3 Surprising Hacks to Manage Through Your Company’s IT Identity Crisis
by cStor’s Engineering Team
Since the early 1970’s when information technology jobs emerged as distinct roles in many companies, networks and PCs made the application of computing to aid everyday business processes commonplace. IT employees were typically trained to specialize in managing hardware or software at the network or end-user level. In nearly every case, their mission was typically quite clear: enable and serve the business. Technology was an ‘enabler’ to improve efficiencies, increase differentiation, streamline innovation and reduce costs.
Flash forward nearly 50 years later, and the roles and responsibilities of IT have expanded in parallel with the expansion of technology, and there’s likely no end in sight. As the depth and breadth of technology have grown, so has the necessary skill set and role definition of those IT workers. Environments are more complex than ever. Roles and responsibilities are, at times, murky. Insource, outsource or both is often the million dollar question. Capital and maintenance costs are skyrocketing. Data is coming from and stored everywhere. Systems and tools are overlapping. IT workers are overwhelmed.
Back at the ranch, business must go on! IT teams are working desperately to ‘do more with less,’ integrate systems, remove redundancies, reduce costs and all the while keep innovating. Nevermind protecting it all as cybercrime becomes more insidious daily.
It’s why I now call this an “IT Identity Crisis.” Who are we? What are we trying to do and why? When will it be done? Has our mission changed? Who are we really serving? How do we get ahead of the curve?
As I talk to my team here at cStor and to clients of all shapes and sizes, I’m realizing how challenging this identity crisis truly is. That’s why I thought of sharing 3 surprising hacks that I’ve seen help IT teams manage through and successfully begin to come out of the other side of their identity crisis.
HACK #1: Why less is almost always more.
The first hack may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, but consolidating your systems and determining where you have redundancies, overspend, unused features, too much storage space, etc. will make a huge difference. I’ve seen this approach work extremely well lately because IT is, what I like to call, ‘over-tooled.’
There are so many specialty tools for every piece and part, it’s nearly impossible to keep track and to know which ones are really giving you bang for your buck, which are nice to have, and which ones could probably go.
Now IT teams are essentially starting from a ‘greenfield’ mentality and working backward from there, asking things such as:
1. What if we started with nothing tomorrow, what would we need?
2. With that in mind, then where is the overlap?
3. What do we really need?
4. What’s mission critical?
5. What core systems need to stay on-prem? What moves to the cloud?
6. What’s needed for future innovation and expansion?
7. What’s needed for executives/dashboard views?
8. What do end users need in each department (customer facing versus support, etc.)?
Once you have these answers, you have your acid test against which you can measure existing infrastructure and applications.
HACK #2: Don’t discount the dinosaurs.
While the cloud is all the rage and has come a long way in security and availability, it has its place in today’s world, as do many ‘dinosaur legacy’ systems and apps. I liken this evolution to the history of paper checks. Remember when digital transactions came online and suddenly everyone had the ability to pay via ACH, debit or credit? Many industry experts predicted the rapid extinction of the paper check in both consumer and commercial uses.
The reality is, however, the paper check is still alive and kicking!
Each new payment vehicle gets added to the mix, and prior vehicles can take decades to disappear if they ever do. This seems to be the case with the cloud versus legacy / on-prem systems. Some companies simply have legacy systems that are so critical to the core business, the cloud isn’t an option, and may never be. In those situations, a hybrid approach seems to work well, where some systems, data and applications can be moved to the cloud, and the ‘dutiful dinosaurs’ will continue to carry their loads. Embrace the dinosaurs if you need to. It’s OK.
HACK #3: Go where the vendors are not.
In many cases, the IT team is so inundated trying to support the demands of the everyday business and firefight, there’s little to no time to even begin an evaluation of what a ‘greenfield environment’ would look like.
In those cases, finding an expert partner is often a great next step to help you navigate a thorough greenfield evaluation. If you find time for anything, find an expert partner to help guide you through the evaluation process. In my experience, that does not mean a hardware or software vendor, you’re better off finding someone in between them all who can do the ‘heavy lifting’ for you. That kind of partner will have the aggregate knowledge and expertise across vendors, systems and options to help you identify that greenfield state sooner versus later.
Ok, so maybe these aren’t the traditional ‘hacks’ in the modern sense of the word, but they do seem to be important keys to transformation, and in helping IT through managing the complexities of our over-tooled world.