Digital transformation is certainly a widely-used phrase within businesses at the moment, and the trend is predicted to continue – and even increase – as we head into 2018. And the numbers look set to back this up: by the end of the year, research estimates that digital transformation spend looks set to top at over $1.2 trillion. Marketing intelligence firm IDC also sees this spend continuing to sustain its growth rate of around 18% a year until at least 2020.
It’s clear therefore, that the money is available for this area of business transformation; companies are realising the opportunities to capture and capitalise on data insights to bring a raft of operational and analytical benefits to the business.
IT leaders are also positioning themselves to play a crucial role within the digital transformation process; Gartner has recently suggested that 46% of European CIOs are considered accountable for digital transformation and performing an active role in making this a reality.
Despite the major push towards transforming a business, the process itself is wide-ranging and complex. Within the amount of money being invested into this area, it’s important to note precisely what this is being spent on. Connectivity services, IT services, and application development & deployment makes up almost half of all spend in digital transformation.
This is a reflection of a technology landscape that is increasingly democratic, decentralised and disruptive. Because of this, any transformation has to have the key components of flexibility and agility as major areas of focus for CIOs and their teams. In part, this is being advanced by our app-driven social culture, combined with the influx of digitally-native employees into the workforce. This creates enormous volumes of valuable data that demands swift and responsive IT infrastructure to capitalise on this.
What’s important to note is that, irrespective of this, the basics of appropriate IT management remains the same. While, in the short-term, the goal may be richer IP integration, robust security measures and compliance on a global level remain essential cornerstones of an organisation’s IT.
A business may have the quarterly target to deploy a DevOps culture and strategy; as such, CIOs need to remember that it’s vital to have a reliable and fit-for-purpose infrastructure to accommodate these new services and solutions.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the ‘fail-fast’ projects that can give a competitive and financial advantage, but the long-term budgetary aims need to be kept front and centre to ensure continuity.
Striking this balance is difficult; on one hand, they need to be the driving force behind digital transformation in their organisation, but on the other, they need to ensure that continuity and stability is maintained. In order to get the balancing act right, an in-depth understanding of the technology that underpins these processes is key – and can give a business the leg-up over their competition.
When looking to manage such a fast-paced and frenetic environment, two distinct trends are emerging. First of all, the demand for a more agile infrastructure that can adapt to the changing needs of business.
Only recently this fluidity has been seen at the same level as stability in IT infrastructure. This is being driven by the increased adoption of software-defined (SD) technology, which, even recently, was relatively unheard of.
>See also: The digital transformation of things
Second is the need to engage with more specialist consultants that work in network development and deployment; previously seen as an internal process, this is where a substantial amount of cost is (rightly) being spent in digital transformation.
By applying the foundations of software-defined networking to fixed infrastructure, a much more agile solution can be built. Administrators can use central controls to regulate data transfers and deliver services to exactly where they are required – irrespective of device, server or other hardware components. Through this, businesses can centrally manage and run application-conscious policies, controlling all network traffic.
This means applications are always available to both employees and customers. Smart routing and application-aware service quality enhances a business by diverting data down optimal pathways. This gives IT teams far greater control over access, traffic, identity management and bring-your-own-device security. Now, rather than being a hindrance, agile infrastructure is an enabler of solutions and applications; new services, networks, sites and clouds, and be integrated within hours.
Therefore, SD-WANs are a critical component of any digital transformation strategy – but the implementation of the network layer needs careful planning. This is far more complex than traditional network implementation – hence the need for expert consultation. Syncing up services, developing QoS controls and pathways and integrating countless services and workflows is not something to be undertaken lightly.
Ultimately, IT leaders need to remember that when it comes to optimising digital transformation, a two-pronged approach is ideal. First, follow the trend for increasingly using expert consultancy, taking the burden off of the internal IT department. Second, SD networking and flexibility is vital, as this brings a scalability to incorporate new systems into the existing, all the while allowing IT far greater visibility and control into the network.
By adopting this approach, CIOs can begin to move towards the future, innovating and introducing new ideas whilst retaining consistency and compliance across their organisation.
Sourced by Jonathan Bridges, head of Cloud at British cloud and network provider Exponential-e
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