On a recent episode of data center podcast The Hot Aisle, Mark Thiele of Apcera talked about the dangerous belief among some business leaders that IT is created to reduce the cost of IT. Sounds ridiculous, but it happens in so many organizations that this belief deserves more attention. Certainly, a good IT department has a responsibility for efficiency.
But if IT allocates available time on efficiency and driving costs down, how much time is left for IT to focus on the business and find opportunities to drive new revenues, new lines of business, and to anticipate and enable changes during industry, market and technological change? If your organization views IT strictly as a cost center that needs constant oversight, IT will naturally adopt strategies of taking short cuts, choosing least cost solutions, and sacrificing the future for cost and time savings today. IT professionals usually call this “technical debt”, and that debt will come due at some point in the future.
What future outcomes does this cost center approach and collateral technical debt often cause?
- Outages – hardware and facilities’ redundancy costs too much up front, and/or current hardware isn’t supported and out of warranty
- Forklift upgrades – complete replacement of hardware and software technologies that have no incremental change or upgrade capability
- Code rewrites – short cuts were taken to deliver minimum functionality as fast as possible for lowest cost
- Missed deadlines – schedules have been built around arbitrary deadlines or too little slack for unexpected issues
- Turnover – IT staff is overworked, undervalued, and asked to do substandard work because of too much focus on cost containment
How does an IT department help the organization’s leadership avoid these risks?
By mapping a future that includes:
- Improving two-way communications between IT and the organization to identify and prioritize projects, recognize unmet needs, and innovate new approaches to business problems
- Demonstrating how IT can provide more value to the business by identifying future-proofing strategies that support both new and legacy technologies. These new strategies must meld both new applications and legacy applications, on-premises data centers, colocation, and multiple cloud and software-as-a-service providers, with the security, cost control, and data protection that the organization requires
- Implementing strategies to reduce IT staff hours spent on the maintenance of existing systems and reclaim those hours for more IT focus on identified business problems and unmet business needs
How do you get started? By bringing in experts to help the business and IT leaders explore a new IT strategy considering the current and future technology landscape. Read more about the successful adoption of this future-proofed approach in a case study about Shapiro, a Maryland-based provider of logistics and custom brokerage services. Or contact me to discuss your situation in more detail.
Doug Theis is the Director of Market Strategy in Expedient’s Indianapolis market focused on engaging with and improving the regional IT community through planning, sponsoring and attending community events, facilitating IT-focused continuing education opportunities, and sharing strategies, tactics, and research to help IT professionals stay abreast of best practices and industry trends. Connect with Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter.