Month: November 2014

CIOs still have their work cut out to keep up with the pace of innovation.

Latest research suggests IT leaders are struggling to convince their colleagues that they can help deliver effective IT

New research into the prevalence and causes of shadow IT suggests that many CIOs are not able to deliver the innovation required by their organisations, presenting significant challenges in the development of co-ordinated IT strategies in the enterprise.

The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne, polled 200 business decision makers and found that 67 per cent had been commissioning and sourcing IT products from outside the IT department for two years or more. Furthermore, over half also felt that shadow IT activity would increase in their organisation over the next two years because it is quicker (cited by 57 per cent), that they are more likely to get the products they want (40 per cent), and that they understand their needs better than the IT department (41 per cent).

Andy Wilton, Claranet’s CIO, says: “This research suggests that large numbers of IT leaders have more work to do to align their IT departments with the needs of the wider business. Many CIOs feel tied down to just keeping the lights on and while understandable, the knock-on effect of this approach is that more business leaders are taking it upon themselves to source their own IT.

“The risk is not that people outside the IT department are having a large role in procuring IT. Indeed, individual units within an organisation have a role to play because they bring specific knowledge of their requirements. The risk is that the result will be an uncoordinated and siloed IT set-up with duplicated services and uncontrolled costs across the organisation. CIOs need to move beyond the gatekeeper function and embrace a new world, in which they are able to provide the tools and support that business unit heads need to make effective, coordinated IT decisions.”

The research follows a recent study by Deloitte that found that CIOs are twice as likely to prioritise the delivery of IT services over increasing profits, growth, and driving innovation.

Wilton concludes: “CIOs’ budgets have been put under a lot of pressure since the recession in 2008 so it is not surprising that many have had to focus on the basics. The problem is that businesses do not stand still and the consumerisation of IT has put more power into the hands of users than ever before. The good news is that IT budgets are, overall, on the increase. This will give space for IT leaders to find a new balance in their collaboration with their colleagues to innovate new solutions.”

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Is the traditional SLA too basic to guarantee customer satisfaction?

The Service Level Agreement has long been the yardstick used to judge an MSPs performance. In order to do this a conventional SLA focuses on uptime and availability. However the usual MSP promise of 99.99% availability isn’t delivering all of what a customer wants.

And what does a customer want? Quite simply, they want their end users to have the best experience possible.

As businesses have come to rely more heavily on third parties to deliver their IT, and as solutions have become more complex ‘good service’ can’t simply be reduced to the pure metrics of service availability. Availability is just one of the factors that contributes to end user experience and MSPs need to do more to understand the real needs of their customers.

A provider might be meeting the levels of uptime specified by their SLA, but this will be of little solace to the CEO or FD who can’t access their emails fast enough, or the online retailer missing out on sales because of slow page-loads. In the case of accessibility problems senior execs are likely to point fingers at the IT team.

These sorts of performance-based issues have proven to be something of a bugbear for the service provider industry; a grey area that falls beyond the remit of the traditional SLA, but remains key to the overall customer experience. It is only by working together with the customer’s IT team, as partners, that these sorts of issues can be understood and ironed out.

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Why identifying the single point of failure could save your retail business

As multi-store chains look to provide a seamless customer experience across numerous channels and locations, retailers are increasingly turning to technology to deliver a connected, consistent service that gives the customer choice in their shopping preferences.

Solutions such as ERP, CRM and cloud hosting have been integrated into the systems of a series of nationwide retailers to collect point of sale data, show inventory availability, and solicit online purchasing patterns from remote locations on mobile devices. This all helps retailers to understand their customers, and utilise these insights to provide the products, promotions and services they want.

Due to the ever-increasing functionality that multi-chain retail-specific solutions provide, organisations rely heavily upon technology for the majority of business tasks, from enhancing supply-chain operations to taking payment for goods. Which raises the alarming question of “what if it all goes wrong?”

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