4 Steps to Survive Digital Darwinism
The fittest organizations are the most agile, able to make rapid adjustments so they can evolve into lasting and sustainable businesses.
by H. Sean Ross
Making the Evolutionary Leap with Cloud
“Digital Darwinism” is a popular term in business today, summarizing the impact of technology on enterprises, industries and countries, while subtly implying the consequences for those who fail to adapt. Also, it’s a trap. While this media-friendly euphemism neatly packages the idea, it doesn’t go far enough to convey the scope and urgency of change in today’s competitive environment.
Evolution, scientist Charles Darwin said, is the small, steady accumulation of evolutionary traits. IT, however, faces multiple waves of change all at once: a) the dramatic rise of inexpensive computing power, storage and fast network speeds; b) compression-driven virtualization and software automation throughout the IT stack; and c) disrupted economic levers signaling unprecedented change in traditional business models. As in nature, the most agile businesses are the fittest. The companies that are destined to survive and thrive can envision their “great change,” as well as the intermediate steps needed to achieve it. They have the ability to make rapid adjustments to create a lasting and sustainable business. Here are four strategies to avoid falling victim to Digital Darwinism.
1. Put people first
People issues should get front-and-center attention in every large-scale technology transformation. Cloud migration projects, in particular, broadly impact IT staff.
For example, platform engineering is a function typically replicated across the enterprise. In the new cloud operating model, platform engineering is consolidated into a single team that provides services to all business units.
As the company leverages new technologies, it needs less brawn and task management, and more brainpower and accountability. But success hinges on the people most affected. Leaders must communicate the business vision for the organization, make a genuine, pragmatic and empathetic case for the need to change, and strike a healthy balance between fear and excitement when discussing the consequences of inaction and the opportunities that change presents.
2. Target the right opportunities
In our experience, a frequent cause of transformation failure is that too many companies embark on projects that target existing applications or infrastructure. This reengineering wastes time and resources and doesn’t move the enterprise forward or generate momentum.
Consider the life cycle of a virtual machine (VM). It once required 60 to 90 days to provision and hand off a VM to users. Many of the provisioning tasks were steeped in years of traditional project-and-approval management, including weeks to define the network and firewall assignments for each VM. As they moved toward cloud, many organizations initially tried to replicate that process in an online system. This was a costly mistake, resulting in an even lengthier time to provision.
After taking a step back, CSC identified patterns for network configuration that could make the process transparent to users of the VM. This created a more reliable network, and it improved hand-off times by 80%.
3. Establish lighthouse teams
A core group of stakeholders who have the skills, ambition and resources needed to drive change in the business should set the transformation process in motion. These employees have the staff and the political and financial resources to effect change. They understand the imperative, the important business drivers and the necessary skills.
This lighthouse team will learn how to use new tools and approaches, explore how roles will change in the future and learn how to function effectively in those new roles. Empowered with an executive mandate, funding and technologies, these teams can begin experimenting and producing tangible results that align with the company’s new strategic direction. They can collaborate with business unit leaders and key staff members to make a case for future change.
4. Begin your journey today
The opportunities presented by today’s cloud operating model, rapid-development tools and the automation of hybrid cloud management are exciting, daunting and essential. Companies that adopt these next-generation technologies equip themselves with a new foundation for success. Those that do not, face a difficult and dangerous future.
The impact of these changes is enterprise-wide, and for the IT department, it represents an entirely new way of doing business. Roles shift. Consolidation occurs. New skills and mind-sets are required. The shift to a digital operating model is not an easy transition to make, but it is absolutely essential in the survival of the fittest.
It’s a journey we at CSC have experienced many times with our clients and in our own business operations, which are constantly evolving. Many of our traditional offerings have evolved into new, digital offerings, such as our hyperconverged and software-based CSC Agility Platform™. We’ve integrated our digital service management offerings, retrained our teams and created new positions — all with the goal of empowering our clients’ transformations.
H. SEAN ROSS is a global leader for cloud professional services at CSC.