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Editor's note: The rapid transition to remote work technologies has made organizations vulnerable to IT tool sprawl. In this article, Windward Consulting Group and RedMonocle Inc. CEO Sean McDermott explains why MSPs should support clients' application rationalization strategies.
Times of crisis often lead to a hyper-charged sense of urgency. As a result, enterprise IT teams can make critical decisions in short order and push aside potential consequences.
Rushing processes often leads to mistakes, including the uninformed adoption of IT tools. According to market research firm Gartner, organizations worldwide spent more than $3.8 trillion on IT applications and services in 2019. That number is expected to grow as businesses fill gaps and pivot their network infrastructure to remote work environments. The rapid adoption of new technology often leads to what's called IT tool sprawl and an overlap in tools that achieve similar goals in addition to missed requirements. Problematic issues like security gaps, hindered productivity and wasted cash are often the result of IT tool sprawl.
When evaluating these issues, executives often focus on the cash aspect. However, let's take a closer look at other problems IT tool sprawl can create, and how managed service partners can help enterprises control this beast.
Potential problems associated with IT tool sprawl
Many businesses don't realize IT tool sprawl is an issue until it's entirely out of their control.
Beyond wasteful spending, a significant concern associated with tool sprawl is compromised system security. The transition to work-from-home environments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic happened so fast that many IT leaders didn't have time to fully grasp which tools and software their teams needed to make the abrupt shift.
Other priorities, like finances, customer success and employee retention, also rose to the surface during the remote work transition. Lack of insight in this area often creates gaps in coverage between tools, leading to outages and higher risks for cybersecurity incidents.
Security breaches can be detrimental to businesses, especially now when every minute and dollar count more than ever. Remote work environments already create a higher risk for potential security issues, and tool sprawl adds an unnecessary layer of uncertainty.
IT tool sprawl can also lead to decreased productivity. The more time employees spend vetting applications and training on tools with overlapping functionalities and legacy systems, the less they spend on other critical tasks. Employees need tools to automate tedious, repetitive processes so they can invest their time in places that drive the business forward.
The rapid shift to a remote workforce has created the need for leaders to have a better grip on their tech stack.
How partners can help solve the problem
While IT tool sprawl seems overwhelming to fix, there is a solution: implement an application rationalization strategy. This process works by continually assessing the overall IT tools portfolio and outlining areas of overlap, security gaps in the systems and additional functions based on organizational needs.
While an organization's internal IT staff can handle application rationalization, the process is often tedious and requires months of manual labor, further decreasing productivity. However, channel partners can help streamline an application rationalization strategy by handling the ongoing process as a managed service. Some partners will put a rapid proof of concept in motion through a rationalization platform that saves time and overall tool costs.
Manual audits involve in-depth spreadsheets that are difficult to track and become outdated almost as soon as they're completed because they only capture one specific period. Modern platforms, however, can evaluate an entire IT portfolio, including the security tech stack, in three ways:
- Provide an automated, ongoing inventory of functionalities and tool requirements
- Perform a continuous cadence of portfolio audits rather than manual analysis
- Use artificial intelligence to identify overlapping functions
Each of these processes removes the need for tedious, manual labor and keeps employees focused on strategy and innovation.
IT tool sprawl can seem like an incredibly challenging issue to solve, especially because it has a direct impact on critical areas like cost and time savings, security and productivity. However, as partners, it's our responsibility to walk IT leaders through the benefits of having an application rationalization strategy to improve tool standardization, network security and industry relationships.
About the author
Sean McDermott is founder and CEO of Windward Consulting Group and RedMonocle Inc. McDermott was previously founder and CEO of RealOps Inc., a provider of enterprise management Run Book Automation solutions, which was acquired by BMC.
McDermott is an advocate for business leadership strategies and shares how other entrepreneurs can align passion and action on his blog, Wheels up World.