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Forum: Transitioning Tech into the Next Phase

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That’s true in so many ways and, right now, it’s especially true as our Indianapolis business community works through unprecedented time. KSM Consulting’s ExecConnect Forum is a space for executives to come together, meet with a leader, and discuss how to support their organizations, customers, employees, and communities today.

In the May 13th Forum, Mike Vance and Ryan Gould discussed transitioning tech into the next phase. Questions and answers from the discussion are shared below.

How do I optimize my technology to line up with our organization’s current environment?
Right now, we’re trying to solve the problem of how to optimize technology after shifting to remote work very quickly. How do we optimize technology after that? It’s going to be interesting for sure.

Things can be done quickly, cheaply, or quality. You can only pick two and, in this situation, quick and cheap were priorities for most organizations. Unfortunately, that led to sub-optimal technology solutions to go remote that won’t be sustainable or scalable long-term. Now is the time to build a new solutions in ways that are sustainable.

Would this be a good time to go through an evaluation of your applications?
There are some really easy things that organizations can do for themselves before they get external parties involved. The simplest way to look at your solutions, especially around technology, is to look at the age of all the equipment.

People tend to take a “set it and forget it” approach to technology but that isn’t a successful strategy in the long term. It’s actually pretty easy to go back and look at when was the last time you bought your technology. There are lots of partners that come in and do cloud readiness, technology strategy review, and organizational assessment that provide a lot of really great value. But, a good place to start yourself is to consider where you have incurred some technical debt and find a partner to help start moving forward versus spending too much time trying to fix what you have.

Is it better to move holistically to a cloud environment or move by departmental business toolsets?
We typically don’t recommend the lift-and-shift approach when migrating to the cloud. The best cloud solution considers the evaluation of what should move and what needs to stay on-premise. We have a client right now that we’re evaluating taking to the cloud because all of their internal servers are out-of-warranty. Rather than going through the buying process for newer versions of the same solution, it’s an opportune time for them to transfer it over to the cloud. However, they still have applications that aren’t as easily achieved on the cloud so we are developing a solution that works for their entire IT needs. The right cloud solution depends on the organization’s needs.

How do I reduce spending from IT?
There are two components to IT: strategic enabler and cost-center components. Cost-center components can be managed, although an organization that looks at IT as a cost center is inherently difficult to partner with.

Contract review tends to be a place where we add a great amount of value. Technology contracts again tend to be a set-it-and-forget-it scenario. For instance, we work with a client who had the same internet provider contract in place for twenty years. They were still running on pre-dial-up speeds for their network and paying what other people are paying to get 100m fiber. The contract review – the internet contracts, cellular contracts, licensing – found significant, immediate savings for them.

The number one place that tends to be overlooked is system account termination. There is significant care put into getting system accounts built so new people can begin work, but when people transition out of the organization, the licensing is often not turned off and continues to cost the organization.

On the enablement side, I think it’s making sure you’re connecting with the business to understand their strategic objectives and making sure the technology plan is there and is an enabler, not something that’s holding the organization back.

Is flexibility or consistency more important in transitioning into the next phase?
Flexibility needs to be balanced with consistency to ensure that people can work in the ways that they’re most productive. The more choices around technology that we give our teams, the slower the decision-making process can be. There’s a delicate game of giving enough control to work in a way that best suits each person, but also encouraging consistency in the environment.

Security is another thing to look at right now. You can review logging and alerting as well as make sure that you have a good security training program for employees. (People tend to be less mindful about clicking unknown links when working out of their home.) Having a good training program around security is a place to focus as well.

What are two or three things you can do right now to prepare for the next phase?
1) Look at the number of applications you have and the licensing around them. You’ll identify opportunities to streamline applications and remove technical debt as well as drive down costs with user licensing right sizing.

2) Organizations moved quickly to be functional in remote work and may not have found the best, most cost-efficient solution. The biggest mistake I see system administrators make moving to the cloud is they just lift and shift. To build an effective cloud solution, you must lift, modernize, and shift. Otherwise, you will find extra costs. In the next month or two, keep an eye on technology spends and make sure you have a good budget for it. Look at industry standards for technology spend in your vertical and stay in line there. If things begin to spike, get help quickly.