A New IT In­fra­struc­ture Strat­egy To Face A New To­mor­row

Five rec­om­men­da­tions for busi­ness lead­ers to get started on mak­ing changes needed for cre­at­ing new IT in­fra­struc­tures that would sur­vive a new to­mor­row

Dataquest - - C9ONTENTS - (The au­thor is Se­nior Di­rec­tor, Cen­tre for the Fu­ture of Work, Cog­nizant)

The challenge of max­imis­ing value from IT in­vest­ments has be­come harder in the dig­i­tal age. To­day’s IT realm in­volves a myr­iad of plat­forms, sys­tems, pro­cesses, ap­pli­ca­tions and, of course, peo­ple. As the pace of change ac­cel­er­ates, the need to change the IT in­fra­struc­ture will in­ten­sify, and it can over­whelm busi­nesses that are un­der-pre­pared.

Based on a re­cent study of more than a thousand se­nior IT ex­ec­u­tives in 18 coun­tries across all sec­tors, here are five rec­om­men­da­tions for busi­ness lead­ers to get started on mak­ing changes needed for cre­at­ing new IT in­fra­struc­tures that would sur­vive a new to­mor­row.

MERGE YOUR BUSI­NESS, IT AND SE­CU­RITY STRATE­GIES INTO ONE

Merge both dig­i­tal and se­cu­rity strate­gies into one. In to­day’s in­ter­con­nected age, busi­ness is tech­nol­ogy, and tech­nol­ogy is busi­ness. The time has come for a sin­gle transformation strat­egy that cuts across busi­ness, IT and se­cu­rity re­quire­ments for the dig­i­tal en­ter­prise. With this ap­proach, the en­tire or­gan­i­sa­tion will en­gage in a sin­gle mis­sion — to grow a tech­nol­ogy-led busi­ness. This doesn’t mean that busi­ness lead­ers should be­come data cen­tre ex­perts, but that it will help tremen­dously to de­velop a holistic view of how IT in­fra­struc­ture changes will change their busi­ness.

IN­JECT CY­BER­SE­CU­RITY

Cy­ber­at­tacks are more so­phis­ti­cated now and it is es­sen­tial for or­gan­i­sa­tions to ed­u­cate and cre­ate aware­ness about the im­pact of threats on busi­nesses. In­ject cy­ber­se­cu­rity deep into the com­pany’s cul­ture be­cause hu­mans will

con­tinue to be the weak­est link to cy­ber­se­cu­rity. In fact, so­cial me­dia (66%) and care­less or un­aware em­ploy­ees (64%) were cited as the top two threats in­creas­ing com­pa­nies’ risk ex­po­sure. Cy­ber­se­cu­rity is ev­ery­one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity, and the busi­ness’s em­ployee per­for­mance met­rics should re­flect that. Sixty per­cent of re­spon­dents in the study1 said they are de­vel­op­ing a cor­po­rate cul­ture that makes ev­ery­one re­spon­si­ble for se­cu­rity. In fact, cy­ber­se­cu­rity is ex­pected to emerge as num­ber one busi­ness pri­or­ity for In­dian or­gan­i­sa­tions by 2020, high­light­ing the strong need for a cy­ber­se­cu­rity re­boot. BE FAST, BUT NOT FU­RI­OUS While it’s true that com­pa­nies need to match the speed of change in the mar­ket­place, mim­ick­ing the in­fra­struc­ture of dig­i­tal uni­corns is a sure recipe for dis­as­ter. The study1 re­vealed that 35% of com­pa­nies are en­deav­our­ing to be­come “the Ama­zon of their space,” while 26% are un­sure whether that’s a re­al­is­tic goal or not. With their roots in the in­dus­trial era, and hav­ing very dif­fer­ent end goals from dig­i­tal na­tives, it is es­sen­tial for tra­di­tional busi­nesses to set their own pace for dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion1. FIX OLD- SCHOOL HR PRAC­TICES WITH AR­TI­FI­CIAL IN­TEL­LI­GENCE ( AI) It is be­lieved that the en­tire re­cruit­ment process in any or­gan­i­sa­tion in In­dia takes in ex­cess of 125 days. Com­pa­nies need to re­place tra­di­tional hir­ing ap­proaches with smart hir­ing driven by AI. The rise of the new ma­chine means that busi­ness transformation could oc­cur more quickly than an­tic­i­pated by or­gan­i­sa­tions, of­ten cre­at­ing skill im­bal­ances, and com­pa­nies must be pre­pared. In fact, 50% of ex­ec­u­tives in­ter­viewed for the study named main­tain­ing re­sources and skills as a top challenge in meet­ing the pace of the dig­i­tal econ­omy. AI should drive the new rules of en­gage­ment for find­ing the best tal­ent, along with build­ing and managing “fu­ture of work”-type com­mu­ni­ties (such as the open source code ver­sion con­trol repos­i­tory GitHub among oth­ers) for the modern en­ter­prise. Take a clue from consumer goods gi­ant Unilever, which has been hir­ing em­ploy­ees us­ing neu­ro­science-based brain games and AI. The av­er­age time for a can­di­date to be hired went from four months to four weeks, with a cu­mu­la­tive sav­ings of 50,000 hours of can­di­dates’ time. Also, re­cruiters’ time spent on ap­pli­ca­tions de­creased by 75%2. DATA- DRIVEN DE­CI­SION- MAK­ING Cap­ture the next tech wave of data-driven de­ci­sion-mak­ing. Com­pa­nies that use ad­vanced an­a­lyt­ics and ma­chine learn­ing are twice as likely to be top fi­nan­cial per­form­ers, ac­cord­ing to Bain, and three times more likely to ex­e­cute ef­fec­tive de­ci­sions3. How­ever, only 32% of re­spon­dents in the study said their com­pany changed the ap­proach to strate­gic de­ci­sion-mak­ing be­cause of the sud­den burst in data vol­umes. In the age of the new ma­chine, busi­ness de­ci­sions can no longer be hi­er­ar­chi­cally ori­ented or based on in­tu­ition. IT needs to fos­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion and main­tain a data-first cul­ture to de­velop rel­e­vant prod­ucts and ser­vices. IT MAT­TERS MORE THAN EVER The days of the IT department be­ing re­spon­si­ble for only in­fra­struc­ture and operations, with a re­lent­less focus on cost cut­ting, are gone. En­ter­prises that view IT as a costly over­head and not a com­pet­i­tive ca­pa­bil­ity will strug­gle to suc­ceed in the new ma­chine age. Chang­ing this mind­set within IT, and then sell­ing the idea to the rest of the com­pany, will be both a challenge and an op­por­tu­nity for CIOs. Just as tablets, smart­phones and app stores led the con­sumeri­sa­tion of IT, a right IT in­fra­struc­ture strat­egy, com­ple­mented with an in­fu­sion of AI is the for­mula that will help busi­nesses find their way into the fu­ture.

Busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy lead­ers that seize this mo­ment of change will have a front-row seat to the shift in IT val­ues in the dig­i­tal age we live in.

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