Organizations often experience difficulty with IT transformation as it becomes more complex due to the addition of applications and infrastructure. The increasing reliance on dynamically shared resources makes this process more challenging, especially in a hybrid IT environment where some resources are on a cloud platform while others are on-site. The situation often occurs because organizations rarely eliminate their existing technology when they adopt new approaches. IT managers therefore require new methods of managing their environment efficiently to ensure business success. The driving factors in IT currently include the following:
Mobile devices and BYOD
Cloud computing is becoming more popular because it allows organizations to obtain IT resources more quickly while reducing their cost. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) initially drove the adoption of cloud computing, although organizations of all sizes now use cloud. Organizations that need to acquire IT resources from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers typically use a public cloud. However, organizations that wish to implement techniques such as virtualization internally are more likely to use a private cloud. Hybrid environments that use both public and private clouds are also common solutions in cloud computing.
The loss of control over resources is one of the primary disadvantages of using a public cloud platform. This tendency increases the challenge of resource management, making it more difficult to ensure that the provider is complying with service level agreements (SLAs). The dynamic sharing of resources on a public cloud also increases the difficulty of resource management.
Mobile Devices and BYOD
Employees often use their own mobile devices at work, causing many organizations to establish Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. In most cases, IT managers must also support mobile devices provided by the company as well as desktops and laptops. The management of company-owned devices requires a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution to back up the data on those devices and delete it if the device is stolen. However, managers also require some means of separating corporate data from personal data on employee-owned mobile devices so they can exert the necessary oversight over the corporate data. The existence of these different categories of computing devices means that IT managers have an increasing need for a centralized management solution that can handle devices in all categories, while retaining the ability to be configured for the specific needs of each device type.
Big data refers to a data set that is challenging to process with traditional means due to its complexity or size, rather than a data set of a particular size. The use of big data is becoming more popular among organizations of all sizes due to its increasing availability from cloud providers and the growing recognition that big data has broad applications. Common business uses of big data include optimizing business processes, targeting customers and improving research.
Many of the challenges of managing big data are the same as those in traditional data analysis, such as ensuring authorized access to the data. However, big data also introduces additional management challenges, such the requirement to collect the data from a larger number of sources. Furthermore, the data must be stored and accessed in a manner that minimizes the impact its size has on performance. These challenges will increase as data sets continue to grow dramatically.
The increasing reliance on information technology (IT) means that organizations are also more vulnerable to system downtime. Today’s global markets also require IT systems to be available around the clock, since employees are always working. Any downtime in this operating environment quickly results in problems such as decreased productivity, reduced revenue, lost brand value and compliance issues.
Most organizations don’t deal effectively with the possibility of disaster recovery. Senior executives often consider it to be an IT problem, leaving it to the IT department to fix. This paradigm typically leads to the development of many tactical solutions to disaster recovery without a guiding strategy. However, disaster recovery is a business problem that requires a business approach to solve. The top five challenges in disaster recovery include the following issues:
The general goal of disaster recovery is to keep the business running, regardless of the circumstances. It should be driven by business requirements rather than IT capabilities, meaning that you must prioritize business processes before you can implement disaster recovery (DRP). Depending on the organization, the most important process may be the online ordering system, e-mail capability, the SharePoint platform, or any other business-critical platform or application. Identifying these processes ultimately requires input from your business users.
An effective DRP also requires you to assess each application’s sensitivity to downtime. This information indicates the likely consequences of downtime in each area and provides the foundation for the DRP. Analysts use two metrics to measure downtime tolerance, including recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO).
RPO is the amount of data that an application can lose before the loss becomes a significant problem for your organization. In other words, it’s the point in the past to which your DRP must recover data. RTO measures an application’s importance to current business operations. An application with a large RTO means that you have more time to recover the application before the organization will be significantly affected.
An organization’s DRP often fails to describe what should happen once the backup media leaves the data center. However, it’s essential to know how to recover data after the disaster. The mere fact that you can access backup data off-site doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to recover your applications quickly enough to satisfy users. This capability also requires access to equipment that can restore the data or adequate bandwidth to restore the data from a cloud service provider.
Organizations often assign a budget to the DRP before they determine the financial risk of data loss and downtime. However, you must quantify the value of the data you could lose in an outage before you can determine what you should spend to avoid those losses. These losses should also include the financial penalties for failing to comply with government regulations.
Risk assessment involves identifying the specific events that qualify as a disaster, which is highly dependent upon the organization and geography. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes are reasonable possibilities only in certain areas, while the risk of a network failure is more specific to the organization. It’s also important to realize that small losses caused by a particular problem can add up quickly when that problem occurs frequently.
Disaster recovery and business continuity are just a subset of the boardroom-level challenges faced by IT leaders today. WGroup has helped numerous CIOs assess and transform their IT strategic frameworks, governance structures, and operational processes to meet the sometimes competing demands of the business and emerging trends in IT. We adopt a pragmatic approach to implementing new IT capabilities that balances future needs with short-term improvements and benefits. Learn more by clicking here to visit http://thinkwgroup.com/services/strategy-transformation/.
Modern procurement routinely requires client organizations to obtain needed goods and services while reducing costs. This process generally involves the client extending its influence over its suppliers and the spending of its own workforce. A common approach to this goal is to provide purchasers with tools that allow them to find what they need from an approved supplier, allowing the client to realize the savings that it has already negotiated with the supplier. The services that clients are seeking with IT procurement generally include source-to-pay technologies through a cloud platform with capabilities such as support for mobile devices and embedded analytics. This process requires you to consider issues in the following five areas:
The greatest value that procurement has for an organization is the ability to identify suppliers and evaluate the ones that offer the best value. Procurement also has the potential to reduce the client’s costs by diligently negotiating with suppliers. However, this strategy requires the client to possess the technology needed to ensure that purchases throughout the organization comply with the negotiated contract terms. Compliant purchasing will eventually translate into an improved profit margin for the procurement process. Clients should also use technology to automate the payment process, thus allowing personnel to spend more time in procuring IT services.
Procurement officials need insight into their organization’s business processes to make the best decisions. This insight is more beneficial when it’s delivered to mobile devices, allowing them to make those decisions at any time and from any location. Graphical presentations are particularly useful for comparing criteria between suppliers to identify those that provide the best value for the organization. Procurers can also obtain insight into business processes with embedded analytics, thus allowing them to manage their negotiations in real time. These capabilities increase their productivity by enabling them to make buying decisions more quickly.
An efficient procurement process increases purchase compliance and cost savings. The key capabilities of such a process include automation, collaboration and an effective workflow. User experience is one of the primary drivers of efficiency in procurement, so the workflow must be intuitive and easy-to-use to ensure rapid adoption. Easy navigation allows users to find what they need more quickly and therefore reduce processing time. It also lets users complete their work faster by helping them prioritize their actions.
The modern procurement process requires extensive collaboration. Traditional methods of communication such as e-mail and telephone inhibit collaboration since workers often miss calls and spend time locating a particular e-mail message. Procurement applications typically rely on collaboration through in-context social collaboration that embeds a conversational stream within a transaction screen. This capability allows the cross functional team to share information more easily and collaborate with other departments to negotiate contract terms. Additional collaboration capabilities of procurement applications include receiving requests for proposals (RFPs) and sending purchase orders to service providers.
Procurement applications that enforce compliancy reduce contract leakage by ensuring that users buy only through approved suppliers. They also simplify procurement by using document templates to guide users through the process of creating a contract. Furthermore, they decrease workload by generating deviation reports that describe the differences between the contracts and template. Procurement applications also help to streamline the procurement process by generating robust audit trails to enforce purchase behavior.
IT procurement is transforming rapidly from adversarial purchasing and cost savings relationships to strategic partnerships with vendors focused on business outcomes. Advance your learning with a WGroup white paper, Top 9 Trends in IT Vendor Management. Click here to get your copy.
How BYOD Already Helps Businesses and the Trends to Watch for 2016
With mobile Internet users expected to top 2 billion devices in 2016, it is no surprise that BYOD is a business trend that has taken off. BYOD is already helping businesses in key ways, and BYOD benefits and policies will continue to evolve in 2016.
However, BYOD can have a dark side that ultimately harms businesses instead of helping. Here are the things to keep in mind for all things BYOD in 2016.
BYOD Business Benefits
The immediately apparent benefit of BYOD policy is that it shifts the burden of cost to the user (the employee). Given that a cell phone bill can often run upwards of $80 per month, businesses save significant capital by letting the employee cover those costs.
While it might seem that employees would object to such a policy, the opposite is true. Employees typically love BYOD policies since employees have the smartphone or laptop they already own for a reason. Namely, they enjoy using the device.
Users will also typically buy cutting-edge phones and laptops for their own personal use, which can provide businesses with a performance advantage they would not otherwise have. Even better, tech enthusiast employees will upgrade to the latest technology more frequently than the typical company refresh would, which means the business can stay current without incurring costs.
Given these benefits, it stands to reason that BYOD will only continue to grow in 2016. Here are some of the trends to look for in the years ahead.
BYOD Trends to Watch
When BYOD started, it was often considered a privilege in the workplace. In 2016 and beyond, expect such policies to become required. Some experts believe that around half of the world’s employers will require employees to bring their own devices in 2016. Along those same lines, it is likely that fewer businesses will fully reimburse employee costs for personal device use.
Additionally, expect BYOD to have a new look in coming years. While BYOD devices were traditionally phones and tablets, the Internet of Things has broadened the possibility of BYOD. Wearable devices such as smartwatches, sensors and monitors can all play a role into a company’s BYOD policy and strategy. (Learn more about IoT here.)
Finally, it will become increasingly important for businesses to develop a comprehensive BYOD strategy. Businesses will need to create constant guidelines, strategies and requirements for BYOD use. Otherwise, businesses open themselves up to the risks inherent to BYOD use. (Learn how to assess risk vs reward by clicking here.)
The Downsides to BYOD
For all the benefits BYOD policies provide, they are not without risk. Businesses who have not adopted BYOD frequently cite their concerns about BYOD security, and their concerns are warranted.
When many devices are accessing business data, crucial business insights are more open to attacks than ever before. While the convenience of BYOD has always come with security risks, those risks only increase when more businesses adopt BYOD policies without implementing effective security measures.
WGroup can help with the security plan you need. Click here to learn about our security-as-a-service.
Businesses who decide to tap into the rapidly growing BYOD culture must understand the security threats inherent to BYOD. As a result, it will be easier to create vigilant BYOD policies and security policies to address BYOD security risks.
WGroup has helped CIOs, IT leaders, CEOs, and boards of directors assess and transform their IT strategic frameworks, governance structures, and operational processes to meet the sometimes competing demands of the business and emerging trends in IT. We adopt a pragmatic approach to implementing new IT capabilities that balances future needs with short-term improvements and benefits. Many IT transformations are designed to be self-funding, with subsequent phases exploiting the success of prior investments and improvements.
If you’re facing challenges in BYOD, IT transformation, cybersecurity, or all of the above, we invite you to discuss them with us, with no obligation. We’ll tell you how we can help. Click here to contact us for a consultation.