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Innovation at the speed of business

CIOs must combine a multi-cloud environment strategically with AI/ML, and edge/IoT, writes GREG MCDONALD, director of systems engineering at Dell Technologies SA

In 2020 the necessity and power of digital platforms became apparent as businesses grappled with keeping a remote workforce connected. This year, having seen the power and scope of digitisation, the need to justify the need to increasingly turn to technology to optimise how an organisation operates in our “new normal”, is a given.

There is no doubt that technology has, and will continue to underpin almost every facet of an organisations’ existence. CFO’s are increasingly having to build roadmaps for future investments and align business goals and objectives with the innovation required to perform optimally. All of this places an increasing onus and responsibility on the CIO and IT department to develop a consistent set of operations and infrastructure to run the organisation’s digital foundation.

IT departments can and should step up to amplify their “technology superpowers” in the form of Multicloud, Mobile, AI / ML, and EDGE / IoT. Each of these aspects needs to be addressed to transform businesses in order to compete in the digital era. Digital innovation in any of these areas requires a flexible, consumable digital foundation. What is most exciting is when these four technology superpowers are used in new combinations, to innovate and change organisations in order to align with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to avoid being left behind.

Over the last five years, many organisations and IT departments were primarily focused on advanced analytics to understand user behaviours of infrastructure, and this brought about the rise of next-generation storefronts, for example – Amazon Online Shopping. With one of the keys to success being self-service, recommendation engines, and a simplified approach to customer experience.

So, can organisations in other industries get apps up and running and service customers in the same manner?

As we move into the future, organisations will need to spend more time focussing on how to digitise and apply innovative thinking to streamline their business process and align their product or service to the changing needs of the customer. This entails understanding data – which on its own has zero value – and turning data into information using context to turn it into actionable business insights, has infinite value. How organisations collect, manage and process all of the data they generate will help define, improve and automate business processes. The aim here is to use data to gain insights in order to build modern, slick, experience-driven applications. This will result in more applications and solutions being deployed in the next five years than the previous 40 years.

Traditionally, a public cloud model, has brought three issues to the fore: cost, compliance, and analytics. A public cloud model can become costly, in addition, compliance across public clouds becomes very difficult and handling different security policies between hundreds of accounts can result in complexity. Analytics can be viewed from several different angles including cost, risk, and operational inefficiencies with all three needing to be considered individually and from different angles. The conclusion, public cloud model proved to be complex and few organisations have expressed readiness to go purely to the public cloud.

Modern applications are now demanding flexibility. Vendors, such as Dell Technologies need to gain an understanding from customers on where modern applications are putting pressure on both their infrastructure and the price of investment. Finance departments need to ensure that budgets match the need for the right innovation at the right time, across Private Clouds, Public Clouds, and Compute Edge locations.

This highlights the importance of the role of the CIO in the organisation, with their in-depth knowledge of technology and their ability to translate the need for certain technology into a business case. CIOs need to convey this understanding to the CEO in order for the business to run optimally and at the edge of innovation.

There is no doubt that CFOs are under increasing pressure to be aware of technology in their financial planning and modelling. Vendors have the opportunity to engage with and partner with CFOs to enable them to better understand where their OPEX and CAPEX modelling can be shifted and altered. A multi-cloud strategy can still deliver on the effectiveness and benefits of innovation while bringing cost savings when done appropriately and effectively.

IT departments are no longer seen as a cost centre but more as a business differentiator with three aspects:

Aspect 1: Sustainable and profitable growth

This is where IT funding can be looked at from an outside-in approach. It is no longer about savings it is about Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This encompasses how IT can enable customers to consume on a Business to Customer (B2C) or a Business to Business (B2B) level.

Aspect 2: Internal efficiencies

What is fascinating here is the reduction in cost from self-service and chargeback, allowing organisations to see IT differently.

Aspect 3: Attract and retain the “right” people

How do you attract and retain talent, access people, enable people, and make sure that people can be productive?

Multi-cloud is a delivery platform; it offers an opportunity to deliver apps into people’s hands anywhere, on any device, at any time.

It is about enabling people to do their job in the most effective and productive way possible. The business landscape has changed and will continue on this accelerated change trajectory. In response, business goals, objectives, operations and finance must change too and all of this must be underpinned by technology as an enabler. Organisations can increase their agility by using multi-cloud, by having apps and services and tools available on demand.

Creating new value is very much about how organisations can build modern apps faster and quicker. This phenomenon could be described as a cloud evolution; where organisations let developers have infinite compute power for a limited amount of time to get the apps in the right hands of the right people, test them, structure them and do that without any exorbitant cost impact because the organisation already has a multi-cloud strategy.

On top of that, we know that the cloud challenges for the CFO are different. CFOs must consider how to maintain cost. CFOs are investing now in cost control to build a cloud strategy that drives innovation.

The fact of the matter remains that technology and technological innovation are key to organisational survival. Technology should be seen as an investment to enable organisations to succeed, remain nimble and even become industry disruptors. CFOs and CIOs have never had to work more closely together to align organisational goals and objectives and to implement the technology required to facilitate and enable this. CIOs should be positioning themselves as key business advisors to the C-Suite and be able to justify and demonstrate the value that technology and a Multi-cloud environment can bring, when used optimally and combined strategically with AI / ML, and EDGE / IoT.

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