The early part of a year is always a time when IT organizations are finishing up their plans for the year, putting the final touches on budgets, and thinking about new technologies for the coming year. In the IT industry, there has never been a more vibrant environment with new, innovative technologies making tremendous business impact (read: helping increase revenue and profits!). But, it’s not just about fun, bleeding edge technologies, they also have to benefit an organization.
Here’s our list of three items that every (and we mean every!) IT organization should be looking at. For small or large organizations, focusing on these three things will make a positive impact.
- Increase “cloud” usage – whether that’s using cloud services, cloud infrastructure, cloud-based tools, or creating an internal cloud every organizations can dramatically save time and resources by leveraging the cloud (which translated should mean fast, agile, on-demand services). The cloud is no secret, but many organizations are still not maximizing their use of it. For organizations that have in-house infrastructure, they should re-evaluate whether that’s the right choice. It’s been said that the cloud isn’t cheaper, but when you add in all of the costs of the networking gear, the personnel required, physical costs, and opportunity cost, it is tough to make a case that in-house infrastructure is more cost effective for even reasonably large organizations. Add in the agility that the cloud provides and you have opportunity and time costs to weigh in. It may not be a clear cut decision either way, but it should be a serious discussion and speed of delivery should be part of the equation.
For organizations that are already leveraging IaaS or PaaS solutions, they should look to third party services even further. If there are software solutions or in house applications that can be converted into pay-as-you go services, organizations should examines the potential benefits. The increased flexibility, cost savings, and reduction of infrastructure may very well make the switch worthwhile.
The third solution set worth further examination are cloud-based tools such as those for productivity applications, storage, and customer facing tasks. For the most part, your in-house IT staff should be leveraged to innovate for your business, not recreate the wheel for existing solutions. In short, if you can get it elsewhere rather than build it yourself, you should do so immediately.
- Study DevOps – there is perhaps no greater potential impact on an organization’s business and culture than DevOps. The growing movement is a next generation business IT methodology similar to past manufacturing processes such as Just In Time and Kanban (which technically is leveraged with JIT). DevOps is aiming to transform businesses by rallying the business around clear business metrics, short product iterations, cross-functional integration, and automation. Think of DevOps as the next step of Agile, which has already been adopted by many organizations. DevOps promotes Agile-like methodologies throughout the organization. Don’t let the name fool you into thinking it is just about development and operations. DevOps must also encompass sales, marketing, and customer support if it is to have significant impact. IT organizations utilizing DevOps are much more intimately tied to the business goals and metrics that matter and are subsequently more focused on driving those goals rather than operating as an island. In 2014 there will be an explosion of content focused on how organizations can leverage DevOps. Today there are already great resources such as DevOps.com and IT Revolution, and there will be many more. Encourage your organization to learn and potentially leverage DevOps.
- Automate. Automate. Automate. – businesses today are moving incredibly fast. If you are doing things manually that computers can do, you are doing your organization a disservice. Investing in projects to automate this year will pay off for years to come. If you ask your IT Team, they will most definitely rattle off several manual processes that need to be automated - they just need the time to go do it. Software companies struggle with this every day where they balance new functionality with “technical debt” such as bug fixes, maintenance releases, and patches. In this case, it is about taking time to automate tasks that cost you dearly in lost productivity and increased errors. There are a number of resources available to help organizations automate from tools to processes such as DevOps. The most important step you can take in 2014 with respect to automation is to give your teams some time to make it happen. While you may not make as much progress in the short-term, the long-term foundation you will build will help to significantly accelerate your results.
There’s no question that this is a very exciting time to be part of the IT industry. Who would have thought 10 or 20 years ago that we would be the core engine driving most businesses. It’s time for us to step up to that responsibility and make some significant progress this year. Take the time to dig deeper in these three areas: leverage cloud to the max – the cost savings will be significant; learn about DevOps – it will be the future of your IT organization; and, finally, build that foundation through increased automation. These steps will not only save you and your organization significant time each day, they will set your organization up in a great spot for the later half of this decade, giving you the freedom needed to focus on innovation.