IT Agility is Key to a Digital Transformation Strategy
The business and personal world is changing fast. The shift is toward digitization, where the emphasis is on speed and agility without compromising your security posture. Decisions are based on data, and the digital business is customer-led, insights-driven, and connected. IT must adapt or face irrelevance.
The foundation of a digital strategy is understanding what going digital means to an organization, because it’s different for everyone. Do you plan to fully automate operations or just portions? Do you need to dive into data analytics for more targeted marketing efforts? Do you need to build efficiencies into business processes? What technologies, software, and human capital skill sets are needed? How will digitization affect your current business models?
Then there’s the customer relationship. Digital transformation efforts must support what customers want, improving the business-customer relationship, and not just force customers to use new technology because it’s more convenient for the business.
Therefore, developing a digital transformation strategy should define how the business will evolve to create customer value and growth. Technology drives that shift, and data is king. The underpinnings of a digital transformation is IT agility. According to CIO Insight, 68% of non-software companies identify agility as one of their most important initiatives.
What Do We Mean by IT Agility?
An IT agility environment has the systems, applications, network infrastructure, and security in place that can adapt and respond to business demands in real time or milliseconds rather than days or weeks. It’s the necessary foundation for a successful transformation to a data-driven business.
Applications are a customer’s primary touchpoint with a digital business. Whether the organization’s focus is retail, e-commerce, banking, or manufacturing, it relies on applications to operate. Applications need to be delivered fast, be easily updated, scalable, and secure, and provide a responsive, user-friendly experience.
Organizations are turning to the cloud to provide this kind of agility. According to a survey by LogicMonitor, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. The cloud enables IT to quickly develop, deploy, and orchestrate any application, and scale up or down on demand. In a multi-cloud environment, staff can choose which cloud is best suited for specific workloads, locating them close to customers to optimize speed and performance.
An adaptive, high-performance network to the cloud is also essential. You can’t achieve agility without it. A high-performance network provides reliable uptime, flexible bandwidth, and low latency for a superior customer experience. Think of the importance of a network supporting a cloud environment in terms of roadways to a new airport. Building an airport greatly alleviates congestion by adding terminals, gates, and flights. (That’s the cloud, in this scenario.) But what happens if the roadways leading to and from the airport haven’t been improved? The bottlenecks have simply moved, resulting in frustration for travelers. The network (or roadways) must be in place to support additional traffic or the system fails.
What Can Increased IT Agility Do for a Digital Business?
IT agility increases efficiency and flexibility. To remain relevant in the marketplace, organizations must speed up the delivery of applications and be able to make decisions quickly.
With an agile IT environment in place, organizations can:
- Accelerate speed to market
- Become innovators by being able to adopt technology faster and deploy and manage any application on virtually any cloud, anywhere
- Speed up delivery of services to the business through self-service IT, where staff can provision, modify, and manage services within minutes
- Build customer trust and meet compliance requirements by protecting data and connections against threats
In short, increased IT agility improves an organization’s ability to deliver applications, meet customer needs, and become more resilient, while setting the stage for growth and profitability.
3 Factors in Achieving IT Agility
- A hybrid cloud is a mix of on-premises resources, private cloud, and public cloud services like AWS or Microsoft Azure, with the ability to orchestrate and manage workloads between them. Some hybrid clouds are used mainly for applications, where others incorporate infrastructure as well. The advantages of a hybrid cloud are high availability and the capability to handle extraordinary amounts of interactivity, with little impact on performance.
- Managing multi-cloud environments is complex. Managing pools of resources from on-premises and various cloud resources is challenging. A multi-cloud management solution greatly eases administration by providing a single, centralized platform for automating application delivery, managing workloads, and optimizing the overall infrastructure. In a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of CenturyLink, 82% of firms found hybrid cloud management software to be extremely or very helpful in achieving agility.
- Finally, IT agility requires secure global connections. Where security used to be an after-thought in infrastructures and application development, it’s now a critical component. But security and performance is a balancing act. The connections customers use to access your applications must be encrypted to protect sensitive information, while maintaining the same flexibility and reliability as the cloud environment itself.
How Are You Doing on Your Cloud Journey?
Frost & Sullivan have found that 86% of businesses are seeking hybrid cloud platforms. Whether you are just getting started or moving the needle on a digital transformation initiative in play, see how CenturyLink managed cloud solutions, hybrid infrastructure, and managed services & IT consulting can help.
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