One of the stark realities of the digital age is that IT is more than a collection of servers and computing systems. Radical advances across the digital technology spectrum—robotics, drones, 3D manufacturing, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), the internet of things (IoT), blockchain and artificial intelligence( AI), to name a few—have tilted the business and IT landscape in new and sometimes intriguing directions.
With the right mix of tools, “There’s an ability to innovate and disrupt at an unparalleled rate,” states Merim Becirovic, managing director for global core infrastructure, Cloud and Business Operations at Accenture.
For CIOs, today’s environment represents both the best of times and the worst of times. Advanced emerging tools and technologies can generate cost savings, efficiency gains and, in a best-case scenario, entirely new products and services. This, in turn, can drive competitive gains and bottom-line results.
Yet, at the same time, attempting to select the right technologies and assemble them in a way that produces real-world results is daunting. “What used to be six months of technology advancement now takes place in days,” says Dee Burger, global leader of digital practices at Capgemini. “Keeping up with things is extraordinarily difficult.”
As a result, it’s critical for organizations to construct an agile and flexible digital framework that supports experimentation, testing, innovation and technology advancement. Yet, at the same time, it’s important for CIOs and other enterprise leaders to manage budgets and hedge their bets. Promising technologies frequently fizzle or emerge in a way that pundits didn’t originally envision.
In addition, the competitive dynamics of the marketplace produce constant change. “New ideas and new ways to apply technology are flowing faster than ever,” Burger points out. “An organization must have a framework in place to deal with digital technologies.”
Supporting New Digital Technologies
For CIOs, the question isn’t whether to deploy emerging digital technologies, but how to adopt a combination of tools and leverage their power. In a best-case scenario, the sum of these technologies can produce gains greater than the individual parts. But success requires more than a piecemeal or ad hoc approach.
“The challenge for today’s CIO is, How do you position your organization to be a digital organization that delivers now and in the future,” Accenture’s Becirovic explains. “We are shifting to a platform economy that requires a highly flexible, scalable and agile IT infrastructure. An organization must be able to support new and changing directions in digital technology.”
From an IT perspective, he says, this means virtualizing systems and migrating to the public cloud, where it’s possible to plug in services and software in near real time. It also requires an emphasis on software-defined everything.
However, designing a digital framework that supports a mélange of technologies also requires a different way of thinking. Input from line-of-business (LoB) executives is imperative, an eye on tech innovation is paramount, and ensuring that the organization has the skill sets to deploy specific systems and technologies is vital. Along the way, a roadmap that addresses an organization’s opportunities and value points is key, Becirovic says.