Bob Dillon was right. “The times, they are a changing.” Just 20 years ago, IT was a function of the finance department with the now archaic title of Director of Management Information Systems working hand-in-hand with the CFO to manage data pertaining to accounts payable, payroll and accounts receivable. Both technical issues and IT solutions were departmental in nature.
Today, data is ubiquitous throughout the organization from HR, customer service and marketing to R&D, supply chain and sales, and IT solutions need to be more holistic in nature, integrating disparate functions and infrastructure in a single interface. However, despite our advances, IT is still seen as a cost centre to the rest of the organization, a necessary evil to getting things done. IT organizations need to show strategic value to the business and demonstrate how management of technology can directly impact company goals and drive revenue.
Here are ten IT concepts that are at the forefront in 2013 that IT organizations can leverage to show value to the rest of the business.
Point Solutions are a Thing of the Past
IT organizations need to move from point solutions to a holistic IT systems management solution that provides transparency into meeting service level agreements (SLAs). Administrators need to move away from silos of information and so-called best of breed solutions. A big-picture, holistic view into the systems that make the organization tick can be a huge competitive advantage, arming the business with the information and tools it needs to react to changing market conditions and demands.
Distributed Networks: Managing Machines Regardless of Their Location
Today’s users are distributed, and they’re mobile. Employees log on from home, a coffee shop, the road and customer sites. Everywhere they go they need access to critical business information, and it’s the IT organization’s responsibility to ensure the same level of IT services as if the user were local. Creating and enforcing separate policies for local systems, remote machines and mobile devices creates inconsistency which leads to poor service, inefficiencies and holes in the security apparatus.
The Number of Devices Per Person is Growing
While the corporate network is becoming more elastic, the number and types of devices that are accessing business information are growing. IT needs to create a reliable and robust computing environment that allows users to log on and access business information whenever and wherever they are in a consistent manner. Enabling this accessibility only increases productivity.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
The commoditization of IT is a double-edged sword. Sure, users are procuring their own devices, but IT still has to support and secure these consumer-friendly devices. IT organizations need a way to manage access to corporate data by personal devices from a policy and a technical perspective. Rules about accessibility and access need to be set and enforced while the IT organization needs to figure out how to pull these systems into the management fold—including the ability to recover and wipe lost or stolen devices.
The Cloud is Here to Stay
The cloud provides wonderful benefits in terms of accessibility and mobility, but organizations need to consider the security and integration components of migrating business assets to the cloud. Whether it’s stored on premise, on distributed devices or in the cloud, critical data needs to be secure.
The Endpoint is the New Target
By now the corporate network is pretty secure, but it’s the endpoint that is especially vulnerable. Users are easy targets, and once infected, their machines can be used to gain access to the rest of the network. Third-party applications like Java, Skype, iTunes and Adobe do a reasonably good job of fixing security holes, but organizations typically do a less than stellar job of ensuring every endpoint is patched and up to date. IT organizations need to consider patch saturation—the time it takes to patch every endpoint in the organization—especially on those mobile machines that connect and disconnect from the corporate network.
The Increasing Role of Windows 8
Microsoft’s touch-friendly operating system brings the familiar user interface of mobile to all devices. The technology predicts user behaviour and brings commonly-used applications and tasks to the forefront. Users are calling out for a consistent interface across disparate devices, and organizations need to figure out a way to incorporate the new operating system in their business initiatives. Again, it’s this new concept of consumer devices driving business innovation.
The Dangers within Social Networking Security
As more business is conducted on social networks, organizations are going to have to figure out how to protect business data from threats. Users aren’t the most cautious when it comes to clicking on dubious links, so a good endpoint security strategy is essential.
Increasing Employee Knowledge
User self-service is a great way to reduce the administrative burden on the service desk. Having users take care of tasks like resetting a forgotten password, updating Adobe patches and installing preapproved software can save your technicians hours per day and let them focus on more strategic projects. However, documentation is a big factor in enabling user self-service. Providing information and step-by-step instructions users need to complete simple systems management tasks can help take the burden off the service desk without sacrificing consistency.
It’s also important to include platforms that aren’t covered under an official policy. With BYOD the law of the land, users are going to use whatever device they deem most appropriate but will still rely on the IT organization for support and services. Rather than throw up your hands, it’s important to make sure users have the information they need without having to call the help desk.
The corporate world has traditionally fought against Mac adoption in the office environment, relegating the platform to marketing and design purposes. But the iPhone, iPad and OSx have made Mac a player in the enterprise. The same policies that apply to Windows and Linux systems need to be implemented in the Mac environment, ensuring consistent performance, security and data protection coverage. It’s important to remember that a device is a device is a device, and IT systems management strategies need to manage each system consistently regardless of platform, location, mobility or business use.
These concepts are at the forefront of IT at the moment and System Force are here to help IT organizations meet these new challenges. For more information contact customer services on 0845 8620066.
Based on the white paper Ten It Concepts for 2013 by Kaseya.