IT Reality Check

What’s the new reality of IT? You read the latest from cloud providers and management consultants and you walk away thinking every company from the corner baker to Fortune 100 enterprises has digitally transformed and moved to a cloud-native environment. You then get data from IT vendors showing 90% of the companies that run to the cloud, move back on-prem. We know the truth is somewhere in-between. So, what’s the deal?

Digital Transformation

The desire to digitally transform organizations creates the environment for all of this volatility. Digital transformation is real. You may or may not like the term, but the pressures around digitally enabling a business exists. What is digital transformation?

Nike represents an example of digital transformation. Smaller more agile shoe companies create an experience that threatens the likes of Nike. I’m sure I can get a pair of custom running shoes without leaving my home. It’s a given in today’s digital world. However, Nike had to transform to meet that expectation. Can the same be said of its competitors?

Clothing and retail are just two examples of the disruption brought by digital transformation. Farmers have the challenge from farm to table. More and more, consumers want to know from where the food they buy and consume originated. Where was the egg in my omelet laid? How long did it sit at the distribution center before it hit the shelf at the grocery store? How long was it on the shelf in the grocery store? Consumers and partners are demanding this type of innovation at all levels of the business.

Hybrid IT

The whole method of conducting business evolves as a result of technology innovation. The person responsible for provisioning a Windows Server or a Linux LAMP stack feels the pressure. It’s no longer acceptable to take 8-weeks or even 4-weeks to provision a server. Manufacturers are starting to use terms such as fail fast or agile processes. Retail store managers are directly engaging with technology providers who look to place racks of servers in retail locations.

Businesses need agility. CFO’s can no longer approve the requisition for the DNS Administrator that doesn’t understand how he enables the business. That $50K may fund the consumption of a Salesforce app that increases sales by $500K or raises the NPS a couple of points. IT needs to add tangible value.

At the same time, SAP can’t go down. When it’s time to close the quarter, the CMO’s pet project can’t impact the performance of the batch jobs that close the quarter to report the numbers for the Street. The business must be agile but stable. Resource procurement must be instant but stable and within controlled cost.

Here in is the rub so to speak. The new and the old must integrate. IT must run at two speeds. We’ve tried a bunch of things. We’ve attempted to re-platforming applications for the cloud as we learned lift-and-shift only results in moving back on-prem due to cost overrun in the public cloud.

However, we discovered we merely couldn’t re-platform every application. We don’t have the budget, talent, or risk tolerance to re-platform applications that aren’t improved or bring additional business value just because they run in the cloud.

The reality on the ground is that we see IT organizations try everything. No one has completely figured all of this out. We are only at the very beginning of the digital transformation and therefore the back office technology that powers the change.

So, what should you be learning or funding? Should you learn how to code? Should you learn how to treat infrastructure as code? Should you double down on traditional certifications? Should you modernize and automate your existing data center?

I’ll tell you what you should do.

Stop and go back and understand your business.

  • Who are your competitors?

  • Who are your customers?

  • What are the trends in your industry?

  • What customized SaaS offerings are becoming available to your business units?

  • How are they looking to solve problems or create value using these technologies?

When you can give your CFO an elevator pitch for why your job exists or shouldn’t, then you are ready to learn a new technology or fund that new effort. One thing that hasn’t changed between now and then, there’s too much to learn. More so now than ever, you must understand your industry and the disruption happening within that industry.