Tag Archive: IT

  1. Questions for 2022 Pt. 3: Cost Structure and Expenses

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    This week, we’ll further explore the pressing need to review cost structures and all major business expenses in light of how business has changed (and will never go back to how it was pre-pandemic).

    What we already know:

    Once again, let’s take what we know about 2022, and then apply it to the question:

    • Some jobs and activities will always be in-person, and some organizations now feel confident enough to mandate returns to the office. However, remote-working has become a fact of life during the pandemic, and many organizations and people may choose not to return to their old in-person, in-office schedules and ways of working.
    • Business travel expenditures are still radically below pre-pandemic levels. And yet, most organizations have found ways to overcome travel limitations to their business development, operational management, and delivery activities in the short to mid-term.
    • It’s too early to fully know what the future of the office and the commercial real estate market is, but it’s likely that many organizations’ future office space and design needs will be different (both during and after the pandemic). Warehousing and other real estate needs may also be different moving forward.

    Great, but so what?

    First off, have you re-evaluated your real-estate needs versus your current real-estate footprint, given how business has changed and how future requirements may be different in the future?

    Real estate costs (including rent, utilities, facilities, and maintenance) can be a significant expense in many businesses. If future needs translate to the need for less office space, what are you doing to realize these potential cost savings? Equally, if your real estate needs will be different, are you budgeting for any required capital investment, such as for physical updates to office spaces?

    Another outcome of the pandemic is a record demand for warehousing and fulfillment center properties, and other logistics related real estate. So, even if your office space needs haven’t changed, what about these kinds of needs? Rather than offering an expense reduction opportunity, this might even be another area of rapidly increasing (potentially spiraling) business expense that deserves further analysis and action to bring it under greater control.

    Secondly, have you adequately and effectively reallocated budgets previously allocated to business travel? Moreover, have you considered whether your organization will return to previous levels of spending after the pandemic?

    Reduced business travel has not reduced the need for facetime with customers, colleagues, and vendors. However, the fact that most organizations have managed so well despite less travel does suggest that returning to previous spending levels may not be necessary. Equally, even if spend can’t (or shouldn’t) be reduced, how is it going to be reallocated to ensure business results and ROI if old travel activities (conferences, junkets, etc.) are going to be less prevalent?

    Thirdly, collaboration tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meetings have improved significantly in the last few years, as has their utilization by many organizations. Gaps and opportunities still exist, however. Has your organization fully accounted for the likely hardware, software, and other financial and capital investment implications of the increased usage of IT collaboration tools?

    Some of these incremental costs may already be obvious and/or known, but some may be less so. As examples:

    • Giving employees regular home office “stipends” for equipment costs is becoming more common. Should you be doing this, and how should you reduce corporate office expenses to offset?
    • Providing the same hands-on hardware and technology support employees are used to in a corporate setting is harder and more expensive in a remote work setting.
    • Will a prolonged increase in remote working have subsequent bandwidth, licensing, hardware, and infrastructure implications (and if so, what are the financial implications)?

    If you haven’t already, now is the time to more deeply review the longer-term impact of the pandemic on your IT organization and infrastructure, and how this could translate to your financial bottom line.

    Finally, we’ve mentioned in previous posts that worker shortages (translating into higher labor costs) have been another consequence of the pandemic’s impact on cost structures. Reviewing labor costs should be another priority for most businesses, but this topic deserves its own deep dive and will be the topic of the next post in this series.


    Changes in how many organizations do business, including the increase in remote work and reductions in business travel, offer opportunities to re-evaluate cost structures and business expenses. These changes also highlight the need to identify and evaluate future financial implications. Core Catalysts regularly helps clients assess financial and operational efficiency and effectiveness to understand and optimize business operations and cost structure. We’ve also helped multiple customers optimize their IT strategies and infrastructure to match today’s changing environment. If you believe we could help your organization with this, why not reach out to us and schedule a call?

    Thanks once again for reading and please share any thoughts or comments you have. We’ll see you again in two weeks for the final post in the series, which will cover the question of business automation during and after the pandemic.

    Mark Jacobs, Client Service & Delivery

  2. Solving Cloud Sprawl: Hidden Costs of Cloud Operations

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    In the very forgettable 1993 movie “Point of No Return,” Harvey Keitel delivered three minutes of screen genius in his role as Victor the Cleaner. By the time Victor shows up, our heroine, Bridget Fonda, has made a mess of her assignment to (spoiler alert) assassinate her target. With her partner shot, they must call the boss – something Fonda clearly does not want to do.

    Opening the door to Victor, Fonda says, “Listen, the job’s gone a little bit bad, but I think I can finish it.”

    “Your part of the job is over,” Victor replies. “I’m the Cleaner.”

    I have thought about that scene many times during my years as a consultant because, in many ways, a good consultant is like a cleaner. When we arrive, we anticipate cleaning unattended areas of the organization. The type of mess varies by company: broken processes, outmoded systems, non-compliance, personality conflicts, lack of focus and, most often – sprawling budgets.

    Last week Smart Factory announced a partnership with Core Catalysts to launch a new service line targeting Solving Cloud Sprawl. Cloud Sprawl is an easy way for us to describe how quickly technology budgets can explode as companies virtualize their operations.

    451 Research estimates that 90% of US companies are now using some level of Cloud services. Cisco has boldly predicted that by the end of 2021 94% of workloads will be processed in the Cloud. Those statistics are exciting, but they are hiding the larger issue companies are only now coming to realize – operating in the Cloud can be surprisingly expensive.

    When companies first began to move operations to the cloud a few years ago the initiative was led by IT. At first, it was just an experiment – spin up a test server and monitor performance, maybe try out hosted data – all of which was priced at pennies to use. For example, EC2 – Amazon Web Services (AWS) most popular product – is priced at $0.13 an hour or, $9.50 per month. This cost was easy to approve since it amounted to a few hundred dollars a month for an entire IT department. Developers and Administrators that had previously relied on internal purchasing requests were now able to ‘add to cart’ subscription services that could instantly modernize their teams. In the span of a few short months, IT was on a self-led mission to move everything to the cloud, all powered by the explanation that it was only a few bucks a month.

    And then the invoices came due.

    Sure, EC2 is only $9.50 a month but when you add Auto-scaling infrastructure, load balancers, dedicated hosts, EBS volumes, snapshots, Elastic IPs – that single EC2 instance sprawls to quite a bit more than just a few dollars a month. Large companies are now regularly budgeting anywhere from $50,000 to more than a few million dollars annually for their cloud services.

    Now, that is not to say that the return on value is not worth the investment. It absolutely is. Owned data centers are costly to build, costly to maintain, and can never rival the intelligent designs of a commercial cloud. A 2019 report by OpsRamp revealed that large companies are seeing a 15% drop in overall IT spending as a result of migrating to the Cloud. For Small and Medium companies that savings is averaging 36%.

    Despite nearly unanimous agreement that operations should be in the cloud, companies are increasingly faced with managing budgets that seem to break traditional forecasting models. Invoices for metered services vary widely from month-to-month. Forecasting tools and budget controls are available in the four major cloud hosts – AWS, Azure, Google and, IBM – but they have proved to be so difficult to use that an entirely new industry of experts, FinOPs , emerged in 2019 specifically to address financial accountability in the variable spend model of cloud. But, let’s be honest, those tools provided by companies like AWS are more focused on reporting than reducing costs. It’s not like they want you to spend less money.

    There is hope. New tools and platforms that reside outside of the cloud are designed to provide clarity and regain control. Our team is using software and best practice to help companies reduce their cloud costs by 25% in the first month with annual reductions on track to reduce costs by as much as 50%. Our Cloud Consultants are unifying FinOps and DevOps goals that enable companies to make qualified decisions, balancing the needs of the organization to manage cost, without restricting the needs of IT to deliver speed and quality.

    Cloud services are expanding at an alarming speed. In 2019 AWS added 29 new services. It is not surprising how many companies are faced with solving cloud sprawl. When your organization is trying to balance growth and efficiencies yet still manage to reduce spend, the job can get pretty messy.

    Might be a good time to call in a cleaner.

    Doug Richards, Client Service and Delivery