We’ve heard the words, but have you wondered what it is all about? Digital Transformation is a strategic directive to redefine your business practices and processes to gain competitive advantage. It is all about making the inevitable tide of change work for you, rather than against you. It is also a disruptive force.
Digital Transformation requires a Plan
Amid all the talk of digital transformation, we lose sight that the process of change must be purposeful to have impact. Digitizing marketing content, hiring social media marketing millennials or modernizing your ERP applications is not digital transformation and will fail to yield any measurable advantage without a strategic vision, direction and careful planning. [check out Digital Transformation Is Not About Technology from the Harvard Business Review.]
You need to address where the beating heart of change resides – the data center. The data center is a critical component that factors into making any digital transformation plan successful.
Digital Transformation Requires a Next Generation Data Center
The classic architecture of the data center was primarily silos of design, implementation and operation. There were networking organizations, compute organizations, storage organizations, security organizations, and procurement organizations. The list goes on. And each of these silos was responsible for the operation and interaction with the other silos. This has proved to be very inefficient and created extra lag in the system. In fact, most early cloud adoption happened because data centers took too long to respond to new application demand or new data sources. Cloud adoption was an operational imperative, not a strategic directive for many organizations.
So, to drive digital transformation, the next generation data center has to be all about the Data, and the functionality that will move the data center anywhere the data is.
It’s all about the Data
Traditionally, data centers were built like bastions to protect the crown jewel data assets of the corporation. Security protected the storage vault and the data was replicated across multiple systems for different reporting and analytic purposes. Integrating new data or non-IP data with those crown jewels required a herculean effort. The result was an under performing application delivered far to late to be remotely advantageous. What has become clear is that data center designs based on siloed architectures and 4-walled bastions of data management will no longer work.
A new data center model is needed as executive visionaries drive new business practices. Data will be coming from everywhere and it won’t be curated. It will be public. It will be messy. And there will be a lot of it. Data gravity may shift from the core of the data center to multiple locations forcing a hybrid data center solution.
Accelerated change will force a new generation of application development running concurrent with operations. These applications will be distributed to run closer to their data sources and will be part of a network of applications spread across multiple locations.
Hopefully it is becoming evident that gaining competitive advantage for your business in this area requires a plan. It requires comprehensive alignment across all departments in your business, inbound and outbound marketing aligning with product design, manufacturing and supply chain partnerships with greater flexibility and visibility to operations, and finance and accounting systems delivering a competitive advantage where only cost centers existed. Embrace change. It is inevitable.
By Maggie Smith
Published with permission from blogs.cisco.com.