What does it really mean to be a digital business?

Back in 2013 Gartner famously claimed that ‘every company is a tech company’, suggesting that technology now reaches into every sector of the economy. Whether relied on by companies in fundamental ways – such as improving the delivery of products and services – or simply by giving organisations the tools to make better strategic decisions, technology represents an essential building block for any modern day business.

The tech-mindset has permeated even the most traditional of industries, with almost all businesses finding that IT is becoming an increasingly important pivotal part of their organisation. Technology is no longer seen as an internal facilitator of everyday business practices. It is now at the heart of digital business strategy and data can be used by businesses to harvest, store and analyse relevant information to take a competitive advantage over their rivals.

The growth of complexity

Of course, it’s easier said than done! The introduction of cloud computing, or more specifically the rise of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model, means that when it comes to internal processes –everything from accounting, email, and resourcing through to social media monitoring – businesses now have a vast choice over which applications they deploy. The flexibility of SaaS means that organisations can make application decisions on a monthly basis, changing to a new system with ease.

> See also: The time is now to get to grips with the digital workplace and manage consumerisation – Gartner

Purchasing power has also shifted: IT is no longer the sole force in driving technology change. In fact, in many organisations it has been forced into a reactive position, with individual departments such as marketing or finance calling the shots as to which applications they feel best suit their individual needs.

The ubiquity of SaaS applications and the ease at which they can purchased (a lack of CapEx means that business departments can be run on a credit card) has transformed enterprise IT –leaving it as an interchangeable patchwork of apps from numerous, distinct vendors.

For CIOs and the IT department this presents a significant problem. Increasing the complexity of the IT estate means more time and resource is spent in simply maintaining the system. While the application layer may work as patchwork, running the underlying infrastructure in this way is inefficient, dangerous and leaves the organisation at risk of outages. Digital businesses need a single platform which is flexible enough to cope with an ever-changing workload while being reliable and resilient to ensure all-time availability.

> See also: Gartner identifies six steps to build a successful digital business

The keys to innovation

By outsourcing IT infrastructure, businesses can re-focus their IT departments, allowing them to have a more significant impact on revenue-generating activities. The CIO, relieved of worries over server maintenance, can now add both budget and strategic thought to improving the unique selling points of the business and differentiating from rivals. This could be anything from developing a social media analytics team, to developing a new, multi language, multi currency commerce platform.

> See also: How to undergo a digital transformation of your business

One such business that took advantage of managed services is Norwegian Cruise Line. Headquartered in Miami, the company has offered cruises since 1966.  Partnering with a managed services provider allowed Norwegian to ensure total availability of services while freeing the IT department up to innovate in other areas such as boosting guest services and streamlining the booking service. In an industry such as Norwegian’s, where guest services are highly valued, this can offer a significant advantage over the competition.

The cloud delivery model is making this an exceptionally exciting period of enterprise IT. It seems every week we have new applications being launched to solve some key pain-points that businesses have previously been resigned to consider as an irritating but necessary chore. Organisations now have the opportunity to make significant changes to their business processes and working culture. However, if you want to think big then you have to build big – infrastructure should be robust and able to cope with the usage demands, not simply of today, but also tomorrow.

Sourced from John Stevenson, COO, Europe, Sungard Availability Services

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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