Insight, Opinion

Why consolidation is essential for transformation

Mark Ackerman, ServiceNow
Mark Ackerman, ServiceNow

Mark Ackerman, sales director, Middle East, ServiceNow, elaborates on how consolidation is the foundation for IT and business transformation.

In every type of business, growth is good. However, there is what might be considered ‘good growth’ and ‘bad growth’. Good growth makes an enterprise more agile, responsive, and competitively successful, and tends to spur further growth. Bad growth, in contrast, can hobble agility, responsiveness, and competitive success, and lead to stagnation or worse for that enterprise. A hallmark characteristic of bad growth is the proliferation of multiple redundant and incompatible versions of the same or similar resources.

What’s needed to address the ‘bad growth’ challenges is an effective strategy for consolidation and modernisation, and a technology platform that enables execution of that strategy. At the highest level, your strategy will consist of four primary elements, which can be summarised by the acronym ‘ARCH’.

  • Assess your current IT Service Management (ITSM) and business resources to determine their real business value and costs
  • Retire those resources not meeting your business needs
  • Consolidate and modernise those resources worth keeping
  • Host your most valuable and critical resources on a common platform that enables easy and effective migration, modernisation and management 

Assess what you’ve got

Once you have identified one or more compelling use cases, you need to assess and quantify the true business value and costs of current resources carefully. This information is necessary to determine which resources should be consolidated, which should be migrated to a more robust platform, and which should be retired. Wherever possible, this information should be expressed in dollars or some other metric that enables consistent, ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons of all resources under consideration.

Retire what’s not delivering value

Your assessment efforts will enable you to rank your incumbent application based on the value they are delivering to the business and the costs required to realise that value. This ranking is a critical element of your next major step: retiring the applications that cost too much, deliver too little, or both. This step is essential, as it will help your IT and business teams to focus on the applications that matter the most to the business. These are the applications your company should consolidate.

Consolidate – on the right platform

How best to consolidate will depend on specific business needs and goals, and on the consolidation features available to you. Those features, in turn, depend upon the specific characteristics of your candidate consolidation platforms. At a very minimum, the platform should:

Support both ITSM and business resource consolidation, for maximum business value

Already be known, validated and approved by IT decision-makers and their teams for rapid adoption and effective support by IT

Be cloud-based, and should include integrated support for multiple consolidation-enabling features

Integrate with your applications and information sources, and support modern, open Web standards to ease and speed resource consolidation efforts

Include extensive, easy-to-use, pre-built templates for consolidation-related tasks, to minimise ‘time to success’

Enable business users to create applications quickly and easily, with the full guidance and support of IT but with no direct IT intervention required

Include specific features that let IT decision-makers sleep well at night

Be offered by a proven, committed provider of enterprise-class, cloud-based solutions, and supported by comprehensive professional services and a broad ecosystem of helpful knowledge, partners and users

Host with the best platform – and platform vendor

When choosing the right platform for your organisation, below are some questions you should ask every vendor you consider:

Does the vendor offer a written service level agreement (SLA)?

Is the offering based on modern, cloud-based technologies for maximum flexibility and economy?

Are upgrades to the vendor’s technologies straightforward and non-disruptive to your business operations?

Does the solution make it easy to create and tailor applications and their interfaces to meet specific business requirements and user preferences, to maximise adoption and minimise training?

Is the offering proven in the real world at enterprises with requirements at least as demanding as those at your organisation?

Is the offering known to and supported by IT decision-makers at your organisation and elsewhere?

Does the solution incorporate support for mobility, social networking and other features that make applications more usable and popular?

Is the solution supported by a broad ecosystem of partners, users, and readily available knowledge, online and in person, at user groups and industry events?

The right combination of justification, planning, execution, and platform can reduce or eliminate redundancies, incompatibilities, and complexities associated with those resources, as well as associated hardware, software, and maintenance costs. It can also make management processes and delivery of IT-enabled services more consistent and efficient, and enable new, innovative, high-value business applications. And as these extend beyond IT, they can also extend the value of IT consolidation platform investments.

All of these benefits can, in turn, increase IT’s support of and relevance to the business, and IT’s overall business value, while improving IT’s perception across the enterprise. Achieving these benefits, however, relies upon the careful selection of a platform that can support the features and functions needed to succeed with consolidation.

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