Most IT executives and IT project managers instinctively know that Evergreen IT is the only way forward for managing increasingly complex IT landscapes that change faster than ever before. And while they also know this new management approach comes with numerous benefits, they often cannot place their finger on what exactly they can expect to gain. This is not surprising, as this is a new concept without many real-world results and insights publicly available.
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1. Tightly Managed IT Estate
Even before all the as-a-Service options started, having a well-managed IT estate was important in reducing shelf-ware, shadow IT, and over- or under-paying for licenses, which led to millions of dollars of waste or fines.
Now, in an Evergreen IT environment, having a tightly managed IT estate is more important than ever. Most enterprises today have a mix of as-a-Service (Windows 10, Microsoft 365, etc.) and on-premise (Office 2010, proprietary software, Windows 7, etc.).
In this complex and fast-moving environment, issues and conflicts affecting LOB apps can happen daily. To have a properly managed estate, known IT fixes need to be automated, device health needs to be at its highest, and apps need to be tested for compatibility to reduce the burden on IT staff so they can focus on the future of digital transformation.
This benefit goes without saying, but nevertheless, it is crucial (and the reason why you are doing this).
2. More Balanced Workload & Capacity
Instead of having large spikes followed by down times that result in talent retention issues and skill/resource losses, the workload is spread evenly across time with Evergreen IT.
Ideally, multiple project flows are set up to harmonize with and benefit each other, utilizing your resources at capacity. This reduces the chance for employee burnout, the need to hire more contractors to complete the job, and the likelihood of running over budget.
3. Minimal Risk
While the risk exponentially spikes with big bang IT Transformation projects, the risk factors are minimized and evenly spread as the Evergreen IT processes continuously run.
By setting up and using a consistent and predictable process, IT migrations become part of the routine and less disruptive as users now know what to expect. Even if issues do arise during a migration process, they will not be as disruptive or affect as many users as they did in the past.
4. Predictable Budget Needs
As a result of continuity and the ability to exactly plan, your budget stream becomes very predictable. You will know exactly how many users will need their devices upgraded next month (or in 6 or 12 months) and what it will cost you.
Knowing when you will have upgrades (i.e., every fall for Windows 10) allows you to budget for IT teams, contractors, etc. Having this predictability in budget allows you to retain IT talent who are intimately familiar with the IT environment.
5. Lower Maintenance Efforts & Costs
These are best illustrated by actual numbers. For example, Gartner contrasted the cost of a Windows 10 update in an unmanaged estate ($462/device for 1 update/year) with the same update in a well-managed environment ($258/device for 1 update/year). That's a 79% difference!
In a well-managed IT environment using IT automation, initial conflicts and issues from an update that arise in the first round of updates can be quickly fixed, and the fix can be automated, set as a Group Policy, etc. Simply arranging it so that end-users do not have to contact IT or even see an issue, lowers frustration and increases employee efficiency.
6. Significant Decrease In Security Risks And Fewer Vulnerabilities
According to the Ponemon Institute, security breaches have increased by 11% since 2018 and by 67% since 2014 — costing an organization $3.92 million on average for a data breach (Security Intelligence). Considering the cost involved, plus the loss of revenue and customer trust, it is clear why keeping your estate as updated and secure as possible is one of the highest priorities of IT management.
While Windows 7 has paid extended support through 2022 for security and critical issues, it is still up to Microsoft to find those issues and decide which ones to fix. Microsoft is putting more resources into Windows 10, keeping it up-to-date and adding new features and new security enhancements.
This is true not only for your OS, but for apps like Office, where Microsoft 365 has significantly fewer issues than on-premise versions. In an Evergreen IT environment, your users' devices will be updated constantly to have the latest in security updates when critical flaws are found.
7. Reduced Licensing And Hardware Costs
In a well-managed estate, applications are rationalized and normalized, resulting often in a reduction of 30-40% in licensing spend. Hardware is inventoried, cataloged, and tracked, making it less likely to lose or misplace existing hardware and, hence, minimizing the cost of procurement.
Another factor in reducing hardware cost is end-user self-service and IT Automation on their devices. What once was thought to be an old, slow computer, might simply be a computer with an app running too many processes. Having an automated script send a warning to the user to stop the app, extends the life of the device and the efficiency of the person using it.
8. Less Shadow IT And Application Sprawl
Without centralized management and strict enforcement of policies, Shadow IT organizations tend to pop up all over the organization. This leads to application sprawl, which compromises your security and maintenance efforts. With Evergreen IT, you position your IT organization as a central service provider, reducing the chances and impact of attempts to go rogue.
9. Improved End User Experience
Cost savings aside, the improved end user experience, as we have mentioned in earlier points, is one of the biggest benefits of Evergreen IT. Rather than dreading infrequent, forced change that carries bigger risks and larger implications for the users, change is now something that happens gradually (learning curve is less steep), happens constantly (they know to expect it), and can be exciting (new features).
This results in end users supporting you and volunteering to upgrade instead of resisting and blocking you.
10. Higher Productivity And Revenue
Last, but certainly not least, faster access to new features and a better user experience lead to higher productivity. Also, with worker distraction at its highest levels ever, in office, co-working, or remote/work from home environments, having fewer interruptions due to IT issues helps to keep your employees more focused.
Also, because IT is tightly managed, changes can be implemented quickly, resulting in direct contributions to your bottom line.
With most companies now having at least several X-as-a-Service products in house, such as Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365), it is inevitable that the majority, if not all, of your IT estate will become Evergreen sooner rather than later. While the exact benefits will differ based on how your enterprise is setup, the vast majority of organizations will experience most, if not all, of the above-mentioned benefits in various degrees.
My recommendation is to do a thorough benefit analysis for your organization to evaluate the benefits and risks. Start by taking a detailed current state analysis. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about how to get started.