8. Charting a New Course

Whether it’s a new customer experience, a platform to support nascent revenue models, or a system to streamline existing operations, digital transformation is driving the outcomes that define modern-day business.

This transformation can only be successful, however, if CIOs are willing and able to chart a new course for enterprise IT. One that is characterised by flexibility, speed, agility, innovation and a keen desire to support the business’s agenda. Fortunately, these are values that have always been at the core of British businesses and IT operations: innovation, efficient use of existing resources, and the ability to adapt.

They are also values shared by the US movie production company DreamWorks Animation, as mentioned earlier, which creates and manipulates massive volumes of data within tight frame-frames.

“You want to be able to adopt technology or ways of working that make your business more efficient and give you competitive advantage,” says Jeff Wike, CTO at DreamWorks Animation. “In order to accomplish those goals, we need the flexibility to meet the demands of our changing environment with a high amount of efficiency and utilisation.”

Wike and other savvy tech innovators are embracing Hybrid IT as the foundation for digital transformation. The ability to seamlessly stitch together traditional IT, managed services, and private and public cloud into a Hybrid IT fabric provides the flexibility to mix, match, and deploy the right combination of services quickly, regardless of their location.

By moving workloads dynamically and flexibly between these platforms as required, you can react to business need as it arises.

“What people have got to understand is with technology, things have to overlap - you can't manage them in siloes.”

– Simon Iddon
Group CIO, The Restaurant Group PLC

Both business and IT stand to gain from this model. Business users become more empowered by gaining access to the apps and information they need, when and where they need them. IT gains credibility as a strategic partner, able to move faster and drive innovation without the protracted deployment cycles and push-back that too often characterise traditional IT engagements.

How Do UK Business Leaders View the CIO?

62%
Strategic advisor

Proactively identifies business needs/opportunities and makes recommendations regarding technology or provider selections

21%
Consultant

Evaluates and advises on business needs, technology choices, or providers upon request

13%
Risk assessor

Evaluates and advises on technology choices or providers primarily through a risk management, security, or governance lens

2%
Roadblock

Raises enough flags and other obstacles to new technologies so that projects are difficult to complete

2%
Rogue player

Tends to do their own thing in technology procurement for new initiatives, creating challenges of transparency and visibility

Source: 2018 IDG Research Survey
“Hybrid IT has been pivotal for the journey we’ve been on around digital transformation, we use a number of different factors, as one size doesn’t fit all.”

– Jason Oliver
Director of ICT, Science Museum Group

The new agility involves a blend of people, process, technology, and economics. Beyond the core technology pillars of Hybrid IT – public and private cloud, hyperconverged platforms, composable architectures, software-defined infrastructure, and automation and orchestration capabilities – CIOs must forge deeper levels of IT-business alignment. This new type of internal partnership transcends simple guidance on technology choices and, instead, fuels collaborative efforts to improve business outcomes and achieve operational efficiency goals.

“I have a whole portfolio of people we are investing in to help them work closer with the business,” says Randall Gaboriault, CIO and Senior Vice President of Innovation and Strategic Development at Christiana Care Health System. “We’re investing to help them shape the technology strategy that enables our business and clinical goals.”

5 Ways to Improve Business Agility with Hybrid IT

1

Put your data to work, wherever it resides, to unlock insights for real-time action

2

Get – and pay for – the resources you need, when you need them

3

Enable teams to move apps and their components among service layers across a single, shared infrastructure that combines traditional IT with private and public cloud

4

Accelerate the delivery of new services at scale

5

Bridge the Dev/Ops divide and brokers IT services for LOBs with uninterrupted service levels

With Hybrid IT as the enabler, CIOs are firmly establishing enterprise IT as a critical service broker to unleash new ideas and revenue opportunities. Embrace DevOps practices, prioritise your skillsets around agile methodologies and tools, and put processes in place to nurture greater IT and business collaboration. These things are essential if you want to accelerate service delivery and create an environment that can be scaled up or down to match ongoing business fluctuations.

Jason Oliver, Director of ICT, Science Museum Group, comments, “Hybrid IT has been pivotal for the journey we’ve been on around digital transformation, we use a number of different factors, as one size doesn’t fit all. We use public cloud for the scalability and agility, and that allows us to digitise our collections; we use private cloud for performance; and hyper-converged infrastructure, micro-services etc.”

He adds, “We still have some on-premise solutions, and these tend to be low-latency or high-security applications. We also have other applications where the vendor just does it better than us, such as Office 365: why would we try to replicate what they can already provide across a myriad of devices?”

A Hybrid IT model also requires a more sophisticated approach to cybersecurity and risk. Instead of a separate layer addressed at the end of a project, security in this new environment is fused into all aspects of IT systems, applications, and services to reduce risk and create a more resilient infrastructure. “It’s an arms race,” notes Renee Zaugg, Vice President of IT Infrastructure and Development Services at Aetna. “We have a fairly sophisticated security programme, but we have to continue to develop and mature.”

Given the complexity, partnerships are critical in the new world of Hybrid IT. Essential in harnessing the right technology and having access to ongoing coaching and expertise. While the road to Hybrid IT is full of twists and turns, forward-thinking technology leaders don’t let obstacles and uncertainty deter them.

“We launched into this not knowing how to solve some of the problems and without having some of the skills on board,” says William Mayo, CIO at Broad Institute. “We’ve been able to sort it out with hard work, ingenuity, a bit of luck, and great partnerships with our providers. We just keep solving every problem as it comes at us, because not solving them is not an option.”

It’s Game Time

Now that you understand the fundamentals of Hybrid IT, use that knowledge to accelerate your digital transformation.