Fall often has a New Year’s feel to it, as kids head back to school and squirrels start stocking acorns for winter. It’s a good time to reassess 2016 priorities and budgets and decide which projects can get done (or mostly done) by the end of the year, and see what priorities should take precedence before the new year (and a new budget) approaches.
At the beginning of 2016, some CIO priorities for the year included standardization, integration, innovation, faster service delivery and better IT and business alignment. No problem, right? Right—unless you’re actually spending all your days keeping networks and apps up and running for users. That makes it a lot harder to achieve those lofty goals.
The big takeaway is that IT isn’t able to realize its potential to innovate and lead in an organization when it’s so mired in upkeep tasks. And there isn’t a one-size-fits-all technology or solution that IT can use to gain back more time and start innovating a larger percentage of that time.
IT in Charge
We’re at an interesting moment of IT decision making, where IT teams are looking forward to new technologies and processes but are also faced with a morass of legacy equipment. Both business and IT teams today dream of proactive, innovative IT departments that aren’t bogged down with old systems. Non-IT departments ask a lot from IT now and expect super-fast, super-user-friendly services.
For IT teams, the devil’s in the details on meeting those goals of integrated systems and standardizing on fewer, better platforms. The choices are hard: which new technology will become a must-have, and which is just a flash in the pan? And which technology will help solve, rather than add to, the problem of an unintegrated infrastructure?
The first steps toward moving out of firefighting and break/fix patterns include seeing all of what’s in IT’s domain—whether it’s remote locations, cloud services, SaaS apps or user devices. It’s likely a daunting prospect, since IT infrastructures today are often a tangled web of legacy systems, third-party apps, cloud instances and remote offices.
It’s not pretty, but it can’t be ignored. So visibility is the first order of business. When taking stock, consider remote locations and employees working from home or on the road, who need the same user experience as the people in the office. Figure out exactly how many applications are in the cloud and how many are running from your data center.
From there, it’s not just visibility, but control, that will lead to an informed IT department. Once you see what’s happening in all of your locations, you can see what end users are really experiencing. Technology products today can let you pinpoint user experience from locations around the world, whether inside or outside the firewall, in the cloud or not. You can see where the network is slow and why.
With the right details in hand, IT can fix underlying problems for good, cut inefficiencies and build for the future. That’s when time gets freed up and IT teams can finally tackle those big-picture goals set in the past several New Year’s resolution lists.
A version of this post originally appeared on Network World.