Planning for Consolidating Applications as a Result of COVID-19
April 29, 2020
Application consolidation is not likely to be a top of mind item to consider in the middle of a global pandemic such as COVID-19. However, coming out of the current state, organizations will need to revisit how they are doing business, what applications they are using and if there is an opportunity to reduce organizational cost and risk by consolidating applications and standardizing existing platforms with proven vendors.
Maximizing Existing Investments
Many organizations purchase a suite of solutions such as Microsoft 365. They may have made the purchase while focused on an initial set of functionalities, such as email with Microsoft Outlook. However, the organization may still leverage legacy applications to maintain their current business processes. For example, a client migrates to Office 365 and moves their on-premise email server to the cloud. However, they did not take advantage of SharePoint Online and maintains MS Office files on a legacy file share, or worse on local machines. This scenario happens rather frequently, and with a little planning, there is an opportunity to migrate data from legacy repositories to a cloud a based platform, such as SharePoint Online. As a result, the organization can now decommission a legacy server, reduce existing backup infrastructure while expanding functionality to end-users.
Reducing Complexity and Redundancy
Often organizations make investments in solutions that have similar or overlapping capabilities. Sometimes this happens organically, other times it may be the result of a corporate merger or acquisition. For example, a company might have invested in the full Microsoft Office 365 suite, including SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams, while they also subscribe to other third-party cloud storage solutions, such as Box or Dropbox. In addition, they may have legacy on-premise file servers or Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions as well. This redundancy not only leads to increased licensing and support costs, but also cause confusion among end-users as their records may now be stored in 6-8 different locations.
Considering End-User Experience
Frequently, application investment decisions were made in a vacuum, or at a point in time where the feature/functionality for that platform was the best solution for the end-users. For example, organizations may have made investments in other video conferencing platforms, but recent updates to Microsoft Teams may make that platform the preferred solution.
For organizations to comply with data privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), they often develop an application inventory and data maps to track where their data is located, who has access to it and ideally what they can consider defensibly deleting. These tracking records can provide visibility into how information is shared within an organization and how applications align with business processes. It can often highlight opportunities where redundant capabilities exist. As a next step, requirements need to be clearly defined and articulated to determine which platform best meets organizational needs. Contract, infrastructure and support costs will need to be factored in to make an informed final decision.