Finance and the Denizens of Technology

The global financial climate of the last 24 months has been among the most challenging on record — especially for the larger global enterprises needing to rapidly adapt to radical economic shifts in different markets across the world. IT departments are often tasked to underpin and drive the response to these challenges, through better utilisation of technology to reduce cost and improve efficiency, and maintaining business application delivery for globally consistent operational effectiveness.

 
Being able to answer these requirements, and developing a core business competency to deal with these challenges in the future, is the essence of business agility. This capability will become the vital differentiator to drive global business success in the coming years.
 
But realising true business agility requires more than simple technology upgrades. It demands the creation of a global operating model and support processes that empower organisations to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently to future changes in the business environment.
 
Terminologies such as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Intelligence are increasingly targeted at enterprises to assist them to operate their businesses leaner, smarter and faster. Given that finance is a key decision-maker in technology investments, with the IT department in many companies directly under the CFO, what can CFOs do to help IT maintain a competitive edge, whatever the market conditions?
 
Network Agility
As businesses strive to differentiate and increase profitability, demands on the IT infrastructure inevitably increase. Challenging requirements for larger data transfers to enable high-bandwidth shared applications and lower latency connectivity to ensure effective global distribution of services become critical. To enable delivery of these elements, the underlying network that support business applications must provide high levels of scalability and flexibility to meet the business’ demand for efficiency.
 
Cost-beneficial selling points that CFOs should look for when choosing support services and providers include flexibility through “in service” design reviews and the promotion of new technology and supply options throughout the contract term. Being able to transition to new network solutions smoothly and efficiently, based upon the latest business drivers in their industry or by accessing new service options that were not previously available in particular geographies, will give companies the advantage when dealing with real business requirements.
 
Reducing cost, supporting new business applications, or integrating new geographical locations or infrastructures from expansion, merger or acquisition are all immediate, international business challenges that need to be addressed.
 
Cloud Computing
Equally as critical as the network itself are the business-support services that can be run over it.
 
A cloud-based service can reduce capital expenditures. If it is a hosted service, it removes the requirement for customers to identify and implement future upgrades themselves — it is all provided within the service — creating a very cost-effective solution.
 
Cloud computing is arguably the most talked-about development within IT. It promises the enterprise the benefits of increased scalability, agility and speed to market (for IT services), while reducing capex and opex. However, the cloud computing services available today are not yet business class, as they lack the end-to-end service assurance the enterprise demands. 

 

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is about understanding elements within the business, such as processes, skills, technologies, and applications, to allow informed decision making.
 
Finding a service that provides granular insight into the applications traversing the corporate network and their data flow will help CFOs to see which applications are using the most resources across their network and what impact this is having on business-critical applications. This data can be critical in addressing end-user performance issues and supporting business decisions on development of the network and IT environment.
 
A good example of this would be understanding the ability of the network to support a new IP Telephony application and how this would impact other business traffic flow.
 
Beyond intelligence and visibility for the IT environment, CFOs should look for a provider that provides the ability to take control and assure service levels for business applications, essentially guaranteeing they receive the necessary level of performance and meet end-user experience demands. The control over the application estate and assurance around business-critical services can ensure that operation remains effective during disaster recovery scenarios and negate the need for costly bandwidth upgrades.
 
Managing the Risk
Creating a more fluid and agile operation brings with it the challenges of control and management. Flexibility inevitably means addressing a wider range of influences than well-established static installations and configurations.
 
About the Author
A division of India’s Reliance Communications, Reliance Globalcom serves more than 2,100 enterprises, 200 carriers and 2.5 million retail customers in 163 countries across six  continents. It owns the world’s largest private undersea cable system, enabling it to offer a global service delivery platform connecting 40 key business markets in India, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the U.S. 
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