Join Peter High for an in-depth discussion in this video Challenges to streamlining IT, part of Creating Your IT Strategy.
- If you work for a company that's been in business more than 10 years, it's likely that you have significant legacy technology. Perhaps members of your team built it. Perhaps it's run on your own data centers, rather than in the cloud. Perhaps it required a variety of modifications in order to get it to integrate with other interdependent systems of one sort or another. This is true of most companies that have been in business longer than a decade and is likely to be more complex if the business is also a multi-billion-dollar enterprise and or a global company. It used to be that the value that IT provided was in creating new technology.
The leaders of other functions did not understand how the geeks in IT did what they did, but they would place orders for manual processes to automate, and IT would make it happen. The foreignness of IT was a source of some power in the organization. Now, vendors have created standard versions of a lot of solutions that IT departments used to create. Some of you are probably thinking of ERP, payroll systems, rudimentary data analytics platforms of various kinds, and you're absolutely right to do so. As a result, IT's value to the corporation needs to be elevated and more strategic.
IT needs to focus on those things that are of the utmost strategic importance to the company, and engage vendor partners to implement the non-strategic solutions. This is easier said than done. Upgrading legacy systems is complicated. It involves identifying which systems are candidates to transition, getting the buy-in of those who use the legacy systems. This is very important, as people generally don't like change, noting that some percentage of those users will be wedded to the old ways of doing things. Developing change management plans, engaging a vendor if appropriate, implementing the plan, migrating old data from the old systems to the new systems, and finally shutting off old systems.
It can seem so daunting that you might elect to kick the can down the road, so to speak. Doing that means that competitors will go about the dirty work sooner than you and will be set up for great advantages that you will not be able to reap, and ultimately, you will fall behind. It's also important to note that this is a difficult undertaking today. But assuming your company continues to grow and that complexity grows along with it, these tasks will be much more arduous in a year's time. It is time to get to work. The mantra of today's CIO needs to be simplicity. What does that mean for you in practical terms? I'd say, set standards for the biggest systems and hardware that you use, like email, PCs, tablets, phones, ERP, procurement solutions, business intelligence, and the like.
This may be a particular challenge if you company has multiple operating companies or business units associated with it, each with a bias towards using and doing their own thing. The key is to present the benefits to simplicity in the form of cost savings and simplifying the integration of data. Next, you need to reduce the number of vendors you engage. Vendors serve a variety of roles, from software vendors to hardware vendors to staff augmentation vendors and beyond. Choosing the best fit for each and reducing the number of vendors used overall should reduce cost through economies of scale and reduce the governance burden on your team as the performance of each vendor needs to be monitored and validated.
Employ cloud and as-a-service solutions to a greater extent. The benefits of cloud and everything-as-a-service solutions are many, including developing more rapidly scaling solutions, turning capital expenses into operating expense, and increasing the IT team's financial flexibility in the process, making it easier to access data. Isolate critical assets into separate enclaves. These are the words of Dr. Ron Ross of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, who sets the standards for security protocols for the government.
And his ideas are used by many private sector companies as well. This separation helps ensure that a data breach in one part of your technology does not lead to a broader breach. It's important to note that simplifying your technology portfolio is the key way to secure the enterprise. These are not easy steps to undertake, and it requires marshalling the right resources inside and outside of IT while creatively engaging the best vendor partners. But as you can see, if you do this right, there are many long-term advantages to your enterprise.
In this course, IT strategy consultant Peter High outlines how to create an agile IT department, measure IT performance, and create the role of business information officer. He also suggests ways in which leaders can change the organizational conversation about technology by sharing the IT mission, cocreating other departments' strategies, and finding areas of alignment.
- The changing nature of IT
- Making IT strategic
- Creating an agile IT department
- Measuring IT performance
- Cocreating other departments' strategies
- Creating an IT mission for the entire organization