Changing the IT infrastructure at your organisation can seem like a daunting and risky task, but if you’re able to simplify IT, the benefits can be incredibly compelling.
“Simpler IT” means different things to different parts of the business. Crucially, the phrase does not mean making IT more simplistic and less feature-rich — rather, making what you have much easier to manage and use.
For IT administrators, simpler IT means an easier way to manage systems, fix problems, scale up operations, and add new technologies when they become available. For the end user, simpler IT means getting the best user experience, with technology that is intuitive and easy to adopt. The business doesn’t waste time and money buying and supporting systems that nobody uses, and employee productivity and satisfaction improves.
Many UK small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), however, are struggling to simplify their IT. More than a third (34%) find simplifying IT and operations a difficult task, and only 31% say that they’re able to simplify IT without too many challenges.
Introducing new technologies into established systems only adds to the complexity, with 38% of SMEs finding this a challenge. In addition, 35% are struggling to manage multiple billing points across the organisation and 40% agree that managing mobile employees isn't easy.
Many IT administrators and end users may put up with the complexity of their IT infrastructure because doing anything to change IT could create widespread disruption. However, there are ways in which you can simplify IT without creating headaches for everyone at your company.
Five ways to simplify your IT
1) Understand your own business
Many companies have a disconnect between the IT department and the rest of the business, which makes simplifying any technology infrastructure extremely difficult. How can the IT team improve systems without first understanding in detail how the business operates? Anyone making IT decisions needs to understand the company’s ethos, strategy and long-term goals. Every decision the IT team makes should support those three key points.
2) Rationalise your systems
Review your IT applications and infrastructure and make sure everything aligns clearly with your organisation’s priorities and the way they want to do business. Some useful questions to ask yourself are:
- What IT do we need in place to enable the business to achieve its goals?
- How exactly do our employees use our IT? Are there features people use more than others, or don’t use at all? Are we wasting money on equipment that nobody uses?
- How do employees use IT at home? Would these features work in our business?
- Can I improve productivity by making employees more mobile?
- How important are features like video and audio conferencing?
Answers to questions like these can help focus your efforts in rationalising your IT and making it much simpler where it needs to be.
3) Unify your systems
Whatever your goals, ‘unified communications’ (UC) has the ability to support employees right across the business. UC brings together email, telephony, conferencing, mobile devices and instant messaging services so that they all work together seamlessly, making communication easy and effective.
For example, you can jump into a video conference directly from your email and effortlessly hand off to your mobile when you need to leave the office. Employee productivity goes up — and the business saves money as a result.
Once you have UC in place, you’ll realise that seamless communication is the future of the workplace and the way IT should always have been — stress free.
4) Simplify your processes
Once you’ve got unified communications in place, you’re in a great position to streamline existing business processes to save time and money. UC, by its very definition, is about bringing together multiple ways to share, collaborate and communicate. This means processes can be made to be much quicker and easier, like sharing documents with colleagues, managing contact directories, and accessing the information you need to do your job across any device.
5) Use a single vendor
A single supplier for all your IT and communications needs can dramatically reduce complexity, giving you one bill to manage and one point of contact for support. This reduces support time and admin, freeing up the IT team to focus on more valuable projects for the organisation.
The right single supplier will know your IT systems inside out, and be able to offer insightful advice whenever you need support or when you need to implement new technologies. You’ll benefit from economies of scale and you won’t have to suffer compatibility issues between systems, because a single supplier will ensure different applications work together.
Box out of key technology
- ShoreTel Connect: ShoreTel Connect unifies all your communications on one screen — including instant messaging, email, video, online meetings, on-the-fly conferencing and more — so your employees, customers and prospects can communicate easily. With ShoreTel Connect, you can focus on getting your job done rather than getting the technology to work.