At a recent CIOboston event by CIOsynergy, I met two folks from Apprenda: Chris Gaun, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and Dave Cohn who heads Northeast Sales for the company. Apprenda is a ‘Private Platform as a Service’ company that sponsored the event with Microsoft. Both made the remark that IT needs to transition from being a cost center to being a profit center and do so by developing more customer-facing software for the business.
An intriguing concept and one that got the conversation flowing between the three of us and Al Ingram, Director of Operations in my IT department. And it got me thinking. At Ipswitch, IT worked with R&D on our Licensing System within our products to communicate with an IT-created back-end for product fulfillment and activation. That project certainly would fit the bill. We also manage ecommerce. Plus, as one of the leaders in Salesforce implementation, we have developed many tools and processes that could be shared/sold in the Salesforce ecosystem.
But I think this view of IT and what is needed is too narrow. Traditional P&L models, with their roots in manufacturing, assign IT as a cost center. But the way out is to question whether the model needs to be updated, rather than insist that IT produce traditional products that can be sold to customers. There is a value-add to the business from today’s IT that goes beyond viewing it as a sequence of projects or as simply ‘support’ resources. There is sustained return for the business, beyond just the savings that IT may have delivered vs. doing a project using more expensive outside consultants.
Measuring the Impact IT has on Business ROI
Business ROI must have an associated IT fraction that indicates long term value that IT created – it is a shared benefit. I am not suggesting that modeling IT as a profit center will be easy. Certainly, measuring just IT’s contribution to business productivity has been fraught with difficulty and controversy. But at a time when most IT departments can feel in their bones that they are making a difference to the business and every project is tagged as a business project rather than an IT project (as in the old days) we need these new models to evolve. Such measurement will lead to better valuation of IT: better funding, greater confidence by the business in IT spend, and expanded use of IT as a vital business leader.
Yesterday I read an article entitled Minutes Matter And How To Avoid Screwing Up Our Productivity posted on Project Management Tools That Work. The author of the piece works hard to point out that when automating processes it’s important to understand the effect that one or more extra clicks might have.
In reference to implementing a patient records system, a doctor claims:
“If you add literally one minute per patient to my work, you’ve added 40 minutes to my day,” he says. “If you add five minutes per patient, you have now certainly just hit me with a 20 to 30 percent productivity loss.”
Good point, and certainly something to keep in mind. On the other hand, though, the goal of a patient records system isn’t just about the physician’s and nurse’s time.
It’s also about the quality of the information gathered, and the value that information has to improving future heath care decisions and improving other downstream processes.
Achieving all of a project’s goals might include asking someone to do something that adds to their total task effort (in as efficient a manner as possible, of course). If it does add to their effort, then it is important that they understand that their task has changed and why.
The article “Why Do Big IT Projects Fail So Often?” by Jim Ditmore on the Information Week Global CIO website is a commentary on the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare.gov website implementation.
It offers some good points for any project. “Enterprises of all types can track large IT project failures to several key reasons:
- Poor or ambiguous sponsorship
- Confusing or changing requirements
- Inadequate skills or resources
- Poor design or inappropriate use of new technology”
Take these factors and add the politics and cumbersomeness of the federal government and it’s not difficult to see the challenges.
Rapid business expansion is great for the profit margin, but usually a trial by fire for departments like IT. As a group, IT can have a hard time moving fast enough to keep up in an atmosphere of fast change and new demands, particularly when IT practices and monitoring tools that worked fine in the past just can’t be stretched any further.
When a London auto-parts company decided to go national, they didn’t anticipate just how much strain this growth would create for IT – or how much time IT might need to develop a new way of operating.
According to one long-time IT staffer: “Too much information was in human memory, and that reliance on tradition stopped being effective at some point. And it took a while for us even to see that ‘business as usual’ was hurting us. It turns out the network has no respect for the IT admin’s day off or his expectation that you can’t call him 24/7. This really hadn’t been a problem until we had dozens of sites and the company was doing more business online. By the time we went over 100 stores, it was bedlam…
…for one thing, troubleshooting network issues had become a lot harder. It’s one thing to suffer through manually searching router configurations, device logs, etc., to try to get to the bottom of an issue when your network isn’t all that big. But when you are supporting hundreds of users and more remote sites than you can keep track of mentally, you need some serious software to do that for you.”
So after one very long night and one very painful network crash, the company got serious about upgrading both the policies and products they used to ensure the health of the network, everything on it, and every way it could be accessed.
The IT department decided to use WhatsUp Gold and Flow Monitor from Ipswitch: “We evaluated some options. Picking WhatsUpGold was a no-brainer because it made it so easy for us to monitor of all our remote sites and track down small anomalies that in the past would probably have led to downtime, phone calls, and a fire drill in IT. We also needed Flow Monitor, the plug-in lets us keep on top of exactly how traffic is flowing at our most important offices. Now we’re not out of breath all the time, we don’t angry calls all the time, and we are so much better able to get in front of issues and plan for what’s ahead of us.”
The WhatsUp Gold team is thrilled to announce that we have signed our 100th reseller in the UK – Edinburgh-based Grant McGregor, provider of corporate-quality IT expertise and network computer support services!
Grant McGregor joins the Ipswitch Network Management Division’s channel programme as a silver partner and will bolster the line up of seven Gold, 15 Silver and 78 Authorised partners. Grant McGregor is capable of serving as its client’s entire IT department with support, project and IT consultancy services. The addition of WhatsUp Gold to its range of products enables Grant McGregor to provide technical prowess in delivering enterprise level service, regardless of the organisation size.
“Ipswitch Network Management Division’s suite of solutions was something that we felt would perfectly complement our existing portfolio of products. This accompanied by the comprehensive and mature approach of the programme made it really attractive to us,” says Grant McGregor director Jon Towers. “WhatsUp Gold delivers real, tangible benefits to the end user and is capable of monitoring the physical network as well as the virtualised environment through the various plug-ins. We are delighted to be working with Ipswitch Network Management Division and will look to introduce WhatsUp Gold to our ever expanding customer base.”
To read the full press release about this exciting announcement, click here.
The WhatsUp Gold team had a wonderful time at Interop 2012 Las Vegas and we hope you all did too!
It was great speaking with so many of you – but we didn’t realize how many folks were unaware of the newest features available in WhatsUp Gold, such as:
- Integrated Layer 2 discovery, mapping, and asset reporting with one click (together with WhatsConnected)
- Task-oriented Web User Interface
- Consolidated alerting and notification management in a single console via Alert Center
- FIPS 140-2 encryption and validation (Flow Monitor & WhatsVirtual)
- Monitors (Fan, SQL Query, HTTP Content, APC UPS, Printers, etc.)
- Absolute-value interface reports
Learn more about the evolution of WhatsUp Gold and all of its advanced features, or give WhatsUp Gold a try (completely free) for 30 days!
Want to prove you have what it takes to get the job done? Ready to become a WhatsUp Gold Certified Professional and take your career to the next level?
Join the ranks of WhatsUp Gold Certified Professionals and show certified proof on your business card, on your office wall, in your email signature, in your online profile, and on your resume. Purchase any WhatsUp Gold Training and receive a WhatsUp Gold Certified Professional Exam, a $99 value, FREE.
Ipswitch’s WhatsUp Gold Training provides 33 practical, hands-on lab exercises in a cloud-hosted network environment. Delivered live by the same experts that created WhatsUp Gold, instructors are ready to answer your questions and respond to your requests in a personal and interactive setting.
To register for classes or get more information, simply:
Sign up for hands-on training today. Seating is limited. You must purchase by June 30th to take advantage of the free WhatsUp Gold Certified Professional Exam (a $99 value)! (You must purchase training before June 30 to take advantage of promotion, but may take training later.)
The WhatsUp Gold team is preparing for the 2012 CiscoLive Show, held June 11-14th in San Diego, CA! One of our favorite parts of the CiscoLive show is talking to our customers but to be honest, we’d love to see more of you there!
We have an exciting offer: We are going to help one lucky winner attend as well! The winner will receive the hottest ticket to the show – a full-conference pass – as well as a travel and hotel voucher for up to $1,000 USD.
Take a minute to enter our contest and be entered to win this great package!
The WhatsUp Gold team is thrilled to announced that WhatsUp Gold Product Family has been awarded the “Best IT Product for Manufacturing” by the Network Products Guide!
The 7th annual achievements and recognition awards program with active participation from a broad spectrum of industry voices, the coveted annual Hot Companies and Best Products recognition program encompasses the world’s best in organizational performance, products and services, hot technologies, executives and management teams, successful deployments, product management and engineering, customer satisfaction, and public relations in every area of information technology.
Why did the WhatsUp Gold Product Family win this coveted award?
Manufacturing firms today seek to improve operational efficiency and consolidate IT resources whenever possible, to deliver the most cost-effective infrastructure possible. Networks are living entities and planned and unplanned changes happen all the time. It’s important to really understand your network – what you have and how everything is connected, so you can monitor and protect it. WhatsUp Gold and WhatsUp Log Management monitor the health, availability and performance across all your infrastructure components, including network devices, servers, applications and virtual resources. These powerful IT management solutions even provide an integrated view of layer 2 topology maps, performance and event logs auditing information, from a single interface.
Being a network engineer for a manufacturing firm of any size isn’t easy – especially when your network serves hundreds, or even thousands of people, who depend on seamless integration between your business and theirs. Now more than ever, manufacturing firms must establish a secure, efficient and regulatory-compliant IT infrastructure. Operational efficiency and cost efficiency rule – and its mandatory to consolidate and leverage every possible IT resource – including your staff.
WhatsUp Gold offers all the capabilities you need to better balance your professional and personal life with the ability to react to events immediately. And, WhatsUp Gold is cost effective from the beginning while scaling to handle growth.
We’ve got exciting news – WhatsConnected 3.1 is here!
With this latest release, we’ve added your most commonly requested features:
- Updates to the Devices file for easy categorization.
- Alert notifications of missing or added devices and network topology changes, you’ll know immediately when your network changes.
- Exporting of your network maps to .pdf format, a view that cannot be altered by the reader and is great for distribution to your team.
- Ability to scan for and display port duplex settings to determine if ports are configured correctly. Now you can easily refer back to this information when troubleshooting connectivity issues.
- Ability to keep older versions of the Discovery file for historical purposes, and you can also specify how many older versions to keep.
We’re excited and we hope you are too! Take advantage of these new features and more, upgrade your WhatsConnected to version 3.1 today!
Try if free for 30 days – DOWNLOAD NOW!