The modern business is more complex than ever, but should it be that way?
Typically, as a business grows, it gets more complicated, and so too does it’s technology. However it’s more than growth that is making things harder for business owners and boards across the world. Technology is supposed to make things easier, but it doesn’t always. So the question is how can IT address the complex issues facing businesses while being a benefit rather than a burden?
Most businesses are now faced with mounting competitive challenges from home and abroad; more compliance and regulation, new financial pressures as well as new technologies.
Globalisation is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a must have in order to be competitive – and it’s putting pressure on businesses of all sizes to tap into an international customer base. This is certainly fuelled by the need to increase revenue and appease to highly demanding shareholders and investors. From a technology point of view, this means businesses need to review all processes and see how their legacy systems can cope with more staff, multi-lingual customers, foreign compliance and a whole host of other complex and very time-consuming changes.
We are also seeing that established market players are under enormous pressure from the challenges of start-ups, which are making impact in many sectors. Therefore the bigger players need to match the creativity, energy and innovation storming out of start-ups. Often is the case that their legacy technology systems are incapable of facilitating change fast enough to keep pace with the more nimble. This means that businesses have become too reliant on their expensive legacy systems, restricting innovation as a result.
Data and legislation bring a myriad of complexities and headaches for businesses. Successful businesses are data led, and ones that are multi-national have to operate across multi-jurisdictions, which require varying data legislation compliance. The growing complexity of financial compliance is creating another world of pain, where expertise support and technology is required to keep up and stay on the right side of the law.
The biggest problems are usually around general processes and staffing, which require management of all different departments right from HR through to procurement. These tend to be centred on large amounts of data being stored and used everyday and need the least amount of management time possible. Another reoccurring issue is keeping staff motivated and engaged. We see that if less time is wasted on IT problems, staff can work without frustration. Still too many businesses handle this internally, when in reality it is both costly and counterproductive.
My advice would be to simplify the approach to IT completely. As it is the backbone to all of the mentioned issues facing businesses these days, senior management need to change their approach for 2015 and beyond.
One innovative way of doing this is to completely separate storage and networks; use the cloud to store, and IT as a service…the cloud…that unknown invisible wilderness where we store everything now. It is the saviour for growing, international businesses- replacing the need for data centres, servers and storage systems along with the technicians to tend to them. IT as a service means businesses should be paying per person now, not on IT infrastructure that could or could not be appropriate for the future.
IT as a service means businesses pay for what is needed at the time, not in five years time. Thus making systems near on 100% future proof, adding new users when they come, and the ability to downsize both people and IT costs when required. Some of the world’s most successful businesses have very streamlined IT functions so they can focus on quality and thus inject both flexibility and innovation which could never be achieved in-house or without a future view of the business.
It’s not just about skills or prices either. Complex businesses need to consider experience, geographical locations and cultural fit as well. That’s why best shoring and near shoring need to be considered. For example, multi-lingual capabilities have become a must-have in order to cater for multi-national clients. For EU-based businesses, the Central and Eastern European region is perfectly located to meet requirements which go beyond cheap and talented labour and optimal time-zones and increasingly more important, EU data and financial compliance.
In conclusion, businesses need to assess their current situations, offerings and aims and look at where processes can be simplified. Where are costs and time being spent? Look to asset management and check if there are ways to reduce; BYOD policies, outsourcing and others. Thorough assessment means IT can be scaled and the most flexible and innovative solutions can be organised. Complex businesses can have a simple approach to IT, its up to outsourcing vendors to make it happen.
Tomas Turkovic is Director of Outsourcing at Soitron UK, an IT outsourcing company.