The need for the business to thrive sees speed eclipse cost

by Gary Middleton

06 August 2019

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Digital disruption casts a long shadow over the business landscape. Every organization believes that it’s under threat and IT leaders need solutions they can leverage swiftly and effectively, eliminating systems that inhibit speed, and investing in those that can transform, deliver and drive the business.

Grappling with the speed equation

At the heart of this discussion is the issue of business transformation. In order for companies to adapt quickly to the changing requirements of the market they need a clear strategic plan to direct their IT strategy. This strategic direction focuses key decisions around skills, architecture, service integration, and which companies to partner with. All of this needs to be undertaken while keeping a close eye on how they impact customer experience.

Organizations require an architecture that enables them to better manage the speed of change, allowing them to exploit new technologies. This architecture needs to be agile enough to allow the organization to adapt to changes in the market and should embrace tight integration between the various elements. Baking in automation, security and processes that facilitate rapid change are also fundamental concepts that need to be part of the architecture discussion from day one.

An IT strategy aligned to your digital business plan allows for greater agility, giving you the opportunity to sidestep the weighty and lengthy investment pathways that dominated in the past. Technology investments have struggled with return on investment and lengthy implementations, but in this new world there are approaches available to organizations that do things differently.

Today, the metric by which a digital business is measured starts with the user experience and the speed at which the company does business. In the digital era, as disruption shakes every enterprise, market, and industry, organizations need new services and capabilities now. This means that the speed of business, the responsiveness to developers, and the pace of innovation needs to accelerate. Development is done in sprints.

Understanding the speed dynamic

It is important that the organization understand the elements that need to be executed at speed to allow for the transformation of operations and business capability. These key elements include: 

  • ability to respond to customer needs and workload demands
  • customer satisfaction
  • deployment and change management
  • security

The IT leader is under pressure to find the perfect balance between execution and speed versus investment, technology and governance. These choices hinge on the organization’s individual requirements across its own corporate policies, the rules that govern its industry, and the laws that impact on data privacy. In addition, they impact on how the organization meets the demands of both customer and market.

The great disruptors changed the way we think about the possible and reinvented markets. Nobody knew they wanted them until suddenly, they were there. This is the essence of disruptive innovations and the pace at which they can change the world.

Speed may be of the essence, but so is ensuring that the brand and the client are protected, and that governance remains a priority. The scope of speed is not as much a technology focus as a business one, and every aspect of speed should be evaluated against customer deliverables and experience. It’s essential that the decisions made to align operations and technology architecture are closely aligned to business objectives. At the same time, organizations need to optimize their operational processes to deliver services at the desired pace.

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The challenges of speed

The trend towards speed suggests that cost is no longer the deciding factor when investments are made, but the reality is that the strategic direction has to be in place in order for the core infrastructure to support future investments.

As the digital business grows and these services prove their worth and their ability to scale, cost will resurface as organizations invest to ensure they remain competitive.

The data center, the network, the security – these are the foundations upon which the disruptive and agile organization is built, and they have to be world class in order to leverage the organization’s potential.

The new world is about trying, seeing what works and adapting based on client feedback. Learning with the client, using their feedback and enabling developers to respond is the iterative theme of the new world.

It’s vital that the business is mindful of their overall business objectives and make sure that every aspect of its technology investment is aligned. Taking advantage of the speed you can now achieve while maintaining brand value and learning from clients is a complex juggling act. The business has to protect the brand while moving at breakneck speed and iterating the value delivered to the client. The real challenge lies in ensuring that the organization can remain competitive, while juggling the advantages of speed alongside the limitations of infrastructure and budget.

Finding strategic success within speed

In spite of the extremely fine line that the organization has to walk between speed and cost, the impact of disruption and the potential of speed are remarkably exciting. There’s innovation, there are new opportunities and there are start-ups and shakers that inspire organizations to ask questions and redefine boundaries.

Finding the organization’s path through the maze of speed alongside the hazards of disruption can be tricky – here are some essential tips to putting some reins on speed, so your business can thrive:

  1. The right architecture enables speed. If done right, architecture is the foundation for enabling the speed of business, by integrating the critical services and capabilities in a software-driven approach that allows complex service delivery.
  2. The speed of change. It’s likely that you will make tens or hundreds of changes a day and that they will still be limited by processes and integration. However, the definitive point will be the ability to execute those at the pace needed. It allows you to integrate new services, engage with clients and transform decision making. Automation is a powerful tool that allows for differentiation that’s aligned to the business and delivers measurable value. Automation without process changes and improvements is limited in the value it can deliver.
  3. Service integration equally enables on-premise solutions to deliver at the speed of public cloud. It’s possible to achieve a faster out-of-the-box experience for all elements of your infrastructure if they are optimized for integration.
  4. The speed of decision making. Decision making has changed, today it is focused on the customer and iterating based on what works and delivers business value. Tune your environments to allow shared learning with the client as opposed to unilateral business decisions that were done in the past. Now is the time to empower clients to drive the decision-making process, use the platforms that have been created, and take advantage of the services the new architecture will deliver.
  5. Skills and DevOps: The way organizations build their applications has shifted to an Agile approach, with iterative changes being made to constantly optimize the delivery of services. Organizations need to shift their skills base to cater for, not just new development methodologies, but for the cultural transformation that will accompany this.
  6. The rules are changing. The rules are changing every day to comply with new regulations such as GDPR, privacy and regulation. Speed to adapt, speed to understand and speed to compliance are essential.
Gary Middleton

Gary Middleton

Principal Director – Group GTM and Skills Transformation, NTT Ltd.