IT leaders are upbeat for the most as they continue to move ahead with digital transformation efforts. It's not that the budget spigots are opening wide - for most, spending and hiring rates are flat.
"One of the biggest reasons for the hopeful outlook is the fact that business and IT are finally on the same page, with planned technology projects and overall strategic business goals closely aligned for the upcoming year," according to Julia King's analysis of Computerworld's Tech Forecast, which surveyed 196 IT leaders. The survey offers an opportunity to assess how you stand compared to your peers.
Assess your transformation effort
The survey illuminates progress on digital transformation, with 78% of respondents giving themselves passing grades of B or C, 6% an A, 11% a D, and 5% an F. There's a virtual tie in the top two business priorities for IT: 47% say it's improving employee productivity/efficiency, and 46% cite improving customer satisfaction/experience. King cites IDC analyst Robert Parker's assertion that meeting customer demands requires a new operating model based on new technologies and that "having people work across functions is a key ingredient of a successful digital transformation strategy."
Migrate at a smart pace
While digital transformation is top-of-mind across business and IT management these days, it doesn't necessarily translate into full-blown migration of IT applications to the cloud. The Computerworld survey indicates widely varied migration patterns, with only 11% indicating they are moving mission-critical enterprise applications to the cloud.
That, no doubt, reflects the bottom-line reality that stable, "system of record" applications can continue to deliver a return on investment for several (perhaps many) years to come, so why fix something that isn't broken?
Pay for what you use; use what you pay for
But there is a continuing need to cost-optimize those core applications to free up resources for driving innovation. That requires a continuing focus on capturing efficiencies, which begins by evaluating how companies are actually using their mission-critical applications and whether to migrate to a private cloud or public cloud environment.
Many, for example, are paying license fees for unused ERP "shelfware" or are not fully utilizing available features and functionality that can deliver additional value to the organization - it wouldn't make sense to pay upgrade fees or move to the cloud simply to turn on features you already have a right to use. You might also be using more databases or versions of databases than you realize.
Determine what works best in the cloud
Just because those legacy applications are working well, doesn't necessarily mean you should rely on them for everything. Increasingly, companies are pursuing hybrid strategies such as pairing a core ERP that is either on-site or in a private cloud with the best of public cloud so they can take advantage of new SaaS application capabilities. But that too brings challenges.
Ensuring that cloud and internally deployed systems play nice together "is just one part of the hybrid challenge," writes CIO's Michael Nadeau. "Making the right decisions about what will be in the cloud and what stays in-house is the other."
Support in a hybrid model
As the hybrid model evolves, there is the potential for support to become more complicated and thus costlier. So it's important to also evolve the support model to ensure rapid and cost-effective integration of cloud solutions while maintaining comprehensive support for mission-critical systems of record.
Determining how and when to adopt cloud solutions, without the limitations and high costs associated with software vendor support policies and vendor lock-in, is a critical factor in determining the right mix of cloud and internally deployed software. The key issues are how to enable innovation and new initiatives aligned with the business, not necessarily where to locate the underlying technology assets.
Budget and staffing constraints are nothing new for IT. Increasingly, it is adapting to cost-optimization requirements while continuing to meet the changing needs of the business. Developing more cost-effective support models for legacy applications can help free up necessary resources.
Use this Rimini Street savings calculator to see how much you could be saving your company.
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Pete Bartolik, Guest Blogger
Mr. Bartolik has researched and written about technology and vertical market segments for many years and has worked on many market research, writing and social media projects. He was news editor of the IT management publication, Computerworld and a reporter for a daily newspaper.