Monday, March 28, 2011

IT Isn't Dead. 100% Guaranteed Approach to Keep your CEO Happy

If there is one constant with IT, it is the guarantee of change. Whether its new regulations, corporate leadership, changing business models, regulation and legislation, upcoming technologies, customer demands, changing marketplaces and global conditions, or company re-organization, there are many pressures on today’s modern IT department to always adapt to these latest changes to keep the business functioning and properly positioned. With the added pressure of the recent economic downturns, IT is being asked to deliver the same or more solutions, with less capital funding. The risks to companies following such an approach are glaringly obvious—do they sacrifice quality for agility? Do they comply with regulations sooner rather than later? Do they change their systems based on market conditions? All these aspects combined, can easily cause heartburn to today’s CEO’s. So, how do you keep your CEO (and CIO) happy and more importantly keep them employed? By following an application modernization strategy and approach, your IT department will remain ahead of the always changing curve, with a low risk profile, and be fully prepared for future-proofing your IT solutions.

Adoption of the internet has caused frenzied investment in new business ideas creating rapid advancement in technology, services, and standards. This is driving wide spread adoption of web-based technologies resulting in existing technology becoming outdated and software lifecycles becoming shorter. This leads to constant fluctuation in IT trends, many of which must be adopted to remain competitive with your organization’s business goals and to respond to the changes aforementioned. What are the IT trends of today that will dictate a company’s success? Do they require every IT department’s attention? Do they add value to the organization? Listed below are IT trends that every company should be considering in order to keep their company strategically aligned for high value gains:

• Cloud Computing: The ability to take commoditized assets off premise and follow a consumption cost model.
• System Consolidation: virtualizing and combining hardware, sun setting redundant systems, standardize on vendors.
• Enterprise Re-usability: Re-use and integrate existing assets, create single information sources, and sunset redundant systems.
• Mobile Solutions: Access business relevant information through mobile devices and perform business process remotely
• Portfolio Management: Manage and maintain corporate assets just like your stock portfolio; buy/sell in the marketplace through effective metrics.
• Technology Lifecycle Management: Manage vendor relationships, standards. Sunset technologies before workforce or vendor support become scarce or costly
• Off-shore management: manage cost-effective off-shore teams for effective and quality-driven results.
• Agile Methodologies: Follow an incremental approach that has rapid, value-driven milestones
• Technology Selection: Embrace open standards and technologies that are mature and sustainable.

There are many drivers to adopting such leading edge IT initiatives, some of which include the following: vendor drops support of products or technologies, modern skilled workforce and lack of legacy skilled professionals, new software programming languages, competitive pressures, and more. These all lead to following constant modernization and rationalization process that continuously re-evaluates the technologies, products, and corporate assets. By following a modernization strategy, that includes identifying application profiles for each corporate IT asset, will allow organizations to measure, monitor, and target their future IT portfolio. Having a continuous rationalization process through source selection techniques, will benefit companies looking for not only continuous improvement, but continuous optimization. This includes defining a prioritization framework so that each initiative can be ranked and selected based on the value it brings to the organization. Once such levels of maturity are achieved, organizations reap the ultimate benefit—re-allocating funding from maintenance-type initiatives to innovation-type initiatives. Re-focus IT from managing the day-to-day operations, to helping the business solve real business problems. This is often accomplished through a centralized, integrated, flexible framework that has been through the rigor of business case justification, performance and risk management, and strategy drivers.

Studies have shown that world-class companies have reaped the benefit of such initiatives: firms with world-class performance management outperform their peers by 240% (The Hacket Group), 404% ROI for customers leveraging SaaS delivery models (IDC), and 150% ROI for Grid customers (Mainstay Partners). These are figures to keep your CEO happy and are accomplishable by following a structured approach that stresses standardization, rapid value, vendor management, and commoditization of tactical and non-strategic functions.

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