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Five digital transformation considerations for CIOs

24 Jan 2018

Article by Lenovo A/NZ data centre group general manager and director Rob Makin

Ask any CIO about their key priorities for 2018 and chances are digital transformation will make the list.

Despite already being the talk of the town for the past few years, it continues to dominate conversations as workloads go to the cloud, employees work beyond offices, and executives make data-driven decisions.

It comes as no surprise why organisations are digitising their business: to realise the promises of new business models, new forms of engagements, and the crucial competitive edge.

This is especially prominent in Asia Pacific, dubbed the world’s growth engine and home to a thriving population of digital natives.

Organisations looking to capture the region’s economic opportunities need to take the step towards digitisation to resonate with the end-user.

Yet, this poses challenges for CIOs.

How can their existing IT infrastructure cope with the unprecedented influx of data and demanding business applications, among many others?

How can they take the leap beyond traditional IT to integrate new technologies into its fabric?

The pressure is on for CIOs to ramp up IT so their organisation can keep up with tomorrow’s trends and capture Asia’s growth potential.

Here are five considerations for a successful digital transformation journey.

Flexibility and agility

Technology begets immediacy.

End-users today are already demanding products, services, and experiences wherever they are, whenever they want it.

Come tomorrow, organisations will need to start anticipating end-user needs even before they realise what these are.

The industry leaders of the future are those who are able to respond rapidly.

As such, being flexible and agile enough to stay ahead of evolving demands is key and IT needs to move just as fast.

With hybrid cloud offerings, R&D teams can use their DevOps tools to quickly provision new resources, and focus on creating new applications faster—even adopting the “fail fast, innovate fast” strategy.

These will go a long way to boosting business agility that is instrumental for organisations to take the lead.

Scalability

New technologies such as mobile, IoT, and VR, are finding their way into the business landscape.

The downside to this is the data explosion.

We have seen organisations weighed down by the volume, velocity, and variety of data as their IT infrastructure struggled to cope.

Gartner recently predicted there will be 20.4 billion connected devices by 2020 a massive increase in the predicted 8.4 billion devices online today.

How can we extract valuable insights from all these data if we cannot get a handle on managing it?

CIOs need to ensure that their IT infrastructure can seamlessly scale to accommodate this data growth.

This helps avoid issues that stem from badly managed data such as data silos, which hinder productivity and efficiency.

A well-equipped data centre leverages the use of technologies like software-defined storage or storage virtualisation to remove the obstacles posed by silos of data, enabling faster data scaling.

Reliability

Sectors such as finance and healthcare are becoming increasingly reliant on technology to keep mission-critical operations always on.

A second of downtime for life-saving devices or the stock market spells disastrous—even lethal—consequences.

As such, having an IT infrastructure that delivers the highest levels of availability and reliability is a top priority to ensure operations are running smoothly around-the-clock.

While physical disaster recovery (DR) sites are the industry go-to, oftentimes this traditional approach takes minutes if not hours to get systems back online.

While many CIOs turn to public cloud, hybrid clouds are a great way to maintain day-to-day availability of the applications.

However, this does not mean one can forget the basics.

Every piece of hardware matters, and having multiple parallel paths will ensure the high availability of systems.

Security

Incidences such as Petya and WannaCry in 2017 signify how dangerous, complex, and targeted cyberattacks are becoming.

We can only expect cybercriminals to become smarter and attacks to be more severe this year.

No organisation wants to be at the receiving end of an attack; not only does it lead to significant financial losses, in a split second, they will stand to lose what took years to build—their customers’ trust.

The Australian Federal Government has committed to spending $530 million to $630 million to improve national cybersecurity.

In such a volatile cybersecurity climate, CIOs need to evolve their security approach by adopting a more proactive stance instead of remaining reactive.

Automating cybersecurity with intelligence and machine learning are few ways organisations can augment their security, so they can detect vulnerabilities even before an attack occurs.

Simplicity

Intelligence will be the face of 2018—think AI and intelligent analytics—and early adopters are tapping these to enhance decision-making, reinvent business models, and revolutionise the customer experience.

But intelligence does not start by just integrating new technologies.

Organisations need to foster a culture of innovation to inject intelligence into every aspect of the business.

The role of CIOs here is powerful.

By designing an IT infrastructure that is lean and simple, they can empower entire organisations—from C-suites to sales teams—to spend less time on housekeeping and more time on productive business activities.

Doing so will free them up to pursue innovation, and at the same time be able to tap intelligent applications and platforms to help accelerate its transformation into a smarter one.

We can expect to see ‘digital transformation’ on the lips of business leaders in 2018, more so in Asia Pacific.

The first step to a smooth-sailing and successful digital transformation journey is to have a fresh perspective on IT.

Doing so will help organisations avoid being locked into legacy systems and technologies, so they can start tapping their IT investments to reach new heights in agility, efficiency, and productivity—and ultimately capture the region’s vast growth potential for business success.

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