By Simon Johnson, SVP of Client Services
About Simon Johnson, Senior Vice President, Client Services
As GreenPages' Senior Vice President of Client Services, Simon is responsible for driving the company's Services Revenue growth by creating innovative services and IP to address new world IT market requirements; collaborating with clients, sales, and delivery leadership to take these new services to market; and ensuring customer satisfaction excellence.
In a recent blog, we looked at the internal elements you need to consider when embarking on a digital transformation journey. The blog focused on “performing a deep, detailed, and unbiased examination of your motives and desires, appetites and commitments, and a review of key areas of your business.” Nestled in these six steps was Step 3 “Technology Assessment” and let’s be clear, technology is the core underlying factor of digital transformation, so this step is pretty important. The most concise and accurate definition of digital transformation for me is the use of technology to create a clear and competitive advantage that will enable you to grow market share or retain market share through differentiation.
No vertical is safe from the pace and scale of change that is happening through IT, and the many ways in which the playing field is now being leveled. This phenomenon became very clear to me with a startup in the eCommerce space based in Cambridge Mass. The CIO, a good friend of mine, successfully led the IPO of a former West Coast startup in the early 2000s and built much of the startup's success using, at the time, bleeding edge concepts around analytics and eCommerce. Today he is employing the same approaches to his latest venture with one big difference. In the early 2000s, those analytics and eCommerce platforms took months and years to perfect with significant CapEx, consulting, OpEx and internal skills development and dollars. Today he can spin up a vastly superior platform – offered by a Public Cloud provider - in a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model, almost instantly and for cents.
IT now is the business, and the business is IT, so IT has all the power, right? Wrong!
Yes, “IT as a service” has huge power and influence and it has the ability to drive tremendous gains in market share, but the power is no longer solely under the control of IT. The Public Cloud in all its mediums has created open market forces and has truly driven the concept of Shared Services. Today, the most innovative IT leaders are tightly coupled with the business to better understand key business objectives and to align their IT investments to help achieve those objectives. They will also produce the relevant metrics to demonstrate to the executive team and the board members that they have achieved alignment and produced the desired outcomes (our webinar on the 4 Vs will go into this in more detail). However, you will also find some other characteristics in this new breed of IT front runners: they accept the open market; they accept there are choices; and while they strive to provide the best possible service, they also understand they need to get out of the way of innovation if the Line of Businesses chose to go elsewhere!! This new paradigm was a theme clearly communicated to us in our 2017 CIO roundtable at CloudScape.
IT not only needs to be aligned with business goals, but they also need to make smart technology “bets” and think of ROI, TCO, EBITDA, and other fiscal factors. The good news is IT can and should have the Public Cloud in their service catalog, and they should be making bets that drive competitive advantage. The following is a list of initiatives we and many of you have underway right now:
- OS Virtualization on steroids. We all have experience with the virtualization of the hypervisor no we are getting used to the idea of a virtualized OS removing the hypervisor tax, hardware dependencies and obliterating the concept of lock-in
- Public Cloud
- The beast that has turned IT on its head. Unparalleled experience
- Ease of use and consumption
- Security – yes, I said it Security (can your engineering shop really compete with the security brains of AWS/ Azure/ GCP, etc?)
- And all this with the elimination of the need for CapEx with the switch to OpEx. – just make sure you can control the economics!
- Bare Metal
- Take our last two topics (Public Cloud and Containers) one provides unparalleled scale and innovation while the other eliminates the fear of vendor/cloud lock-in. So, this means the death of on-prem/private cloud? No, and Bare Metal combined with Containers is a great way to closely match Public Cloud economics without the latency impact of Public Cloud when your applications are tightly coupled. Additionally, the OEMs are getting smarter with their finance and lease structures to give you solutions as either a CapEx or OpEx play
- SDN, SD-WAN
- Empowers code, eases acquisitions and integrations, supports dynamic rule changes, addresses East to West security concerns which are now surpassing North to East, reduces expensive dependencies on MPLS and enables controlled offload/sharing with public internet resources
- Collapses compute, storage and data protection easing the operational burden
- Ops and AIOps
- Whether your workloads are in a Private or Public Cloud chances are you are struggling to manage and maintain this infinite set of services available to you. The good & bad news is there is a growing breed of Manager of Manager, and Monitor of Monitor tools that enable you to gain more “intelligent insight” (through analytics) and through automation of reoccurring activities with AI
These are just a small subset of tools and technologies in your arsenal to meet the challenges and demands of digital transformation. However, without clear and demonstrable alignment to business goals, these investments can rapidly become a burning hole in your pocket and prevent you from anchoring your success. A well thought out IT strategy, aligned with the business and built with the business (yes, get the CEO, CMO, CFO and line of business owners fully involved in helping to define the IT strategy) along with appropriate mechanisms to control scale, costs and to measure success against those KPIs, will give you a great chance for success in these unprecedented dynamic times.
In our next blog we will focus on Security considerations related to your Digital Transformation program. And, if you feel that you could benefit from experienced guidance in evaluating your technology infrastructure options, please contact Simon Johnson at GreenPages, Simon.Johnson@greenpages.com.
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