IT departments face risks and challenges on a daily basis—not all of which are necessarily within their ultimate control. That’s why “resiliency,” the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties, is key. Things will go wrong. The important thing is how you deal with them and how fast you get up.
A huge part of this is alignment. To help avoid any of the below four risks, IT orgs need to align IT strategies with broader business objectives. IT leaders must engage with senior management to understand the organization’s evolving priorities and develop technology roadmaps that directly contribute to business resilience and growth.
Let’s explore the four most common IT risks and how your organization can build resilience against each of them.
1. Operational Complexity
Let’s admit it: Complexity is the bane of many if not most IT departments’ existence these days. Operational complexity arises when an organization’s IT landscape becomes intricate, interconnected, and difficult to manage. It’s often the outcome of pursuing new technologies and strategies without a clear plan to streamline their integration.
As organizations scale their operations, deploy diverse applications, and embrace hybrid or multi-cloud environments, the complexity of managing and maintaining these systems can become overwhelming. It becomes even worse when you’re talking about the operational complexity of global companies operating data centers on multiple continents.
This complexity can lead to:
- Downtime and system failures: One of the most imminent risks of operational complexity is an increased susceptibility to downtime and system failures. As systems become more interconnected, a failure in one component can trigger a domino effect, leading to widespread service interruptions. Such outages can cripple operations, erode customer trust, and result in financial losses.
- Security vulnerabilities: Complex IT environments often have multiple points of entry for cyber threats. Each new technology introduced increases the potential attack surface, leaving organizations vulnerable to breaches, data leaks, and malicious attacks. The more complex the infrastructure, the harder it becomes to identify and address security gaps, creating a playground for cybercriminals.
- Reduced agility and innovation: Ironically, the pursuit of innovation can become stymied by operational complexity. As IT teams struggle to manage complex systems, they have less time and resources to dedicate to exploring new technologies and strategies. This reduced agility can hinder an organization’s ability to adapt to changing market conditions and technological advancements.
- Increased operational costs: Managing complex systems requires specialized expertise and constant monitoring. This leads to higher staffing costs as organizations need to hire more skilled IT professionals. Additionally, the costs associated with addressing downtime, security breaches, and system failures can escalate rapidly in a complex environment.
How to Build Resilience against the Risks of Operational Complexity
- Mitigation: Adopt a well-defined cloud strategy that accounts for redundancy and failover mechanisms. This ensures that if one component fails, there’s a backup to maintain operations.
- Testing: Perform regular disaster recovery tests to ensure that in the event of downtime or failure due to manmade or natural disasters, your systems can be restored quickly and efficiently.
- Security: Implement robust security protocols to defend against ransomware threats. Regularly update and patch your systems, and educate your team about phishing and other security risks.
- Flexibility: IT departments might need to find innovative ways to achieve their goals while working within limited resources. This could involve exploring cost-effective solutions, embracing open-source technologies, and adopting cloud-based services to scale efficiently. Adapting to new technologies can help organizations remain competitive even during economic turbulence.
- STaaS: Storage as a service (STaaS) combines the agility and flexibility of public cloud storage with the security and performance of an all-flash sustainable infrastructure. It makes data storage easier, reducing operational costs and complexity.
2. Legacy Tech
Legacy technology is another major risk for today’s IT departments, though it’s not one that’s easily addressed. The words “rip and replace” scare most people, and for good reason. Major changes involve change management, a company-wide initiative that is never easy.
The risks and challenges of legacy are now well documented and not unlike those of operational complexity:
- Increased costs
- Reduced security
- Hampered innovation
Not to mention loss of talent. When your best minds can’t do their best work because they don’t have the right tools, that’s when they start looking for employment elsewhere.
How to Build Resilience against the Risks of Legacy Systems
- Modernization: Develop a phased approach to upgrade or replace your legacy systems. Prioritize systems that pose the most risk due to lack of support and security vulnerabilities.
- Budget: Allocate resources to maintaining and modernizing legacy systems or migrating to newer platforms. Consider the long-term benefits of improved efficiency and reduced risks.
- Vendor support: Engage with vendors that provide ongoing support for their products. This ensures access to critical updates and patches to mitigate security vulnerabilities.
- STaaS: Gain faster innovation and increase reliability, availability, and security with STaaS. Moving away from legacy to STaaS can also serve as the foundation for transformation.
Macroeconomic conditions have been challenging over the last five years, to say the least. From global health issues to war to inflation to crumbling markets and climate disasters, the things that can have the ability to most upend your IT operation are also the things that you have the least control over and seem most powerless against.
- Budget: Macroeconomic fluctuations can lead to budget constraints for organizations, which directly impact IT departments, making it challenging for them to maintain and upgrade essential systems and technologies.
- Talent management and workforce dynamics: Economic downturns often lead to workforce reductions and hiring freezes. For IT departments, attracting and retaining skilled professionals becomes even more difficult when job security is uncertain. Economic shifts can also influence the availability of remote talent pools.
- Technology innovation and adoption: Macroeconomic challenges can force organizations to rethink their technology strategies.
- Cybersecurity and data privacy: During economic downturns, there is often an increase in cyber threats and attacks as criminals seek to exploit vulnerabilities.
- Supply chain: Global economic fluctuations can disrupt supply chains, affecting the availability of hardware, software, and IT services.
How to Build Resilience against the Risks of Macroeconomics
Easier said than done, right? Well, everything is. But there are certain things organizations can focus on to make themselves resilient against macroeconomic changes, challenges, and risks.
- Financial planning: Create contingency plans that account for potential economic downturns. Diversify your technology investments and maintain a strong financial foundation to weather uncertainties.
- Skills development: Address skills gaps by investing in continuous training for your IT team. This helps them stay updated on the latest technologies and best practices.
- Cybersecurity: IT departments should bolster their cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data and ensure business continuity. With limited budgets, they must find a balance between investing in robust security systems and maintaining other critical IT functions.
- Geopolitical awareness: Stay informed about geopolitical events that could impact your IT operations, such as trade restrictions or data privacy regulations. Build flexibility into your plans to accommodate changing circumstances.
- Networking: IT departments should diversify their vendor relationships and explore contingency plans to mitigate the impact of supply chain disruptions. Negotiating flexible contracts with vendors can provide the necessary flexibility to navigate uncertain economic conditions.
- Short-term wins: IT departments must focus on incremental improvements and quick wins that can deliver value in the short term. This might involve optimizing existing processes, automating repetitive tasks, and embracing agile methodologies for project management.
- STaaS: STaaS increases efficiency and reduces costs, making companies far more resilient against the budgetary issues that often come with macroeconomic challenges.
4. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)
Much more than a “buzzword,” ESG has become a global initiative that’s forcing companies to rapidly shift priorities in the name of building efficiency and avoiding very costly fines and fees.
The growing focus on ESG presents unique challenges around:
- Energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction: Data centers and IT infrastructure are notorious for their energy consumption and carbon emissions. Meeting ESG goals requires IT departments to minimize energy usage while maintaining operational efficiency.
- Electronic waste management: Rapid technological advancements lead to the rapid obsolescence of hardware, contributing to electronic waste (e-waste). Proper disposal and recycling of e-waste are essential for ESG compliance.
- Data privacy and security: Safeguarding sensitive data and respecting user privacy are crucial ESG considerations. Data breaches not only harm a company’s reputation but also lead to financial and legal implications.
- Diversity and inclusion: Diversity and inclusion are integral components of ESG, yet the tech industry often struggles with representation and equality across gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
How to Build Resilience against the Risks of ESG
- Start with HR: ESG needs to be seen as an ongoing and ever-evolving process involving not just IT but every department, starting with HR. Establish inclusive hiring practices, promote diversity in leadership roles, and foster a supportive work environment. Collaborate with HR to implement initiatives that attract and retain diverse talent in the IT department.
- Create dedicated programs: Develop a robust e-waste management strategy, partnering with certified recycling facilities. Extend the lifecycle of IT assets through refurbishment and upgrades, reducing the need for frequent replacements. You can also invest in sustainable practices within your IT infrastructure. This might include energy-efficient hardware, optimized data center cooling, and responsible e-waste disposal.
- Cybersecurity: It’s also important to institute stringent cybersecurity measures, comply with relevant data protection regulations (such as GDPR and CCPA), and prioritize transparent data handling practices. Be sure to regularly update security protocols and conduct employee training to mitigate risks.
- Report: Your organization should also develop robust reporting mechanisms to track and communicate your IT department’s ESG efforts. Transparency can improve stakeholder trust and enhance your organization’s reputation.
- Align: Finally, ensure that your IT initiatives align with your organization’s broader ESG goals. Consider the environmental and social impacts of technology decisions alongside traditional business considerations.
Benefits of Storage as a Service (STaaS) for All of the Above
From operational complexity to macroeconomic pressures and emerging ESG imperatives, IT risks abound. Staying resilient is crucial for maintaining a successful IT environment and avoiding constant fixes at ever-escalating costs.
One of the most powerful weapons in building resilience? Data STaaS.
STaaS is a subscription service model where a storage provider supplies access to storage resources both on premises or over the cloud. STaaS saves you money through operating expenditure (OPEX) agility—you only pay for the storage you need, when you need it.
Specifically, STaaS helps you with:
- Operational simplicity: STaaS providers manage the underlying infrastructure, reducing operational complexity. This allows your IT team to focus on higher-value tasks.
- Modernizing your infrastructure: STaaS platforms use up-to-date technology, addressing legacy tech challenges by offering scalable and efficient storage solutions.
- Financial flexibility: STaaS can offer predictable pricing models, helping manage costs, reduce spend, and navigate macroeconomic uncertainties.
- Focusing on sustainability: STaaS prioritizes energy efficiency and optimal resource usage, meaning it aligns well with ESG imperatives.
- Skills shortage: STaaS lets you offload the burden of daily storage management and administration to a STaaS provider.