Enterprise IT today is no walk in the park, given the significant pain points waiting to be confronted and which can threaten business success (both short- and long-term). These pain points go beyond industry changes and demands, which are challenging enough on their own. Enterprise IT teams must stay current with technology, maintain modern best practices, make the business future-proof to meet as-yet-unknown needs and face other operational barriers that can make optimal performance difficult. Following are the top 10 pain points faced by enterprise IT and potential solutions to address them.
1) Lack of Appropriate Skills
From DBAs to AI Scientists, there’s a shortage of appropriately qualified individuals in enterprise IT and it’s costing companies — and industries— resources and valuable time. Up to 85% of “hard-to-fill” IT positions are due to a lack of tech specialist skills, resulting from the relentless advancement of technology. This accelerated rate of change is projected to increase, further widening the tech skills gaps across industries. Another factor is maintaining education and training curricula that is current with modern tech.
- Improve communication regarding skills requirements, qualifications, and credentials for both employers and employees.
- Hold department-wide education and training for specific positions: while the cost to provide the necessary education or training for employees is obvious, it’s less expensive than hiring new staff.
2) Rapid Evolution of Technology and Resulting Obsolescence
As the nearly biannual release of new Apple iPhones demonstrates, rapid technology evolution is the new normal. Competition advances technology but at the cost of accelerated system obsoletion, frequent updates, and an increasing skills deficit.
Avoid obsolescence by watching your market and trends, reviewing analytics, and innovating based on customer needs and wants. Understanding the problems and disruptions that lead to innovation, strategizing how to approach new technologies, developing a plan to accommodate change, and consistently assessing business needs and resources will help keep your enterprise current. Also, accept the new reality of rewriting your most critical business apps every few years as a good investment (in security, AI and other advances).
3) Organizational Silos and Information Fiefdoms
Successful business relies on communication and dissemination of information; the downside of organizational silos is evident in terms of disenfranchisement, with roughly 40% of surveyed employees describing departments as having “their own agendas”. Silos result in inefficient work, duplicated data, a fragmented view of the customer, and an “us vs. them” mentality.
Additionally, silos result in a lack of company morale, sense of community and even significant potential profit loss when departmental collaboration is lost. For example, a business team may procure tools that interact with customer data but do not integrate with other systems for shared insight. Within such conditions, recognition of silos could go unidentified and/or unaddressed, which can cause further problems. The real fallout from silos is in the customer experience which cannot be seamless due to partial insight.
- Create and encourage cross-department and cross-functional teams to work on company-wide problems and opportunities to get to know each other, gain exposure to other company areas and even accept assignments in other teams or roles.
- Introduce information sharing and collaborative software, such as a digital workplace portal, for employees to share information, data and materials.
- Embrace cloud-based solutions and integration platforms that ensure systems ‘talk’ with each other and share information to, ultimately, benefit and facilitate the customer experience.
4) Lack of Agility to Support Business Needs
Enterprise IT has become convoluted and complex. As such, making changes nearly requires an act of Congress, often taking more time than dynamic business needs have in delivering customer value. The reasons for this are typically related to integration complexity, not using cloud solutions, lack of tech skills and/or limited IT architecture capacity (such as on-premise hardware that is slow to respond to demands or point-to-point system connections that take time to be made). Further, it is also disruptive when IT teams are consistently sent back to the drawing board to create solutions that (out)pace the competition.
Transition from operational agility to strategic agility as a way to create new markets, new products, and direct efforts toward new customers vs. existing product improvements.;
Other solutions include using cloud-based systems, hiring deep technical expertise as needed through a third-party firm and facilitating IT integration through the use of APIs or other integration platforms.
5) Advanced User Expectations Based on Slick Consumer Apps
Advancements in application development have improved user experience and, correspondingly, have surfaced two challenges regarding customer expectations. First, the “on-demand economy” means customers expect innovation and solutions on their terms, a la Uber, Netflix, Amazon, and others. Second, users expect convenience and speed as some of the most important aspects of applications that they use – the convenience could come in the form of personalized information or the “app simply knowing what the user wants to do”. Usability is key to the performance and adoption of applications; without usability, employees may adopt ‘shadow IT’ where they obtain the technology and inform the IT team afterward.
User expectations are heightened for both in-house users and external customers, raising the bar for enterprise applications. Accordingly, a renewed focus in user experience (UX) design and usability in apps is the investment that pays back in terms of engagement, at the very least.
6) Lack of Agile System Integration
Agility requires companies to have systems that integrate well with each other, and are flexible enough to handle the rapid pace of change that is the new normal. However, many enterprises are still living in the world of point-to-point integration and hand-coding each and every integration as integration needs come up. Without adequate resources and a rapidly exploding portfolio of cloud-based applications along with the complexity of on-premise legacy systems, enterprises struggle to keep up with integration demands.
There are numerous ways to make integration easier and more productive, one of which is to adopt a modern integration platform that provides low-code integration support and a vast array of out-of-the-box connectors. Secondly, there are architecture approaches that improve agility and one in particular that I like around layered APIs. Lastly, you can set yourself up for success by partnering with a systems integrator that can help you accelerate your adoption of the right integration tools and architecture patterns, and set you on a path of improved profitability.
7) Abundance of Data but Lack of Real Insights
There is more data being collected by and available to enterprises than ever before. However, studies show that companies aren’t using their data effectively, which leads to poor decision-making, different lines of business drawing different conclusions, and a fractured brand. According to Gartner analysts, most big data projects and initiatives tend to fail because companies only utilize 10–40% of the value in their data. It is probable that this happens as a consequence of ‘bad’ data, which could occur from not synthesizing data properly, not having data governance and protocols in place and/or improper data storage.
Companies need to have data governance processes and protocols in place. They should use data warehouses and data lakes, as well as strong data analytics for business intelligence. Each year, more companies are taking steps toward integrating predictive analytic processes, like data mining and predictive modelling, as a best practice.
Security is vitally important — especially with malware and ransomware attacks happening daily — and can be the cause of massive expenditures. Consumers are aware and concerned about the latest breaches of their personal data. Enterprises must look at security on multiple levels: data, infrastructure, user permissions and more.
There are a number of security oriented tools available in the marketplace, and new and better ones are arriving rapidly, and you should be determining which ones can help you protect your enterprise adequately. When you move systems and applications to the cloud, you end up sharing security responsibility with the cloud provider, and this can help most enterprises elevate their security. Additionally, for any custom application development, enterprises can and should have their developers follow the OWASP Top 10, a list of the 10 most dangerous current web application security flaws, along with effective methods of dealing with those flaws. Equally important is ensuring that user permissions have protocols that limit usage to relevant job duties, educating employees to increase security consciousness, and regularly auditing apps for updates, changes and integrations.
Enterprise IT teams are already stretched; to accommodate changing regulations is yet another ‘necessary evil’ task because it takes understanding what is needed, then translating that to the specific environment and implementing the necessary action(s).
- Onboarding specialized staff, such as a Data Protection Officer (DPO) and/or a Compliance Analyst, eliminates the need for less-qualified personnel to handle compliance issues.
- Adopt compliance best practices and an overall ‘Governance, Risk and Compliance’ strategy/framework.
- Ensure that any off-the-shelf systems and tools that you use are compliant with rules and regulations that apply to you.
10) Operational Obstacles
The most pressing obstacles that enterprise IT faces include resource allocation, legacy business models, and organizational resistance and inflexibility.
Companies often find too many resources granted to one aspect of their business and too few to another. It’s a complex issue faced nearly daily by the C-suite and managers. Solution: While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, the one advice I can offer you is to ensure that you don’t fall into analysis-paralysis and that you adopt and practice the ‘high-velocity decision making’ tenet of Amazon’s Day One philosophy.
Many companies have made the initial switch toward new business models that better match the demands of a digital world; however, such initiatives can easily get stalled in implementation. Solution: Initiate company-wide adoption through training courses, overview briefings, data sheets and FAQs, and host other informational proceedings to help employees (and your business) make the transition with flexibility and less resistance to change.
Resistance to implementing new software, systems, or even workflows is common because it means social change. It can threaten established employees who perceive their jobs are jeopardized or fear their skills are outdated. Solution: Implement staff training to help with preparation, provide 1:1 coaching and personalized follow-through on transitional milestones.
Enterprise IT is facing a plethora of dynamic pain points; as technology and business needs and targets change, so will their challenges. Whatever pain points your company is facing, there are potential solutions. The only question is whether it’s a high enough priority to address them now or if your company is willing to gamble by addressing them “later.”
What ever challenges you are up against, XTIVIA is here to help.
This post was originally published here.