Secrets to making your IT systems pre-emptive instead of reactive, from an industry expert

Johannesburg, 13 Jul 2021
Read time 5min 20sec

Digital transformation is a business imperative, yet many industries have struggled to put this into practical effect. Thanks to COVID-19, lockdown and forced work from home (WFH) restrictions, remote employees and clients’ expectations needed to be met in an unrestrained, highly competitive environment. Successful industries who invested in artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) in 2020 will most certainly have seen a return on their investment – but how have they done this?

“With COVID-19, everyone is seeing digital acceleration, but few organisations are tracking what their business outcomes are from these,” says James Anderson, research vice-president at Gartner. “Where are companies wasting money? They’re not using business metrics to influence investment. They’re doing what people tell them to do.”

Digital business transformation is only valuable if it solves pre-identified business problems, and some of the more prominent wasteful expenditure in relation to technology investment is listed below:

1. Poor cloud adoption strategy

Organisations that do not have the necessary centralised cloud adoption strategy run the risk of ‘cloud sprawl’, which increases costs and leads to compliance and security issues. It also, quite simply, makes for an unnecessarily complex, cumbersome system.

In recent years, businesses have seen tangible benefits from the adoption of cloud technology, know-how and virtualisation, including that it has resulted in much less hardware being required to host vital business functions and databases – critical factors in today’s businesses.

In the past, a server was necessary to run every workload, but this is no longer the case. Using on-premises technology not only costs money, the investment required is significantly more expensive, no matter how you look at it: Downtime risk, backup power, cooling, licensing and support costs all increase year-on-year. Cloud computing solves almost all of these issues.

2. Ignoring interoperability can be an expensive mistake

If new technology is deemed necessary, businesses must consider whether it will integrate with existing software and platforms they do not plan on replacing. When new technology cannot seamlessly integrate into legacy environments, the investment becomes either worthless, or much more expensive, as more money will need to be spent to integrate. Having an experienced system integrator can reduce the risk and ensure a smooth business transition.

3. Misunderstanding the customer

The customer journey has changed and technology has rapidly changed along with it. Building custom applications without understanding consumers’ needs can result in ballooning costs with no real business benefits. Now, more than ever, it is important to remain agile and meet the ever-changing demands of the consumer, finding the right balance between “being on the leading edge and reeling in the bleeding edge”, says Seraj Dicks, Head of Delivery: DevOps Professional Services at Altron Systems Integration.

“These three points have proven extremely effective in controlling technology investment costs,” says Dicks. “As long-term technology partners, we understand where the most common holes in your business are – and, critically, how to fix them.”

Over the last few years, organisations have had to consider additional complexities that large-scale system integration projects can bring, which were not around before.

Based on his experience in the sector, Dicks says some of the tried and trusted ways to address these complexities include:

  • Consistent communication: Maintaining uninterrupted lines of communication and ensuring transparent streams of information between every transferring section.
  • Co-ordination: Having co-ordinated handshakes and hand-offs between the transferring parts.
  • Alignment: Making sure that self-organised (autonomous) and self-sufficient (cross-functional) groups are all committed to moving the business in the direction of one unified goal.
  • Learning: Replicating success and mitigating failure from experience.
  • Risk management: Identifying danger early and proactively mitigating threats, while taking advantage of opportunities at business enterprise scale.

Among the major benefits of agile environments is their ability to respond quickly to market changes. “It has been proven that agile IT infrastructure increases your ‘time to value’ as a business, ie, the time between issuing a request and when it is delivered,” says Dicks. “There is no question that minimising the time to value is important to organisations, but the best way to do this is through modern IT systems.”

The inability to augment new technology with old seems to be the most common point of contention, says Dicks. “This is always a complex problem to solve and requires highly skilled resources who understand both environments. The priority for any business when implementing new technology is to solve business problems or inefficiencies. While some solutions are obvious, others require in-depth investigation.

“This may seem obvious, but it is important to ensure the technology you are potentially implementing will help remedy problems identified. By soliciting information from key stakeholders and involving them early on, businesses can not only identify opportunities but also predict potential problems from their perspective,” he explains.

Attaining buy-in from key stakeholders early on in the decision-making process has the other advantage of creating ‘ambassadors’ at all levels of the business by asking for their input.

The digital age may have provided many benefits to businesses, but it has undoubtedly also increased the risk of cyber attacks. No business is immune to these types of attacks, and it is critical that companies have the technological know-how in place to effectively defend against them. By not making this a priority, companies are inevitably putting their records and data at risk. And if an attack does occur, it could take weeks, months or even years for your commercial enterprise to completely recover – and it may well still be left with reputational damage and potentially regulatory fines.

“Investing in scalability will assist in ensuring systems can fit in conjunction with a business’s existing processes. The more mature an enterprise’s system is, the more able it is to deal with any circumstance. I strongly suggest frequently reviewing operational and technology requirements to optimise your business for success long into the future,” he concludes.

Editorial contacts
Head: Marketing at Altron Systems Integration Deirdre Van Rooy (+27) 11 205 7167
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