How business IT must change in 2018

By Brian King
According to data from IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day, which means that 90 per cent of all data in the world was created in th...

According to data from IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day, which means that 90 per cent of all data in the world was created in the past two years. However, much of this data is underutilised — particularly in business IT. Here, Brian King, Sage Business Cloud: Enterprise Management Product Manager at Sage business partner CPiO, outlines three ways that business IT culture must change to allow IT managers to gain value from their data in 2018:

Ownership of IT systems

In the same way that an IT manager will buy a PC and be responsible for setting it up, updating it and keeping it protected from malware, IT systems are the responsibility of the business in most cases.

However, while some programs may be rented through a software as a service (SaaS) business model where the supplier is responsible for upkeep, many businesses assume this for all systems — namely business management solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

This misinterpretation of responsibility reduces the effectiveness of the overall system. For ERP software such as Sage Business Cloud: Enterprise Management (formerly Sage X3), there is a wide range of ways it can be set up to flexibly add value to the business. The IT manager, or a specified member of the IT team, must take responsibility for ensuring the system is up to date and configured properly.

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Software as an asset

If we consider that there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated each day, it stands to reason that there is a significant amount of insight to be gained from analysing it. If only one per cent is collected and analysed, as the International Data Corporation deemed to be the case in 2012, that’s a lot of potential value going to waste.

On such a scale, it seems unbelievable that so much data would be neglected. Yet this is the case for many business ERP systems, due to staff simply not realising they can analyse it. This often comes down to the perception of ERP software being more like IT infrastructure than the business asset it can be.

For example, Sage Business Cloud: Enterprise Management (formerly Sage X3) can keep data on suppliers that departments can use to keep records on orders and payments. However, this data can also be cross-referenced against other supplier accounts to identify significant variations in cost or lead time. This may allow the business to identify opportunities to change suppliers and improve these performance factors.

IT managers can only gain the most value from ERP systems and data by creating a culture where staff are encouraged to use the system to discover rather than just monitor and report. Doing so sooner rather than later may lead to businesses improving efficiency and reducing operating costs before the end of the year.

Training for lasting benefits

SaaS has had a profound impact on the way businesses approach their IT, but one of the repercussions of this is that many companies aren’t as committed to IT training as they should be. While we are often reported to be in the midst of a digital skills crisis, surely it’s fine as long as we can outsource IT maintenance to specialists?

In the short term, this might seem like a viable solution. However, a lack of IT training means that, for software such as ERP systems, businesses face either higher costs due to external servicing or reduced effectiveness due to staff being unable to use the system properly.

To make any business IT system a success in 2018, it is critical that IT managers and chief executives make training a priority. The right approach to software and systems is a fundamental basis to drawing value from business IT, but it is imperative that staff have the right skills to successfully extract the value of business data.

Brian King, Sage Business Cloud: Enterprise Management Product Manager at Sage business partner CPiO

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