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April 19, 2017updated 12 Jul 2022 9:54am

Are businesses really in it to win it in the transformation game?

CBR's Hannah Williams spoke to Kevin Roche, President of Dell EMC Services Consulting on the ways businesses should embrace IT Transformation.

By Hannah Williams

A recent survey conducted by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), revealed that many senior IT leaders and managers of businesses are still falling behind in efforts to embrace aspects of IT Transformation.

ESG’s IT Transformation Maturity Curve study found that a staggering 95 percent of respondents are falling behind a selection of competitors who are accelerating their digital business goals through IT transformation.

“Transformed” organisations were found to deliver the most progress in leveraging IT resources to speed product innovation and time to market, showing that IT Transformation is essential for business competitiveness.

Reflecting on the survey’s findings, CBR’s Hannah Williams talks to Kevin Roche, President of Dell EMC Services Consulting, about the benefits of IT Transformation in business and how organisations can make a difference.

HW: The participants of the survey were sectioned into four stages, with 42 percent being classed as ‘Emerging’ and only 5 percent as ‘Transformed.’ What can be done to enable businesses to move along the IT transformation curve?

Kevin Roche: “Transformation is not a simple, one-size-fits-all process. Each business faces demands unique to their environments and customers, and every business must accept the fact that they will be disrupted by technology and competitors, both traditional and new.

So what can be done to accelerate the transformation? Some companies have already started to use their experiences, embrace a willingness to disrupt themselves, create a culture that encourages thinking differently, and leverage outside expertise.

At the foundational level, to transform and optimize IT organizations need to:

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1) Modernize existing infrastructure to digital solutions to lower operational costs and overhead with the use of converged and hyper-converged, and hybrid cloud platforms.

2) Automate the delivery of IT services so that they can reallocate IT talent toward higher value services.

3) Accelerate business agility by transforming the people and processes involved in delivering IT services to both internal and external stakeholders.

We’re seeing the marketplace still has a ways to go to achieving true transformation. Dell EMC just announced the results of our recent IT Transformation Maturity study. We found that 95 percent of their organizations are not transformed. It’s clear there is still much work to be done.”

HW: How can the more mature-level organisations potentially support and boost the less mature and help move them in the right direction?

Kevin Roche: “The five percent of matured IT organizations – which can also be thought of as early adopters – are in very opportune positions with respect to business achievements, financial success and thought leadership. A digitally transformed business has as a competitive advantage both with their internal business partners and their external challengers.

Mature-level companies can position themselves as “industry” visionaries/leaders by sharing their journey – the successes and pitfalls.  They should embrace their leadership position and resist the temptation of not sharing for fear of competitive secrets.  Their transformation efforts have put them in a greater position to provide an agile, flexible, and cost effective, business model.

Dell EMC has taken a leadership position in facilitating these information exchanges.  With our experience in helping many companies around the globe, we bring those best practices, while respecting privacy/confidentiality, into every engagement. We have also applied that in our Dell EMC IT Proven journey. We share our own internal IT transformation journey with our customers leveraging IT practitioners in regular meetings with our customer to share how our Dell IT team transformed to IT as a Service and became a true business differentiator.”

What difference do modern data centres & IT technologies make to businesses?
HW: The study shows that the adoption of modern data centre technologies can improve agility & infrastructure provisioning. How else does the use of modern data centre technologies make a difference to business performance/innovation speed?

Kevin Roche: “One of the first steps in the maturity model is to begin to incorporate modern data centre technologies such as flash, hyper-converged infrastructure, scale out, software-defined, open architectures, etc. That starts to lower costs of the current infrastructure.

But when talking about these technologies, we often hear the same question – is it better for IT to build or buy? Our foundational position is that front-end investment of modern data centre technologies, versus building one’s own environment, will offer long-term financial benefits for both the business and IT. Investing in digital technologies help businesses overcome the conflict between legacy IT and digital business initiatives to realize their goals.

A fully transformed, modern data centre will provide a lower-cost environment for IT operations. With that comes the benefit of faster deploying and provisioning of IT services. This acceleration will increase the team member agility, leading the business to bring its services to market faster and thus increase its competitive edge.

Additionally, IT needs to play both Platform 2 and Platform 3 worlds. By optimizing legacy workloads running on Platform 2 technologies needed to “keep the lights on”, IT can invest in and innovate with Platform 3 technologies. This can only be achieved through modern architecture built on converged/hyper-converged infrastructure and hybrid cloud solutions, and there is real payoff. Transformed IT organizations see 33 percent more of their IT budget freed up for innovation, and are twice as likely to exceed revenue goals. With these advantages comes significant opportunities.

None of this, however, is achievable without simultaneously modernizing the IT workforce. That means conducting an honest, transparent analysis of the IT organization, updating the operating model and talent, and developing new roles, processes, and functions that support these technologies.”

HW: Do you think the years of experience mature organisations have results in the adoption of modern IT technologies?

Kevin Roche: “The short answer — yes. Experience can certainly provide valuable clarity and direction, but I don’t believe experience alone is what drives the adoption of modern IT technologies. While the pace of business and technological advancement is forcing IT and the business to embrace these technologies, digital transformation is usually a phased approach for most companies. Once they see early success, two things seem to happen. First, there is a readiness to accelerate investment. Second, there is a willingness to take on more risk and break away from old ways of thinking.

Transformed organizations embrace agile and DevOps principles and best practices to optimize areas like innovation, timeliness, and quality.  They realize that IT evolves, and with that, there needs to be a constant analysis of its people and how IT serves the business.

Less mature organizations should look at transformed organizations’ best practices and what their priorities are, and then ask themselves if those practices would benefit their organization as well.

Lastly, there is always a catalyst for change whether that is pressure from the business on IT to better serve its employee base; outside market forces that ramp up competitive pressure; or a new CIO that assumes the role with a new vision for how IT should operate. As change evolves into progress and maturity, improved IT outcomes will translate into improved business outcomes.”

HW: Do mature organisations recognise the importance of digital skills as much as new start-ups do? If not, what should be done to ensure digital skills become prevalent across both mature and start-up organisations?

Kevin Roche: “Traditionally, more established companies probably take longer to reshape skills or adopt net-new skills needed to truly take advantage of the modern data centre. That could be due to many internal factors, including institutional practices that have not changed much over time. Compare that to start ups, where there is less worry about company heritage and more focus on digital skills from Day 1.

Yet, the trend is shifting. Traditional enterprises are increasingly seeing the need for modernizing their workforces. New technologies are demanding it. That’s where achievements like those of Pivotal, within the Dell Technologies family of business, play such a critical role. Pivotal Labs is accelerating workforce skill development, and expediting new app development via Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

The development of digital skills goes back to the reality of digital disruption. If a business has not yet recognised this challenge, it may be too late. Think about Uber did to the taxi industry. Even brick and mortar banks are becoming increasing outdated. Traditional businesses can be weighed down by legacy IT. Now, getting out of legacy IT is not an overnight accomplishment. Digital transformation is a journey that touches all facets of people, process, and technology. It requires dedication and discipline to break out of the old way of doing business. Dell EMC, and Dell Technologies more broadly, are tackling these challenges every day for ourselves and our customers.”

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