Check out The Five Principles of a Successful IT Transformation eBook for in-depth guidance on how to transform your IT and drive your business to success.
What is IT Transformation?
An IT transformation describes an initiative where an enterprise reexamines and possibly overhauls its IT systems, in a systematic effort to improve business efficiencies. In the wake of major disruptions like the pandemic, the need to update and modernize IT systems comes to the fore, as industries become even more competitive than usual.
These plans are typically spearheaded by CIOs (chief information officers) and other enterprise leaders. Informally branded as a “rip and replace” process, the goal of transforming IT is to “rip out” outdated IT systems. These systems can include hardware, software, network architecture, protocols for data access and storage, and IT service management processes. Organizations then “replace” these outdated IT features with newer, more sophisticated versions.
Plans detailing this transformation have increased in priority across sectors and enterprises. According to Statista, digital transformation initiatives are a priority for 56% of organizations in 2021. In a separate report, more than 77% of CIOs reported pushing their digital transformation initiatives as their top IT initiative in 2021.
The increasing amount of big data also spurs organizations to transform their IT. Recent statistics show that the world created, captured, and consumed 59 zettabytes (ZB) of data in 2020. By 2024, that number will grow to 149 ZB.
Big data provides businesses with critical insights into their operations, the ability to drive decision-making faster, and the means to fuel their innovation cycles. Big data enables businesses to make sound choices and effectively implement data-driven strategies to power their growth.
However, outdated IT infrastructure and systems, along with traditional data management practices, are becoming ineffective when faced with the sheer volume, complexity, and variety of today’s big data. Enterprises gather more big data than they need. In many cases, they get the types of data they do not require at all.
As more big data streams into a business, the more complex data analytics becomes. By improving their IT capabilities, organizations will be able to effectively thresh, narrow down, and determine which types of data they need for their organization to fully function at optimal levels while reducing the amount of data they collect.
The Benefits of Transforming IT
The end goal of any IT information initiative is to enhance business processes and improve the delivery of services. By modernizing an organization’s IT to meet current service standards and requirements, organizations can derive deep, actionable insights into their process; find more viable ways to increase efficiencies; optimize performance; and drive down costs.
The results? Faster time to market, reduced delays, delightful customer journeys, and superior customer satisfaction.
It’s impossible to discuss transforming IT without mentioning cloud computing. The advent of cloud technology introduced a new business model where businesses move their critical processes and applications from on-site servers to cloud-hosted infrastructure. This allows them to do more without the costs and challenges that come with an on-premises IT center.
The rapid pace of cloud-based analytics processing, along with the power to source and query new sources of data, enabled enterprises to quickly analyze information and come to strategic business decisions based on high-quality insights.
Such is the need for a plan, especially in an economic environment where competitors are ultra competitive and consumers are more demanding than ever.
Information Technology Transformation Strategies
An information technology transformation is an extensive and continuous process that includes costs and resources. One particular strategy developed by IT experts to help enable transformation while curbing down costs is implementing an IT as a Service (ITaaS) approach.
ITaaS is a transformative operational model that enables business units or individual users to consume IT as a managed service, whether from an internal IT department or an external IT services vendor. In this model, enterprises only pay for IT services they require and use from a catalog of IT services and capabilities offered by the provider. This ranges from framework guidelines, configuration settings, and a variety of other services.
While ITaaS is not a technology shift from on-premises to the cloud, it prepares enterprises and helps them realize significant business benefits as they tread towards transforming their IT infrastructure.
Transforming IT not only involves a shift in technology but also paves the way for new roles and functions. IT is no longer the sole responsibility of the IT department. IT is present in almost every department or business unit across the entire enterprise. On top of this, each unit has its own framework to guide its utilization of IT.
Implementing a transformation strategy means enterprises have to include new IT roles as part of the agenda. Emerging careers in IT operations—like data architects, data engineers, data analysts, and lead information stewards—are the collective response to the unprecedented growth of business-domain-led analytics, data management autonomy, and more.
The Challenges of Transformation
Significant changes in the IT landscape, on top of the growing importance and strategic worth of data and analytics, created new challenges for enterprises and their IT and data and analytics leaders.
New IT Roles
Traditional IT roles are being disrupted by non-technical users. IT’s growing prevalence and utilization in every department and across the enterprise created hybrid IT roles and new operational models. New IT roles carry responsibilities and functions that overlap with that of traditional IT teams. The reality is ITOps is now a part of almost anyone’s job that works with data. As a result, this transformation requires finding “technical athletes,” IT specialists who are flexible, adaptable, and willing to embrace new IT functions and responsibilities. The search itself can be a challenging endeavor.
CapEx to OpEx
Cloud computing has revolutionized how businesses deal with big data applications. This can be a big challenge in transforming IT. As businesses move to the cloud, IT spending has shifted from capital expenditure (CapEx) to operational expenditure (OpEx). This spells serious cost management issues.
While ditching CapEx-related expenses like data centers, physical servers, and other expensive networking facilities and equipment promises big savings, businesses have to deal with OpEx’s highly fluid spending model. Operational expenses in the cloud can quickly rack up, especially if cloud teams operate with no ceiling and no governance.
Hot Cloud Storage
Data needed for critical applications and operations are usually high volume and frequently accessed. To ensure they are readily available when needed, this type of data is put in hot cloud storage. Hot cloud storage is expensive as they include faster, more durable, and powerful storage mediums like SSDs.
The problem with storing hot data in hot cloud storage is that data temperature can change in an instant. What is hot data today can become cold tomorrow, and what is cold data now can quickly become important. Data placed in cold storage takes time to access and process. In scenarios where you paid hot storage for cold data, money that could have been allocated elsewhere is easily lost.
An Overabundance of Tools
As if cloud computing and information technology transformations weren’t complex enough, the proliferation of IT tools and cloud services further complicate the situation. Enterprises are treated to a vast array of available solutions and technologies. But having a vast selection means IT leaders have to re-examine their IT architecture and pipelines to ensure they are using the best tools for each case and/or purpose.
Plus, it’s not limited to choosing and using the right tools and services. Managing these tools and services alongside your cloud or multi-cloud infrastructure can be a real pain. How can you manage it all and still not drift from your transformation goals?
Streaming and Messaging Solutions
IT teams must be able to communicate and collaborate seamlessly and in real time for them to effectively manage their IT infrastructure, apps, and all its components. They require instant notifications and alerts when an issue arises so they can quickly pinpoint the cause and perform effective resolution efforts. However, finding and implementing the right tools is tricky. Most collaboration and messaging software solutions are designed for enterprise teams and not IT.
Developers typically favor containers and choose them over virtual machines as the former allows for the fast and simple creation and distribution of application code and dependencies. Containers allow developers to work rapidly and satisfy the specifications and unique demands of business units and customers.
While developers laud the use of containers, ITOps have found them to be flawed and wrought with multiple disadvantages. For one, containers don’t perform at bare-metal speeds, resulting in performance overhead due to interfacing between containers and the host system among others. Second, graphical applications are clunky when run inside containers. Third, you can’t retrieve the data inside a container once it shuts down. And these are just the scratch on the proverbial surface.
Despite Frustrations and Challenges, IT Gains Attention
The 2021 IT Priorities Report revealed that IT challenges have magnified as a result of COVID-19-related disruptions and tensions. With transformation and cloud adoption initiatives significantly accelerated, new IT issues came to light.
Working with outdated IT technology is the chief frustration of 37% of IT leaders and employees, followed by acquiring telecommuting support (33%). Addressing support tickets came in as the third biggest frustration. However, more than half of the respondents have expressed an increased sense of respect and empathy for IT, despite their recent challenges.
IT Transformation: Preparation Checklist
As your enterprise embarks on the path to transforming its IT, it’s best that you refer to the following points to help keep you on the right track:
- Continue to re-evaluate roles based on changes in tech and your business. Always bear in mind that any transformation endeavor requires constant revaluation. Demands and requirements shift, and technologies are progressing at a furious rate. It helps to stay abreast with the changes and determine how those changes impact business goals.
- Look for those “technical athletes.” Times have changed and so have roles. IT is an exciting field right now as significant changes are ushering in new roles, functions, and purposes. You need to find and get the right people to fill these roles if you want your transformation plan to be a success.
- Get the best visibility you can into what resources you and your departments are using. Keeping your big data IT infrastructure, apps, and processes running smoothly is key to a successful transformation. To optimize your big data IT resource consumption, you need to have visibility into your IT stack. Invest in a comprehensive big data IT stack monitoring and optimization solution like Pepperdata to achieve superior visibility, optimize resources, and supercharge big data IT performance.
- Stay in lockstep with your business units to ensure data-driven decision making. These transformations are a collaborative effort. Make sure that you keep all departments and business units in the loop and gather as much data as you can to make data-driven decisions.
To learn more, check out our eBook for in-depth guidance on how to transform your IT and drive your business to success.