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Connecting IT Management to Workflows

IT Infrastructure and workflow are connected.

Enterprise technology does not work as a series of stand-alone items. No one uses software without hardware, no one goes into the cloud without hardware and software. Mobile devices without a network are severely limited, and so on. The corollary to this is workflow; all businesses run on workflows; whether you process mortgages, manufacture cars, or provide healthcare; every product and service is created and supported by a workflow. And every step of any workflow has an underlying technology stack to support it. The end result of the workflow and its enabling technology is what drives business growth, and is therefore the most critical element of how a business is set up and managed. Any issues on the technology stack will have significant downstream effects:

Dysfunctional IT infrastructure = Dysfunctional workflow = No business. 

How you track, manage, and optimize your IT infrastructure has an enormous impact on how well you are able to execute workflows and grow your business. This means the management of the IT stack has to map directly to how it's used - that is, how it supports workflows, across all elements that are involved (hardware, software, cloud, etc.). The problem (up to this point) has been that technology infrastructure management companies (ServiceNow, BMC, CA, etc.) have always managed IT infrastructure by what it is (track hardware in a CMDB, track software in a SAM, track mobile devices in an MDM, etc.). 

This approach is technically functional on one level  - you can track individual items - but has nothing to do with how the items are used or how it enables business value, which is the whole point of investing in technology. You not only need to know who has what (e.g a laptop) where, but also what’s on the device, things that can help mitigate risk, such as updated AV software, expired software licenses that could be subject to a true-up, etc. 

What we see with our customers pretty consistently is either 1) assets being tracked manually in a spreadsheet, where long strings of digits are entered manually (and what could possibly go wrong?), or 2) assets being tracked in siloed databases (CMDB, SAM, etc.), which give a very incomplete and not very useful perspective on how IT assets are being managed - you may know that a laptop is in an office in Dallas, but you have to go to a completely separate database to see if its AV software is current. It’s tedious for one item, what happens when it's tens or hundreds of thousands? And now that IoT is entering the mix, that number is in the process of skyrocketing as you read this. 

Rather than tracking all relevant data in a series of separate silos that have nothing to do with business enablement, enterprises need a single, consistent, real-time view into how their IT estate is behaving, across anything connected to their network, and this needs to be tracked across the entire lifecycle of the asset, with a more expansive definition of the term “asset”. Knowing the location of a laptop without any idea of what’s on it is useless, it's the integration of the asset classes into a unified view that enables workflow and business value that really moves the needle. 

Tracking across the lifecycle needs to hit seven specific steps:

  1. Purchasing: even before the assets (regardless of what it is) enters your enterprise, you need to track basic elements such as when it was purchased and for how much (critical for depreciation), and tracking variables such as make, model, and serial numbers. The instant you make the purchase, all this information should surface in an integrated IT asset management solution. 
  2. Receiving: when and where did the now identified asset physically (or virtually, depending on the asset) enter your inventory? Who entered the data (accountability is always good) and what is the real-time status of the asset (in transit, received, etc.).
  3. Imaging: this is the critical step; what is on the device? What’s the device IP address, which OS is installed (helps keep the device current on patches and AV updates) and knowing what apps are installed are critical when auditors come in and start asking pointed questions about where customer data is kept and secured.
  4. Assigning:  this is where the workflow variable kicks in; who was the device assigned to, what group are they associated with (e.g. a sales rep will have a very different device and configuration than a developer), and what is the status of that employee right now (you absolutely do not want a terminated employee to have access to anything). 
  5. Securing: while this is normally associated with imaging, it is also one of those things that need to be continuously monitored, and therefore requires an additional level of scrutiny. What is the exact status of the AV software, are encryption protocols current and in place, and are all patches up to date? This is particularly critical since the shift to a pervasive remote workforce (which has a significantly expanded attack surface) has become the new normal. 
  6. Maintaining: maintenance pivots primarily around service tickets, whether its addressing a problem or just doing routine maintenance, being able to see the ticket number, status and timestamp is a good indicator of how efficiently your service desk is operating.
  7. End of life: this is not just a matter of putting old devices on eBay, all enterprise devices have sensitive customer information on them, that data needs to be backed up, the content wiped, there may be a legal hold required on the asset before it is either destroyed, recycled, or donated, and so on. The disposition of an asset at the end of its lifecycle is as important as how it's managed when it's first brought on board. 

Being able to do this requires a different approach to how IT manages the overall IT infrastructure; a fully integrated and holistic view of your technology from essentially a single integrated view lets IT become a strategic enabler, rather than a utility service. This is the core value-add of what Oomnitza offers, and is already showing significant impact with some of the largest enterprises in the world. To take your game to the next level, contact us here

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