Most enterprise IT teams are currently breathing a sigh of relief as budget rounds are completed or at least about to be. According to a Spiceworks survey, on average, 44% of enterprises (5000+ seats) say they will increase their IT budgets while 47% remain the same as last year. The better-than-last-year outlook on budgets is primarily due to an increased priority on IT projects (62%), the need to upgrade outdated infrastructure (57%), and increased security concerns (47%).
With the Windows 7 End of Life deadline looming just around the corner and some enterprise IT teams struggling or even stalling on their Windows 10 upgrades, additional budget is welcome news. But in light of what needs to happen to make a smooth, iterative management of faster IT Transformation cycles possible (Evergreen IT), there are a few pitfalls you will need to avoid in order to make the most out of your IT budget.
Having gone through this process with dozens of our clients, I want to share a few tips with you that will help you to maximize the available resources, future-proof your initiatives, and increase your return on investment — hence making it easier next year when you are negotiating your budget.
1) Focus On Cost-To-Savings
With so much new technology (e.g., adoption of AI technology is expected to nearly triple, while the adoption of hyper-converged infrastructure, edge computing, and serverless computing is expected to double) flooding the market, it is hard to distinguish which will make the biggest impact. Ten years ago, "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM", but big purchasing decisions aren't as cut and dried anymore.
The one North Star which my customers always found useful to orient themselves by is a focus on costs-to-savings. Executives nowadays know they have to spend money to save money, so be sure to ask how much money you can save on a global scale before making a larger purchasing decision.
Most IT automation projects will touch 4-5 different areas in your business and therefore provide cumulative hard and soft savings in multiple areas of your business. For example, a large global investment bank in central London was able to realize $1.8 million of hard savings over 14 months just by reducing their IT support tickets (ticket cost: $12-$50) many more soft savings were achieved through improved process and better management and resource utilization. And remember, our IT automation doesn't only reduce tickets, but prevents tickets from being raised in the first place.
Imagine how that would impact your business!
2) To Drive Digital Transformation, Modern IT Management Must Undergo A Cultural Change
Today's enterprises are expected to digitally transform — throw industry best practices that have worked well in the past decades over board and embrace completely new ways of doing things. But it doesn't stop there. Not only is the pace of change increasing, but the scope of change is also magnified.
While most successful Digital Transformation projects are business-led and IT-enabled, IT plays a crucial role. But we cannot fulfill this role if we are spending 80% of our IT budget with just "keeping the lights on". The way we manage IT must change — but this will only happen if we embrace a more agile, iterative way of managing our estate. We must adopt Evergreen IT in order to move forward, which brings me to my next point.
3) Get C-Level Buy-in For Change Management, Process Improvement, And Automation
These are exciting times. Over the next few years, you are laying the foundation for massive tidal change towards modern IT management: adopting yearly, bi-annual, or even monthly upgrade schedules for infrastructure and applications, moving into the cloud, and automating IT tasks wherever possible. Invest in getting change management, process improvement, and automation now to build a leaner, meaner IT management machine that cannot only keep pace with your organization's digital transformation efforts but support them fully. For this, you will need full C-Level buy-in.
4) Educate, Educate, Educate
Change is hard — especially when you need everyone on board in order to be successful. Therefore, it is important to educate your executive management and business units on:
- Why IT needs to be managed differently from now on
- What exactly that will look like (describe the process and how automation fits into the equation)
- How they will benefit (faster access to productivity features, less learning curve from upgrade to upgrade, proactive management rather than putting out fires)
- What you can expect from IT in the future (faster upgrades, closer liaisons, etc.)
- What business units and management can do to help (changes in purchasing processes, more involvement, etc.)
- What the timeline looks like and what the next milestones are
Remember: it is always easier to manage expectations beforehand and get people on board rather than try to fix things or force adoption afterwards.
5) Flexibility of Licensing
Last but not least, be sure that whatever technology you decide on gives you the flexibility in licensing you need. Many vendors either offer perpetual or subscription models and depending on which type of technology you are looking at, that might make sense. For transformative technology, such as IT Automation, it is a good idea to look for a vendor that allows you to take advantage of either perpetual or as-a-service licensing, depending on your budget and your needs.
I recognize that these tips are probably something you don't want to hear as they involve a lot of uncomfortable internal discussions and, consequently, changes. But now is the time to embrace change and become an organization that is agile, innovative, and quick on its feet to not only meet mounting security challenges head-on but also respond to changing customer demands faster.