I recently had the pleasure of joining a twitter #CiscoChat co-hosted by @CiscoServices and Zeus Kerravala @zkerravala of ZK Research. We started the chat to debate the pros and cons of software support, but as we dove into the costs of downtime, it became evident there was no debate. Software support is a must in today’s increasingly digital environment. You can see the full chat here. For those of you interested in the short version, here are the top 3 things we learned on digital business transformation, deploying software, and how to choose the right support.
1. Software is a major enabler of digital business transformation
According to ZK Research, there are 3 primary drivers of digital transformation: transform business models, create new customer experiences, and empower workforce innovation. These drivers all require a much higher level of business agility. Software is much more dynamic and agile than hardware, so it better enables digital transformation.
As Zeus aptly pointed out, software plays a key role at each step in the journey of becoming a digital organization.
For starters, the agility of software enables companies to align IT with business outcomes.
The automation capabilities of software can help improve productivity and empower the workforce. For instance, automating processes such as expense reporting and audits reduces the time spent on data entry.
A software-driven approach to product development and marketing can deliver new insights on customer behavior, which can help improve service and customer experience.
2. Don’t overlook software testing, QA, and support
Several chat participants stressed the importance of good software testing and quality assurance during the development phase to ensure that software performs up to standard. Even for packaged apps, testing shouldn’t be overlooked. A few suggested best practices for testing and QA, include:
- Don’t over customize. Too much customization leaves more room for coding errors and bugs
- Consider the benefits of SaaS. The QA and testing is moved to the cloud.provider, which drives new features faster
- Shift to a DevOps model to help ensure long lasting, good quality software
Many of our chatters also agreed that once software is deployed, having the right support is also critical. Keeping up with the latest updates, version upgrades, and bug fixes is key to making sure the software continues to perform reliably and reduces the risk of security breaches.
3. Downtime can be catastrophic. Choose software support wisely
No matter the industry vertical, downtime can have a catastrophic impact on any business. Zeus shared some alarming figures from ZK Research on the cost of downtime by vertical. Even one hour can be incredibly damaging ($5.2 million an hour for a brokerage firm!).
Downtime not only costs money, but also can damage a company’s brand reputation and cause customers to churn. If a company is bleeding customers, in the end the amount of money lost doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is that downtime can be catastrophic, so have the right software support in place to minimize the risks of downtime.
When choosing the right software support, what should you consider? Here are a few recommendations from the chat:
- Understand your internal skills and map them out against your future requirements. Align support services to fill any gaps you have
- Determine what level of risk you can tolerate and align Service Level Agreements to make sure the severity of the issues are addressed accordingly by the subject matter experts you need, when you need them
- If your IT team is unable to keep up with software updates, choose a vendor that can also help you keep up with the routine updates and software upgrades. Maintenance goes a long way toward preventing downtime
- Choose a vendor based on the reputation of its support organization and one that can support your future growth needs
Here’s some final food for thought. As one of our chat participants reminded us, “software is eating the world.” As business and technology require more agility and flexibility that only software can enable, we need to “feed and nourish” the software with the right support. If you are evaluating any of our Cisco ONE or Collaboration products, learn more on how Cisco can support you.
If you didn’t get a chance to join our #CiscoChat, leave me a comment. What do you think is important to consider when choosing the right software support?