The technology landscape comes with a lot of choices, and it can be difficult to decide which technology is the best fit. The result is that enterprises often build up stores of technology tools, creating a management and cybersecurity nightmare. Often these tools are not fit for purpose, become obsolete, or are simply not needed. However, by consolidating your technology tools, and aligning technology choices to a strategy and framework, you can reduce complexity, mitigate business risks, improve innovation and competitive edge, and save money too.
Technology tool consolidation is vanguard thinking used to reduce technology complexity and risk. Here is a look at what technology consolidation is and why it is a great idea for a modern enterprise.
Why use technology consolidation?
In Ireland, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen smaller organisations increase their tech spend; 59% of Irish businesses purchased cloud computing services in 2021, an 8% increase over the previous year. But budgets are tight, and optimisation of technology use is crucial. Yet still, industry is seeing that on average an organisation with 500—2,000 people used around 39 distinct Cloud Storage apps in 2021. This scattergun management of technology is not helping businesses. Forbes Insights found that only 13% of marketers are confident that their existing systems and processes get optimal use out of data.
Add to this, out of control ‘Shadow IT’ where 40% of all IT spending is not sanctioned by the IT department. With Gartner highlighting that one-third of cybersecurity attacks are caused by Shadow IT, you have a potential tangled mess on your hands as well as the cost implications.
The point is, that technology bloat does not lead to better, more efficient, processes. On the contrary, it can lead to inefficiencies and an expanded cyberattack surface that is hard to control.
Technology left to wander out of control and unconsolidated leads to multiple collaboration portals, disparate and unused database servers, not fit-for-purpose cybersecurity tools, multiple communication systems, etc.
Too many technologies cause:
- Cybersecurity risk to increase
- Poorly optimised use of data
- Staff frustration
- Out-of-sync compliance
- Increase costs
- Maintenance nightmares
- Interoperability headaches
Optimisation of technology requires the consolidation of technology tools. To get there a business needs a robust technology strategy based on a backbone of a framework and executed by a skilled team. This framework is based on the tripartite principle of ‘people, process, and technology (PPT).
The people, process, and technology of tool consolidation
The ‘people, process, and technology’ (PPT) framework is an integrated way of looking at how to drive actions and business decisions. Instead of focusing on just technology, PPT intersects all the parts of a business together. Often presented as a Venn diagram of the three parts, this integrated model takes account of the connection between people, processes, and technology.
When consolidating technology tools, the PPT model is a great baseline to build a strategy to take the results forward.
Importantly, a strong team is needed to coordinate this; a team that understands the principles of PPT, understands the available technology choices, and can apply them effectively, is a crucial part of the consolidation jigsaw.
Using a model of people, process, and technology, and applying it to tool choice, provides a pathway to consolidation within a business. The following areas are improved within a PPT model using tool consolidation:
Improve efficiency: too much technology choice can result in poorer efficiencies and lower productivity.
Save on costs and human resources: providing too many tech choices in the workplace can cause overhead in terms of training. Consolidation improves efficiency on many levels from reduced training to improved focus.
Maintenance: reduced downtime and improved system availability because of reduced maintenance from fewer tools.
Operational benefits: consolidating and unifying communication platforms provides greater efficiencies in the office. Unified communication brings all the business comms channels together for easier management and maintenance. Having a single point of contact to manage all your consolidated tools also improves operations and efficiency.
Business intelligence improvements: according to research from analyst firm, Forrester, 25% of organisations use 10 or more BI platforms, and 61% use more than four. Analysts are calling for a ‘business intelligence fabric’ approach to consolidate the use of BI to resist the use of “multiple redundant platforms”.
Improved business continuity: reduced, coordinated, optimised tools in the areas of disaster recovery and business continuity as well as cybersecurity solution unification, lead to improved uptime, reduced cyber-risk, and reduces management overhead.
Cost-savings: having fewer, more focused tools means cost reductions, both in the purchase and continued maintenance and updates.
Better fit technologies: better choices mean a better fit for a given business process.
Competitive edge and innovation: focused and optimised technology choice leads to less maintenance and training and more time to innovate. Consolidated tools, chosen well, can provide better business processes, optimise the use of employees’ time and maximise data insights.
How to consolidate your technology tools
All this talk of consolidation is great, but how do you go about it?
You must think of technology consolidation as a process; it takes time, dedication, the right team, and a robust strategy backed by the PPT framework.
Consolidation is about simplification but does not mean poorer quality. To achieve this fine balance consolidation choices must be made in an informed manner using a team that can align business goals with technology choices.
To get consolidation right you must develop a high-level strategy across the parts of the business that can benefit from tool consolidation. These will differ based on your industry sector and business model, but general areas include cybersecurity solution unification, ITSM (IT Service Management), communication systems, and digital marketing.
ITSM, for example, often comes under the consolidation spotlight because of company acquisitions. During a merger and acquisition, the parent company will often take on entire ecosystems of IT people and processes, all running their own flavour of technology service tools. A strategy for consolidation will look at identifying and evaluating technologies against required functionality and trimming down the excess. The result should see an improved ROI.
The consolidation strategy must be aligned to people, process, and technology. Its execution is itself a process that, with the right team, will help alignment to business departments. Part of this thought process must involve extensibility. Choice of technology is part experience and part vision. Being able to future-proof a technology choice requires skilled and knowledgeable input, which may be from an external advisor. The process of consolidation is better thought of as crystallisation. Focusing in on what your business needs, the technical functionality that provides the services and structures to build a streamlined business, will result in greater efficiencies, happier staff, and increased productivity. But before you start to consolidate, plan, strategise, and use the best team to deliver.