The Digital transformation of a business necessitates greater differentiation, innovative business models, agility and a far stronger focus on User Experience. IT organizations are today challenged to reshape, reprioritize and refocus its services in order to drive the transformation to the new digital business.
A key capability required to enable this transformation is the ability to leverage the new digital infrastructure that supports the rapid development and delivery of new services along with scalability that supports rapid changes in demand.
Whilst the attributes of the digital infrastructure are clearly understood, we often overlook some of the initial digital transformation challenges that will need to be addressed if the move to digital is to become successful. Take a look at the following and see if you recognize any of these in your own organization:
- Lack of Automation
As a business undergoes digital transformation, the key outcome that needs to be enabled by IT is delivering far greater business agility. We have to be able to support the rapid launch of new products and services, and also deliver constant updates and improvements. For the cultural change in DevOps to be successful, the underlying infrastructure needs to become fully automated in order to enable the near-instantaneous delivery of services. If you do not have an Automation culture in place today, you might struggle with the necessary transition to meet the business’ expectations.
- Lack of Elasticity
Along with higher levels of IT automation, the business expects everything to ‘just work’. Perhaps like a traditional utility service, IT must now be flexible and offer immediate changes in scalability to support rapidly changing demand. If your current IT assets cannot scale solutions in real-time with automated reconfiguration of the underlying infrastructure, there will be difficulty in supporting the new digital mindset that now expects such flexibility across the entire business landscape.
- No Consumer-grade experience
As the expectations from IT change, there arises a strong desire to have processes that make acquiring new infrastructure a lot easier than it is today. Long, tiresome IT procurement processes with lengthy delays accompanied by painful technical conversations are not tolerated by business leaders today who have a focus on agility.
The new internal customer expects to be offered the same experience they receive from consumer-facing organizations. An easy-to-browse catalogue, simple contract terms and a click-to-consume experience are becoming the new norms. If you cannot offer this form of consumer-grade experience, the business may well question your ability to make the leap to the new mindset. Far better to demonstrate today that you are on the right path.
- Incomplete virtualization
Digital infrastructure is dominated by the need for agility - the speed at which you can provision services and respond to changes in demand. This speed of response will be key to your success. The journey towards a more agile and automated estate must begin with virtualization. I regard this as table stakes - it is the first and most obvious step to take if you are to have an IT network that is both elastic and automated.
- Build-first mentality
Business leaders are impatient and won’t wait weeks or months for IT to provision the infrastructure required for new services. The classic IT approach to projects starts with specifying, procuring, provisioning and configuring infrastructure to support the application; everything is built from scratch. This build-first approach is simply unsupportable going forward. If this is the way you approach projects today, it might well prove worthwhile to consider how you could switch to a build-last approach.
The default stance in a digital business is to adopt the consume-configure-build behavior. With this approach, the first step is to acquire the entire solution you need from a ready-to-go provider of cloud services (SaaS). If you cannot find it off the shelf, then you configure it from multiple independent services and orchestrate them into the final solution. Failing that, if you really cannot find what you need elsewhere, then accept that you will need to build it from scratch. But even then, if you do take the build-it route - the expectation is that you build upon elastic, software-defined infrastructure (IaaS) that should ideally include a platform (PaaS) complete with high-value services that accelerate solution construction.