According to a 2015 Forester study, executives predicted that by 2020 47% of their revenue would be majorly impacted or entirely generated by digital — a sentiment that drove Digital Transformation efforts in organizations worldwide. Now that the hype is over and the dust has settled, companies have started to emerge telling tales of great successes — but more often of great failures.
As we enter 2019, Forester, as part of its "Predictions 2019", coined the year as a major turning point where Digital Transformation goes pragmatic: Businesses will either focus on pragmatic foundation building or start decelerating major change efforts which will slowly lead to the decline of their business. To overcome these challenges, leaders need to focus on organizational readiness, technical debt, and data governess.
This is where Evergreen IT, a pragmatic yet strategic approach to continuously and perpetually improving your IT environment, comes in. But just as with the overarching Digital Transformation objective, Evergreen relies on the right combination of people, process, and technology, as well as budgetary and executive commitment, to always stay up-to-date to deliver optimal results.
And oftentimes, that's when the Evergreen IT value proposition gets fuzzy and too technical for most executives. Evergreen IT sounds like an impossible monster to tame. It sounds like a black hole that will just suck resources and budget without positive return-on-investment in the foreseeable future.
If you have heard arguments like these before, don't despair — we've got you covered with the top six arguments to get your C-Level suite excited and on-board with your Evergreen IT strategy.
1) Always Up-To-Date = Tighter Security
In 2018, the personal information of more than 34% of the US population was compromised because of more than 5,000 data breaches in just 12 months. In 2019 and beyond, cyber security experts only expect things to get much worse as hackers are now targeting artificial intelligence and machine learning. Since the average data breach costs an organization $3.62 million globally, it is not surprising that security is the #1 priority for a lot of CIOs this year.
But how is this possible? Modern cyber security threats are designed to overwhelm the relatively limited security capabilities of older software and hardware. Remember WannaCry, NotPetya, and Bad Rabbit? These malware ransom attacks were made possible by a trap door in the Server Message Block protocol of older Windows versions. Consequently, one of the best ways to boost your security is to have your entire environment up-to-date — including hardware, operating systems and applications. Therefore, Evergreen IT must be part of your security strategy!
2) IT-as-a-Service = Minimal Shadow IT
If your business users happily create a support ticket, check with you first before installing an app, or give you a quick ring to express their deep appreciation for all your hard work, you are one of the very lucky ones. For the rest of us, trying to keep business units from going rogue (so-called Shadow IT) or end users from trying to "fix things themselves" and making matters worse in the process sounds more like a regular day in the office.
Gartner estimates that Shadow IT makes up between 30-40% of the enterprises' IT spend, and ServerCentral predicts that this number will skyrocket to 90% within the next 10 years! Because these rogue business unit IT teams bypass secure IT procedures, they expose their environment to potential threats and attacks and consequently increase the potential for data loss and breaches. The impact of having Shadow IT organizations within your business units is massive. A study from 2017 estimated that the resulting data loss and downtime cost between $1.5 – $1.8 trillion every year!
By adopting Evergreen IT company-wide, you have to align people, processes, and technologies to be successful. In other words, you undergo a phase of organizational change management and process restructuring (e.g., budget approval) that positions your IT organization as a central organ of change. You are now a centralized, customer-facing service provider that everyone has to go through. Essentially, this makes you IT-as-a-Service rather than a separate org unit or perceived cost centre.
3) Tighter Asset & Application Management = Increased Compliance
Data governance and compliance continue to be huge obstacles to Digital Transformation. And the recent coming-into-effect and enforcement of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Australia’s own Privacy Act and the Consumer Data Right Bill are only the beginning of governments and law makers trying to get a handle on the (so far) lax and inconsistent privacy laws.
Let me give you an example: When asked to estimate the number of cloud services in their organization, CIOs (in a Cisco survey from 2015) estimated an average of 51, when in reality they were running 730! Even in healthcare and financial services, which are highly regulated industries, Cisco found that organizations were running 17 to 20 times more cloud apps than estimated. This not only leads to massive license overspending, but also to enormous compliance issues.
Because continuous, incremental upgrades require tight asset and application management, you automatically have a more precise understanding of your IT environment, where data is captured, processed, managed, and stored, and can put stricter internal security policies in place. As you implement and fine-tune your Evergreen IT strategy, you will also leverage new technology, such as dynamic provisioning and much more centralized (group policy) management — resulting in significantly higher compliance.
4) Ability To Utilize IT Automation
IT automation, along with business process management and workflow automation, is another major priority for CIOs for the next 12-24 months. But automating a bad process isn't making it better — it just makes it faster. By adopting Evergreen IT, you are creating a rock-solid foundation for future automation.
For example, implementing a tight software asset lifecycle management (SALM) process creates ideal conditions for automating your application testing and packaging workflow. This in turn integrates with your Evergreen IT management platform and automatically sets successfully packaged and tested applications as "green", and migrations that depend on this app being compatible can now go ahead.
5) Fewer IT Issues = More Productivity
Did you know that the average business in the UK experiences about 3.5 critical IT incidents a month — costing them $2,400,000 every year? In addition, the performance of your infrastructure declines sharply as it ages. According to IDC, the relative performance of an IT asset declines by 22% in year three, by 33% in year four, and by a staggering 59% in year seven!
While 22% by year three might not sound like much, consider that every time your end users experience a slow-down, they are tempted to hit Facebook, get a coffee and chat with their co-workers, or make private phone calls — costing you 20 minutes of productivity or more. By keeping your environment always running at optimal capacity, you ensure that you minimize possible IT issues and slow-downs.
6) Self-Service & Access To Newest Productivity Features = Greater Employee Happiness
One of the main benefits for business users, besides minimized downtime, is the faster access to new productivity features and the ability to self-service a lot of the migration tasks.
Let's look at Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus for a minute. Ideally, end users would get upgraded every six months while receiving security and quality updates on a monthly basis. Traditionally, such a massive migration would only happen every 3-5 years, leading to a steep learning curve, large spikes in support calls, and often outright resistance to new features. By consistently trickling out new features over time, users come to expect and look forward to updates that will increase their productivity.
In addition, self-service capabilities allow the users to search for, find, and execute fixes themselves, validate important data before an upgrade, schedule themselves for migration based on their availability, and much more. Rather than ignoring their device's health until it breaks, this leads to end users taking proactive responsibility to increase the stability and security of their devices.
Evergreen IT is all about increasing predictability and minimizing risks. Devices are managed within their life cycle and replaced when they start declining in performance, and applications are constantly upgraded. Because of this predictability, you can also ensure you are always working at optimal capacity and are staffed adequately. It aims to minimize any possible business disruption by significantly lowering the number of IT issues and down-times.
If put in financial terms and aligned with your organization's overarching business goals (e.g., Digital Transformation), even the most reluctant CEO or CFO will get excited about the possibilities. The key is to leave technology lingo at the door and come prepared to show them exactly how Evergreen IT will help them make their goals a reality. I hope you will find some of the arguments above helpful in preparing for these discussions.
Need help convincing your C-Level management? Over the past years, we have helped dozens of the world's largest organizations successfully embrace Evergreen IT. Let's schedule a call and we will help you make your case.