You know the mood in the corporate world is ‘optimistic’ when enterprises shift their focus from ‘down to the bone’ cost cutting measures to enhancing operational efficiency and innovative projects. 46% of CIOs report increases in IT budgets in the last year to fund projects that improve the effectiveness of their operations, a recent survey highlights. This is indeed good news.
Technology-led as we are today, innovation in enterprise is to a large extent being driven by software applications – look at the consumerisation of IT and BYOD/BYOA trends. Many companies are looking to set up enterprise app stores to deliver against employee demand for iTunes style, self-service store fronts for business applications.
While both employees and organisations benefit from such an offering, there are risks and rewards for enterprises. Greater employee access to applications means greater use of software and the potential risk of inadvertently falling out of compliance, in turn resulting in unbudgeted penalties arising from audit true-ups (a method of balancing payments annually for under-licenced software) by software vendors.
The latest Flexera Software survey prepared jointly with IDC shows that already businesses are paying unbudgeted software licence true-up fees in excess of $1 million. This figure could potentially be even higher with applications available ‘on tap’ through app stores. On the other hand though, if such initiatives are executed properly, they can improve the value of organisations’ application portfolio and reduce licence fees and administrative costs – not to mention the benefits that will accrue to the overall business through productivity gains.
Fundamental to organisations’ success of such consumer-friendly/ digital initiatives will be their ability to streamline and integrate the front-end and back-end IT infrastructure. They must integrate their app stores with back-end systems that automate essential IT business processes for software licence optimisation and application compatibility testing for different environments, packaging, deployment and compliance- across the lifecycle of every single application. This will ensure that employees have timely access to a well-stocked repository of applications from any device and from anywhere – while pre-empting unexpected risks and costs of unforeseen software usage.
Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is a good example of an organisation that has accomplished this. To improve patient care, the organisation has built a system whereby clinicians can access the applications they need, when they need and on a device (iPad, smartphone or any other) of their choosing. This increases their efficiency. Today, a clinician can get an app within 15 minutes – previously it used to take seven days.
There are 10,000 users of the system. As a result of end-to-end automated processes, the Trust also has complete visibility into and control of IT assets. This helps reduce ongoing software costs and optimises existing licences for software purchased.
In this digital age, change is continuous and rapid. To fully leverage the advantages offered by this environment, enterprises need processes and strategies that accommodate continual change.
The idea of the next ‘big bang’ project is giving way to always-ready, continuous development of systems, technologies and software. Also, such an approach frees-up valuable time of the IT departments, which is better utilised for strategic thinking rather than ongoing time-consuming, administrative issues.