Why You Need a Technology Advisor for Your Business

Enlisting the help of a technology advisor for your business can help you develop a strategy that aligns with organisational goals and poises you to drive performance and revenue. Often, this resource comes from outside the business  in fact, you might be better off if it does. Having a technology partner that views your business objectively will give you a holistic, unbiased picture of where and how technology can be improved to have the most impact. Here’s why you should consider a technology advisor for you organisation.

Many organisations spend too much on the wrong technology

Between 10 and 20 per cent of a typical organisation’s technology budget is used foolishly or wasted, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). Often this is because organisations take a haphazard approach to deciding which technology to bring in, blindly jumping on the latest trend without fully considering if it makes sense for the business. A technology advisor will review your budget and business needs, developing a plan for how to achieve your goals with the right technology investments while balancing risks and compliance. In this way, each technology is carefully selected for a specific purpose and outcome in the business.

Technology often evolves too quickly for your IT organisation to keep up

Businesses today are savvier than ever when it comes to technology  to the point where they often bypass IT to try out cloud services and enterprise apps. But your business can’t possibly know every technology and tool at its disposal. A technology advisor carries a broad range of technology knowledge, including information on the latest trends and solutions that could optimise your business.

This resource can offer a different perspective regarding critical business decisions that involve technology and present options you didn’t even know were possible.

A third of organisations struggle with project deadlines

More research from PWC shows only 32 per cent of projects meet deadline, budget and scope. If this is the case within your organisation, you might benefit from a technology advisor’s project management services. These resources can apply their own proven delivery methodologies backed by industry-standard approaches to technology implementations. Through assessing stakeholder needs, performing a requirements analysis and instilling a governance and gate review process, technology advisors can ensure a project is organised and managed to success.

IT architecture is often forgotten

IT architecture is something many businesses don’t have time or expertise to do well internally. Having these disciplines, practices and structured processes at hand enables timely, business-focussed decision making. IT architecture is an important capability for all organisations, regardless of size or industry. A technology advisor can help ensure you are architecting solutions that are stable, secure and high-performing. This resource can assist with requirements gathering, systems selection and testing your architecture.

Out to Pasture: Planning Software Asset Management (SAM) Retirement

By Tracy Toth

Most organisations are heavily invested in the process of acquiring and implementing enterprise-level software solutions, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to MS volume licensing and software deployments.

But what happens when it’s time to deactivate software and hardware? Does your enterprise have a plan in place to effectively retire critical and non-critical IT assets?

At Datacom, we’ve discovered that many enterprises don’t — and it’s an oversight that can have important ramifications when it comes to asset redundancies, the purchase of Microsoft volume licenses and system functionality.

A robust Software Asset Management (SAM) retirement process involves the development of approved policies and procedures for retiring software as well as the hardware on which enterprise software has been installed.

It’s important to make sure that your software asset management programme and your software asset retirement plan cover all the essentials, including the possibility of Microsoft license redeployments, asset transfers, the proper disposal of assets that can’t be redeployed or transferred and the creation of a software audit trail that documents the disposition of retired assets.

Datacom consultants frequently assist enterprise clients in the development of SAM retirement plans. In many cases, optimised asset retirement planning results in significant cost savings as the organisation’s existing software and related assets are utilised more efficiently.

The Headaches Inherent in the ‘Consumerisation of IT’

By Michael Harman

As summer break ended for Australian employees, new issues emerged for IT professionals.

While holiday gifts previously stayed at home, now millions bring their Kindle Fires, Galaxy 2s, iPhone 4Ss or the newest Windows 7 phones into the office. About mid-January, many IT departments found themselves responding to requests from eager employees to the tune of “I’d like my work email on my iPad, please.”

The “Consumerisation of IT” has exploded. While new mobility offers huge opportunities for today’s employees and businesses, it’s created some serious IT headaches.

With quick access to email and work documents that can be used practically anywhere, smartphones can be susceptible to breaches and quick downloading of personal data.

Also, the explosion of mobile devices has led to a proliferation of several popular operating systems. iOS, Android, Windows, Symbian and Blackberry are all widely used and IT departments need a functional knowledge of all of them and how to work them into the enterprise.

The loss of control is worrying to IT departments. With mobility, it seems you can no longer specify when files can be retrieved, turn off access, and wipe phones when they’re misplaced. It seems you can no longer become fantastically literate on a specific piece of hardware or operating system.

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of solutions available to help manage the additional risks that come with the increasing number of new devices.

Mobile device management (MDM) software helps companies monitor, manage and secure mobile devices within one network, reducing support costs and limiting risk. Endpoint security solutions specifically secure devices against malware, intrusion and data loss, both on and off the company network. Updated remote management and data wipe software can lock access to specific data or remove it completely in case of a lost or stolen personal device.

Mobile devices will continue to advance, and so will the technology IT departments use to manage them.

As IT professionals, we’re in the business of enabling increased innovation and productivity to the business, and mobile devices help us help the workforce do just that. It’s up to us to adapt and address this lack of control – these new IT headaches – so users have access while the business is secure.

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About Michael Harman

Michael Harman is the Director of Datacom Systems, New South Wales, responsible for the overall strategy and leadership of the company. With an ICT career extending over 24 years, Michael has experience leading the engagement of large, complex IT projects that span multiple geographies. Michael is passionate about all things technology, keeping his pulse on emerging trends in order to solve the unique business challenges of NSW businesses through leading innovation.

Microsoft Software Licensing in Australia Meets the Cloud

By Tracy Toth

With IT departments embracing cloud computing and heavy virtualisation more extensively than ever, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft, analysts and enterprise organisations realised that the traditional Microsoft software licensing mechanism no longer made sense.

As a result, software licensing for Microsoft products — in Australia, New Zealand and around the globe — has changed dramatically in recent years. If you haven’t reassessed your Microsoft software licensing strategy lately, you may be surprised by all of the changes.

Why so much change in Microsoft volume licensing programmes?

Software licenses are now invoked on demand, with computing power coming from shared servers that are used dynamically based on need. Software companies are scrambling to adjust to the new era because their software licenses were written before cloud computing and virtualisation took center stage in the IT world.

Per-processor and per-server license agreements don’t align with an IT environment that activates processing power and software on demand to meet user needs.

Datacom’s consultants keep up-to-date regarding the latest changes in Microsoft software licensing as it applies to enterprise organisations in Australia and New Zealand. We can assist you if your organisation is moving to the cloud and embracing virtualisation but is not sure how to approach your Microsoft licensing requirements.

There are a number of stumbling blocks to be avoided as you make the change. On the flip side, many of our clients find that there are tremendous cost savings to be had during the migration process as a result of some of the new Microsoft volume licensing offerings that are available to Australian companies and New Zealand companies through Datacom.

Hardware & Software Asset Management: 3 Surprise Discoveries

By Gary Wainwright

Like any other business assets, an organisation’s software and hardware assets need to be well-managed to ensure they deliver maximum return on investment. Logging details on a bulging spread-sheet – no matter how detailed – just can’t offer the level of detail required to deliver an effective asset management strategy.

A recent study by KPMG International revealed that 74% of the companies polled used a manual license tracking process, often fraught with human error.  The involvement of multiple departments, multiple authors and multiple lists wasted valuable time – often resulting in fragmented and incomplete reporting, which incurred steep fines for out-of-date licences.

Unfortunately, it’s only after a surprise discovery that has an impact on an organisation’s bottom line that CIOs choose to make hardware and software asset management a strategy. A few of the surprises I see most often in larger organisations involve the following:

Application downloads: During an asset management evaluation for a large mining client, original estimates reported that only 15 applications were used throughout the organisation, so only these would require migration to a new platform. However, the final count revealed more than 300 applications in use, many tied to a specific task in the mining industry, demonstrating the scale of “application creep” throughout the organisation.

Security risks: Unauthorised software can be a significant security risk. As tech-savvy staff members discover applications to assist with workflow, they often download viruses, security cracks or cookies that could present a genuine security issue for the organisation.

Soaring IT support costs: As multiple versions of popular software are released, demands on the IT team for supporting those versions escalate. For example, although staff may believe they are on the latest version of Adobe, this may not be the case. Extrapolate this scenario across the many different packages and applications being used within your organisation and you can see how IT support costs will soar.

Are you managing your organisation’s assets to avoid surprise discoveries?

During a Software Asset Management project, you’ll likely discover unused equipment, multiple gaps in information-sharing and multiple versions of the same software throughout your organisation.  Incomplete information could impede critical decision-making and escalate unnecessary costs.

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About Gary Wainwright

With more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, Gary Wainwright specialises in providing technology solutions that result in high dollar savings and increased agility for a broad range of large clients. In 2010, Gary joined Datacom Systems to focus on achieving growth in the integrator market.  As the General Manager of Professional Services for Datacom in Western Australia, he leads a team of solution architects who work on a variety of projects, including helping organisations better understand their infrastructure and better manage their hardware and software assets.

A Pre-Project Checklist for Large-Scale Desktop Deployments

With software asset managementvolume licence management and many more tasks involved in any large-scale desktop deployment, relying on a few highly meticulous staff members isn’t enough. This undergoing will require a robust pre-project checklist delineating the most important tasks to ensure a smooth desktop deployment.

To better prepare, consider these 4 essential to-dos. While it’s by no means a comprehensive list, it should get you thinking about all of the major areas you need to cover during a desktop deployment project, and whether you have the staff and expertise in-house to complete it or you need to look to an experienced IT firm to help.

1. Conduct a comprehensive hardware and application discovery and analysis.

In order to determine the extent and depth of your desktop deployment, you must have a thorough understanding of your environment. This phase should begin with an understanding of the machines that need to be replaced and those that will remain. This will determine the hardware platforms the desktop operating system will need to support. Next you’ll need to focus on applications to provide a useful inventory and to reveal how multiple versions of software applications are used throughout your organisation. In many instances, different divisions use multiple versions of the same software, for no logical reason. With your entire organisation’s hardware and software taken into account with asset management, you can begin to decommission older versions, create consistency and save money before your desktop deployment.

2. Tally your peripherals.

Some divisions have multiple peripherals for specific business processes. For example, the warehouse may have one set of scanners to track incoming and outgoing units. But a fulfilment department may use an entirely different set of scanners to log packages that are ready to ship. While your research may reveal one peripheral that can address each business process, you’ll want to include these in your software asset management strategy.

3. Assess your infrastructure—or infrastructures – as well as your deployment mechanisms.

Can your current global infrastructure accommodate your desktop deployment? What about the network and servers in your regional offices? And how will your deployment affect security—globally, locally and regionally? How will a telecommuter receive the updates they need without forcing themselves to become IT experts? Do you have the correct deployment mechanisms to handle the size of your rollout?

If your resources are already depleted assessing your devices, software and peripherals, IT consultants may be the best option for a comprehensive assessment and deployment.

4. Ensure you have the space to accommodate a large-scale desktop deployment.

Logistics are often forgotten about during the desktop deployment planning period. During rollouts, physical storage space is required to store new computers prior to rollout and old computers that need to be decommissioned or repurposed. Do you have adequate space to store packaging and hardware? Packaging for PCs, monitors and other peripherals can take up significant space.

Following this pre-project checklist will certainly add time to your deployment timeframe, but far less than fixing myriad hardware and software issues after launch. The investment in preparation always pays dividends in a successful desktop deployment.

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About Rohit Bhuteja

Rohit Bhuteja is the General Manager of Professional Services for Datacom, Victoria, Australia. With 19 years of technology experience, Rohit leads a team of solution architects focused on designing agile IT environments that result in more productivity and overall cost savings for Datacom clients. His team’s goal is to help internal IT departments focus on strategy, including creating overall technology roadmaps, designing efficient end-user computer and infrastructure environments, and implementing a variety of vendor solutions, including Microsoft desktop software.

Keep the IT Department Strategic: 2 Desktop Management Practices

By Chad Basham

I’ve worked in IT for 20 years now and what I like most about this industry is that it changes, almost weekly, keeping me on my toes and learning constantly.  While technology never ceases to change, one big challenge IT departments face has remained the same every day I’ve been in this business – convincing the world that they are much more than a desktop management service provider.

Instead of balancing all of the responsibilities that come with desktop management while trying to find the time to focus on how technology fits into the overall business strategy, consider outsourcing the time consuming pieces of desktop management, such as software asset managementdesktop deployment and desktop support. It can free your staff to focus on big-ticket items, often for a cheaper price tag than keeping these desktop management services in-house.

The following two desktop management best practices will prepare your business to bring in a partner so the IT team can get to the business of strategy.

1. Determine the state of your environment, inside and out.

The first key to a well-oiled desktop management machine is understanding your needs. That means taking a comprehensive assessment of everything tech-related in your organisation’s domain.

As you begin examining your organisation’s environment, ask these questions:

  • Is the environment up to date? Does all of your software—including operating systems—have the most recent, secure patches and updates?
  • If you find various versions of software among employees, what’s the reason for the discrepancy? Do certain employees or groups need features only available in older versions? Or is it simply an oversight?
  • How do you plan and prepare for your desktop refresh? Is it a well-documented desktop deployment process, or an ad hoc task? Are you and your staff prepared to update your desktop every 6 or 12 months?
  • Is your software volume licence up to date? A huge time drain in desktop management is managing and updating complex licensing agreements.

Look to an experienced IT firm that can assist or assume full responsibility for assessing your environment and then help you design your volume licence and desktop support needs based on that assessment.

2.  Ensure global and local desktop deployment methods are in place.

You undoubtedly know the Patero principle states that 20% of the work will consume 80% of your employees’ time. With the proper desktop deployment measures in place, approximately 20% of your IT department’s time should be able to cover 80% of your deployments.

After your staff or an outsourced IT firm has assessed your environment, you’ll have the opportunity to manage deployment using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).  Here’s where you can make 80% of your deployments easily manageable.

And for the remaining 20% of software desktop deployment and system needs? Delegating these desktop management and desktop deployment tasks to an IT service provider with proven methods and extensive experience will help keep your team focused on strategic goals, not one-off software deployments and upgrades.

An experienced IT firm will take critical deployment headaches off your plate, including:

  • Packaging and installing software applications.
  • Providing compatibility testing.
  • Installing security fixes.
  • Specifying the desired configuration and upgrading your fleet accordingly.
  • Measuring software usage.
  • Remotely controlling computers and providing support.

With codified deployment processes and comprehensive IT environment assessment – and the right IT partner – your staff can spend less time on desktop management services and more time contributing to the overall business strategy.

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About Chad Basham

Chad Basham, Datacom Professional Services, Desktop Management

Chad Basham is the General Manager of Professional Services for Datacom, NSW. With 20 years of global technology experience, Chad leads a team of solution architects focused on designing agile IT environments that result in more productivity and overall cost savings for Datacom clients. His team’s goal is to help internal IT departments focus on strategy, including creating overall technology roadmaps, designing efficient end-user computer and infrastructure environments, and implementing a variety of vendor solutions, including Microsoft desktop software.