Secrets of successful business-IT co-creation

Great things happen when business and IT define and solve problems together. Here’s how to make the shift — and deliver results.

In mid-March, as social distancing became widespread in the U.S., the IT team at LogMeIn noticed some changes. LogMeIn provides remote access for people working away from the office as well as the video conferencing software GoToMeeting, so it wasn’t surprising that activity was on the rise. But the very sharp increase presented some challenges.

“The IT team runs all the contact centers for our customer care and sales teams,” says Ian Pitt, LogMeIn’s CIO and senior vice president. “We noticed our call queues were getting too big.” On top of that, he says, there were leading indicators that suggested sales were about to rise sharply as well.

Something had to be done, and fast. Pitt came together with the senior vice presidents of global sales, business operations, and customer care. The four held weekly meetings and set up a Slack channel devoted to the COVID-related demand surge. It was a problem and opportunity that had to be met with a mix of technical and non-technical solutions. “We were tracking product sales across the world,” Pitt says. “This turned into IT reviewing all the contact center infrastructure.” At the time, like many of its customers, LogMeIn had itself just moved its customer care team to working from home, which posed its own set of challenges.

The customer care SVP reported that many of the calls to the contact center were from frustrated customers who needed to buy more licenses as soon as possible but couldn’t get through to the sales team because of the volume of incoming calls. To solve that problem, the COVID demand response team set about increasing the company’s sales force from about 800 people to its current size of about 1,000.

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The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2020

Between the pandemic and the subsequent economic upheaval, these are challenging times for everyone. But the networking industry has some elements in its favor. Technologies such as Wi-Fi, VPNs, SD-WAN, videoconferencing and collaboration are playing an essential role in maintaining business operations and will play an even greater role in the reopening and recovery phase.

At the same time, it has become obvious that as enterprises continue to migrate applications to the cloud, data-center networking will cease to be a high-growth industry. So what are the most powerful networking companies doing? They’re diversifying, expanding into new product areas, and moving up the stack beyond nuts-and-bolts connectivity and into areas such as hybrid-cloud management and the automation of networking processes.

This year’s list of the 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking includes traditional networking powerhouses, with an emphasis on the extent to which they’ve embraced these new approaches, along with pure-play market leaders in areas such as wireless networking and hyperconverged infrastructure. (Editor’s note: Power is a subjective quality, and this list is not a ranking based on simple, quantifiable metrics. Our list is ordered, with input from industry watchers, to reflect the companies that are making the biggest power moves and the broadest impact on the network industry.)

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20 reasons why software projects fail

7 steps to turning around an inherited IT department

Congratulations, you’ve just inherited your predecessor’s IT dumpster fire. Now, it’s up to you to get essential operations back on track. Here’s how to get started.

It may be the toughest job in IT — and perhaps the most rewarding. Taking on a troubled IT department isn’t a job for the faint of heart. Repairing damage and putting things back in order will require a great deal of time and effort. If you succeed, you’ll be lauded as a hero. If you fail, your washout could haunt your career for years to come.

Getting a derailed IT department back on track requires persistence and a success-focused action plan. The following seven steps will help you get started.

1. Assess IT’s ability to support business goals

Assessing an inherited IT department’s alignment with business strategies and objectives is an important first step toward rebuilding it. “In today’s increasingly digital world, IT plays a key role in enabling business strategy,” says Rahul Singh, managing director of Pace Harmon, an IT management consulting firm.

Ensuring alignment with business goals is necessary for IT to be viewed as a strategic business partner. “Engaging with the business will help one discover what’s working versus what isn’t working, to identify the most pressing challenges and how deep the issues go,” Singh explains.

The new leader must also assess whether the IT department, in its current state, is even capable of providing operational stability. “It’s hard to be seen as a strategic partner when ‘keeping the lights on’ is an issue,” Singh notes.

2. Stabilize the situation

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IT’s latest survival skill: Embracing risk

In today’s digital business world, IT has to stop playing it safe, as you can’t innovate without taking some risks. Still most IT professionals remain deeply risk-averse.

If you’ve spent your career in IT, you’ve probably gotten really good at making sure nothing goes wrong. Outages are unacceptable, even if they’re only a few seconds long. Cybersecurity is a constant worry. Success is measured in reliability and availability. Your most important skill is anticipating issues and fixing them before they occur.

There’s just one problem. In this time of rapidly changing technology and upstart industry disruptors, making risk avoidance your top priority will only help you get left behind. You can’t play it safe, because there’s no such thing as safe. In today’s digital business world, IT leaders must accept and even embrace a certain amount of uncertainty and risk. Even more challenging, they must help the people who work for them embrace it as well.

“Risk is always relative,” says Scott Buchholz, CTO of Deloitte Consulting’s government practice. “Getting out of bed in the morning and taking a shower is taking a risk. But when we talk about risk in IT, what we sometimes mean is doing things that have a higher than normal chance of failure. And the reason that’s important is that technology is changing very quickly and there are fewer and fewer people who understand all the implications. Being able to handle risk becomes increasingly important.”

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Keeping your software and systems integration ahead of the curve

Integration of software and systems is an effective strategy in terms of reducing costs and increasing performance. It begins with the software designer who assembles units and components and then adds a quality assurance team that validates a consistent arrangement of the software and components.

I have found that the best integration plans contain system level standards, practices and enhancements of continuous improvement (CI) /continuous delivery (CD) and non-CI /CD system software.

The nature of technology requires companies to upgrade and enhance capabilities continually. However, some enterprises execute processes and workflows manually; and as a result, it is not cost effective. Here are some examples of technology upgrades that benefit from integration of software and systems.

1. DevOps: The success of a development team can be measured by throughput and stability. The former can be defined as the frequency of production releases, while the latter refers to the time required to heal and/or recover the application. DevOps aims at increasing coordination between development and operations teams by automating repeatable tasks and developing a continuous delivery pipeline. The results: faster time to market, increase in frequency of production deployments and shorter lead-time for addressing issues and fixes. If your organization expects to achieve these outcomes, it should be using a proven-effective product for managing the latest upgrades and operations.

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Where in the cloud is IT headed?

The cloud permeates all facets of IT — from applications to infrastructure. To find out how tech leaders are planning their cloud strategy, Insider Pro interviewed hundreds of tech decision-makers.

The new hot topic in the tech industry has been around since – and this is a conservative estimate – the early 2000s. 

It’s taken us a while to get where we are today, but these days the cloud permeates all facets of an IT environment – from applications to platforms to infrastructure. A quick look at the leading public cloud service providers – AWS, Microsoft, Google and IBM —  shows the competition is fierce among vendors and the decision-making process for technology buyers isn’t for the faint of heart.

With the roster of vendor-behemoths chasing your cloud dollars, it comes as no surprise that the stakes are high. In its Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide, IDC predicts that spending on public cloud services and infrastructure will more than double between now and 2023 with public cloud spending, growing from $229 billion in 2019 to nearly $500 billion in 2023.

IDC reports that software as a service will be the largest category of cloud computing, capturing more than half of all public cloud spending. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) will be the second largest category of public cloud spending, followed by platform as a service (PaaS). IaaS spending, comprised of servers and storage devices, will also be the fastest growing category of cloud spending

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IT Self-Service: Making IT Support Cheaper and More Efficient

While the above-mentioned research holds true, a poorly deployed IT self-service can cost you your long-standing client base. Before investing, know below what the technology offers you apart from cost savings:

Improved Cost Savings: Instead of dedicating a human resource, IT self-service technology is capturing incidents and taking service requests. There is an option for customers to solve their problems themselves too by accessing the knowledge base. For this to be possible, end users must adapt to this technology for IT to earn better revenues and ROIs. Also, the technology should not be limited to the replacement of telephone calls or emails. Backend workflow and automation should undergo continuous upgrades to leverage the technology to its entirety.

Reduced Manual Labor: With IT self-service, there would be fewer calls to service desk agents. Ticket volumes will lessen and, as a result, service desk work volume. Moreover, self-service requests are mostly not urgent so the agents can focus on that after priority tickets and service level targets.

Improvement in Issue and Report Prioritization: To serve customer’s immediate gratification, agents have drifted from working on priority to first-in-first-out mode. Self-service resolves the simple issues for the customers thereby helping the agents to prioritize urgent work.

Better Consumer Experience: End-users want consumer-level IT self-service offerings when they bring in their own devices to work. They too want to log issues, choose from service request catalogs, and skim through the knowledge base. This is possible with IT self-service technology.

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The future of IT leadership: 5 new roles CIOs must master

If you think technology leaders’ jobs have changed a lot over the past few years, just wait. Here are five new roles all CIOs must take on in the years ahead.

It’s more than an understatement to say the role of technology leaders has changed over the past few years.

The widespread adoption of cloud computing and process automation has reduced the demands for IT departments to keep the lights on. Large-scale capital expenditures on infrastructure are being replaced by increased operating expenses on services. Meanwhile, the pressure to take an active leadership role in the business’s digital transformation is greater than ever.

“If you looked at CIOs ten years ago, they spent an inordinate amount of time in the lower parts of the stack and in the data center,” says Archana Rao, CIO for Atlassian, makers of collaboration tools like Trello and Jira. “The emergence of cloud and business process automation have shifted us away from old-school operational CIOs and into business enablers.”

In a few years we’ll see the emergence of “the Bionic CIO,” predicts Jay Venkat, senior partner and managing director for Boston Consulting Group.

“They’ll transcend what’s traditionally been called information technology and teach the business how to become more digitally enabled,” he says. “They’ll need to understand not only technology but also its impact on the workforce. And if they want to become the ‘Bionic CIO,’ they’ll have to upskill themselves.”

What will the CIO job look like in five years? Technology leaders will need to be equally adept at five new roles. 

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How to better integrate IT security and IT strategy

Organizations see a future in which IT security is deeply woven into their overall IT strategy. Here’s how they plan to get there.

Information security has become such an integral part of IT that at a growing number of organizations, the two are virtually indistinguishable — from an organizational standpoint.

Many companies are attempting to more tightly integrate IT security strategy with IT strategy. That can mean blending departments, changing leadership structures, and embedding security earlier in the development pipeline, among other tactics.

About two thirds of organizations say their IT security strategy and IT strategy are tightly integrated, with IT security being a key component of IT roadmaps and projects, according to CIO’s 2019 State of the CIO survey.

But looking ahead, the two become even more indistinguishable, with 83 percent of organizations expecting to tightly integrate IT security strategy into their overall IT strategy within the next three years.

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