Key Technology Considerations for the Forward-Thinking CIO
Over the last year or so, IDC has talked extensively about digital transformation (DX) and the need to infuse a DX agenda across the entire scale and breadth of the modern enterprise in order to deliver more productive, more efficient, and more revenue-generating outcomes.
However, it is important to remember that the vast majority of organizations were not "born in the cloud", and as such have legacy systems, cultures, and skills sets to consider. This doesn't mean that achieving true DX is impossible, but it certainly makes the journey more challenging. However, that should never be an excuse to simply give up.
Choosing to ignore digital transformation and blindly hoping it all goes away is not an option, as the rapid pace of technological evolution is already disrupting numerous traditional industries right before our eyes. And yours could be next.
Indeed, a whole new raft of disruptive technologies – or 'innovation accelerators' as we call them at IDC – are changing the face of service delivery, operational processes, and customer experience right across the vertical spectrum. These include cognitive systems, augmented/virtual reality, next-generation security, the internet of things, robotics, and 3D printing.
It's fair to say that the influence of these technologies will differ widely depending on the sector in which you operate. In some industries, they will enable groundbreaking innovation, while in others they will merely serve as a means to an end. But whatever the industry, you must not fall into the trap of assuming your organization will not need them at all – because you most certainly will.
With this in mind, IDC has drawn up a series of key points for CIOs to consider as they weigh up the potential role that these innovation accelerators could play in driving the digital transformation of their own organizations:
Keep an Open Mind: New technologies are often greeted with a great deal of skepticism around their suitability for the real world. But just remember that the doubters said much the same thing about cloud in the early years. So when you engage with vendors, be sure to gain as much as insight as possible into potential use cases for your industry, and always remain open to suggestions from your colleagues on utilizing emerging technologies in innovative ways to facilitate your organization's goals.
Insist on Vendor Accountability: It is astonishing how often vendors are not held accountable for the solutions they have sold to their customers. For any new technology deployment, be sure to push for stringent SLAs, and always consider the potential benefits of success not just for your own organization but for the vendor as well.
Ensure Adequate Governance: Optimizing your organization's responsiveness to the huge amounts of information generated by cognitive systems and IoT will be critical to delivering success. However, the right governance procedures must be put in place to effectively and securely manage this information. This cannot be responsibility of the vendor, although you should consider outlining your required security standards to the vendor in question and seeing how they can work with you to ensure compliance.
Bring Business to the Table: The implementation of any new technology should have a strong impact on the business. If you do not show how these solutions can support the business, you are going to face an uphill struggle trying to secure enthusiastic acceptance and adoption. Addressing the end goals of the business will give you access to increased funding.
Push the User Experience: Regardless of the costs involved, enabling a seamless user experience will be critical to ensuring the ultimate success of the deployment. If your users struggle to get to grips with a new solution, the deployment may be deemed irrelevant before it has even properly got off the ground.
Focus on Security: With each new project, security must be non-negotiable. Be sure to evaluate the impact each technology will have on the security posture of your organization. Always revise your security policies as you deploy new solutions and ensure they remain compliant with any relevant industrial and government regulations.
Deal with Legacy: Legacy itself is not an issue, but inaction is. Your organization will inevitably have legacy systems that may or may not be compatible with the new technologies you choose to deploy. It is therefore important that you set up a coherent transition plan for your legacy systems, with the aim of eventually eliminating all unnecessary IT complexity and clutter.
Brace Yourself for a New Identity: The role of the CIO is expanding, and you may be required to wear multiple hats from now on. With responsibility for everything from technology and information to innovation and governance, your engagement with the business will expand beyond all previous recognition.
Ultimately, the potential impact of innovation accelerators will vary wildly from organization to organization. But, regardless of which industry you operate in, you can be assured that disruption is heading your way in one form or other. Given this inescapable reality, preparing yourself adequately for the rigors of digital transformation is an absolute must.