How to jumpstart a digitalisation journey

Rich Hillebrecht asks how organisations can balance the demand for cost savings with the need to keep the business relevant in a digital future

Tags: Digital transformationRiverbed Technology Incorporated
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How to jumpstart a digitalisation journey CIOs are faced with meeting demand for digitalisation in the face of budget pressure, says Hillebrecht.
By  Rich Hillebrecht Published  April 6, 2016

Doing more with less is a constant challenge to IT organisations. There is continuous downward pressure on IT budgets, while expectation surrounding what can be achieved through IT projects has increased significantly.

CIOs are under pressure to repeatedly deploy the ‘next big thing’ to stay competitive, while still delivering maximum benefit and optimal value. With digital disruption already taking place today, many CIOs are preparing themselves to be thought leaders on the disruptive impacts of the digitalisation of industries.

They are learning to anticipate and communicate the potential opportunities of being a disruptor and the risks of being disrupted, and are leading the dialogue around the implications and business imperatives with regard to the allocation of resources and funding levels for IT investment. However, while CIOs have jump started a digitalisation strategy and journey, the question remains: How can they balance the demand for cost savings with the need to keep the business relevant in a digital future? The key is to identify and launch opportunities that have low degree of difficulty to implement.

Optimise your network

There are now more devices, applications and networks than ever before. Bandwidth becomes an issue as each application also uses additional micro-services. Visibility is a problem – many applications are hosted in different public, private and hybrid cloud infrastructures using various types of connectivity. In these diverse environments, it’s not unusual for data to always use a different network path to reach the end user. This means the IT department has to identify, analyse and solve problems in a diverse, ever changing environment. Having the right tools in place will enable CIOs to locate and understand network performance problems, optimise infrastructure and application performance, and increase network efficiency. Only when they achieve visibility, optimisation, and control across hybrid clouds and networks can CIOs ensure that on-premise, cloud and SaaS applications perform to service-level agreements.

Take a new approach to branch office IT

On average, 50% of an organisation’s employees work out of branch offices. Nonetheless, many CIOs focus their data protection strategies solely on data centres, ignoring branch locations. Without qualified IT staff on site to manage servers, storage and backup at the branch, it can take days, weeks or even months to provision new services, resolve application performance issues and recover from outages. Instead, CIOs can turn to hyper-converged branch IT, where branch data is stored and managed in the data centre and users access it through applications running locally in the branch. This approach allows branches to consolidate servers, storage and network infrastructure into a single appliance, greatly simplifying the maintenance and delivery of critical resources.

Find long term technology partners

Well-architected platforms that give businesses the flexibility to rapidly deploy services that link their digital business community are going to be key at all levels of the technology stack. Digitalisation is driving an explosion of data that needs to be turned in to actionable information and managed by algorithms – CIOs need to find key partners who can help them exploit the opportunity to be the disruptor, rather than the disrupted. While technology will change over time partners are invested in each other’s long term success.

Invest in innovation

Formulating an approach to ‘innovation’ that is funded as part of a CIO’s investment portfolio can create a sustainable, balanced model, as can redirecting operational savings towards investments aimed at innovation. Additionally, to ensure they remain creative and cutting edge, CIOs can crowdsource ideas from their teams, employees and customers. Investing in tools that clearly identify network and application performance problems and give CIOs fluency in the complicated language of application-aware network performance management are crucial to satisfying an organisation’s constantly evolving needs.

Rich Hillebrecht is chief information officer, Riverbed Technology.

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