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Advocate thanks the attendees and sponsors

Advocate thanks the attendees and sponsors

View AllBlogPress ReleasesCase StudyMediaWhite PapersResourcesEvents View AllBlogPress ReleasesCase StudyMediaWhite PapersResourcesEvents           Pinpoint the Right IT Service Provider with Advocate Insider Marketplace Shakeups and disruptors in the tech industry are so common today it’s difficult to know what solutions and IT service providers will best help you address business challenges today — and take your enterprise into the future.
Navigating the pace of change among carriers, vendors and technology is a daunting task for even the savviest IT organizations.
Imagine having the universe of technology solutions right at your fingertips.
Being able to explore thousands of data centers, map every fiber line, compare entire industries side by side and quickly assess every possible solution.
No longer worrying about the pace of change — instead, remaining focused on business growth and delivering the very best user experience.
Gain Ultimate Visibility with Advocate Insider Marketplace This is what Advocate Insider Marketplace is all about.
Our ecosystem of partnerships and hundreds of supplier agreements with the industry’s leading IT vendors deliver the universe of technology solutions right to you.
We partner with a master agency and have 500-plus agreements already in place with suppliers to fast-track provider selection and solution escalation — while leveraging buying power and competitive pricing.
After we determine the right type of solution for your enterprise, we vet the various providers through the use of our Pathfinder tool that can deliver the systems, software and solutions you need and recommend the top three providers in your state.
Throughout the vetting process, we anticipate, research and answer the questions that haven’t even been asked yet — so you don’t have to.
Rather than simply leading with tier-one providers, we often lead with disruptors that are changing the landscape of IT partnerships today.
Best of all, we manage every relationship as your trusted partner committed to your success.
Here are several examples of how Advocate Insider Marketplace made a seismic difference in our clients’ businesses by being a beacon of light in a sea of IT service providers.
Reducing Voice and Network Costs A leading private equity fund real estate management firm enlisted Advocate Insider Marketplace to find a network solutions provider that could seamlessly support the company’s core voice and data communication requirements for both multifamily and commercial properties.
The company wanted to reduce its costs, integrate voice and data services for 20 commercial business offices and migrate from analog voice service to VoIP.
We vetted and recommended a local vendor with diverse voice service offerings and managed network support — as well as the potential to provide the highest cost savings.
The vendor implemented a SIP Trunking solution that consolidated voice traffic across the company’s data network, replaced traditional phone services with cost-effective DIDs and eliminated toll charges for calls between the headquarters and remote offices.
The vendor also implemented PBX at multifamily properties.
Additionally, the vendor provided a customized billing structure to ensure that cost centers were invoiced based on their individual property connections and VoIP services.

Through this partnership with Advocate Insider Marketplace

the company realized improved cost efficiencies, rapid service design and implementation and customized solutions that met its specific requirements.
A full return on investment (ROI) was achieved in less than one month, and the company reduced its network spend by 43 percent while achieving a 65 percent annual reduction on voice expenditures.
Delivering 100 Percent Uptime A healthcare provider turned to Advocate Insider Marketplace to find a vendor to move their core critical IT systems to a nearby top tier data center facility to ensure 100 percent uptime and availability — which are critical to providing patient care.
The healthcare provider also wanted to improve their existing backup solution, which was labor intensive with high operational costs and lacked disaster recovery to protect patient data.
We vetted and selected a local vendor that had a secure colocation environment in an enterprise-class data center.
The facility delivered robust carrier connectivity to easily inter-connect all of the provider’s diverse sites.
The vendor also provided a customized cloud solution using an on-site appliance for data protection — as well as full replication to a remote site for back-up storage.
In the end, the healthcare provider had a reliable data center infrastructure for its core systems.
It realized significant improvement in recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) in disaster scenarios with a fully managed backup solution.
And the healthcare provider’s staff that were previously dedicated to data center maintenance, data backups and tape handling were reallocated to other priority tasks.
Click to download the case study.
Untangling a Global Network In turn, a technology services company enlisted Advocate Insider Marketplace to find the right vendor to upgrade its highly regulated global network that had grown increasingly costly and hard to manage.
The company also needed app and network visibility as well as cloud and unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) plans.

Following extensive vetting by Advocate Insider Marketplace

we found the right vendor that could deliver an SP-agnostic, flexible WAN, Cloud-app SLA and UCaaS migration and virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE).
Following implementation, the results were striking.
The company reduced its WAN costs by 50 to 70 percent, achieved 10 to 20 times faster remote site recovery and availability, improved troubleshooting by up to 90 percent and gained huge productivity benefits.
Click to download the case study.
The Four Pillars of Advocate Insider Marketplace Four pillars guide Advocate Insider Marketplace — visibility, expediency, value and trust.
Are you ready to leverage the deep expertise across all the technology solution providers at Advocate Insider Marketplace.
Give us a call for a demo of our Pathfinder tool to see how we can help you find the right provider for your IT challenge.
Like every other IT leader, you’re looking for ways to reduce spend and get more bang for the buck.
So, what’s the next step.
Even after collaborating with your management and operations teams, significant savings have a way to remain hidden from view.
Finding them hinges on whether you know what to look for, where to find it, and how to use that information to your advantage.
And finding them is critical, because each offers an opportunity for you to reduce IT spend, while freeing up capital to strategically invest elsewhere to grow and transform your business.
That’s why Advocate created proprietary.
Developed by our team of TBM experts from decades of tracking IT spend across multiple industries, the tables provide a comprehensive roadmap for achieving IT spend optimization.
Follow the optimization roadmap Our Run Reduction Tables encapsulate decades of IT experience.
They include benchmarks for the six cost pools commonly found across the enterprise.
By following the specially designed tables, you can identify a wide range of savings opportunities and begin crafting complex strategies to reduce those expenses — strategies that address both long-term and short-term quick wins.
Our experts understand common spending patterns for each cost pool and what the “typical” IT organization spends in each area.
More importantly, our experts understand the relationships between spending and sub-categories and how they affect each other.
For example, reducing outside labor typically requires an accompanying shift in standards and/or software costs.
Advocate’s approach to run reduction is to break cost pools into smaller and smaller sub-categories by using specific proven techniques for savings for each level.
We realize that you want to see tangible results.
That’s why we assess each category on measurable metrics — such as cost-per-minute for voice services or hourly rate for temporary contract employees — for more accurate and informative analysis.
Find your true savings potential Advocate believes there’s significant value in using savvy negotiating to revise contracts favorably and reduce IT spend.
But we also realize that’s only half of the story.
Our Run Reduction Tables identify other ways for you reduce costs simultaneously.
By reducing the common tendency to over-purchase software licenses to avoid audit issues, you can reduce subscription costs by an additional 10 percent.
For each category on the Run Reduction Tables, we’ve highlighted where you can achieve the highest savings potential, whether via the “Negotiation” or the “Optimization” path.
There are tangible, specific and actionable opportunities for you to reduce costs across the enterprise.
Our Run Reduction Tables will help you discover IT savings, so you can reinvest in growth and transformation.
Are you ready to do more.
to see how we can use our proprietary Run Reduction Tables to quickly optimize your IT spend.
As IT leaders consider adopting a TBM framework—or need to get more from their existing TBM Office—the focus needs to shift from today’s cost-centric goals to value realization.
As we covered in our previous , value realization is achieved by either improving top-line revenue or bottom-line profitability for the whole company.
But to get to true value realization, companies often need to reinvest run reduction savings derived from a TBM framework into initiatives that move the needle for the company overall.
It can seem counterintuitive for companies to think about increasing spending levels after they uncover savings through TBM, given the cost-centric focus today.
But that’s the route to value realization—reinvesting in projects and solutions that will drive change for their business.
Significant and measurable changes like increasing revenue, decreasing costs, improving gross margin, reducing customer turnover, increasing productivity and expanding into new markets, channels and geographies.
To help companies achieve value realization, Advocate has adopted a process we call “Actions to Outcomes”—translating projects and activities into progressively more business outcomes by connecting to the company’s business strategy.
But how do IT leaders identify what matters more to their organization.
How do they convince decision-makers to reinvest cost savings.
That’s where Advocate comes in.
We recently completed an Actions to Outcomes exercise with Gannett Fleming in Philadelphia.
We began working with Gannett Fleming in early 2018 on a successful to increase bandwidth without adding costs.
At that point, the company had started thinking about implementing a TBM framework, and after attending our 2018 , the company’s Vice President & Chief Technology officer, Kevin Switala, was motivated to move forward.
As we always do with our TBM methodology, we asked probing questions beyond the company’s stated goal of improving security protocols to protect and fortify corporate data.
Questions like “why invest more dollars to be more secure?” It came to light that Gannett Fleming wanted to be able to meet advanced certification requirements and needed to strengthen its network security to do so.
The next probing question went a step further—“why does being certified matter?” And then the answer emerged that could tie Actions to Outcomes—they needed advanced certifications to expand into a new market and grow revenue.
Imagine going to your Board of Directors requesting a bigger budget simply to improve network security versus requesting funds to invest in an initiative that could generate millions—even hundreds of millions—of new revenue for the business.
It’s a powerful shift from requesting funds for projects that “keep the lights on” to becoming a partner who understands the company’s strategy and helps the business grow.
We worked with Switala and his team to build a case for requesting a sizable increased investment overall, including in enhanced security.
We helped them shift the impetus from a pure security play to an outcome that would enable market expansion and generate new revenue.  This strategy ultimately convinced Gannett Fleming’s Board of Directors to increase Switala’s overall budget by more than 30 percent, including an important funding component for the security initiative.
“We are certain that the strategy you brought to us that leveraged core TBM principals to communicate IT investment value to our Board of Directors—as well as the feedback you gave to me on my draft presentation—significantly strengthened my pitch,” Switala said.
“Presenting our investment portfolio the way we did made the Board of Director’s decision to significantly increase their annual investment in the portfolio above 2018 spending an easy one.” The Actions to Outcomes process is a seemingly simple concept but with some astonishing results.
Keep asking “why” to get to the answers that align with the business strategy.
Is that all there is to it.
Definitely not.
There is an art and decades of experience behind our approach to TBM.
It takes skill to move IT leaders forward in their thinking.
Our team is extremely adept at suggesting an approach our clients haven’t thought of and we know precisely how to ask the “why” questions that will lead to business outcomes.
All while changing the perception of IT’s role in a company and how technology investment in viewed.
Are you ready to do what matters more for your company and achieve value realization.
If so, give us a call to see how we can help.
Advocate is excited to sponsor Techbridge’s annual Digital Ball that provides a high profile way to announce grants, celebrate impact, and recognize community supporters.
Join top technology and business leaders in Georgia to network, collaborate and share a common desire to stretch their community investment dollars.
Data will always drive smarter decisions.
Only now, the way we share that information is progressing at nearly incalculable speeds — with new technologies for delivering it changing monthly, or even weekly.
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) employs cloud-based software services to streamline and integrate enterprise-based communications, including voicemail, chat, telephony, email, as well as web, audio, and video conferencing.
Most enterprises already use the cloud for storage, governance, workflow and other business applications.
In fact, a recent industry survey indicates that 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020.1 It’s well known that UCaaS is here to stay.
Now, we’re learning just how prevalent and all-encompassing it is.
Every call that comes into your contact center includes critical information — including customer details, feedback, requests and other content — that you can use to make faster, more informed decisions.
Unfortunately, legacy private branch exchange (PBX) systems can’t adequately capture that information.
As a result, it can remain hidden in silos, isolated from the people who need it most.
UCaaS transforms how people communicate internally and externally by funneling data from phone calls directly to people and applications automatically.
UCaaS adoption is inevitable.
It’s not a matter of if enterprises will switch to the cloud for voice data applications — it’s a matter of when is best to begin.
After all, it’s the best, most cost-effective method to leverage data collaboratively, so you can work smarter, more productively and more efficiently — and gain a competitive advantage on those who have yet to adopt similar strategies.
There’s a technology talent shortage.
In fact, one survey indicates that an astonishing 65 percent of CIOs believe that hiring challenges are hurting the IT industry.2 You can spend your money battling other companies for talent.
Or, you can hire a company specializing in UCaaS with a clear model to manage it for you — often, for significantly less investment.
UCaaS doesn’t require capital expenditures.
More importantly, it enables you to optimize your current infrastructure investments, so you don’t accrue sunk costs.
Whether you host everything on-premises or create a hybrid model by adding cloud-based voice data services to your infrastructure, you can scale UCaaS to meet your needs, including as legacy equipment is phased out.
It doesn’t matter how UCaaS is hosted — only what it offers you and your customers.
Go mobile.
Give employees and customers the same experience every time, wherever they are.
Integrate the data into everyday applications, such as a CRM system or analytic database, so you can access and share it with others for better decisioning.
After all, it’s not about what speeds, feeds or technologies you have, it’s about how you can tie data into your core business.
UCaaS turns integration into a convenient, cost-efficient point-and-click exercise.
Voice data relied heavily on big, heavy, legacy, solution providers for decades.
Now, companies are seeking disruptors who can challenge the status quo with more nimble, intuitive and economical cloud-based services.
UCaaS companies are laser-focused on developing and deploying innovative new tools to change the way we work and communicate across the enterprise.
After all, their entire business depends on providing those technologies and services better than anybody else.
The old-guard solution providers of the past are on notice.
Traditionally, the biggest roadblocks for disruptive companies have been the organizations that created the previous generation of applications and technologies.
When Cisco purchased BroadSoft, it sent shockwaves through the enterprise IT market.
Voice data is heading toward UCaaS.
And there’s no going back.
We’re in the middle of a Gold Rush for trusted advisors.
With new and ever-evolving choices, IT decision-makers require savvy insights and expertise to differentiate between UCaaS service providers.
Whether you’re a Microsoft or Cisco shop, use proprietary methods or something else entirely, Advocate can find the UCaaS model that best accommodates your specific requirements and budget.
Are you ready to disrupt — and dramatically improve — the way you conduct business.
Give us a call to see how we can help.
What value are you realizing for the company.
It’s a question many IT executives struggle to answer – even those with an established Technology Business Management (TBM) Office.
That’s because value realization goes far beyond IT cost reduction and higher productivity.
Value realization is evidenced by a noticeable improvement in one of two things: top-line revenue or bottom-line profitability for the whole company.
By that definition, many IT organizations are not achieving true value realization.
Realizing value is difficult because business units often don’t measure the impact of technology on their own operations.
Instead, IT is merely the place they go — like a drug store — to get a Band-Aid or some other quick remedy to the symptoms of their “issue.” To achieve value realization, IT needs to be viewed as a doctor that can help diagnose the needs of the enterprise, create growth opportunities, and improve the overall health of the company.
But how can you shift the perception and role of IT from drug store to doctor.
This gets to the heart of value realization.
The challenge is to improve the operations of the component parts of the enterprise (the business units) and each of them must leverage technology to do it.
And that includes IT improving on the business of running itself – ensuring that every IT investment achieves a meaningful business outcome.
Everyone is using technology to drive their business unit’s improvement.
Value realization is ONLY relevant in terms of the impact technology is having on enterprise productivity or market expansion.
But technology implementation is just the first step.
The real impact occurs when there is full adoption of new processes and capabilities by the business unit.
That adoption, sometimes referred to as “digital transformation,” is just the normal incremental improvement in enterprise operations.
Clearly, now is a prime opportunity for IT to connect those dots and shift the conversation now.
To make the shift, IT must change and play a pivotal role in achieving value realization for the enterprise.
As Forbes contributor Peter Bendor-Samuel recently noted: changing IT is a fundamental realignment of how IT is organized, how it conceives itself and its role in the organization.1 IT doesn’t need to understand the business unit better than the business unit leadership.
All IT needs to do is to shift its role from drug store to doctor by ensuring that every business unit request for technology has a direct and measurable business outcome that can be tied to market impacts on enterprise value.
That means speaking directly to the business outcomes and clarifying for everyone how that technology will advance those outcomes.
IT must help the company achieve mutual understanding and consensus.
IT executives need to lead the way in shifting conversations from IT costs and projects to business outcomes.
Too often, CIOs are mired in “keeping the lights on” and the inherent distractions that come with running the business from day to day.
This makes IT myopic and overly focused on cost.
However, they often lack the tools and insight to have visibility into the total cost of ownership.
This results in them being unable to manage the cost, and therefore, unable to drive savings for investment in achieving value.
TBM is about harnessing the data to create visibility and accountability to business outcomes.
Most companies understand that keeping data siloed in spreadsheets is inefficient and ineffective in today’s business world – but without TBM it is the best they can do.
Technology Business Management, on the other hand, brings standard taxonomies for cost tracking and the ability to allocate those costs across all elements of technology.
At the introductory-level, TBM techniques help describe IT budgets and quantify IT costs.
At more mature levels, TBM enables companies to leverage insights to total cost of ownership (TCO) to prioritize their strategic technology investments, align to the needs of the business and proactively enhance business growth.
According to the TBM Council, instead of simply answering how much should you be spending on IT, TBM enables people throughout your organization with the information to understand the impact of technology investments – making the costs actionable.2 While some organizations are leading the way with TBM, many companies are just now considering implementing TBM software tools and processes.
Others already have TBM processes in place, but haven’t yet reached the level of maturity where they can take action to positively impact business outcomes.
TBM initiatives today are primarily focused on legacy refresh, IT quality, IT productivity, and IT cost reduction.
To achieve business outcomes, IT organizations need to focus on the way in which their technology investments impact top-line revenue and bottom-line profitability.
TBM will need to generate actionable data that reduces business costs, improves profitability, increases revenue, makes new lines of business possible and enables existing market and new market expansion.
Is your company’s IT ready for the role of doctor — rather than drug store.
If not, give us a call to see how we can help.1 Forbes, August 9, 2018, “How Your Company’s IT Group Must Change to Support Digital Transformation,” Peter Bendor-Samuel.
2 TBM Council, 2016, “Technology Business Management: The Four Value Conversations CIOs Must Have With their Businesses,” Todd Tucker.
Over the past decade, the network era has morphed into constant “anytime, anywhere” connectivity driven by the cloud.
Unfortunately, traditional enterprise IT infrastructures were built for a less interconnected time and can’t keep pace with modern demands.
As a result, today’s networks are expensive, inefficient and rigid.
That’s why Advocate’s Network Transformation Workshop is so important for your company’s future.
And it’s available just in time.
Our one-day Workshop will help you envision, plan and develop a framework around your specific network transformation execution.
Designed specifically for enterprise IT leaders, the Workshop allows you to find opportunities to reduce costs, improve performance and drive business outcomes.
It is facilitated in-person and structured to include broad representation from all your key stakeholders.
Once completed, you will have clear insight into the best approach to transform your legacy network architecture into an agile, optimized, cloud-enabled network solution.
Panel Moderator: Panelists: , and “Gone are the days of being in the engine room…” After years of casual courting, IT and the business are finally forging effective ways of working together to pursue shared objectives.
The CIO’s responsibilities once focused almost entirely on selecting and managing technology solutions.
But, the last few years have seen the role of IT shift to largely supporting enterprise strategy through technology, including the creation of new digital business models.
CIOs must now be immersed in both technology and business, all while ensuring the organization has the right platforms in place that pave the way to the future.
Partnering with the business for best-of-breed technology has posed a real challenge for capital intensive companies.
Think about it.
Environments weren’t architected for cloud – they were designed for on-premises and carried specific cost structures associated with that approach.
Corporate side economics are real and accounting rules are different in the cloud world, which is forcing CIOs to change the way they build their IT strategy.
Continuing to invest in legacy platforms no longer flies.
It can be very difficult to explain the capital expenditure or operating expenditure while vying for IT budgets and approvals.
Back in the day, it was relatively easy to procure capital expenses which benefited from favorable accounting treatments.
But, the future is increasingly operating expense.
How do you come up with money in that scenario.
CIOs must learn the benefits of accounting for technology investments as an operational expense versus a capital expense and be able to articulate the potential financial implications to the CFO when he or she asks, “Stop doing things to us and start doing things for us.” According to IDG’s , almost half (49%) of business respondents now consider IT a strategic advisor for proactively identifying new opportunities and for making technology recommendations.
The business will always ask for more, so why not include them in decisions by giving them (educated, evaluated, encouraged…) options.
Here’s a tip to simplify the choices people must make by creating two easy options.
Use the magic words, “…two kinds of people.” Ask them to decide for themselves based on having to choose between two (rather than many) options.
Let’s practice.
“There are two types of people in this world.
Those who resist change in favor of nostalgia, and those who move with the times and create a better future.” You should be able to see how the options are stacked in favor of the decision you’d like them to pick.
CIOs are devising a series of tactics to proactively foster closer relationships with the business.
They are creating new business engagement roles that share “…a seat at the table” for operational activities – becoming the voice and ears from IT to the executives and sharing insights to trends and relevant capabilities coming their way.
Technology and our supporting roles will continue to change at the speed of light, so take a hard look at what your core competencies are and “subscribe” what’s not a core business competency.
As one panelist put it, “If you’re spending too much time thinking about “-as-a-service”, you’re probably not very strategic.” If interested in learning more about or attending the exclusive 2019 Insider Summit,.
Panel Moderator: Panelists: , and As we sit in a room with over 40 IT leaders that are responsible for very large teams, we unpack the topic of IT industry talent needs.  The overwhelming response: we need individuals that have two key qualities, creative problem solving and intellect.  The employee that is the most sought after is the one with a balance of being willing to transcend the functional silos while also understanding the needs of the business to technically solve for these issues.
Is it a “Cloud Architect”?  Or a “Network Expert”?  Or a “Security Expert”?  Nope.  At least not according to the panel of IT execs at Advocate’s 2018 Insider Summit.
An IT leader”s world is one riddled with digital transformation projects ranging in areas from mobile to social to analytics to APIs to cloud to legacy systems to you name it.  These leaders need employees with a willingness to continually adapt and think about what you [both the business owner and IT owners] do and how you are doing it.
Reflect.  Strive to change.  Want to change.
So why did our group not mention that the biggest issue in the talent gap was certain specific skills needed?  Experience has told us that some of the people with the best skills aren”t willing to adapt.  However, individuals that are bright and willing to adapt will excel and be a better asset in the long run.  You can pay to develop the skills for some of these technical transformations; however, it is more beneficial to employ those that can adapt, get to the truth, and learn through on-the-job training.
Our group reflected on their experience and lessons learned in five main areas: inheriting a demotivated team, handling major budget cuts, dealing with change, building trust, and mentoring or coaching.
What if you inherit folks that were not encouraged or enabled to change or train?  In short, get involved and empower them to start thinking about how to solve for the next five years” worth of challenges.  Many demotivated IT teams have had nothing but negative feedback about the business for quite some time.  A successful turnaround for one executive included the following steps: Another executive faced a situation where the industry went through a major financial crisis.  To keep the business running, he had to cut his budget…in half!  The result was a major staff reduction.  But when the industry stabilized, he had to decide what next steps he could take to build staff in an economical way.  He did NOT pursue an offshore strategy immediately.  Instead, he set up a center of excellence in Pennsylvania and began hiring bright graduates from Carnegie Mellon University.  He noted that certain colleges are equipping these students with some of the best problem-solving skills anywhere.
“I don”t want you to do the dishes.  Instead, I want you to WANT to do the dishes”.  This is one of my favorite movie quotes as a wife begs her husband to help her in the daily grind.  As an IT leader, how do you get your employees to want to change?  The panel’s conclusion, celebrate when people do something in a new way (even if it is a failure).  One executive went so far as to celebrate failed attempts at innovation on Slack.  Intentionally going public with enthusiasm for the right behavior – behavior which will succeed in the future.  One executive referenced a time when the company received a Glassdoor posting that was negative.  Instead of hiding it or ignoring it, he sent it to the entire team.  He admitted to his failures on some of the items and stated: “Here is what we are going to fix.”  They created a safe place – not to “fail fast” but rather to “learn fast.” Finally, building a great IT team requires you to spend more time with your B and C players, not just your A team.  Your B and C players need you more as a teacher/coach and could become an A student.  After all, they likely want to be successful so consider how you can assist their growth.  Think about cross-training these team members so you have fewer points of failure as well.  The panel mentioned another title, “Move Your Middle.”  The concept is that 20% of your team will be high fliers.  However, if you move the rest of the 80% at least 1% up, you greatly improve your team”s output over time.  The mix of the skill levels is what makes for a healthy team mix; having only high fliers could cause infighting and having only middle performers could cause your team to not meet its full potential.
One final parting insight from the group, there is no such thing as a bad team, only bad leaders.  It is our job to digitally transform ourselves.  We must remain focused on fixing our own mindset as we can”t expect our folks to change if we don”t.  “Heal ourselves before we can heal others,” as one IT leader proclaimed.
Sage advice for us all.

The 2018 Advocate Insider Summit was the best yet

The exclusive, invitation-only event was held October 10-12 in Charleston, SC at where more than 30 IT leaders from companies like Arby’s, Belk, Brinks, Inc., Lincoln Financial Group, NCR, Party City and many more participated in engaging peer-to-peer conversations about the major issues impacting their organizations and new breakout sessions about Digital Transformation and IT Security.
In addition, this intimate environment is an outstanding networking opportunity for all in attendance.
While the storm did threaten the event, we successfully proved that HOPE is a STRATEGY, at least when you’re dealing with Mother Nature.
The storm moved out quickly allowing our attendees and their spouses to take advantage of an amazing Charleston harbor tour aboard and dinner catered by.
Keep checking back over the next few weeks to read several new blog articles about each of this year’s panel discussions and breakouts to help you acquire the knowledge and insights you can’t get anywhere else.
Advocate thanks the attendees and sponsors, and , who made this informative event possible.
Stay tuned for news about the 2019 Insider Summit.
At Advocate, we have an amazing team of analysts whose intellect, energy and creativity lead us every day to create value for our clients.
Through the course of their service to our client community, they encounter experiences and achieve insights to the underlying challenges and solutions that most, if not all, enterprises are facing in the ever changing world of technology.
These changes are nowhere more evident than in the evolving world of IT Financial Management.
CIOs, CFOs and even CEOs are looking for new metrics to help guide their company’s technology investment while ensuring they continue to exceed their customer’s expectations.
Recently, one of our rising stars, Katie Massey, put pen to paper to share her insights in the world of IT Financial Management.
We are proud to share her unique insights with you.
ITFM planning should be done periodically, usually once a year, and monitored throughout the year, preferably monthly.
This means that actual monthly expenses are compared with the budgetary targets for various categories of spending creating transparency in the system.  That in turn encourages organizations to avoid investing in activities that do not advance the overall strategy of IT – especially when lower cost alternatives could be available.
It also allows for corrective actions to be taken early to ensure that management retains in control of the TBM process and that spending remains on track.
Although standard financial principles such as budgeting are not a new concept for any organization, they are not the limit when it comes to ITFM.
Rather, TBM takes these principles into account while also keeping up with quality and risk factors.
Spend reduction is no longer the primary focus of CIOs.
With the broader business becoming so much more reliant on technology, it is important for organizations to look not only at optimizing costs but also focusing on the effectiveness of its IT spend.
TBM can allow a company to connect on all levels and understand how IT investments are driving real value.
It will allow management to know more than just how much they are paying for a particular IT service, but also why they are paying that much and how much they should be spending on it.
Need Help from a Strategic TBM Technology Partner.

By working with a proven TBM technology partner like Advocate

we can help you optimize your IT costs, increase the effectiveness of your IT spend and improve insights into your ITFM.
Contact Advocate today at 678-987-5900 or s[email protected] for a free high level review of your organization’s ITFM.
The December 2017 release of the latest installment in the Star Wars movie franchise led me to some interesting observations about parallels between the Star Wars episodes and the evolution of the telecommunications industry.
Before we jump in, please allow me to offer my apologies to AT&T.  I don’t REALLY think you’re all Sith, but the compelling history/plot similarities and the uncanny way in which the AT&T logo resembles the Death Star are just too good to pass up.
Spoiler Alert:  If you haven’t seen all of the Star Wars movies but still plan to, stop here and read no further until you’ve seen what you intend to see.  The movies present information in a very calculated way, and I’m less subtle in my chronological comparison.  For the uninformed, the proper viewing order matches theatrical release – Episodes 4, 5, and 6, then Episodes 1, 2, and 3 if you absolutely must, then Episodes 7, 3.5, 8 and eventually 9. Star WarsTelecommunicationsIntroA long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…Mr.
Watson – Come here – I want to see you.
Episode 1:The Phantom Menace – We are introduced to young Anakin Skywalker, who we now know will eventually grow up to be Darth Vader.
Origins – In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone, which we now know will grow up to be a core part of the human experience.
Episode 2:Attack of the Clones – A Sith Lord orchestrates the creation of a vast army of clones, the creation of an army of droids, and (after getting himself named Chancellor) the battle between the two armies for control of the Republic.  Anakin falls in love with Princess Amidala.
Attack of the Phones – The Bell Telephone Company (eventually AT&T) builds a vast communications network providing landline telephone service to most of North America.  The US and Canada fall in love with talking on the phone.
Episode 3:Revenge of the Sith – Anakin completes his journey to the Dark Side, but before becoming Darth Vader, fathers two children who will eventually be his undoing.
Monopoly – AT&T develops into a full-blown monopoly, but competitors such as MCI and Sprint are starting to emerge.
Episode 3.5:Rogue One – A band of rebels find a weakness and steal plans for the Empire’s new Death Star so that other rebels (under Princess Leia) can destroy it.
Competition – AT&T’s competitors find a weakness, figuring out that the most profitable way to compete with AT&T is to provide long distance service and leave the last mile infrastructure to AT&T.
Episode 4A New Hope – Darth Vader’s children blow up his Death Star using something called the “Force”.
Divestiture – The FCC blows up AT&T and competitors grow stronger using something called “Fiber Optics”Episode 5The Empire Strikes Back – The Empire forces the rebels out of hiding and begins to gain the upper hand.  Lando collaborates with the Empire to trap the rebel leaders.
Mobility – Wireless communication emerges in oligopoly fashion as providers bid for spectrum and most markets have one or two dominant providers.  Apple collaborates with AT&T to allow only AT&T users to have an iPhone.
Episode 6Return of the Jedi – Rebels fight to stop the completion of a second Death Star and win with the help of a small army of teddy bears (Ewoks).
Choices – Vendors (even Apple) provide multiple smartphone options, breaking AT&T’s stranglehold.  Additional spectrum auctions enable mobile users to select their preferred device and provider in (almost) any market.
Episode 7The Force Awakens – After a number of years, the Empire is replaced by the First Order.  A newcomer (Rey) emerges as the new threat to the leadership and plans of the First Order.
Convergence – New/different players begin to appear as mergers and consolidation reduce the number of competitive providers.  A newcomer (IP convergence) emerges as the new threat to the traditional stable of TDM/PSTN services.
Episode 8The Last Jedi – Rey develops her newly discovered abilities as Luke tries to convince her that the ways of the Jedi are becoming obsolete.  New faces emerge as key players in the Resistance as they prepare for battle with the First Order.
Transformation – As we develop new capabilities in IP telephony, cloud computing, and storage, people are becoming convinced that the traditional approaches to telecom are becoming obsolete.  New companies emerge as key players in the provision of SD-WAN Equipment, Access, and Transport.
Episode 9TBD – Won’t be released until December, 2019Advocate can help you figure out what’s next.
If the words “Net Neutrality” mean anything to you and you’ve been paying attention, you know that the FCC just voted to lift the Net Neutrality ruling established in 2015.  For outsiders, this may look like partisan politics as usual, with the FCC’s 3 Republicans voting to repeal the ruling and 2 Democrats voting to leave the ruling in place.  A closer look, however, may show some different nuances to where people land, depending on where they fit into the big picture.
Fundamentally, Net Neutrality is rooted in the idea that some people want all content (voice and data) transported via the Internet to be treated equally, regardless of what the content is, who the provider is, or who the end user is.  Those who oppose Net Neutrality believe that some of the content transported via the Internet should be prioritized, and that it is acceptable for end users and/or content providers to pay a premium for that prioritization.  Advocates of Net Neutrality will also point out that allowing prioritization also enables potentially unethical business practices in the form of DE-prioritization, but I’m going to leave that piece of it alone and let the FTC make sure everyone “plays nice”.
There are plenty of exceptions (and lots of nuance), but in a broad sense, how you feel about Net Neutrality is likely to depend on who you are and what’s important to you.  Here’s a breakdown as I see it: Transport Providers – We’ll start here, as these are the most directly affected by Net Neutrality rules.  As a rule, most transport providers are opposed to Net Neutrality because if forces them to commoditize their product into “big, dumb pipes”.  Without the ability to prioritize traffic (and charge for it), the only way transport providers can make more money is to make BIGGER dumb pipes, so Net Neutrality can tend to stifle innovation in transport.
Content Providers – Content providers tend to favor Net Neutrality rules, since EVERYONE thinks their own content is very important and nobody wants to think their content is being put in a “slow lane”.  There’s an opinion (not unreasonably held) that even a slight delay, experienced consistently, will send impatient end users flocking to other content providers.  Small and/or startup content providers in particular are concerned that a) perceived slowness will hurt their chances of getting a foothold in the market, and b) they won’t be able to compete with the deep pockets that enable more established providers to pay for a “fast lane” experience for their users.
End Users – End users probably split along the lines of personal vs business use.  Personal users favor Net Neutrality because they like the commodity pricing of residential Internet access and don’t want to pay business rates to get higher prioritization, but they still don’t want their streaming movies and high-bandwidth real-time gaming content to take a backseat to business content.  Low-end business users who can’t afford to pay to prioritize their important content probably fall into this camp as well.  High-end business users, on the other hand, are more likely to embrace the idea of a content “fast lane” because they hate the idea that their latency-sensitive and critical business content are no more important than videos of cats, and are willing to pay to have it prioritized.
If you have any questions about how Net Neutrality will affect you, your company or your customers, please let me know.  Advocate is here to help you to stay on top of this.
As CIOs look to connect IT and overall technology costs with business services, best-in-class TBM tools provide the critical spend visibility across the enterprise.
More and more CIOs are leveraging TBM products as a powerful bargaining tool in the constant budget battle, effectively aligning IT costs with the business services they enable and support (because business leaders want to cut costs—but not lose value).
However, Gartner estimates that one in three TBM implementations fail to deliver the expected benefits.1 Most of these failures result from one of these three mistakes: Three ways TBM strategies fall short 1.
Not knowing how to turn TBM data into actionable strategies Today’s TBM processes and tools are increasingly easy to deploy.
But for many organizations, the strategy stops there.
Figuring out what to do with the data—what questions to ask, what metrics to analyze, and how to develop executable improvement plans—requires deeper knowledge gained from experience.
In other words.

While automated TBM platforms can quickly show a CIO where the money is going

there is no one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box solution to the problem of how to optimize that spending.
Without experienced guidance, these organizations are left with an expensive new pile of data—and little else.
2.
Implementing TBM as a point solution Plenty of IT organizations successfully make use of their TBM data— once.
With IT budget pressure intensifying, deploying a TBM tool is often a reactive response to a specific call for cost-cutting or efficiency gains.
IT leverages the tool to analyze the status quo, implements changes, realizes cost savings and declares IT spending officially “optimized.” Then, they continue on for months (or years) with this new, “optimized” status quo.
But technology demands evolve literally every day in the digital enterprise, and small new inefficiencies can grow into significant waste in a matter of weeks.
This point-solution approach to TBM represents what Gartner identifies as “low TBM maturity.”2 In fact, Gartner went so far as to title an entire report, “IT Cost Optimization Should Be an Ongoing Discipline.” 3.
Limiting TBM to cost optimization: Focusing on the “run,” but not the “grow” TFM tools offer a powerful way to optimize the “run” functions of an IT organization—the workflows, processes and costs that support basic operational needs of the business.
But limiting TBM to optimizing the “run” also represents Gartner’s so-called “low TBM maturity”, where cost unpredictability means lower budget goals, more waste and less investment in innovation.”3 This approach still represents a reactive position, where IT is left defending the need for budget to support existing capabilities.1 Gartner Report: Key Concepts in IT Financial Management: Transparency, Budgeting, Funding and Allocation, March 2016 2 Gartner Report: IT Cost Optimization Should Be an Ongoing Discipline, February 2016 3 Gartner Report: Key Concepts in IT Financial Management: Transparency, Budgeting, Funding and Allocation, March 2016 Today’s sophisticated TBM tools can help CIOs achieve the “quick wins” of cost attribution and optimization.
However, there remains a tremendous opportunity to look beyond the “run” and move beyond a reactive stance, leveraging TBM insights to anticipate the technology needs that will unlock growth.
But, as Gartner succinctly states, “IT cost optimization is not a project; it’s a discipline.”1 And like any discipline, success is about diligent processes.
Moving from low to high TBM maturity—and from reactive to proactive growth support—is a journey through five key stages: 1.
Awareness The first step is building awareness of how technology is being invested today—and what value that technology is bringing to the business.
Most businesses lack this awareness because most IT organizations don’t fully understand it themselves.
IT operational data and financial data remain in separate silos, making it extremely challenging to attribute detailed financial data to specific technology assets.
Fortunately, today’s best-in-class TBM tools seamlessly integrate with other operational solutions, connecting rich IT asset management data with advanced cost allocation and categorization capabilities.
This enables IT organizations to better align IT costs with IT services and, ultimately, with business services.
This extensive cost attribution enables a smarter approach to IT cost optimization, moving an organization into the next phase of TBM maturity.
2.
Credibility With business leaders keenly aware of the total technology investments in overarching business growth strategy, the IT organization begins gaining credibility as a group that can be relied upon to deliver specific, strategic outcomes to the business.
These outcomes no longer revolve around cost-cutting.
The CIO can directly respond to business unit needs in near-real-time, no longer battling the CFO over costs, but instead enjoying the credibility that technology investments are the key drivers of business outcomes.
Though an IT organization has achieved a significant level of TBM maturity at this stage, it’s important to note that the CIO remains in a reactive position: The business units dictate both the growth strategy and the corresponding technology needs; the IT organization reactively delivers.
3.
Relevance With increased credibility and growing involvement of IT in the strategic business planning, business leaders begin recognizing the connection between IT services and business outcomes, and begin looking to IT to provide advanced metrics and analytics to help inform business strategies and decisions.
The CIO is now able to demonstrate how existing technology spending delivers specific, measurable business outcomes—and can begin offering predictive insights into how potential technology investments will impact the business.
4.
Control With increasingly visible and integrated data, IT organizations leverage this comprehensive visibility and awareness to intelligently manage and optimize the “run.” Equipped with a detailed understanding of how IT spending ladders up to business services, the IT organization can identify where it can streamline operations and contain costs—without impacting service levels or removing business value.
For example, with all the information at hand, it’s easy to recognize the redundancies and inefficiencies that result from decentralized technology spending among disparate business units.
Ultimately, this stage is all about increasing the IT organization’s level of involvement in technology spending decisions—monitoring, management and executive decision-making.
5.
Influence In the final stage of TBM maturity, the CIO becomes a key contributor in developing business growth strategies.
The IT organization is leveraging its TBM data to extract predictive insights.
IT is not only anticipating the technology needs of business units—IT is identifying the technology investments that will unlock growth opportunities.
Moreover, the entire growth planning process has been altered and enhanced: Instead of mapping technology investments to high-level business goals, the high-value technology investments assist in defining the growth goals.
The CIO has finally moved into a proactive, offensive position—and earned a seat at the executive table as a strategic growth partner.1 Gartner Report: IT Cost Optimization Should Be an Ongoing Discipline, February 2016 Welcome to our four-part series based on Technology Business Management.
CIOs increasingly turn to Technology Business Management (TBM) techniques to help describe IT budgets and quantify IT costs.
But, to truly unlock the growth potential associated with digital transformation, .

IT organizations need to advance their TBM maturity beyond this reactive approach

The massive digital transformation of business is now firmly underway in just about every industry.
This transformation is not limited to the United States—it’s a global shift.
The growing impacts of this transformation range from enhancing both customer and employee experiences, to expanding market share and driving revenue.
In fact, McKinsey estimates that by 2025, digitization could add as much as $2.2 trillion to the annual GDP in the U.
S alone.1 Those businesses that lead the charge stand to gain incredible advantages, reshaping and redefining their marketplaces for years or decades to come.
As businesses rush to capture this tremendous opportunity, CIOs and their IT teams face growing pressure from two angles: Business units increasingly recognize technological capability is a key factor in realizing their growth strategies—and they want IT to anticipate these technology needs to enable growth.
However, IT teams are an increasingly popular target for cost-control initiatives and the typical IT organization is scrambling just to meet the basic operational needs of the business.
As a result, 85 percent of IT decision-makers say they’re still years away from reaching the potential of their digital transformation.2 CIOs increasingly turn to Technology Business Management (TBM) techniques to help describe IT budgets and quantify IT costs.
But, to truly unlock the growth potential associated with digital transformation, IT organizations need to advance their TBM maturity beyond this reactive approach.
Leveraging TBM insights can drive strategic technology investments that anticipate the needs of the business and proactively enhance business growth.
Technology is the main driver and limiter of business growth All business leaders today recognize the transformational potential of digital technologies to unlock new opportunities and enable new ways of working and create new paths to growth.
Two-thirds of Global 2000 companies now have digital transformation at the core of their corporate growth strategy.
It is estimated that global spending on digital transformation will reach $2 trillion by 2020.3 Despite this wholesale prioritization of digitization, technology is a key barrier to growth for most companies.
Ask the individual business units in an organization about the most important enablers to their plans and they’ll readily list technology capabilities—or name needed technological advances that would fast-track their growth initiatives, allowing them to speed operations, improve customer experiences, drive sales and revenue, etc.
Who must step up to deliver this functionality to the business.
The IT organization.
IT struggling to keep up with rapidly expanding business demands IT leaders may know they’re under-delivering.
But most IT organizations lack the resources to achieve a timely, responsive approach to meeting business unit needs.
While IT leaders and staff may not spend as much time managing on-premise technology assets such as servers, storage arrays and the large data centers that contain them, much of this workload has been replaced with the challenge of managing the complexities of off-premise.
At the same time, IT resources are under constant scrutiny, as business leaders look to IT budgets as quick-win cost-cutting opportunities.
The result: Most IT organizations spend the majority of their resources (anywhere from 60-90 percent) on basic operations— just keeping the business up and running.
IT budgets under fire — even as technology spending increases Ironically, as technology moves to the forefront of business growth strategy, IT is struggling to maintain its share of the budget.
IT leaders continue to indicate that lack of funding is a top barrier to their organizations’ digital transformation.6 The problem.
Business leaders see traditional IT costs—managing servers and other on-premise technology assets—sharply declining as cloud-based options move these assets outside the walls of the organization.
At the same time, they see technology spending increasing dramatically overall, as every aspect of the business undergoes a digital shift.
As businesses look to optimize these growing technology costs, IT becomes an easy target, as leaders typically think, “We’re moving everything to the cloud anyway—IT doesn’t need as much money.” The reality is that the IT workload has only grown.
There is still plenty of on-premise technology to manage, but IT must now support a rapidly growing web of cloud-based assets.
The cost of “keeping the lights on” continues to grow, even as traditional IT costs—and IT budgets—decline.
You can’t invest in the “grow” if you’re constantly funding more “run” As CIOs fight for the resources needed to support and enable digital transformation, they are engaged in a never-ending defense to the CFO for every penny spent.
The result, as Gartner describes, is that “IT is often funded such that it must provide lowest- common-denominator service and cannot scale to meet the business need for information-technology-enabled service”.4 However, as businesses shift to an aggressive growth strategy largely dependent on expanding and supporting new technological capabilities, the CFO’s bare-minimum-cost approach to IT budgeting is misaligned with the increasing demand for the CIO to deliver business value.
1 McKinsey: Digital America Full Report December 2015 2 Riverbed Future of Networking Global Survey 2017 3 IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Digital Transformation 2016 Predictions, 2015 4 Gartner Report: Run IT as a Business Using Six Pillars of IT Financial Transparency to Drive Value, May 2017 Advocate kicked off November with a bang by sponsoring the 5th annual held in Las Vegas November 6-9.  The event is one of the premier events in this space with over 1,300 participants attending including many of the early TBM adopters including Exxon Mobil, McDonald’s, Maritz and BMC Software…yes, Advocate clients.
The TBM Conference is the only global event dedicated to providing IT and Finance leaders with the discipline, standards, and strategies to manage the business of IT.  This year’s Technology Business Management (TBM) Conference explored how IT and Finance leaders create a culture to fuel innovation across the enterprise and unleash the potential of thousands who are ready, willing and able to embrace IT to help build the products and experiences their customers crave.
CIOs must carry the torch to innovate on behalf of their customers.
TBM sets the stage for technology leaders to bring their expertise to drive organization-wide innovation.
The event proved to be a great opportunity for Advocate, our partners, and clients to network with each other and discuss the tools and techniques for “turning insights into action” and discovering the value large enterprises are enjoying after having successfully deployed Technology Business Management.
We were lucky to land an outstanding booth location with heavy traffic flow, allowing Advocate to really get its name out.
We are already looking forward to attending the TBM Conference 2018 and helping IT organizations gain a clear, technology-driven growth strategy to deliver the value of their technology.

The 2017 Advocate Insider Summit took place November 1-3

2017 in Charleston, SC.
This exclusive, invitation-only event was held at where more than 30 IT leaders from companies like Arby’s, Belk, Gartner, Lincoln Financial Group, NCR, Newell Brands, and many more participated in engaging panels about some of the most thought-provoking issues including in the changing role of the CIO, digital transformation, Technology Business Management, Cloud strategy, and many others that herald what the future may hold.
From innovative subjects such as “CIO Survival in the Thriving Tech Industry” and “Digital Transformation – If you’re not first, your last!” to “Transforming the CIO Role from Technology Provider and Cost Center to Business Partner and Value Driver” and “Infrastructure Performance:  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, attendees of the Insider Summit discussed and shared their concerns, successes, and challenges of managing IT departments throughout the event.
In fact, CIO Chris Lindner at says, “The Summit is invaluable from a networking and peer collaboration perspective.  The ability to interact, share ideas, answers questions and collaborate with my peers from across the country is the one big investment I make in myself every year.”  To add, Tim Porzio VP of I&O for shared, “I found the time spent very worthwhile.  I met several new professionals, learned from the panelists and I enjoyed the boat ride and dinner.  The best part of the panel discussions was when the CIO’s engaged to share information.” The Insider Summit was not without great food, wine and entertainment.
After all, how often do this many C-level decision-makers get together for a day out on the water or a night out on the town?  Fun was had by all as they dined at  and , drank cocktails at the while watching the final games of the 2017 World Series and relaxed aboard a harbor tour of Charleston on a catamaran called the.
Advocate thanks the attendees and sponsors, and , who made this informative event possible.
Stay tuned for news about the 2018 Insider Summit.
If you’re interested in Network Transformation, watch Advocate’s co-founder and President Tim Wise explain how critical it is for today’s enterprises to transform their legacy network to a future state next gen network, which is scalable and cloud-enabled.
Here’s a transcript of the video for your convenience.  Advocate Insiders is a consulting and managed services company that helps enterprise clients both transform their network and the cloud, helping them accelerate to the next generation.
So, network transformation is a very hot area today in the enterprise market.  Enterprises are trying to figure out how to transform from legacy networks that don’t have the ability to scale and interconnect in a cloud-based world, and being able to figure out a plan in a thoughtful way to get from that legacy environment into these future state next generation networks.
Our network transformation practices focused on helping enterprise clients transform their legacy networks to the next generation of networking today that enables cloud services and gives enterprises the ability to scale versus the legacy networks that can create great constraints within an enterprise environment.  We help them by helping them again through a planning phase all the way to the execution, which is implementing a next generation network.
Advocate differentiates ourselves to our clients in three ways: (1) First through market intelligence and market perspective.  We have over 500 enterprise clients and we are working with those clients to solve very similar problems, but we bring a lot of market data from the marketplace that our clients would otherwise be very challenged to get on their own.
(2) Is we bring a lot of decision analytics.  The ability to analyze the requirements of the given technology solution and show clients the different ways in which they can go solve that and then ultimately enable them through the analytics to make the best decision for their enterprise.
(3) And then lastly is acceleration.  We have got the defined processes and methodologies that help a client move through a transformation typically four times faster than what they would do on their own.
So, our vender relationships and partner relationships are extremely important.  Our clients are counting on us to really know the marketplace and to know the innovators.  In the case of , we have built a very extensive relationship with Nuvem, both with the executive level but more importantly at the solution level, where we have done deep dives on the solution itself, on the technology and on the overall platform.
Nuvem is a unique and good fit for our clients in the sense that they provide a very unique solution relative to others in the marketplace.  So first, it’s very simple in that you don’t have to make a device change and you don’t have to change your existing network infrastructure.  Second, they really provide a scalable solution – the ability to scale up and down the overall network as its required to reach all the new cloud applications.  Thirdly, they have got a secure solution.  Then what we often find through our engagements is our clients are looking for cost savings.  They are looking for savings in terms of their overall network costs and Nuvem is able to deliver that.
So, the recommendation that we are making to our clients today is to go do something.  This space is moving very, very quickly.  We are sitting here at re:Invent today.  The energy the transformation that’s occurring in IT and specifically in the network is transformative and happening at light speed.  We would recommend that you find a partner, doesn’t necessarily have to be Advocate and it doesn’t necessarily have to be Nuvem but go do something.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s just when and how.
is pleased to be ranked NO.
3167 on the 36th annual Inc.
5000 list of the nation”s fastest-growing private companies with three-year sales growth of 103%.
This is the 11th consecutive ranking for Advocate and puts it in the .1% percentile of companies who have made the Inc.
5000 list 11 times in a row.
The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment— its independent small and midsized businesses.
Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc.
5000.
Complete results of the Inc.
5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at Tim Wise, Co-President and Founder of Advocate, commented “We are delighted to be recognized by Inc.
for 11 consecutive years of record growth and increasing our growth rate. We are seeing more demand from our clients as digital transformation requires expertise to help accelerate and transform.” Scott Fogle, Co-President and Founder, added, “Our clients continue to rely on our team of experts for innovative ways to save money, improve performance and deliver crucial insight to help them make the best possible IT decisions to support their digital transformation.” In addition to the prestigious Inc.
5000 ranking, Advocate recently celebrated its 16th anniversary on July 31, 2017 with a kick-ball tournament and cookout.  Insiders, friends and families enjoyed a summer night of grilled food, drinks, table games and a friendly game of kick-ball.  It was great to get everyone together, have fun and give thanks for providing excellent services to our clients over the past 16 years, while looking forward to Advocate’s future.
As an IT Executive, you should live for your customers.  You need to care, actively listen, and deliver results as your very existence depends on it.  This goes beyond running IT as a business – anticipate and think like your customer… and be fanatical about it.  So how do you make IT an indispensable business partner?  Here’s how: Do you have something to add to the list?  I’d love to hear from you.
Since you’re interested in Cloud Optimization, watch Global VP of Technology Ryan Mallory explain how he and Advocate are providing ROI to Cloud Optimization customers.
Here’s a transcript of the video for your convenience. What’s valuable to you in the relationship with Advocate.
I couldn’t be happier with the relationship that my organization the global solution architects and professional services team at Equinix has with Advocate, we’ve really been able to connect at a true partnership level where it’s not just about trying to go and tactfully find customers, but it’s about driving market-based solutions creating opportunities out there not only for our sales team, but for the Advocate sales team, and being able to drive impactful end results for our customers.
We wouldn’t be successful in a lot of the engagements that we are involved in with Network Transformation, Cloud Optimization and capabilities associated with this multi-tiered architecture if we weren’t fortunate enough to have a partnership with Advocate.

What are some of the problems Advocate and Equinix are trying to solve for clients

When you go out in the marketplace the overhaul scale and scope of issues that customers are faced with today are really, truly immense and so being able to look at those together with a partner like Advocate allows us to really compartmentalize and execute on not only what the technical strategies are but what are the financial strategies and most importantly how do they accomplish their goals and a means that allows them to achieve the greatest return on their investment.

What do you see coming in the next year with the Equinix/Advocate relationship

As time progresses over the next year or two, the relationship with Advocate is just going to continue to blossom.  We are not only going to look at what we are trying to do today with these complex solutions around network and the cloud, but really what’s going to happen with the virtualization of the data.
What are we going to need to do in order to ensure that our customers continue to see returns on investment by doing business with us not just as single entities but together.
So I truly feel that the partnership with Advocate is only in the beginning we are in the infancy stage and we are going to continue to blossom over the next 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 years.

Why did Equinix choose Advocate

So Equinix chose Advocate originally as an internal execution partner to leverage their services to help Equinix understand our own IT spend.  Over time what we realized is not only did Advocate have a great product and was a great partner for our internal uses, but we were able to craft this relationship into going out and addressing key initiatives that we saw in the marketplace and being able to accomplish more than we could have done on our own.  So Equinix looked at this not only from our internal services capability but also how could we leverage what we were using to gain value and deliver that same value to our customers.
If you’re interested in Telecom Expense Management or TEM, watch CIO Scott Crowder explain how he leveraged his TEM solution and reduced annual telecom costs by 20% in this brief video.
Here’s a transcript of the video for your convenience. Why did you choose Advocate.
We chose Advocate because we wanted to engage people that actually understood our business as well as understood really what was going on in the industry.
This is a big deal for us.
We spend millions of dollars on telecom on an annual basis and really if we can just cut 10 or 15, 20% of that, it is key for us.
It makes a big difference in the business and not only that it allows us to invest in new R&D for new products.
What types of IT challenges has Advocate helped you solve.
Really the telecom expense management piece was a big thing that Advocate helped with.
I would say also some of the procurement and sourcing around some of our new telecom needs with regards to SIP trunking and things like that.
Highlight the Results This was a big project for us, UCNC is really one of the key differentiators I would say as far as our portfolio was concerned.  A lot of people have tried to do unified communications and collaborations and have failed.
I think with Advocate’s real leadership, I would say with regards to UCNC, they helped us get through the journey and quite frankly it couldn’t be more successful.
Preface We thought you would enjoy this insightful article from one of Advocate’s Insider Marketplace partners — NTT America.  It is written by Jeffrey Bannister, the Executive Vice President of Global Enterprise Services for , the U.
S.
division of NTT Communications, and appeared on.
Given that ‘managed services’ can mean so many things to so many people, let’s dispense with the term for a moment and ask something more fundamental: What is the basic task that corporate IT leaders are trying to accomplish with their infrastructure.
What is the purpose of all their servers, routers, firewalls, connectivity, cabling, software, applications, data centers, cloud computing, virtual instances, and more.
As that mix of technologies has changed over the years, so has the answer.
Once serving as the sole provider of internal technology resources, IT departments are now exposed to competition from external providers.
Once deemed a cost center, if not a money pit, they are looking to reframe their impact on the business as accretive, not dilutive.
Once (and still often the case) hampered by multi-year investment cycles, they are looking for the latest tools and techniques to address the specific business challenges of today.
The paradox of IT In the context of these shifts, managed services begins to make sense.
The old paradigm focused on physical assets, resources and staff.
In the famous ‘pets vs.
cattle’ metaphor, traditional IT looked after individual servers, much as one takes care of a pet dog or cat.
The new model looks more toward results.
The single cow, which can be replaced, is less important than the health of the herd.
Or to illustrate these approaches in another way, consider the outlooks of the oldest and youngest members in the workforce.
For the Traditionalist, what was most important was owning things: a house, car, things in general.
Generation Z, the youngest of the five working generations, on the other hand, is more likely to rent, buy transport ‘by the ride,’ and simply not be tied down by possessions.
The paradox is that to deliver on a more strategic outlook, IT leaders can no longer rely entirely upon internal resources (things).
Achieving the right outcomes depends less upon making up-front investments than on forging relationships with external partners who can deliver the services required over time.
Yet all cannot be outsourced.
IT still retains overall responsibility for the data and information that may constitute a corporation’s most valuable asset.
That is just one of several dilemmas created by the need to do more with less.
Strategic goals Amidst this multi-sourced and hybrid landscape, how does IT maintain control.
Or more immediately, how does IT regain control.
The loss of control has occurred alongside traditional IT constraints and the rise of third-party platforms, applications and services.
And just as the younger generation tends to be footloose and asset-lite, so too they bring to work the idea that corporations should operate similarly.
Having grown up as digital natives, they also expect that organizations should be able to deliver as good or better IT services and SaaS tools as they can obtain on their own; and if not, then they should be free to obtain them on their own.
With Millennials now making up the largest generational group in the workforce, this perspective is becoming mainstream, with corporate departments adopting pay-as-you-go cloud-based CRM, collaborative tools, external storage and other infrastructure beyond the purview of traditional IT.
In so doing, they are creating another bank of Shadow IT, with the coincident risks and benefits that give rise to a range of sometimes competing goals: Control.
The goal is not to dictate, but rather to exercise oversight.
Fully informed of how an organization is using internal and external resources, IT departments can set standards, eliminate redundancy and waste, enhance security and otherwise rationalize these assets.
Choice.
Outlawing Shadow IT or competitive third-party providers would eliminate their benefits.
Those include an orientation toward discrete tasks, a wide range of functionalities and performance, and reduced costs engendered by competition.
Simplicity.
The wide range of cloud-based solutions and applications creates a potential management nightmare that could lead CIOs into wishing that Shadow IT remained in the shadows.
The ideal is a single-pane-of-glass view of all internal and external assets.
Cost efficiency.
Driven by software and COTS servers, lower cost structures are baked into the cloud value proposition.
Higher utilization rates of shared resources also create more efficiency, although matching workflows with the hybrid sourcing approach (public, private, on/off prem, degree of virtualization) is also critical.
(See Figure 1.) Strategy.
Knowing what is strategic is a key part of the matrix depicted in Figure 1.
With a keen sense of what delivers high business value, CIOs should be able to match the most valuable internal resources with those efforts directed toward sustainable competitive advantages.
IDC Figure 1 Managed services For many years, corporate IT has worked with managed service providers.
A common model was to set up massive outsourcing agreements that threw bodies or hardware at a problem.
That resource-heavy scenario persists.
In a recent engagement, a highly promising biotech spin-off, starting anew with no ICT infrastructure, was considering a CapEx-intensive solution when NTT Com met with the virtual startup and changed the conversation from hardware investment to managed services and outsourced infrastructure.
The firm quickly realized that an elastic infrastructure-on-demand approach was much better calibrated for their situation.
As a managed service provider, NTT Com offers four primary practices: cloud migration assistance, remote infrastructure management, application management and application life-cycle management.
At its heart is a cloud management platform that not only includes management functionalities, but also enables discovery of resources and provides visibility required by IT directors, business leaders and security professionals.
As befits a service provider with more than 140 data centers and network service in 196 countries, NTT Com supports its managed services platform with a multi-lingual, 24/7, multi-tiered global operations center staffed by personnel tasked with customer service awareness, technical and operational accountability and continuous service improvement.
Final recommendations Whether partnering with NTT Com or not, IT departments aiming to reinvent themselves with managed services should try to keep it simple.
To that end, allow me to offer five suggestions: Managed services are no panacea.
Some workflows should, in fact, remain on legacy infrastructure.
Moreover, in any strategic initiative, corporate personnel, culture, and other resources come into play as well.
Yet when all those factors align, managed services are singularly positioned to help IT leaders accomplish the one overriding task facing them: how best to add value to the business.
About the author Click for more information about Jeffrey Bannister, the Executive Vice President of Global Enterprise Services for , the U.
S.
division of NTT Communications.
Preface We thought you would enjoy this insightful article from one of Advocate’s Insider Marketplace partners — NTT America.  It is written by Jeffrey Bannister, the Executive Vice President of Global Enterprise Services for , the U.
S.
division of NTT Communications, and appeared on.
Over the past two decades, digital technology has disrupted entire industries, from music to hospitality to finance and beyond.
Now companies of all sizes are undergoing their own digital transformations to align IT innovation with their own business objectives and stay ahead of this curve.
But who is driving these efforts.
Business or IT.
And more importantly, who should be.
Business at the vanguard At one level, the first question answers itself.
If digital transformation is defined as a deliberate strategic initiative, then those driving are the ones with the authority to set the course, or at least those who have a seat at that table.
Because in traditional business structures, IT was several steps removed from corporate strategy, more often than not it was business leaders who ended up leading these initiatives.
The same answer surfaces when we look at the word “driving” from another angle: Not only setting a course, but also pushing for it.
If digital transformation is about alignment, consider what happens when business and IT are at odds.
In a typical scenario of limited IT resources and expanding business goals, misalignment can lead to long delivery schedules, missed opportunities and other negative consequences.
While no one may like the situation, this lack of alignment is going to be more frustrating to those with ownership of business-specific goals than to IT leaders themselves, whose default mode, truth be told, always has been oriented more toward maintenance and trouble-shooting than innovation.
As a result, it’s business teams that are most likely to be agitating to harness technology in pursuit of their goals.
It’s easy to picture this in practice.
Imagine a legacy environment, where Dan (or Danielle) from marketing or sales or operations submits a request to IT, only to be told that it would take two or more months to process the request, never mind scheduling it.
As a result, this hypothetical business leader, who is attuned to the disruptive threat and competitive advantages, may very well try to get the job done outside of IT.
The rising generation is especially inclined to take such steps.
Those most familiar with digital technologies and holding the highest expectations for it grew up with high-speed internet, powerful mobile and cloud computing, and easily accessible software tools and apps.
Yet with millennials having overtaken baby boomers as the largest generation in the workforce and the “consumerization” of technology affecting everyone, a digital outlook is becoming pervasive.
In any case, forward-leading business leaders of whatever age have multiple options to solve pressing problems with digital technology, with or without the IT department’s knowledge or assistance.
They could deploy marketing automation tools, migrate to a cloud-based CRM or accounting system, move product development into a public cloud sandbox, open an online store, trial big-data analytics and more.
If these initiatives reach critical mass, business leaders across the board may organize them into a more comprehensive exercise of digital transformation.
All along, however, the organization’s business leaders have been at the vanguard.
Nor is this talk about Danielle (or Dan) instigating a digital strategy merely hypothetical.
A 2016 survey by IDC of the European market, for instance, found that 72 percent of all digital transformation was business-led, vs.
28 percent being IT-led. Results could vary somewhat by region or industry, but the business-led tilt is clear.
Which begs the next question: who should be leading these efforts.
The rightful role of IT It may come as no surprise that I see a disconnect between who is and who should be leading digital transformation journeys.
And as a longtime technology professional, currently a leader at the U.
S.
division of one of the world’s largest information and communications technology (ICT) organizations, I could be accused of bias.
Consider this.
There are valid reasons for IT to assume a digital transformation leadership role.
Let’s examine a basic alignment problem.
From the personal devices and applications of individual employees to the cloud services that entire departments may have launched, many businesses are now divided between legacy and parallel “shadow IT” infrastructures, raising questions of efficiency, security and standards.
To address these and other issues arising from business and technology divergence, corporate IT should at least engage as a co-equal with other leaders responsible for shaping a shared strategy.
As for the objection that a cumbersome and slow IT department is ill-equipped to support strategic growth strategies, that perception may be accurate, but is all the more reason for IT to undergo its own transformation.
By collaborating with managed service providers and embracing validated digital initiatives already underway, IT can reduce its role in “keeping the lights on” and create more space to become an enabler of innovation.
Rightly structured, a modern IT department stands not only as co-equal with other business units, but the leader in domains appropriate to it.
The question becomes: what is IT good at.
The answer has shifted over time.
At one point, IT was clearly expert at email server management and client software updates.
With cloud-based automation handling those and other routine tasks, that is less the case today.
At its root, however, digital translates into ones and zeros, or data.
To the extent that digital transformation is tied to data management, IT leaders are uniquely qualified to bring their knowledge to bear on related opportunities and threats.
Which business functions are best suited for what kind of compute, storage and transport technologies.
One urgent question today is how to leverage the various kinds of clouds for a wide mix of applications.
Migrating an ERP system to the cloud, for instance, is an entirely different scenario from creating, beta-testing and deploying an IoT application.
In the first case, any virtualized application — whether ERP or other — still entails ongoing (even traditional) tasks of installation, documentation, protection, etc.
The latter app, likely being cloud-native, can leverage automation and operate within a more dynamic environment.
Providing the means to distinguish and manage those two broad classes of traditional ICT and cloud-native applications was one of the reasons NTT Communications (NTT Com) strengthened the capabilities of the its Enterprise Cloud solution a year ago.
Along with a global infrastructure of connected data centers, we used SDN to connect hosted private cloud services ideal for mission-critical systems with the highly flexible and scalable public cloud services that enable rapid business expansion and nimble responses to changes in market environment.
On top of that infrastructure is NTT Com’s unified cloud management platform, which gives enterprise IT leaders tools of discovery, visibility and management applicable to any point along a digital transformation journey.
First among equals Business—rather than IT—leaders still tend to be in the forefront of digital transformation initiatives.
Reasons include the “consumerization” of technology and IT’s lingering reputation as a less-than-agile gatekeeper.
That pattern will change.
Business leaders in their own right, IT leaders should at minimum be engaged in shaping corporate strategy.
In technical matters, they should take a leading role.
As managed service providers and other partners lighten the burden of routine tasks and maintenance, they will enjoy a greater scope for action.
The right platforms and tools can provide them the data, visibility and management necessary for ensuring that digital transformation efforts are optimized, which will enable enterprises in turn to become disruptive forces themselves.
[1] IDC European DX Survey, 2016; n=308.
About the author Click for more information about Jeffrey Bannister, the Executive Vice President of Global Enterprise Services for , the U.
S.
division of NTT Communications.
I’ve seen the role of Chief Information Officer greatly vary between companies. It’s dependent on variables such as whether your company is small or large, domestic or foreign, national or international, product- or services-based, and so on.
A great CIO’s most important talents? (Hint: it’s not technology). Leadership and communication. Leadership in terms of building relationships, setting goals and objectives, and improving morale. Communications in terms of setting expectations, communicating IT capabilities and delivering on pre-determined outcomes. A proven CIO will earn their salary multiple times over by protecting your data and operations, improving the customer experience, avoiding money pits, managing waste and bad investments, right-sizing the technology footprint, and maintaining and hiring ‘A’ players.
But does your company need all that? Defining the scope of the position in advance will save you the mess of both having to rid your company of a bad fit and the expense of having to undo the damage created by the wrong hire. Defining what success looks like is important.
Your CIO is out there. To find the best, check references but first ask yourself these questions: GeneralExperienceManagement People Management If your operation leans more towards maintenance and general support, you can go with a generalist. But if you expect to innovate, give your CIO pre-search the time it deserves. Answering the above questions, in either case, before the interviews begin will help you define your needs and ensure the right CIO for your company. Writing down your priorities and must-haves, and discussing them with your direct reports in advance, will lead to a successful hire.
Let me know your thoughts on this matter… happy hunting.
When it comes to IT budgets, salaries are by far the largest expense.  As a CIO, if you haven’t already, you’ll be asked to look at off-sourcing as a cost-saving measure.  One of your first steps is hiring the right staff, but when dealing with an ocean or more between you, interviewing poses some challenges.  And you may find that people can get pretty creative.  So after many years hiring overseas myself, I share with you some of my teams’ experiences with employment “creativity.”  Mind you, we used local recruiters in every scenario.
We’d love to hear your tales of outsourcing.
Due to recent growth, Advocate expanded its office space and celebrated by hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 30th.  This is Advocate’s first expansion since its inception in 2001 by Tim Wise and Scott Fogle.  We look forward to having you visit our new space soon.
Recently named a 2017 Pacesetter by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and ranked on the Inc.
5000 for ten consecutive years, Advocate is excited about its future and looks forward to its 16th anniversary this summer.
Tim Wise said, “Advocate owes its growth to the combination of our forward-thinking clients and our dedicated employees (‘Insiders’) who work smarter together to achieve consistent cost and performance gains.” Insiders enjoyed the event, office tour and champagne!  Click to watch a video of the ceremony.
In our final article for the 3-part series “Controlling Cloud Spend: Avoiding the Steep Cost of Unchecked Cloud Growth”, we will explain the four best practices of cloud spend optimization and how to implement a successful cloud spend optimization strategy.  Whether launching a cloud spend optimization initiative on their own or engaging an expert partner, more businesses are adopting a new set of best-in-class tools and strategies to truly make the most of the cloud transformation.
These cloud spend optimization best practices fall into four categories: Visibility Before cloud usage and spending can be controlled, it must be understood.
And to be understood, it must be visible.
Cloud usage optimization platforms offer a purpose-built tool designed to monitor cloud usage.
Best-in-class cloud usage optimization platforms enable an even more detailed level of disciplined and comprehensive cloud spend tracking.
This includes capturing all cloud instances across all environments, providing the core data necessary to optimize costs, as well as creating a critical accountability mechanism.
Businesses can track cloud usage back to specific users, teams, departments or projects, thereby enabling accurate calculation of total cost of ownership (TCO).
Optimization Seeing cloud usage and spending is one thing; making sense of reports and creating action plans requires a much greater level of understanding and expertise.
This is where many businesses’ internal cloud spend optimization efforts sputter and stall.
To be effective, optimization must effectively hone in on the signal amid the noise of cloud usage data, recognizing instances of waste—from lingering temporary workloads to the over-provisioning that plagues almost 40 percent of all virtualized machines.1 Optimization also includes effective forecasting and strategic planning to take advantage of tiered cloud pricing.
Critically, it requires an understanding of how the elasticity of various workloads relate to their defined infrastructure requirements.
In practice, this means a more balanced approach weighing the benefits of cloud against those of existing private infrastructure.
As BMC CIO Crowder explains, “The first question to ask is: Can it be run internally.
Because private cloud is still usually the cheapest option.” Predictable, inelastic workloads will almost always be cheaper when run on internal infrastructure; volatile and seasonal workloads, or those targeted for growth, are best suited to yield benefits on cloud infrastructure.
Control Preventing the “too much of a good thing” problem requires policy that is both easy and enforceable.
Controls must strike a delicate balance, providing a check on the creation of unnecessary or redundant cloud instances, without impeding the innovation, agility and growth of the business.
Those tasked with creating CSO policy must have an interdisciplinary understanding of everything from regulatory and compliance requirements, to cloud security best practices, to procurement and contractual considerations, accounts payable and more.
Navigating this complexity presents another major barrier to many internal CSO efforts.
Real-Time Governance Given a focused, supported effort, most IT professionals will find that executing a point solution for CSO is achievable.
But the cloud landscape evolves on a minute-by-minute basis in the modern digital business, and that single point of optimized operations is quickly replaced by new waste and new sub-optimal usage.
If the promise of the cloud is instant scalability, then effective oversight and governance must also be instant.
As mentioned, this requires a level of vigilance and dedication of resources that most IT teams are unable to achieve.
Best practice is to monitor cloud usage in real time, establish a design process that controls and addresses issues daily and conduct optimization workflows on a weekly basis.
The Cloud Dream: All the Power.

None of the Waste With the help of experts like Advocate

businesses in every sector are leveraging these new best practices to realize the full potential of their cloud computing strategy.
Implementing intelligent policy and controls can reign in unchecked cloud expansion and wasted spending, while real-time transparency into cloud utilization can both optimize existing cloud usage and strategically plan for the future.
Most importantly, with the resources and expertise necessary to sustain a vigilant, real-time CSO effort, businesses can gain the agility, scalability and computing power to drive innovation and growth—without losing control of costs.
Advocate Delivers Proven Cloud Spend Optimization Expertise for AWS, Azure, Google and More With over 15 years of proven experience helping enterprises make significant gains in technology spend optimization, Advocate applies its spend management DNA to solve this challenge.
And with most cloud spend occurring with AWS, Advocate has developed a set of AWS-specific solutions to meet our clients’ needs.
However, our proven methodology works equally well in evaluating Microsoft, Azure, Google and other cloud deployments.
Our comprehensive cloud spend assessment, leveraging the best-in-class cloud usage optimization platforms, delivers an in-depth look at a business’ cloud environment and usage trends, as well as cost and performance improvement opportunities, usage insights and reserved instance planning recommendations.
We draw on a long and proven track record in cloud architecture, strategic sourcing and cost optimization to help businesses create a comprehensive cloud spend optimization strategy.
Conclusion  To schedule your free Cloud Spend Assessment with Advocate, .1 RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report.
Welcome to part two of the series “Controlling Cloud Spend: Avoiding the Steep Cost of Unchecked Cloud Growth”.
This article explains why cloud computing costs can quickly spiral out of control.
Cloud Can Offer Too Much of a Good Thing The very feature that makes cloud computing most attractive—its instant, on-demand scalability—can also become its greatest flaw when not managed properly.
Scaling up happens easily, and the relative price savings of spinning up a single cloud instance, compared to traditional on-premises infrastructure, are incredible.
Because both “cloud” and “easy” are perceived as “cheap,” businesses—and more specifically, their users—tend not to worry about controlling or limiting the expansion of cloud instances.
AWS enables anyone with a credit card to spin up a cloud server in seconds—this is “disaggregation of IT”—and in many organizations, this means cloud usage expands largely unchecked. Unchecked Cloud Growth Leads to Huge Spending Waste Unchecked cloud growth leads to another problem: Most organizations do a poor job of turning the lights off when they leave the room, so to speak.
Without controls or visibility into their cloud usage, non-critical cloud infrastructure is left running overnight and all weekend long, even though it’s not in use.
Cloud instances spun up for temporary workflows or targeted projects are left running for weeks or months beyond their shelf life. Unpredictable Usage Spikes Leave Business Paying the Premium Cloud Price The basic cloud story says you pay only for the computing power you use.
But the more complicated truth is that cloud providers have complex, variable pricing structures based on basic supply and demand.
Planned usage or reserved instances can yield significant cost savings.
But most businesses lack the visibility to accurately understand and predict future needs.
Moreover, unchecked expansion of cloud instances leads to unpredictable spikes in usage.
These spikes leave the business paying the premium cost for on-demand cloud resources, quickly eliminating any cost-efficiencies of cloud infrastructure.
All of this creates an incredible amount of wasted cloud spending.
RightScale found that nearly half of all cloud spending in the typical organization is wasted or unnecessary—falling into one of the use cases just described.
ParkMyCloud, a provider of cloud management services, used numbers from Gartner to estimate that companies waste nearly $6 billion in inefficient or unused cloud services every year.
Enterprise Mobility Presents Useful Lessons Mobile devices are another technology that has completely transformed the business world in less than a decade.
Enterprise mobility followed a very similar maturity path: Employees began using company-provided mobile devices for work, recognizing the convenience and connectivity benefits.
This led to businesses taking on the complex and unpredictable costs of mobile devices and mobile computing.
They quickly realized the need to control mobile usage to prevent runaway spending.
Mobile device management and mobile spend optimization tools and strategies have now become best practice for maximizing the benefits of enterprise mobility without exposing the business to volatile or uncontrolled costs. Most Businesses Ill-Equipped to Control Cloud Spending Rapidly growing cloud costs are not news to most business executives.
In fact, optimizing existing cloud usage ranked as the most common top priority among enterprises for 2017.2 But even those with focused cloud spending initiatives struggle to gain and maintain control for two key reasons.
The first barrier is visibility.
The cloud transformation has dramatically increased the complexity of IT environments.
A recent survey found that only 1 in 3 IT administrators feel they have the modern tools necessary to gain visibility and control cloud usage.
But even with visibility, managing cloud computing resources is fundamentally different than the way IT professionals have managed IT infrastructure and spending for the past 30 years.
Whereas pre-cloud IT solutions were simple one-time investments with static maintenance agreements, cloud solutions demand constant oversight and control across hundreds or even thousands of instances—lining up supply with demand in real-time to optimize usage and costs.
That level of sustained vigilance is unlike anything IT teams have ever been required to do before—and it’s something most IT teams are neither funded nor equipped to manage today.
Some leading organizations, such as the aforementioned BMC, have successfully implemented cloud spend optimization internally.
However, most others quickly recognize that the relative novelty of cloud computing means they lack the internal spend analytics expertise to effectively tackle the cloud spend optimization challenge.
Instead, they’re engaging partners such as Advocate™—trusted names with proven records of helping businesses control and optimize their technology spending.
Join us for the third article of our three-part blog series: “Controlling Cloud Spending: Avoiding the Steep Cost of Unchecked Cloud Growth” – Part 3: Best Practices for Cloud Spend Optimization.1.
2 RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report.
3.
We’re back with another educational series, this time addressing Controlling Cloud Spending.
In part 1, we will address how cloud computing is transforming growth and innovation paths, while runaway cloud costs are creating a a tug-of-war in the C-suite.
The business world will hit a major milestone within the next year, when more than half of all enterprise IT workloads will live in the cloud.
As businesses in every sector race to take advantage of the potential and power of cloud computing, many CFOs and CIOs are beginning to see a significant problem emerge: Unchecked cloud usage that leads to highly unpredictable costs.
These costs are on a sharp upward trend that can quickly exceed IT budgets.
It’s estimated that the typical business is wasting as much as 45 percent of its cloud spend on unused instances, sub-optimal pricing and ineffective planning.2 However, even as awareness of this problem grows, most businesses lack the tools, resources and expertise to effectively reign in cloud spending and optimize cloud usage.
Businesses Race to Capture the Great Promise of the Cloud Most companies are aware of the great cloud transformation occurring in the business world.
By 2018, IDC predicts that 60 percent of all IT workloads will live in the cloud.
Cisco projects that 83 percent of all data center traffic will be cloud-based by 2019—the majority (56 percent) residing in public clouds.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), the public cloud gorilla, will hit 15 billion users in the next year (a 50-percent annual growth) and is expected to reach 50 billion users in the next five to 10 years.
While experts agree that businesses have only scratched the surface of what’s possible with cloud computing, there are already powerful bright spots.
Cloud-empowered businesses have the agility to quickly create systems and procure infrastructure, enabling them to respond in real time to market demands and opportunities as never before possible.
Access to unlimited computing power— on-demand, without high upfront investment—is transforming growth and innovation paths.
Yet, even as businesses begin seeing their cloud strategies bear fruit, they are increasingly struggling to understand and control the costs.
Cloud Pains Create a Tug-of-War in the C-Suite CFOs and other executives are starting to see the results of unchecked cloud usage and spending: eye-popping monthly bills from AWS and cloud spending that is surging beyond what they previously spent on infrastructure—and well beyond any hoped-for cost savings.
“Organizations are surprised by where all the money is going, watching the money flow out the door associated with various cloud solutions,” says Scott Crowder, CIO at BMC, an organization that has earned recognition for its mature cloud strategy.
“It always starts out very small—and then it starts to grow exponentially.” This creates a tug-of-war in the modern digital business: Everyone from the C-suite down to the IT administrator feels pressure to shift more business workflows into the cloud.
They recognize “cloud-first” as critical to remaining competitive and positioning a business with agility for the future.
But without a sure way to control cloud usage and spending, there’s a looming risk that cloud computing will become a runaway expense that kills budgets—and bottom lines.
Join us for the second article of our three-part blog series: “Controlling Cloud Spending: Avoiding the Steep Cost of Unchecked Cloud Growth” – Part 2: Why Cloud Costs Quickly Spiral Out of Control.1 http://www.forbes.com/sites/ gilpress/2016/11/01/top-10-tech-predictions-for-2017-from-idc/#7deb61a52790.
2 RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report.
3 http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/solutions/ collateral/service-provider/global-cloud-index-gci/white-paper-c11-738085.pdf.
Did you know that for $610 million?  This is not surprising to us at Advocate.  We expect to see more consolidation over the next year as the carriers seek greater SD-WAN market share.
This acquisition perfectly highlights the strategic need that our clients possess to split the device, access and transport into these three separate architectural components.  Such a modern architecture allows companies to control access (e.g.
Internet, Ethernet), while leveraging neutral data centers to enable better traffic routing decisions and achieve higher performance for lower cost.
Thus, clients can address future needs in any of the key three components without bearing the burden of entirely re-inventing their network infrastructure.
In our final article for the 3-part series “How to Implement a Successful Network Transformation”, we will address what to expect when a Network Transformation is carried out, the benefits and how to get started on your journey.
What to Expect Network Transformation does more than simply transform your network.  It transforms your IT department, the way you do business and your bottom line.
According to the “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2016 Predictions” report, CIOs are focused on legacy IT services and how to maintain them with limited budgets, while increasing digital transformation within the business.  When the IT department has help understanding what they have and what they need, it can then help align the business to industry best practices to power a cloud-enabled network and application connectivity for better productivity and cost savings.
No longer will they deal with recurring issues around cost, unreliability and speed – the IT department is now a value-add to the organization that is known for reliability and business acumen.  No longer is it a group in the corner; it’s on the forefront of driving the enterprise and innovation.
Other results include: Conclusion After years of patching up legacy networks, many IT departments have turned into crisis management teams, rather than strategic partners who can lead an enterprise to better results.  According to the study “The Changing Role of IT Leadership: CIO Perspectives for 2016” from IDC, only 25 percent of CIOs described innovation as their role; more than a third described themselves as service managers.
But Enterprise executives are looking to CIOs to take the lead on transformation; More than 40 percent of them say they see the CIO as an innovation officer.
According to the 2016 Gartner CIO Agenda Report, with Network Transformation, the IT department itself becomes a business leader in the organization, representing the best of agility, flexibility, service and value to the enterprise.  With just 34 percent of CIOs reporting that they are innovation leaders at their organizations, Network Transformation represents an opportunity for them to shine.
Ready to get started?  Contact Advocate today for a free.
Welcome to our final part in the blog series “The Broken Promise of Telecom Expense Management:  As discussed, many find that old platforms do not work as promised, management shakeups at providers create uncertainty and financial challenges hold some TEM companies back.  This chaos demands a re-evaluation of the initially transactional goals of TEM.
This 3-part blog series has served to enlighten enterprise leaders to understand the challenges of TEM, prepare their organizations for TEM transformation and describe the steps to unlock TEM potential.
You may be asking “so what do I do about it?” We wouldn’t point out a problem without the solution!  Read on to learn how to transform your organizations TEM.
Prepare Your Organization for Transformation It’s time to rethink your TEM function.
Enterprises should take advantage of managed services beyond telecom to include network, mobile, unified communications, data center, IaaS and other usage-based IT services.
Leaders must move beyond mere “expense management” and consider a full suite of services that include procurement and sourcing management, invoice management, order and inventory management, audit and dispute management, carrier and contract management, business intelligence and overall strategic value, also known as Technology Lifecycle Service Management.
Only by embracing the concept of Technology Lifecycle Service Management will enterprises be taking the first step in preparing for transformation.
If that is the first step, then here’s what they must do next.
Evaluate Goals and Objectives Enterprises must re-evaluate their goals and objectives for Technology Lifecycle Service Management and expand them to address cost, performance, utilization and analytics for overall service management.
They must move beyond low-bar expectations such as “pay bills on time” or “keep the network up” and instead set goals that advance their technology capabilities.
Get Buy-In from the Top In enterprises that don’t have a strong Technology Lifecycle Service Management program in place, TEM reports and results become less relevant to executive leadership and end up getting lost or ignored as they move up the corporate hierarchy.
TEM becomes an excessively tactical exercise with little strategic relevance.
It is critical to obtain buy-in from executive leadership to ensure that strategic cost savings continue to be real, achievable and re-invested in the most productive ways possible.
Identify Ownership This one is simple: TEM is a tech issue, especially if an organization is going to embrace Technology Lifecycle Service Management.
As such, it should be owned primarily by IT and overseen by the CIO.
Only then can the insights and outcomes of TEM be leveraged to better support the company’s technology infrastructure.
Rethink Your Model Map out a fundamentally different model — platform plus people, processes and expertise.
You must build a methodology around Technology Lifecycle Service Management and that will require investments.
The enterprise must see the big picture in order to develop a transformational Technology Lifecycle Service Management program.
Commit Yourself to Transparency Change can be painful, and transparency among IT and finance doesn’t always come easy.
TEM can improve that situation by examining what is and what is not working.  Whether you’re working with a partner or on your own, management must share access to people, systems and information as they try to get clarity on the big picture.
Unlock the Potential Once you have prepared for change, it’s time to assess your current TEM environment: platform, people, processes and information.
You’ll need to:ResultsBy dedicating your enterprise to unlocking the full power of TEM through , you can leverage the solution you have while improving internal visibility, processes and results.
By actively managing your enterprise’s telecom, network, mobile, unified communications, data center, IaaS and other usage-based IT services, you could reduce annual costs by 20% or more.
At Advocate, Insiders are more than just IT experts.  We are fun and interesting people who enjoy spending time with each other inside and outside the office: performing community service, playing in the Insider Jam band and attending company parties and outings.  Here are some highlights of Advocate’s Q4 2016 events: October 6, Advocate and ISG team members had fun while networking at Slingshot Entertainment.
October 7, Insiders attended the 25th Annual High Tech Prayer Breakfast in Atlanta where technology business people explored faith and networked.
October 10, Advocate”s Scott Fogle enjoyed NCR’s IT Services Golf Outing today with fellow IT leaders where he networked, played golf and a blast.
October 8, Insiders cheered for Insider Mona Fetta and others at the Susan G.
Komen’s 3-Day Walk against breast cancer.
October 13, Advocate was a proud sponsor of ATP’s 2016 Awards Gala in Atlanta!  Several Insiders were on hand to relish the festivities such as Tim Wise, Chad Doiron and Emily Ashley.
October 20, Insiders attended the WIT Forum “Making the most of first impressions”, where they learned about how body language affects your first impression of others.
October 21, Students from UGA’s Career Center enjoyed a tour of Advocate today to see what it”s like working for a 10x in a row Inc.
5000 winner.
October 31, Advocate celebrated Halloween today with a devilishly fun costume contest.
November 2-4.

Advocate hosted its annual Cloud and Connectivity Insider Summit in Charleston

SC at the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel where more than 30 IT leaders from companies like Equinix, First Data, Newell Rubbermaid, Oldcastle Materials Group, Sage Software and participated in engaging panels about some of the most thought-provoking trends in cloud, connectivity and unified communications.
November 5, Advocate proudly sponsored the 2016 Technology Ball at which 50 CIOs/CTOs from the Dallas/Ft.
Worth technology community came together to network and support initiatives to create future technology leaders through STEM partnerships.
November 8, Advocate”s Carrisa Jones applauded Rigor for hosting an amazing Immersion Experience for WIT Girls.
November 9, As a proud underwriter sponsor of DallasCIO, Advocate’s Scott Fogle and Casey Ward attended DallasCIO’s CIO of the Year Nominee Reception where they networked with fellow CIOs in the DFW area.
November 10, Several Insiders attended WIT’s Women of the Year (WOTY) Awards at the Georgia Aquarium.
November 11, Advocate performed community service at the Furniture Bank of Atlanta by unboxing/organizing kitchen items, sorting/folding of linens and building furniture.
November 12, Insiders loved volunteering for a second time this year at PAWS Atlanta where they helped homeless pets in need of new forever homes.  In fact, Insider Cyndi Owings adopted Greta that day — a dog that joined her household of six cats, one hamster and one husband.
November 16, Advocate held its annual Thanksgiving Potluck & Casserole Contest, which was very competitive as usual.
December 2, Advocate hosted its annual Holiday Party at Atlanta’s Inman Park Trolley Barn.  Insiders were treated to great music, dancing, delicious food, festive drinks, King of Pops popsicles, a Starlite Photo Booth and a skit contest.  There was even a post-holiday party bus for those who wanted to keep the party going.
December 3, It is an annual tradition for Insiders to volunteer at The Christmas Parade.  This year, it was no exception.
December 8, Advocate”s Carrisa and Victoria Jones prepared girls for careers in STEM at WIT’s Behind the Scenes at State Farm.
December 15, Advocate held its Annual End of 2016 Awards Ceremony, which is an enormously festive event that recognizes the contributions, teamwork and achievements of its Insiders.
It also included an ugly sweater contest and an employee bake-off.
Even Co-founder and CEO Scott Fogle got into the holiday spirit by wearing a Poinsettia suit!  Read more about this event in our.
December 21, Advocate’s 2016 Rookie of the Year Jennifer Meeks joined Insider Carrisa Jones at the WIT’s Forum WOTY Women in Leadership: Success Stories, Challenges and Triumphs event.
There are plenty of fantastic events planned for 2017.  Stay tuned.
The shift to the cloud has created major opportunities for enterprise IT leaders, but it has also strained many of their legacy networks.
To address these challenges, leading enterprises have embraced a new approach: Network Transformation.
Network Transformation provides a roadmap for the enterprise to modernize its information technology infrastructure, focusing on cost reduction, performance improvement and cloud enablement.
Who Can Benefit From Network Transformation.
Common events that inspire an enterprise to explore the possibility of Network Transformation include: ► Out-of-control costs related to network operation.
► Inability to overcome network latency and poor performance on MPLS networks.
► Cloud-enabled applications, BYOD policies, and security overwhelming legacy network architectures.
► Legacy networks no longer align and support rapid business model evolution including, business innovation, acquisition or divestiture, or program implementations.
How Network Transformation Can Help.
To address these challenges, leading enterprises have embraced a new approach: Network Transformation.
Network Transformation enables smarter data delivery via an architecture that deliver more efficient, high-speed, lower cost networks that are ready to handle your toughest data challenges.
Ready to Transform Your Network.
Advocate has developed a helpful guide that explores some of the triggers that prompt enterprises to consider Network Transformation, how to prepare for it, and the results they can achieve through implementation.
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