Three Key Takeaways from the 2016 State of IT Report

As 2015 winds down, IT leaders and their teams are looking at internal needs and external conditions in formulating plans and setting budget priorities for the coming year.

The recently released 2016 State of IT Report from Spiceworks provides a wealth of information about how IT teams are formulating plans for the year ahead.

The report covers IT budgets, spending and staffing plans; the trends and concerns keeping IT pros up at night; and a look forward at technology adoption trends.

Among the abundance of facts and stats presented, here are three noteworthy findings, along with additional observations.

IT pros will “need to keep doing more… with less.” (Here’s one strategy to help.)

One of the key top-level conclusions reported by Spiceworks is: “IT pros don’t expect their IT staff to increase in 2016, which means they’ll need to keep doing more… with less.”

How IT can do more with less

At the same time, more than half of IT organizations say “end-user need” is a key purchase driver.

Continue reading “Three Key Takeaways from the 2016 State of IT Report”

Top 10 Service Request Management Posts of 2015 (So Far)

CIOs and other IT leaders are confronted with rapid and significant change on all sides: digital disruption is transforming business models, cloud computing is transforming infrastructure, and consumerization along with the increasing influx of millennial workers are transforming expectations of IT and its role in the enterprise.

2015 Top 10 Service Request Management Blog PostsIt’s no surprise then, looking back at the top 10 posts here of 2015 so far, that current trends and predictions for the near-term future dominate the topics.

The top three posts all present research findings pertaining to technology trends and their effects on the future of IT service management and support. The fifth-most-read post even asks if the term “IT” is still appropriate (or whether “business technology” should replace it).

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Five Ways to Use Process Automation to Prevent Corporate Data Breaches

The increasing sophistication of data thieves, proliferating number of potential breach points, and growing value of stolen data combined to drive the number and cost of data breaches to new highs last year. And the risks to enterprises continue to expand.

How automation can prevent data breachesBut despite the growing threats, many enterprises remain woefully unprepared—even after investing in IT security solutions. According to recent research from Lieberman Software reported in Infosecurity magazine, “69 percent of (IT professionals) do not feel they are using their IT security products to their full potential. As a result, a staggering 71 percent…believe this is putting their company, and possibly customers, at risk.”

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Mobility Forecast 2016: Three Ways to Address BYOD and Workforce Evolution

On the long list of transformational changes—the digital enterprise, big data, the Internet of Things—keeping life interesting for CIOs and IT groups, a key area of focus is the ongoing developments in BYOD and workforce mobility. Tech leaders are challenged to make wise investments within a nascent and rapidly evolving tools environment.

BYOD and mobility forecast 2016That’s the central point made by Dell’s Tom Kendra in his article, Mobility Forecast: BYOD and EMM in 2016 on CIO.com. He writes that “for IT to be prepared to manage change efficiently, securely and cost-effectively, it is essential to understand the key drivers of change.”

Here are the three categories of change identified by Kendra, along with observations from this blog. Continue reading “Mobility Forecast 2016: Three Ways to Address BYOD and Workforce Evolution”

Six Vital BYOD Stats – And The Bigger Productivity Picture

Most organizations have now adopted BYOD policies, permitting or encouraging employees to use their personal computing and communications devices at work. Though the embrace of BYOD varies—small companies are more likely to adopt BYOD than large enterprises, tech companies more than government, U.S. firms more than those in Europe—a clear majority of respondents in a recent survey by Tech Pro Research “say that their organization is using or planning to use BYOD.”

BYOD stats and impact on productivityIt is easy to see why employees want to use their own devices, with reasons ranging from familiarity to freedom. Meanwhile, employers often see the shift (despite additional security measures required) as a way to save money. And research compiled by BMC Software indicates BYOD users work longer hours. But do BYOD policies ultimately improve productivity?

Continue reading “Six Vital BYOD Stats – And The Bigger Productivity Picture”

Cloud Computing and Legacy Applications: Why an Evolutionary Approach Works Best

While change is a constant in IT,  there’s no question that the technology developments of the past couple of years and what’s in store for the coming year are…different. The confluence of cloud computing, BYOD, consumerization, shadow IT, low-code platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data, among other trends, is creating challenges that are bigger, faster, and more disruptive than ever before.

Mainframes remain vital in the cloud computing era
Image credit: Enterprise Tech

In IT Leadership 2.0: Transform Yourself or Fade Away on CIO Insight, Frank Wander writes:

“A giant wave is crashing over IT as we know it. Our industry is one where waves regularly come and go, each one pushing something we held precious into the past. We have come to understand that technologies have a limited life span. It is an accepted notion in our industry. But this current wave is different—it is a tsunami, and IT leaders are in danger of being swept away.”

Continue reading “Cloud Computing and Legacy Applications: Why an Evolutionary Approach Works Best”

How ERM Helps With Employee Retention

To enhance their competitiveness (or to address the expectations of stakeholders, in the case of government agencies), organizations have been investing in new and better technology for decades. These investments are generally made to meet one (or some combination of) of four primary objectives:
Technology that makes employees happy

  • to reduce costs;
  • to improve product or process quality;
  • to accelerate workflow; or
  • to enable new capabilities.

Employees were provided with and trained on the use of new technologies and tools in order to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. True, in many cases new technologies made employees jobs easier, but the primary objectives for new investments were still focused on operational and financial benefit for the enterprise. Continue reading “How ERM Helps With Employee Retention”

Four Ways CIOs Can Embrace Consumerization 2.0 and Help the Business

Consumerization is the most sweeping change in IT in the past 20 years. Millennial workers, who’ve grown up with mobile phones, social networks and ecommerce sites are bringing their personal technology to work—and not just asking IT to adapt, but increasingly working around it.

As Frank Palermo notes in his InformationWeek article, Hey CIOs, Stop Saying ‘No’ To Consumer Tech, “According to Gartner, in 2012-2013, 64% of enterprises said mobility projects forged ahead without the full involvement of IT.” Employees are bringing their own mobile devices to the office, storing company data with consumer online services like DropBox, and in some cases developing custom cloud-based apps, even in heavily regulated industries which have resisted these trends until recently.

How CIOs can embrace consumerization 2.0Of course, consumerization 2.0 and its manifestations do not mean the end of IT as a vital function. Recent high-profile data breaches such as those at Target and Home Depot serve as bracing reminders that it’s imperative to keep corporate data secure, and that requires management by IT professionals.

Contending that “Security and other new challenges arising from the consumerization movement mean that CIOs need to make sure that services are secured, tested, reliable, and integrated into the enterprise application stack,” Palermo outlines four best practices CIOs can use to “establish themselves as a formidable business partners, avoid shadow IT, and, most important, remain relevant.”

Design for mobile first. Considering that smartphones and tablets now account for more than half of all Internet access, that’s not a bad strategy. At the very least, mobile access should be taken into consideration in the early stages of designing any new business applications.

One valuable approach is to design what Forrester Research calls smart process apps, or SPAs. The technology advisory firm defines these as “a new category of business application software designed to support processes that are people-intensive, highly variable, loosely structured, and subject to frequent change. Smart process apps fill the gap between systems of record and systems of engagement by automating both structured and unstructured work activities in support of collaborative processes.”

By narrowing what is truly needed by your users due to the restrictions of screen size, application designers are forced to simplify what are often complex user experiences.  This simplicity is often what consumers crave and is seldom found in enterprise applications.   These core processes can then often be translated to desktop interfaces leading to a cleaner, more flexible approach.

Leverage the cloud. As noted here previously, “Business application developers working within large enterprises want to build applications in the cloud. But they would prefer to spend their time coding and testing, not managing cloud infrastructure.” Users, too, often favor cloud applications for functions like file storage, collaboration, and project management.

IT needs to provide users either with safe ways to utilize commercial services or with company-approved alternatives that protect vital data. Whether providing cloud services and applications to developers or users, IT can use an enterprise request management (ERM) approach to provide users with a single, intuitive portal through which they can compare and request those services and apps based on their capabilities, costs, and other information.

Protect and secure mobile devices. Interest in using personal mobile devices at work (BYOD) skyrocketed starting in late 2011. Many IT groups initially resisted this movement, but as remote management tools improved and the potential for cost savings became apparent—not to mention strong preferences on the part of employees to utilize their personal smartphones over company-supplied Blackberrys—they began working to accommodate these devices rather than shun them.

Though security concerns remain, the use of training and awareness-building, combined with improved tools for securing devices and their data, have increased business and IT acceptance of BYOD. Generally, organizations that have embraced BYOD have reduced their mobile access and hardware costs, improved flexibility, and make their employees happy.

Be social. Palermo recommends enterprises use internal social discussion tools such as Yammer “that invite all levels of the organization, without hierarchy, to exchange ideas or voice concerns.”

Facebook and Twitter aside, social capabilities can also be built into business tools and applications for functions such as discussing business metrics and collaboratively resolving enterprise-level problems.

Though consumerization adds challenges and complexity to the roles of the CIO and IT staff, it also provides new opportunities to respond to user needs and even proactively offer new capabilities that are an extension of cloud, mobile and social technologies.

Next Steps