Do You Have the Right IT Priorities for 2016?

Paul H. Mauritz
President, CEO

It’s a New Year, and that means making some resolutions. You may have already given up on your marathon training or your pottery class. But when it comes to your organization’s IT priorities, it’s important to complete your to-do list. Yet we find that many organizations don’t know what their top priorities ought to be. So I asked our senior NetCraftsmen for their best recommendations, and below they offer several ideas for what you should be striving to accomplish this year.

Want to talk about how to meet some of these objectives? Have one of your own that you’d like to talk about? Reach out for a conversation.

Peter Welcher

Increase budget/staff/use of consultants (seriously). Most organizations are trying to do more with fewer people and less money. Things are getting stretched too thin, with increasing indirect costs. Shift the focus a bit towards the quality side, and reduce downtime.

Get design advice and second opinions, whether for your own team or vendor’s teams. Vendors generally do a good job but are incentivized to sell boxes and software. What’s best for you? In-house designs can be fine, but getting an outside opinion from those who have seen many more network designs might save you money, implementation complexity, and/or later downtime.

Terry Slattery

Look to the future. Networking is changing and organizations are going to have to adapt to stay competitive. We’ve investigated software-defined networking and network function virtualization with a few organizations who have not seen a compelling need for either of these technologies. We expect to see adoption grow, so organizations should expect a few senior network and IT staff to spend time learning about new technologies and how they can be best applied to the business. Track what similar businesses are doing with new technology so that your business doesn’t have to catch up to the competition.

Improve system management. Integrate network and system management into daily operations with an eye toward the processes and procedures that will be required as IT changes. (I’m including networking in ‘IT,’ as I see these merging as virtualization continues to grow.) Your IT organization (networking, server, storage, and apps) will need to operate in an environment where everything has virtual instances that are very dynamic. Manual configuration and management processes will not work in this new world.

David Hailey

Document the network and critical applications/systems. If your staff can’t or simply don’t document, find someone who can. You’ll need that documentation if critical staff become unavailable or leave the organization. Once you have it, maintain it. Make a point to regularly incorporate changes into design and operational documentation. This will help you not only when you need to bring in new staff but also if you reach out to a consultant. Accurate documentation can decrease upfront discovery costs associated with taking on a new project.

Find a consultant or partner you can trust to be your technical advisor. Even if your own staff does most of “the work,” outside and/or expert advice can help ensure that you balance both strategy and cost. As I said in my blog post from 2015, “The Value of Strategic Design,” doing things right the first time is always important, especially since, as Peter said, most organizations are trying to do more with less. A little extra time and money upfront can potentially save a lot later on down the line.

William Bell

Now, more than ever, companies need to strike a balance between their business objectives and their technology initiatives. The industry is poised for rapid succession of market disruption and it is going to be really difficult to weed through the options and find solutions that actually have staying power.

We are seeing a lot of point solutions pop up with the promise of rapid development and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). The solutions available in the unified communications and collaboration space are numerous, and many of them are viable. However, not all of them will win out. So, it is wise for organizations to first get in tune with their business. They need to understand their core drivers, define their solution architecture, and then determine what is managed in their private cloud and what they “rent” from the public cloud. If they make a good choice then they will likely achieve that lower TCO. But if they make the wrong choice, they could find themselves locked into contracts with some real losers.

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