We live in an age when every company is undergoing some form of digital transformation, as they try to accelerate innovation and bring the next big thing to market before anyone else, writes John Eland, Chief Strategy Officer, Global Data Centers, a division of NTT Ltd.
Huge efforts are going into exploring the potential of new and emerging technologies in order to improve efficiencies, lower costs, create new revenue streams and build entirely new business models. IDC forecasts all this will lead to worldwide spending on digital transformation reaching $2.3 trillion in 2023. However, as organisations and the customers they serve become increasingly reliant on technology, the impact will become all the more severe if and when something goes wrong.
IT teams are therefore under pressure to deliver digital transformation without unleashing chaos, but this is far from simple, as change always brings inherent risk.
That’s especially true when it comes to complex modern IT ecosystems, which are highly susceptible to the principles of chaos theory, or the butterfly effect; where a typhoon is unleashed when a butterfly flaps its wings on the other side of the world. In the context of IT environments, this means that even small configuration changes can result in unforeseen and catastrophic consequences in seemingly unrelated systems. With many organisations looking to implement largely untried and untested capabilities and technologies, that risk is even more significant.
To ensure their digital transformation goes smoothly and delivers the desired benefits, organisations first need to lay the groundwork by implementing the right blend of IT infrastructure and technologies. This foundation layer will likely be built on a hybrid model that combines on-premise, private and public cloud infrastructure, to provide the perfect balance between flexibility, reliability and security that is crucial to today’s digital businesses. It must also include the connectivity, interoperability and integration layers that are essential to ensure services can run seamlessly and data can flow freely to power the new capabilities being deployed through digital transformation.
This is a major undertaking – and is perhaps why many digital transformation projects end up delayed or postponed. Already stretched IT teams, whose time is being split between maintaining ‘business as normal’ and driving innovation projects, struggle to find the time to evaluate the range of technologies, cloud services and partners that are available to help make their vision a reality.
Even if they can identify all the elements they need to get their projects off the ground, it can be incredibly costly and time-consuming to line everything up and conduct a proof of concept to verify its viability and ROI. There’s also the risk that the POC itself could have a negative impact on live production systems, leading to reputational and revenue damage. It’s no wonder that many companies exist in a state of paralysis, delaying their digital transformation as they continue to evaluate the potential impacts to reduce the risk.
Finding Clear Skies in a Safe Place For Innovation
Despite the reasons for organisations exercising caution when it comes to hitting ‘go’ on their digital transformation projects, being able to fail fast is vital to keeping up with the pace of innovation and staying ahead of their competitors. Organisations can’t afford to remain frozen on the brink of a potentially game-changing innovation, or there’s a risk that someone else will get there first. They need to quickly identify whether a transformation initiative will or won’t work, so they don’t waste time gearing-up for a launch that fails to achieve its goals or deliver on the desired benefits. This can only be achieved by moving away from DIY approaches to building out digital ecosystems to support transformation.
Instead, organisations should look to trial their concepts in a ready-made, vendor-neutral ecosystem where they can access a broad range of technologies and service providers to identify the best fit for their unique requirements. This provides a safe platform where organisations can avert the risk of chaos by trying new things in a sandbox environment, to validate technologies while not putting existing production systems at risk. As such, organisations can drastically reduce the time and effort required to create an end-to-end solution and minimise the risk factor of digital transformation. Ultimately and most importantly, they can increase their speed to market to stay one step ahead of the competition, without having to worry about the consequences of that pesky butterfly flapping its wings.