Behind every great digital company there’s a great digital IT infrastructure
Vice President, Architectures, APJ
Technology, Innovation, Thought Leadership, Digitization, Enterprise Networking
This week I’m at the Word Economic Forum in Hanoi to talk about ASEAN’s digital readiness, and perhaps the most disregarded pillar of digital transformation in a time it has never been more important for companies in the region to navigate technological disruption. That pillar is IT Infrastructure, and it needs to be modernized to address the future digital needs.
For sure, organizations of all sizes and from all industries understand the financial and competitive benefits of digital transformation and strive for a combined change in strategies, skills and technologies to succeed. According a Cisco's study on digital readiness that will be launched in October, which surveyed senior IT executives across various industries in Asia-Pacific, 93% of companies in ASEAN have a digital transformation strategy and 94% feel confident about it to differentiate and compete in the digital economy.
But optimism is different from readiness and organizations often approach the technology layer as unidimensional, when in reality there are two parts to it. It’s one thing to adopt cloud, for example, it’s another thing to provide real-time access to the data therein without latency.
The point is: organizations can’t run without walking, and as they plan to innovate and adopt critical technologies for the future – say Artificial Intelligence, 5G or Internet of Things - they must ensure the right IT infrastructure is in place to meet the digital transformation goals.
The gap is still wide however. According to a McKinsey report, by 2020 65% of companies’ IT infrastructure will still be legacy, preventing them from adopting technologies such as cloud and analytics. More: companies in Asia-Pacific spend US$11 Billion every year running their networks - a result of lack of modernization.
All great reasons to start looking at technology beyond the hot terms, and focus on the foundation that will power the next wave of IT and business innovation, and ensure companies’ digital sustainability.
So, what does it mean to have a digital-ready infrastructure? How do you know it is right to address the present and future digital challenges and respond to business demands? As an IT leader, ask yourself these three questions:
Is it automated?
Automation is a very wide concept when we talk about digital readiness. Surely, what comes to mind is manufacturing and the robots in the factory floors. But automation is also in a modern IT infrastructure, including in networking, security, data center, or cloud.
The importance in automating these areas - that are still largely manual in most organizations – is to ensure the focus shifts from IT management to how IT can help the business generate more innovation, better customer experience, or new services. The most funfamental reason is that a box-by-box approach can’t keep up with the increasing number of users, devices or cyber threats. But when the core infrastructure becomes automated, managing, scaling and securing an organization and its assets also becomes much simpler, faster and effective.
Is it secure?
Without a question, cybersecurity is a top of mind everywhere, including in ASEAN that has been a notorious target. All countries and companies and countries talk about it as a key driver to succeed in digital transformation and many are taking matters into their own hands. In Vietnam, for example, 81% of companies in Vietnam have upgraded their IT infrastructure in the last 3 years to improve their cybersecurity posture, according to Cisco’s digital readiness report.
But as good as that is, it’s not enough. Choosing the right security strategy is what will make the difference, and the best one is to take an integrated approach as a way to reduce complexity and increase security effectiveness. Most companies have a multitude of vendors and products for each part of the IT infrastructure - their networks, cloud or data center - resulting in a security landscape that is weaker and harder to manage because the different security elements are not integrated.
Is it optimized for Cloud?
We live in a SaaS world and all organizations are leveraging the cloud to consume and deliver services. In fact, most of them use multiple public clouds. However, despite the its scalability and agility benefits, new problems have emerged: an even more complex IT environment partially due to the lack of interoperability between public clouds and private cloud, fear of cyber threats and even an unexpected increase of costs - when cloud was all about reducing them.
Why is this happening? Because the massive move to the cloud wasn’t in the majority of the cases backed by changes in the networking and security environment. If we think about how data became decentralized with the cloud compared with data center, it’s easy to understand why companies would need more and distributed bandwidth to ensure user experience or why the approach to security needs to be integrated rather than fragmented. A modern IT infrastructure can ensure these needs are met.
If the answer to these three questions is “yes”, then you’re on the right track to succeed as a digital organization!
Cisco will soon announce a report on Asia-Pacific's digital readiness that assesses the gaps between digital transformation strategies and investments in IT infrastructure. Stay tuned to learn more!