Herd cats: the case of application management services

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In 2008, Apple coined the slogan “There’s an app for it,” ushering in the app economy – the proliferation of apps designed for easy use on mobile devices. Apps have become essential means of delivering the experience that an increasingly discerning consumer (and employee) audience expects.

The application economy has only been made possible by the digitalization of companies’ business processes over the past decades through the use of mission-critical applications such as ERP, CRM, etc. Today’s applications “feed on” these back-end applications.

(In this article, “application” will refer to the more modern and highly targeted applications that are used to perform specific tasks or provide specific services, while “applications” will generally refer to the underlying mission-critical applications on which the mostly runways business. However, these are not waterproof categories.)

Statista says the global app economy has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 37% since 2016 and is expected to reach $ 6.3 trillion in 2021, up from $ 1.3 trillion in 2016.

Unsurprisingly, all of this has created an environment of unique complexity that must be managed, which is no easy task. This is partly due to the vast network of interdependencies that exist.

If one part of the system – or perhaps ecosystem would be a better term to use – is not performing optimally, then others will be affected. To give a simple example: if the CRM system is malfunctioning, the customer-centric application that pulls information from it will be affected and the customer experience will suffer.

The emergence of hybrid computing environments adds to this complexity. Cloud adoption is growing as a way to cut costs, but also because it enables the kind of open or distributed architecture well suited to work and shopping styles anywhere / anytime. have become the norm, especially since the COVID-19 lockdowns. IT environments are now increasingly a patchwork of on-premises and public / private clouds, on which applications must run and be managed.

Other reasons for sub-optimal application performance include connectivity, a recurring issue here in South Africa and across the continent. Limited bandwidth on public and private networks can affect application performance. Connectivity is also affected by peaks in network traffic, as applications essentially compete for peak usage.

Server and power outages will also affect application performance, while malicious bot activities can dramatically impact performance, or even reduce it altogether.

Another issue that contributes to the brewing of witches is the breakneck pace at which modern apps are developed and implemented.

Another issue that contributes to the brewing of witches is the breakneck pace at which modern apps are developed and implemented. While large critical applications like ERP can still take months or even years to implement, applications are developed almost continuously to solve specific business problems or take advantage of new business opportunities. They are also less straightforward than before, in response to increased user expectations.

How do you manage this large number of applications to ensure that they offer a consistent and secure user experience?

Enter the left of the stage – IT Professionals

So far I have tried to emphasize how complex the application / application environment has become; even a midsize business can have literally hundreds of applications to orchestrate and manage. It’s also important to recognize how important it is from a business perspective – there is literally no business without apps and apps.

So: a complex job which requires constant care and which is critical in the strictest sense. CIOs should consider whether it is better for the IT team to take care of this. It is a reality that as IT has become more and more essential to the business – indeed, these days it is difficult to separate the business from the systems it runs on – the more. pressure on the IT team.

Now everyone is an expert and knows how to cut costs or increase efficiency, but the real challenges are relentless pressure on budgets across the company and a lack of skills.

The skills shortage has two faces: an absolute skills shortage combined with the fact that even if a sufficiently qualified person can be employed, they are unlikely to be a long-term employee in a single company, regardless of its size. . He or she will be attracted to new challenges, while the ultimate goal of a sole proprietorship is to achieve stability.

This combination of complexity and the need for sustained vigilance supported by specific skills, not to mention an internal IT team that is probably a little oversized, perfectly argues for the outsourcing of application management to a specialized firm.

The result will be that the IT team is not distracted from their day-to-day tasks, the right skills are available when needed, and to the delight of the CFO, fixed overheads are converted into variable operating expenses. As always, choosing the right partner is crucial to making any outsourcing deal work, as is putting in place the right skills to manage the relationship, but that’s a story for another day.

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