Investing in a company’s IT systems is now a regular part of planning. However, it is easy for the team to focus on only a few areas of the business instead of taking a holistic approach. An overemphasis on data protection, for example, can overshadow other areas of the business; this has been seen most recently with Deloitte’s decision to increase its cyber-security investment to $600 million. In order to avoid this scenario, it is important that the company continues to look at all areas of the business in order to build a robust IT infrastructure.
Connecting the dots
When it comes to improving IT, many businesses are put off by the challenge of migrating legacy systems and platforms. It is a time-consuming process, especially if the business has expanded through M&A activity or partnerships. In most cases, data will be stored on different systems and in different formats, so a consolidation exercise is quite significant and will inevitably require a sizeable investment.
>See also: Banking on security
This issue can often go ignored as staff grow used to working with disparate data sets and systems. However, the impact on productivity and output is severely hampered as employees navigate through multiple programs to find client information or historical data. It is also likely that mistakes can be made when the data does not exist on a single accessible platform. Through well-thought migration and consolidation, processes will be streamlined, and the business can focus on delivering results rather than searching for and manipulating information.
Bringing on help
To achieve the best possible results, IT investment often needs to go beyond in-house systems and tools. As competition increases, businesses need to improve both their output and processes; this is where investment in outsourcing providers can prove invaluable. This solution is often overlooked, however, largely due to how outsourcing is historically viewed by IT and the business as a whole.
It is important for these groups to remember that outsourcing does not mean removing the internal team and replacing them with a third party – that is an option but is by no means the only choice available. More often than not, outsourcing is used to provide enhanced support on projects and services, alleviate the burden of certain processes or simply get advice on current business practices. If outsourced effectively, the IT team will have more time to develop and improve processes and applications for the business, while the third party can deal with the other day-to-day Business as usual (BAU)tasks.
Planning for the worst
IT investment typically aims to improve current technology or streamline certain processes, but there can be a huge gap when it comes to planning. Businesses are so familiar with using technology they often forget to strategically plan how to mitigate risks and unforeseen issues that can occur when things go wrong – be it a sudden office closure, a system failure, a catastrophic security incident or transport strikes. At a simple level, when the company is hit by an unexpected event, staff can often scramble to continue their working day. Without a clear strategy in place, the business risks losing vast sums of money due to the inability for staff to work effectively and efficiently. This doesn’t even take into account areas, such as reputational damage and regulatory penalties the company may face.
IT has a vital role to play in providing a comprehensive, structured and strategic business continuity plan that is able to respond to any challenges that can impact company operations. A key barrier to making improvements in this area is due to how the company views its IT priorities. Regulation, data protection and the general running of the hardware can seem like the most important parts of the business. However, if the day-to-day is not accounted for, these large-scale IT challenges will not matter – the business will simply suffer from lack of planning.
IT investment is a vital part of how a company operates. However, it cannot be focused on a single area or aspect of the business. Simply investing in cyber security alone will not improve internal processes or streamline activity. As such, there needs to be a balanced approach to this activity, one that takes into account all aspects of the business in order to build a comprehensive and fully functioning IT operation.
Sourced by Robert Rutherford, CEO of QuoStar