cl-nz logo
Story image

Transforming IT from cost centre to business contributor

19 May 2014

The channel has an important role to play in transforming IT from a cost centre to a business contributor.

Patrick Hubbard, SolarWinds head geek, talks IT operations analytics.

IT has always been seen as a cost centre, with its bread and butter tech support, network maintenance and the occasional ‘firefighting’ when outages or other disasters occur.

However, businesses are starting to realise just how much knowledge actually lies within its IT environment, and how much value IT professionals can add to the business.

Big data and analytics is finding a home in virtually every department – marketing, finance and customer service. What’s perhaps more important though, is using analytics to improve IT service and network performance itself – IT Operations Analytics, or ITOA.

The argument lies in the fact that an organisation’s IT infrastructure needs to be performing effectively, or else insights and technologies can’t be delivered well (if at all) to every other department in the business.

Put simply, IT needs comprehensive historical data and analytics about itself to truly keep the business running. Without an effective engine, there can be no machine.

What's the channel's role?

However, the question remains: what is the channel’s role in facilitating this trend? To help IT managers be better able to gain insights about IT itself and transform their role into strategic business advisors, the partner channel should similarly adopt a more consultancy role.

For a start, resellers and other channel players should put effort into understanding what analytics technologies are available for the IT department.

It’s very important to gain a good grasp of the technologies’ purposes, benefits, when its capabilities are appropriate in different contexts, and then being able to advise effectively on these points.

Keeping abreast of industry trends, and how it affects ITOA, is also critical for channel players. Recent trends such as virtualisation, applications and the cloud have brought capacity planning to the top of IT’s priorities.

IT managers are now expected to plan capacity and bandwidth effectively in order to isolate bottlenecks and maximise utilisation, in order to invest smartly and avoid purchasing unnecessary amounts of hardware (and associated software).

Channel partners can add value here by helping buyers choose the best capacity planning tool for their IT environment.

Predictive analytics is another emerging concept in ITOA. In recent years businesses have embraced this trend and have come up with some interesting applications of it in marketing, finance and other business functions, and it is now just coming to IT.

However, some predictive analytics technologies rely on many complementary products to achieve the desired result, which is often costly and time-consuming.

Channel partners should keep their fingers on this pulse, and keep a vigilant watch for more economical solutions to push into the market.

ITOA is essentially the practice of collecting a collecting a broad set of metrics, and then using analytic tools specific to IT to allow the department to be proactive.

Great ITOA solutions facilitate this and make it easier for IT to add strategic value to the wider business.

The channel’s role is to be the bridge between these solutions and its users, from the very start.