If you were to search the internet for the term “Business Intelligence” (BI), the results would likely provide something along these lines: “data analysis of business information using technologies and processes, to develop views and dashboards to help deliver information to support business decisions.”
If you research Artificial Intelligence (AI), you might get a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator or see amazing videos from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) mind-boggling advancements using robotics and machine learning.
These aspirational definitions and technical innovations are both exciting and critical in the ongoing advancement of our technological futures. But what about the here and now?
Amidst a global pandemic, keeping our businesses thriving has become the front and centre priority for almost every organisation. Some businesses in hard-hit industries have sadly not been able to survive. Others have been forced to resort to mass layoffs and extreme measures to reduce operating expenses, just to stay afloat.
In the period between March to May 2020, technology acquisition and adoption that would have normally transpired over the next 3 years, occurred in just 3 months for many organisations. To begin with, a lot of technology came at no cost, but as free trials begin to run out, services need to be paid for. Organisations who took up trials and rapidly deployed solutions during the early stages of the outbreak will need to review the aftermath of this scramble, and consider what they will keep and/or retire.
Even organisations that were better prepared and didn’t partake in the panic tech purchases have still felt the pinch, in one way or another. Consequently, those organisations are looking for ways to drive down expenses without resorting to redundancies and budget cuts.
Where should these cost-conscious businesses be looking for the quickest wins and biggest bang for their buck? I’d suggest examining technology spend is the right place to start.
According to Spiceworks: The 2021 State of IT Report1, a whopping 53% of all IT spend will be allocated to software and hosted, cloud-based services in 2021. Despite this, most organisations still have a way to go in optimising their SaaS and cloud costs.
With businesses still largely operating in a work from home or hybrid capacity, cloud-based technology has become increasingly attractive in order to quickly and easily provision technology. Yet it’s this speed and ease of access to cloud software and services that also opens the doors to shadow IT, significant overspend and technology waste.
COVID-19 has tremendously accelerated cloud adoption, pushing it ahead by several years. This is especially true for top-tier solutions such as Microsoft 365, Webex Teams and Adobe Creative Cloud. Azure consumption is also through the roof: 35% of organisations have either already migrated, or plan to accelerate the migration of workloads to the cloud due to COVID-191.
Cloud spend is booming. This will continue for the foreseeable future. However, Gartner predicts that traditional on-premises or hybrid software spend will continue to grow at pace through 2022, up by an estimated 175% from 2017 4.
Regardless of your adoption of cloud, or where the technology lives, 80% of businesses surveyed by Spiceworks expected IT budgets to grow or stay steady over the next 12 months1. Continued investment in technology requires proactive management and control, to avoid significantly overspending, introducing cyberrisks, and adding further financial strain in an already tough climate.
There are a number of challenges organisations face when trying to identify savings opportunities within their technology ecosystem:
1. Accurately budgeting for technology needs
Digital transformation and cloud are empowering a new breed of technology decision maker, with no background in IT procurement and a lack of understanding of governance or compliance. In a study conducted by Snow Software, it is expected that 80% of formal IT spend will be business-led by 20247.
Frequently, IT teams struggle to gain input into and visibility of line of businesses purchases led by the organisation. This creates a scenario where the opportunity is missed to highlight if an equivalent solution is already available within the business, and leads to duplicate costs.
Put simply, IT teams cannot accurately budget for services they’re not aware of. Pairing the DIY nature of SaaS and cloud deployments with an inability to provide oversight from IT specialists, costs can quickly spiral out of control. For instance, Data#3 helped a customer optimise their Azure infrastructure after burning through an eye-watering $2.5m in Azure consumption in just 2 days due to poor processes and visibility.
2. Lack of visibility and increased security and compliance risks
Customers don’t know who is using what technology across their on-premises and cloud footprints, and more importantly how they are using it. This opens organisations up to significant risk, as they cannot identify what technology in their environment may be vulnerable, unprotected, end of life or contributing towards licensing non-compliance.
3. Delayed response to security incidents
Time is money, and this is never more true than in a crisis situation. Businesses that cannot dynamically track the technology in their environments cannot quickly respond to security incidents when they occur. This also means they can’t identify and isolate the impacted technology, before the breach spreads. Knowing what you have, who is using it and where it’s located is critical. On average, it takes 281 days for Australian organisations to detect and contain a data breach, costing on average $2.13m5. However, companies able to contain a breach in less than 200 days spent $1.1m less on their response and recovery measures6.
4. Inability to keep track of technology once off the corporate network
With a hybrid workplace approach, how do organisations maintain their technology requirements and risks, without having ongoing visibility? Thanks to COVID-19, we know that businesses are reviewing the way they work; hybrid working arrangements will become a new normal for many organisations. However, how do they intend on keeping track of their technology consumption, with so many users and devices no longer accessing the corporate network on a day to day basis?
How can organisations quickly overcome these challenges, and identify the savings their CFO is asking of them? Two words: Technology Intelligence.
There are three things most organisations overlook, yet they are critical to ensuring we save money now, and into the future. These areas are Visibility, Optimisation and Governance.
The most critical first step for any organisation is to gain an accurate, real-time understanding of the technology you have, where it is, and who is using it- across all platforms and environments. By building a foundational, trustworthy register of all technology used and owned by the organisation, you can make informed decisions about the technology the business uses, needs and doesn’t need.
As IT specialists, you and your team are directly responsible (in most organisations) for providing the business with an efficient and cost effective IT service. This will be challenging without a view of all the applications (on-premises and SaaS), infrastructure (on-premises and cloud) and systems IT is expected to support. Without visibility, it becomes impossible to deliver on this responsibility with confidence or accuracy.
Once organisations have visibility over their technology, they are empowered with ‘intelligence’ about their technology use, which can be used to drive down costs and optimise the way they consume IT resources. This intelligence enables the CIO to confidently support the CFO, and help the organisation ensure it is adhering to budget. Most CFOs need to be able to understand what investments in technology have been made, and the business value of those purchases, in order to ensure a return and demonstrate they are only paying for what’s needed. With the visibility foundation set, the CFO can deliver on this remit, and drive further savings based on this trustworthy data.
A trustworthy data source unlocks a wealth of potential for information and commercial insights. Knowing what software is storing personally identifiable data, or which devices aren’t running anti-virus, is powerful information that drives immediate value and benefit to your security posture.
While your Service Desk will get value from knowing the location of all the devices and applications they must support, the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) will also have a complete view of all vulnerability points within their threat landscape. Your IT Operations team can identify and contain incidents much more quickly and your Legal and Compliance teams will handle software audits like a breeze, with the ability to pull and analyse logs from all layers of the tech stack in a matter of minutes.
By augmenting this information, it provides significant value to almost every part of the Information Technology Department, giving a single source of truth into all facets of the technology environment.
Technology Intelligence is a powerful capability that every organisation should consider when looking to better manage and understand their technology landscape. It helps IT departments to support their organisations, and delivers on positive business outcomes such as:
1. Enabling the CISO to dynamically understand the organisation’s security risk posture
Technology Intelligence helps the CISO to develop the necessary plan and targeted steps required to mitigate potential risks, and avoid becoming the next headline.
2. Supporting the CFO to drive value from the organisation’s investments
Now, the business can identify areas of waste, then allocate those cost savings to transformation projects that add further value to the organisation.
3. Helping organisations reduce spend and support costs
By only having the technology you need – that is secure and supported – there’s minimal wasted investment, and more money can be spent on business initiatives. Perhaps hospital beds for health organisations, learning resources for a school, or community services for government agencies or not-for-profits.
4. Supporting the CIO in becoming the trusted advisor to the business
By gaining visibility into the technology stack, especially IT purchased by business units, the CIO can proactively address shadow IT and support the business unit, guiding them to the most appropriate solution, while ensuring risk and cost is controlled.
5. Delivering an immediate uplift in asset management capability
Having a united software and hardware asset management strategy reduces workload, costs and training requirements, as compared to running disparate platforms. You’ll also see a new degree of insight by combining the two data sets, achieving a 360 view of everything across desktop to mobile, data centre and the cloud, layered with advanced analytics and machine learning to identify trends.
In times of change, technology will continue to enable us to react and adapt to business challenges and support longer-term economic recovery and growth. But this progress won’t just happen by chance: we need to set ourselves up for the recovery and enable the growth that’s possible. This all begins with visibility, and a foundation to inform how your organisation uses and consumes technology.
Empower your IT team to eliminate IT waste, improve security and transform technology management with Data#3’s Technology Intelligence Solutions.
Learn more about our new Technology Intelligence Solutions here.
1. Spiceworks Ziff Davis. (2020). The 2021 State of IT Report. [Online] Available at:https://swzd.com/resources/state-of-it/
2. Gartner Inc. (Nov 2018) Software Asset Management for the Cloud: Consumption Management and Optimization Take Center Stage. [Online] Available at: https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3894124/software-asset-management-for-the-cloud-consumption-mana
3. Gartner Inc. (Jan 2018) How to Identify Solutions for Managing Costs in Public Cloud IaaS. [Online] Available at: https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3847666/how-to-identify-solutions-for-managing-costs-in-public-c0
4. Gartner Inc. (April 2018) Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Public Cloud Revenue to Grow 17.5 Percent in 2019. [Online] Available at: https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-04-02-gartner-forecasts-worldwide-public-cloud-revenue-to-g
5. IBM (2019) Data Breach Calculator. [Online] Available at: https://databreachcalculator.mybluemix.net/executive-summary
6. Swinhow, D. CSO Australia. (August, 2020). What si the cost of a data breach? [Online] Available at: https://www.csoonline.com/article/3434601/what-is-the-cost-of-a-data-breach.html
7. Snow Software. (2020) How to build effective IT asset management. [Online] Available at: https://go.snowsoftware.com/rs/377-PWR-208/images/How%20to%20Build%20Effective%20IT%20Asset%20Managment%20Part-2.pdf
Tags: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Asset Management, Business Intelligence, Compliance, Cost Optimisation, Security, Software Asset Management (SAM), Technology Governance, Technology Intelligence Solutions, Technology Optimisation, Technology Visibility