Insights Leadership 14th July 2020

IT infrastructure – Why do Tech Businesses Need to Re-Think it?

The current climate has put immense strain on IT infrastructure and working life has changed exponentially in recent months. Speedy digital transformation has been critical for business continuity – and driving growth even during the most challenging of times.

As entire workforces made the switch to using online applications – firing up their home Wi-Fi and ultimately becoming remote employees overnight – many organisations were forced into completely adapting their operations.

Of course, business infrastructure may not have been built with a pandemic at the forefront of leaders’ minds, but enterprises with clear outlined disaster recovery measures in place are likely to be able to navigate adversity. A huge learning curve has begun, and managers are analysing how best to support customers and employees in this ‘new way of working’.

Setting aside the need to focus on people and health first, there is still a high expectation on service levels and a requirement for client satisfaction to remain exceptional. That also includes security considerations, business protection and continuity, and the reduction of capital expenditure.

As many enterprises refocus their longer-term goals, a lean and agile way of operating should ensure excellence. Having cost-effective, scalable ways to run a company puts the notion of ‘everything as a service’ ahead of the pack. It’s now down to modern leaders and their teams to re-evaluate how to promote a competitive edge, empower employees, and maximise customer experience and satisfaction – all with technology as an enabler.

Even before the pandemic, analysts Gartner predicted that 70% of IT infrastructure teams would be unable to support the business by 2025. The report highlighted skills, operating models, and working practices as risk factors – all of which continue to provide immense obstacles when aiming for some form of company continuity.

In addition, The State of IT Modernization 2020 report found that while 67% of respondents cited IT modernisation as crucial to meeting their business transformation objectives, only 25% achieved these initial goals. Organisations spent an average of 40% of their total IT budgets on such initiatives too.

Therefore, getting the infrastructure right – and ensuring projects built around IT operations are successful – is critical for companies. The ‘utopia’ of offering a strong and robust foundation, from which applications can be delivered fast, to an exponentially growing and enthusiastic market, is the holy grail. So, where should the focus now lie?

Developing skills to enhance a firm’s competitive advantage

Employees are the lifeblood of an organisation. They’re the key to innovation and the people who can transform brands because they truly understand an end user’s needs.

Leaders must analyse where there are skills shortages and address them swiftly. If a new recruit is required, the answer might not always lie in ‘traditional’ employment models. Could the latest addition be an experienced professional who produces exceptional work deliverables on a project basis? Or is the answer to outsource work to managed service providers to help an organisation realise its goals?

Understanding where the required skills sit means that managers can identify exactly who they need, and how they must deliver. And, of course, learning and development should be embedded in every profitable enterprise, so it’s vital to ensure that these options are accessible to existing staff.

Providing security that safeguards connected devices

With the increase in services usage, there is always going to be a renewed cyber risk. Workforces must be reminded of the importance of remaining security conscious, while suppliers keep working on ways to ensure their products deter hackers.

Many organisations will be looking at ways to streamline infrastructure – such as via cloud migration – so that they can react strongly to customer demand and maintain data protection. Several firms may also delve into hybrid models to ensure complete safety.

Having a robust infrastructure relies on the integration of key technologies. For example, some companies may opt for Message Query Telemetry Transport – available in a number of varieties including open source, such as Mosquitto. Additionally, there are ‘Defence in Depth’ security enablers especially for businesses utilising the Internet of Things (IoT) because they’re opening up a suite of devices. And operating an edge to core to a cloud model can ensure security is built into the design – and provide a secure performance foundation.

Organisations should be thinking both about implementing robust recovery software measures and exactly how they store critical information. Around 50% of data is set to be created outside of the datacentre at the edge, according to Gartner, and so leaders must understand where to host critical information securely and how to effectively access it.

The answer for many companies looking at longer-term networking strategies may be exploring SD-WAN – to increase flexibility, provide a reliable secure service across all sites, monitor performance analytics in real-time, and scale connectivity up or down. In addition, Virtual Desk Infrastructure can safeguard connected devices and make sure they’re not vulnerable to attacks.

Encouraging an agile, flexible and adaptable team to meet challenges head-on

COVID-19 has shown the need for teams to embrace and manage change. Traditional operating models have been severely tested, and many are now emerging from the ‘make the best of it’ phase to rolling out excellence that signifies long-term productivity, as everybody searches for their own ‘new normal’.

Being agile relies on having a nimble and adaptable workforce that can continually review how they do things and roll-out innovative change by bringing together technology, processes, and company culture.

Alleviating performance pressures to ensure a robust framework

When a system is unavailable because of server failures, network outages, or another issue, it can not only impact upon day-to-day operations, but could severely damage brand reputation, productivity, and new business opportunities.

Being able to reduce downtime requires maintenance – via regular test server backups and reviewing devices – and being fully prepared for how to react to potential risk.

Firms must also consider customer satisfaction levels – and how they can be improved via IT – alongside providing cost-effective ways to ensure their infrastructure doesn’t completely drown resources. Hyperconnectivity solutions – as well as the powers of Artificial Intelligence and IoT – can all improve a company’s tech framework when speed and flexibility are imperative.

Working remotely to maintain motivation

 Employees operating from different locations may not mean great change for many tech businesses. Running such a model provides a huge array of benefits – from increasing productivity to reducing expenses and commuting time. Considering the global impacts of the current climate, another key benefit concerns the environment and the need for more sustainability.

And it may be vital when rethinking infrastructure too, as it can positively impact a company’s bottom line, and enable workforces to complete tasks swiftly and accurately – because they’re working smarter with the right tech in place.

Additionally, for those providing online services, remote operations streamline services and enhance efficiency – providing a better digital experience for end-users.

Understanding how analytics can empower swifter, commercially savvy outcomes

To understand what’s working – and what isn’t – leaders don’t need to look any further than the data. Gleaning critical information that shapes how a company speaks to its customers and suppliers – and assists in vast improvements – can be incredibly powerful.

Possessing real-time insight enables teams to analyse their audience’s wants and needs, and forecast outcomes that can shape business decisions while ensuring they’re adapting swiftly to market evolution.

Harnessing true, accurate data ensures greater visibility for companies as they become a trusted source of information. In addition, analytics solutions can provide enhanced transparency that not only builds a stronger in-house culture but produces brand advocates who can inspire innovation.

When it comes to infrastructure, it’s not always a case of completely ripping out an existing model and starting again. What’s important is to review the current state of play, plan the IT journey towards reinvigorating processes, underline the tech stack and the skills needed, as well as procurement and project delivery requirements. And all this must be done with employees’ buy-in – and making them part of the entire process as the rethink rolls out.

This article first appeared here.

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