bottom line means understanding not only what can be saved, but what can be contributed. Listed below are some key ways that IT leaders can challenge the status quo and questions they should be asking to recover resources for the projects that can impact the top line:
- Know your total cost. Conventional wisdom says that if you buy your hardware, software, and telecommunications cheaper, you're doing a good job. But there's more to it than that. Designing, deploying, and managing IT infrastructure are vital operations that can make up more than 50% of a budget, but are hidden within a line item. Do you know how much you're paying for project management? What about maintenance, sunny-day administrative changes, or truck rolls? With traditional managed services and outsource contracts, the true cost of IT is inconsistent at best and unpredictable at worst. Need to close a site? Get ready to pay for penalties. Need to make emergency changes to your network? Get ready to pay for escalations.
Despite the advent of cheap, predictable, "as a service" models like Cloud computing and storage, the routers, wireless access points, and IOT devices that comprise your IT infrastructure and power your business remain uncertain costs. The digital age is moving too quickly for you to keep paying outmoded prices for components of your service and fractured project management, auditing, code and security patch maintenance. Why not apply the all-in consumption model to your entire private domain and start taking advantage of agile, frictionless IT infrastructure at a predictable price?
- Stop paying for overlapping services. Most companies outsource all or part of their IT infrastructure— Wide Area Network (WAN), Local Area Network (LAN), Collaboration, Data Center, and Network Security—and end up with multiple vendors and management platforms in addition to their own internal capabilities. This complexity, on top of different systems, software packages, and all the associated maintenance, inevitably leads to unnecessary inefficiencies and overhead.
An IT partner who can agree on a co-management approach using a consistent set of tools and singular view across all platforms will lead to a single source of truth for data collection, analysis, reporting, troubleshooting, access and control. And when problems do happen, an integrated service experience under one contract and with one simple bill will eliminate finger pointing by establishing a partnership built on responsibility. How can you simplify your IT infrastructure so your team can spend less time unraveling the threads of internal and external contributors and more time focused on the innovative projects it wants to complete?
- Get a vendor who shares risk. IT is one of the only industries left that puts all of the risk on the consumer. But reliable IT infrastructure is so integral to Digital Age business that the financial, technical, and operational burdens should no longer be only yours to bear. If a tree falls on a power line, you don't have to file a request with your electric company to restore your power and you wouldn't expect a higher bill for the repairs; you are reconnected to the grid the same as any of your neighbors. Like typical utilities, IT infrastructure partners should be absorbing or sharing the risk and delivering measurable service level agreements without any means or averages. Cloud computing and storage made it common for business enterprises to share responsibility through SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS service models. Why not expect the same from your network infrastructure partners?
- Remove the guesswork. When you build an in-house infrastructure, over time or through mergers and acquisitions, your IT infrastructure begins to deviate from what you set as a standard. This opens up security and operational risks that your team must build workarounds and unique process to address, and which must also be dealt with whenever you want to make a change.
By working with partners who use standardized Reference Architectures to integrate technology, processes, and trained operators into end-to-end solutions, the result is an IT infrastructure with less complexity, fewer defects, and greater availability at a lower Total Cost of Ownership. And when one component inevitably needs to change, all components impacted by this change are known, taken into account, and can be changed or re-integrated accordingly. Why should you have to worry about whether or not technologies will work together, or if a small change results in a cascade of problems?
- Provide a better experience for (and retain) staff. Your team is likely full of IT innovators who love to work with the latest and coolest technologies. Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things devices, and data analytics are all having direct impacts on both the top and bottom line, but these advanced technologies require not only expertise, but the time to apply it. Well-trained personnel that have institutional knowledge of your business processes and use cases are too invaluable to lose or waste on the burden of keeping the lights on or the phones ringing. New IT infrastructure service models can help you set your staff loose on new business- and career-defining projects. How can your business tackle the challenges of the Digital Age if your best assets are too busy with the routine dysfunction?
The bottom line is that increasing top line growth depends on innovation, but innovation depends on access to resources and reliable infrastructure. Can traditional IT service models or methods deliver these crucial advantages? The solutions are out there, but success depend on CIOs' willingness to embrace them.
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