How to Bring Back Time and Money to the Business
By Curtis Simpson, CISO
The opportunity to deliver business innovation is often slowed down by an ongoing pressure to reduce costs. Yet actual change, at scale, can happen when CIOs are able to reallocate from fixed budgets to innovation projects.
Over time, organizations tend to have layered on even more solutions to their existing technology stack, which leads to a twofold problem:
- Fragmentation: Adding more complexity and a lack of overall visibility. Everybody knows something, but no one really sees the complete picture.
- Duplication: Multiple apps are serving the same purpose. This includes legacy apps delivering only marginal or a reducing level value, while modern replacements are largely adopted.
There may have been historical justifications (some valid, some questionable) for keeping and maintaining three different CRM systems, but they come at a cost. Licensing fees suck up budgets that could be better used elsewhere, managed services expenses face greater scrutiny, and all of this demands the attention of highly paid team members.
It’s the little things that kill
Today’s CIO is often bound by budgets that are organized around maintaining fixed costs, most of which are consumed by legacy tools and their underlying systems and services. Some of these perhaps entered the ecosystem through a merger or acquisition and have been integrated into the larger corporate landscape. The integration of these acquired systems was intended to be temporary until such a time that the new companies could be effectively migrated to the common platforms. In most cases, later never comes, and these redundant systems continue to litter the company landscape delivering minimal value to the organization. And even the acquisition process itself can be problematic: many early M&A and related travel expenses are incurred simply because there is no visibility over the assets of the acquired company.
In other cases, it’s a matter of keeping a legacy system on the books even after deploying a modern solution to replace it. That can happen for reasons like “one major customer is still using it,” and nobody has the dedicated time or resources to convince or help that customer to migrate to the new solution.
The presumption is that every system is solving some issue and helping achieve some goal. But the reality is that the ever-declining value of such legacy systems is usually unknown, and few have the time or desire to figure it out. The sheer number of systems falling into this category is growing exponentially as our digital transformation efforts progress, as are the budget dollars locked up by these unchallenged unknowns.
Budgets are based on dollars, not value
Any technology being used in an enterprise’s ecosystem can be attached to a need, but needs are often based on perception. This can be problematic, as one person’s need doesn’t always come with a holistic organizational perspective. Even if the CHRO demands three systems to interact with and report on the same set of data, it can be hard to produce evidence that demonstrates the benefits of consolidating three systems into one. The CHRO wins, but the IT budget remains on the hook for licenses and maintenance for systems that are not required to achieve the intended purpose.
CIOs need a different level of insight: one that can distinguish between fixed costs based on need, versus costs based on value. When a CIO is armed with information that highlights inefficiencies and lays the foundation for operational improvement, he or she can better challenge the status quo and eliminate waste while advocating for innovative solutions that keep business line owners happy and productive.
Knowing that you don’t know
In cybersecurity, we talk about not being able to protect things if you can’t see them -- that’s the earmark of visibility in a security context but illustrates an important point for all assets. If you can’t find them, and if you don’t understand what they are, you can’t apply the necessary plan to maximize their use.
There are always options: consolidating solutions, upgrading systems, migrating applications, or adding features can maximize the efficacy of any given technology investment. But without the right tools, CIOs don’t have details on the more complex dependencies of the systems under their purview, the contextual degree to which different systems are being used, and the opportunities associated with prioritizing certain rationalization efforts.
A new reality demands a different approach
Line-item reductions based on the age or cost of a system may seem like an easy way to rectify the situation, but it’s not that simple. CIOs know where the money is flowing, but they cannot justify decommissioning certain parts of their ecosystem because they don’t have proof to validate what is and what isn’t delivering value. They also don’t have enough information to pushback on any feedback received regarding the ability to decommission low-value, high-cost systems in the near-term. As a result, much of the IT budget commitment stays in place based on anecdotal details rather than actual data-based analysis.
Change has to come in the form of a new approach to cost and people management, but it cannot be solved with a purely binary approach.
Armis is helping leaders with a single source of trusted information about managed, unmanaged, virtual, cloud, and IoT assets. The result is permanent guidance that helps maximize current and future technology investments. Better visibility leads to better decisions.
Full visibility unlocks new capabilities
This is not simply shedding light on more areas of your infrastructure. Rather, it is providing you with a single view into the current and evolving usage of business solutions and services and their underlying technologies, such that you are equipped to make smart and informed decisions. Visibility into not only what you have but how it’s been used in support of the business is foundational and paramount in terms of enabling such decision making opportunities.
Visibility also shines a light both on gaps and redundancies which typically result from not having enough information to deploy specific solutions for specific purposes.
Armis enables CIO’s to:
- Overlook a single common data source about how assets and systems function and the purpose for which they are being deployed. Seeing what you own, what purpose it serves, and how that may be eroding as a result of business changes is key to identifying systems and technologies that can be consolidated or decommissioned. Shifting asset management from ‘tracking’ individual assets to corporate governance of IT and technology assets, can achieve cost savings of 10% to 20% (1)
- Understand where software (any software that communicates over a network or the Internet) has been deployed and how it is being consumed within your environment. When compared against purchased license counts, this arms teams with the information required to understand true consumption and to reduce licenses and costs in kind. CIOs who standardize and rationalize their application portfolios can reduce and control costs. Savings can range between 15% and 25% of the application budget. (1)
- Better understand new acquisition environments with less need for onsite visits or interviews and based on this extensive understanding, better prioritize and understand relevant expenses. Legal may even be equipped to “claw back” funds as a result of this visibility in cases where the insights expose the fact that the seller did not meet their terms of the deal.
The CIO dilemma
As enterprises focus and double-down on post-pandemic transformation efforts, the need to shift run rate expenses towards innovation opportunities is larger than ever. In parallel, the costs tied to our technology environments continue to grow as - in many cases - the modern is being introduced alongside the legacy with no clearly defined timeline around the final transition. Other business leaders are looking to the CIO and their team to better understand the situation and the corresponding recommendations around opportunities to improve the ratio of run rate to innovation.
This is where Armis can help.
When deployed, Armis immediately begins accounting for and providing clear insights into how systems, solutions and technologies are being used in an environment and how usage trends are changing. Armed with such information, CIOs and IT teams can better understand waste spanning all connected assets. Armis is ‘always on’ and delivers this data with every new asset, application, or any other system - providing its value and the opportunity cost of supporting it.
This is how Armis addresses the heart of the CIO’s dilemma: by applying logic that can be correlated among applications, devices, systems, and other assets, CIOs now have a blueprint that highlights opportunities for optimization. It delivers the proofpoint to do things like decommissioning costly systems, integrate data sources, upgrade, add, remove, and everything else to maximize utilization of every asset in your infrastructure.
Get clarity now - for short-term wins and long-term goals
Every CIO knows how to keep the trains running, but smart investments in modern technology are what IT leaders need to prepare their company for the future. Getting the economics right for this scenario means: investing now to decrease waste immediately and over time. It means control over one of the most important, and fastest-growing IT concerns. CIOs need this visibility and context today, not at the pace at which expensive consultants can consolidate and communicate such opportunities. Armis delivers just that: the continuous ability to understand usage and value, while delivering the opportunity to reduce cost and overhead.
For more information and to see a full demonstration of Armis, please visit www.armis.com/demo.