By Jonathan Ladd
The economic downturn forced organisations to recalibrate their information technology costs – paring back all but essential roles and functions. Unfortunately, some organisations cut too deeply and nicked the bone. Now, as the two-speed economy rumbles along, IT departments should look to small yet meaningful changes that can result in substantial IT cost reductions that also enhance employee productivity.
First and foremost, you should review your organisation’s software asset management. For some organisations, economic downturn has necessitated tough choices relating to employee headcount. At the same time, some countercyclical organisations have prospered and grown. Regardless of which camp you are in, your organisation’s software licensing needs probably changed. Re-evaluate the number of licences you’re using compared to the number of licences you need. Organisations we’ve worked with have realised significant IT savings by right-sizing their software volume licences to better match current conditions. It may be that your organisation should revise its software licensing model altogether – companies in the 250-750 employee range, for example, should take advantage of Microsoft Enterprise Agreements to streamline desktop management and get better software pricing. On the flip side, if your organisation has reduced its staff and you have unused licences, scale back immediately and avoid extraneous costs.
One of the easiest ways to avoid unnecessary costs is to maintain the software you already have. While updates are seemingly innocuous, every CIO of a good size organisation knows and dreads Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of each month, on which Microsoft releases security patches. It’s a challenge to keep every computer up to date, but it’s worth the effort. By working regular updates into your firm’s enterprise software policies and processes, you can avoid costly security breaches that require expensive quarantines, hard drive wipes, compromises to your intellectual property and customer information, and other costly remediation. Software asset management is part of any true value-added service offering.
AOL recently restructured its entire infrastructure, and more importantly, its supporting tools and processes, to create a lights-out, completely automated deployment environment. That was a big shift for an Internet provider that has typically resisted change. Moving to the Cloud and virtualising certain IT functions need not be such a “sea change” in IT policy. You can gradually shift physical resources to Cloud environments and take advantage of virtualisation solutions. The steady drumbeat of Cloud providers entering the market has provided the full gamut of options, from entire infrastructure supporting environments to smaller, flexible solutions.
No one wants to make momentous changes in policy in such volatile markets. But given the rapidly changing tech environment, organisations that remain static will soon be overtaken by the competition or be rendered less relevant. Small technology changes can equal big savings.
Jonathan Ladd is the group CEO for Datacom responsible for directing strategy and success for the company throughout Asia and Australia. With over 30 years of technology, management, strategy, consulting and director-level experience, he’s worked across multiple sectors, and in many countries and cultures. Jonathan has held IT leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies, as well as in his own technology consulting business. Currently, he chairs a finance industry steering committee guiding a national payments system innovation.