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”

Where Data Security Fits in Two-Speed IT

“Where does security fit in bi-modal IT departments?” asks Mary K. Pratt on CSO Online. She explores the question with IT leaders from a handful of organizations, opening her discussion by noting:

“The bi-modal idea has its benefits and its pitfalls but the determination seems to come down to the size of the enterprise. In the mid to smaller companies, there is not the luxury of splitting the security group out into subgroups. In the bigger companies the question becomes where do the security folks belong.”

Though the CIOs she speaks to take different approaches to managing bi-modal or two-speed IT, they generally agree on two points:

where security fits in 2-speed IT1) It’s best to perform both speeds or modes of IT–innovation and operations–in one centralized group, rather than two separate teams where the innovators “throw things over the wall” to operations as applications are developed.

In this structure, the same individuals work on both innovation initiatives and day-to-day operations tasks, though overall a greater share of time is spent on operations, and employees vary in how much time they spend on each type of work.

2) Security has become so important, as cyber threats have multiplied, that it must be baked into new projects, not added later as an afterthought. Ultimately though, security “should sit in operations.”

Continue reading “Where Data Security Fits in Two-Speed IT”

Happy Employees, Happy Customers, Higher Profit: How to Get It All With Proactive IT

The link between employee happiness and business results is clear, according to recent research from the Russell Investment Group, Deloitte and others. Happy employees make for happy customers, leading to higher profitability and stock price.

Summarizing the studies in Forbes, Blake Morgan affirms that happy workers mean higher profits, noting “publicly traded companies in the Fortune ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list have gained an average 10.8% a year since 1998” (versus 6.5% for the DJIA and 5.3% for the S&P 500 over the same period).

How happly employees mean higher profitsShe further observes that “The same companies invest in employee happiness year after year. The rest continue to not invest. There’s a clear line between companies that get it and companies that don’t.”

While numerous factors impact employee happiness, a proactive IT support strategy can play a key role. Continue reading “Happy Employees, Happy Customers, Higher Profit: How to Get It All With Proactive IT”

Avoiding the Four Sharks of IT Disruption with ERM

Beneath the “deceptively smooth surface” of today’s technology world swim the “four sharks of disruption:” cloud computing, smart computing, mobility and IT consumerization, according to Forrester Research vice president Andrew Bartels.

Four Sharks of IT Disruption
Image Credit: Creating a Simple Life

In an article on ebizQ, Bartels explains that mobility will have the biggest impact on customer and employee engagement; the consumerization of IT on employee interaction with IT; smart computing on running the business; and cloud computing on running IT.

Three of these “sharks” share the waters (so to speak) of IT with enterprise request management (ERM), a strategy for extending the benefits and capabilities of service catalogs across all shared services delivery groups within an organization.

Mobility: at the front end of an ERM deployment is a web-based portal interface that can be used to order and track any type of service or equipment request, built using a tool like Kinetic Request. The portal enables users to place or check the status of a request from virtually any type of device, anywhere, at any time.

ERM utilizes a system of engagement (the web-based portal) to interact with underlying systems of record (enterprise and department applications like ERP, HRMS, ITSM, supply chain, accounting and other application suites) so that changes to the interface, and even to the underlying process automation logic, can be made without modifying the core code in enterprise applications.

That concept isn’t limited to request management, of course; it could be applied to limited, task-specific access to core applications for any of a variety of purposes in a mobile environment.

IT consumerization: as employees increasingly expect the same ease of use and intuitive interfaces from enterprise software that they get from consumer applications like Amazon.com,  eBay, Facebook, and Google apps, IT will need to find ways to expose selected functions while shielding users from unnecessary underlying complexity.

ERM accomplishes this in the realm of service requests and fulfillment, replacing what is often a hodgepodge of paper-based processes and multiple, disparate departmental online forms with a single user-friendly UI. Between the portal interface and the underlying enterprise applications, it incorporates a task workflow automation software engine to securely communicate between the underlying systems, automating functions like scheduling, fulfillment and reporting while shielding the requestor from the complexity of the back-end process flow.

BYOD policy is another component of IT consumerization. Managing this phenomenon requires balancing employee convenience and productivity with data and system security concerns, as well as providing flexible support structures like schedule-based rather than queue-based helpdesk services.

Cloud computing: in order to make optimal choices about cloud services, while staying within a solution set manageable by IT, internal business application developers need to understand:

  • what their cloud options are;
  • the specifications of different cloud services; and
  • the costs of each alternative.

The management and provision of hybrid cloud services is thus a logical application for ERM, as detailed in a previous blog post here.

Adding an ERM strategy to your IT diving gear makes swimming with the sharks of disruption a bit less scary.

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