MT Expert - Innovation: Don't over-complicate

Don't let buying the latest technology become a management nightmare, says Optier's Colin Rowland.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The technology needed to run a business used to be fairly straightforward: a phone, a server, a few computers, maybe some firewalls, and an internet connection. However, in today’s businesses, most people’s work is supported by technology at every step. In fact, many businesses are investing regularly in the newest and most innovative technologies, in the hope that it will provide them with the ultimate competitive advantage.

The problem is, each new purchase of technology is starting to build into an intricate jigsaw puzzle of technologies that underpin organisations – including cloud computing and internet-based applications. On top of this, no business in its right mind is just going to install a new application or programme without taking the proper steps to ensure that it works properly. So once the latest technology is in place, businesses install another layer of technology to ensure that the first system is performing.

This layering of solutions and systems to monitor solutions has spiralled out of control. Research we carried out recently discovered that three-quarters of UK businesses admit they are blinded by the complexity of their IT management set up. Nothing new there, you might argue. But what is truly staggering is the estimated cost to businesses: almost two-thirds of respondents admitted that complex and ineffective IT management is costing their company £4.6m each year in downtime and staff time, on average.

This approach – buying new technology, then putting a layer in place to manage it –means that almost one-fifth of companies are now using more than five tools to monitor the performance of IT.

Not only is this partial approach financially draining, but it is not giving businesses the support they require. When a performance issue hits, the first thing an organisation will know about it is when the customer complaints start to flood in. They then have to try to pinpoint the problem, and with so many management tools in place looking at different parts of the IT environment, it can be much like trying to find a needle in a haystack. In fact, industry analyst group Enterprise Management Associates estimates that 54% of down time is spent trying to find problems before even getting around to fixing them.

In seeking to stay ahead of competition and be seen as investing in innovation, many businesses are actually ending up making things more complicated. What businesses need is to be able to quickly assess where the problems are, and avoid them altogether whenever possible.

When you break it down, IT is made up of many applications and systems that jointly perform very small tasks to get user transactions completed. It is by generating visibility into these transactions that IT management can be simplified. Each business transaction provides clear evidence as to how an application is performing and whether there is trouble on the horizon.  Businesses must be able to take a holistic view of IT to stop investment in innovation turning into a complicated management nightmare.

Colin Rowland is senior VP, EMEA, at OpTier, the business transaction management company

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