After years of stagnant or even decreasing IT budgets and constant hiring stalemates, there is finally a silver lining in sight. According to the Spiceworks State of IT 2018 report, 44% of all companies and 49% of businesses larger than 5,000 employees expect budgets to increase while 43% and 41% respectively anticipate no change at all. Of those organizations who are planning to increase their budgets, the jump is significant with an average of 19%.
As we near the end of 2017 and budget rounds are well underway for 2018, you are probably asking yourself how you can best position your team to jump on the more bountiful budget bandwagon and have the resources you need to not only maintain status quo but add tangible business value in the next 12 months.
Today, I will share with you some key considerations that you should keep in mind when creating a solid business case for IT automation — one of the big budget boosters. The first three points map out the bigger picture, provide the needed context, and will help you see the world through your executives’ eyes:
- Other companies in your industry will most likely increase their IT budgets this year to invest in emerging technologies in an effort to carve out a competitive advantage by delivering digitalized customer experiences.
- While Digital Business Transformation forces businesses in every industry to innovate to avoid becoming obsolete, simply turning on cloud computing or adding new technologies to the mix won’t get you there.
- IT Automation will help your organization gain efficiency, agility, and scalability leading to a progressively improving, healthier, and more productive working environment.
The last two considerations are really more about the practical side of building a business case. So let’s dive right in.
Enterprises Plan To Invest In IT Automation, Cloud Enablement & Other Emerging Technologies
While 2018 enterprise IT budgets are largely driven by Windows 10 migration, accompanying hardware refresh initiatives as well as cloud enablement, a significant driver for the budget increase in 2018 is emerging technology. As part of the same survey,
- 29% of organizations claimed they have adopted Internet of Things (IoT),
- 18% have started to implement Virtual Reality (VR), and
- 13% have gotten their feet wet with Artificial Intelligence (AI)
— and adoption is expected to grow significantly in the next 12 months.
Furthermore, 51% of enterprises already use some form of IT automation, while an additional 22% are planning to do so within the next year. When asked for their reasons for adopting cloud and IT automation, many enterprises cite the need to:
- Reduce the burden on the IT staff closely (33%),
- Have data accessible from anywhere (31%),
- Enhance the organization’s ability to recover after disaster (31%),
- Increase its flexibility and scalability (31%),
- Decrease capital expenditure (31%),
- Improve data security (29%), as well as
- Increase data storage (26%).
As for other emerging technologies, most enterprises will cite the increasing pressure to deliver outstanding customer experiences as part of their Digital Business Transformation efforts.
Digital Business Transformation Is More Than Just Adopting New Technologies
While the above-mentioned adoption numbers are encouraging, they are also misleading. Lots of seasoned IT executives are avoiding thinking about Digital Business Transformation because “We don’t need to do it. We’re okay for a while. We’ve got plenty of time.” Others just want to adopt shiny new technologies. Don’t get me wrong: Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality are exciting — but simply adding them to your existing IT landscape without the proper organizational change management and modernization of your existing infrastructure to support it isn’t going to solve any problems — it will add to them!
But whether your management is avoiding the issue or becoming distracted by shiny, new opportunities, the issue remains the same. Many organizations are so wrapped up in “Keeping The Lights On” and trying to get a handle on the ever-increasing maintenance creep as new technologies are added to the mix that they don’t realize that the compounding IT debt dilemma is crippling them on their path to innovation.
Therefore, today’s CIOs must do more than just keep things running smoothly. They are expected to contribute tangible results that positively impact the bottom line. To do so, they must drive the Digital Business Transformation efforts by implementing IT automation to increase the organization’s agility and innovation potential.
IT Automation: A Business Case To Gain Efficiency, Agility, & Scalability
Oftentimes, when their IT problems have become too enormous to overcome, organizations look to outsourcing as their saving grace or try to simply throw more people at the problem rather than solving the underlying inefficiencies and bottlenecks that cause these problems in the first place.
But this isn’t going to work anymore — the velocity of change has become too fast. By the time you have solved the issue the traditional way, the market conditions have significantly evolved and your effort has been wasted. Companies who aren’t getting on board with this new pace of change are just lagging further and further behind their competition — and their customers’ expectations.
Focus On Return On Investment, Cost Savings & Efficiencies
IT automation is all about increased efficiencies which results in faster completion, drastically reduced costs, and the resources it frees up to focus on higher value work which enables you to contribute more tangible value to the business. Gartner estimates that over the next 3 years, IT automation will reduce the cost of manual labor for IT-related services by 15-25% year-after-year.
In our experience, the initial cost savings after automating your application packaging and testing process with Access Capture, or adding automating to your end point management using Access Agent for example are much more drastic than that in the first year, but reach 25%-50% after that every year. Also the delivery times are about four times as fast.
Address Possible Risks & Risk Sharing
Investing in new IT automation can potentially carry risks. Be sure to address any concerns in your business case proactively. For example:
- How difficult is it to implement? How steep is the learning curve?
- Can it disrupt any ongoing business activities and what would be the impact?
- What potential security are we exposing ourselves to? How has it been tested?
- Are there any negative impacts on our IT landscape?
- Does it replace any currently in use that would need to be retired?
- How much have we looked into this vendor?
- How future proof is it?
It is crucial for the credibility of your business case to address as many of these in advance and eliminate pre-conceived notions right away.
It is also worth mentioning the possibility of risk sharing here. Today’s executive management prefers to partner with vendors that have skin in the game, to borrow from renowned investor Warren Buffett. That is why Access IT Automation is not only helping you to implement and customize our versatile solutions to your requirements but can act as an outsourcing partner for you.
Conclusion: Put Yourself In Their Shoes
When creating a business case for your IT automation technology, put yourself in the shoes of your CFO or executive manager deciding the budget. Consider their goals for 2018: What is important to their success in the next twelve months? Then pick and choose carefully which of these numbers are relevant to them.
For example, have they been asked to head up the company’s Digital Business Transformation initiative and innovation is top of mind? Show them examples of how companies similar to yours have used emerging technologies to create unexpected digital customer experiences. Or do they face overall budget cuts and have to find opportunities to significantly tighten the belt? Show you can use IT automation to boost employee productivity while lowering the burden on your IT staff by decreasing the help desk tickets by 60-75% within months.
Be sure to show how this solution fits into their agenda and how it will contribute to the overall bottom line. Don’t assume they will put two and two together — it is your job to map it out. Oh, and I found I had the most success when I stayed away (as far away as possible) from technical jargon when talking to executives. They care about the 30,000 feet concept, not the actual technical implementation. So talk about an actual problem you would be solving instead of describing in the greatest detail how it all works.