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Camwood, a leading IT consultancy specialising in digital evolution through the lens of applications, reveals that over half (53%) of IT Directors and CIOs were unable to state exactly how many applications were running across their estate.
The problem arises as organisations grow, and the number of applications used across the estate also grows. Even when companies have a robust application strategy, it is extremely common to have multiple application versions in production, along with various complex licensing agreements. This can result in a haphazard customer experience because each application version has its own support requirements and different features.
The challenges and risks to companies of an untamed estate include application bloating, Shadow IT and security. Typically, a third of all cyber attacks are a result of vulnerabilities in Shadow IT, which puts extreme pressure on IT departments to continually operate an effective application audit process.
To mitigate this risk, it is critical for businesses to perform application life-cycle management from within the IT function. Often this task is either overlooked or not undertaken continuously, potentially resulting in higher costs, and greater exposure to cyber attacks.
According to Andrew Carr, Managing Director of Camwood, “Applications need to be treated more strategically, because IT departments have to keep the enterprise secure, and applications with no clear ownership are most likely to present clear security risks.”
In particular, ignoring the proliferation of unsupported applications creates problems later on when companies want to initiate digital acceleration programmes, impacting agility and harming growth.
“Shadow IT is a large problem with serious consequences. To deal with it, organisations must first identify the applications via an audit. It’s a valuable process, because understanding what’s out there and rationalising the estate will harden security, reduce the volume of applications by 40% and typically reduce ongoing spend by 30%,” Carr comments.
Application management takes care of the complexity of software lifecycle management, including how the application operates, performance optimisation, maintenance, testing, version control and upgrade paths. Along with significant cost savings, application management delivers reduced downtime and an enhanced end-user experience.
Given the increasing risk profile that Shadow IT involves both for security and for delaying business initiatives, Carr advises companies to consider taking steps to rationalise their IT estate. “Companies need to think about applications today, by prioritising application management, to avoid security issues and spiralling costs tomorrow. You can’t migrate what you don’t know, and you can’t modernise what you can’t quantify,” he explains.