Fast, Ef­fi­cient, And Se­cure IT Back­bone A Must For Suc­cess­ful Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion

IT com­plex­ity can be over­whelm­ing, and could be a hin­drance rather than en­abler in dig­i­tal busi­ness

Dataquest - - CONTENTS - (The au­thor is Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent, Cog­nizant Dig­i­tal Sys­tems & Tech­nol­ogy)

In ev­ery in­dus­try around the world, com­pa­nies are keen to pur­sue an ideal mix of best prac­tices, tech­nolo­gies and think­ing, to be truly dig­i­tal. Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is not all plug-and-play. Go­ing dig­i­tal is def­i­nitely not a hasty lead­er­ship push to outdo the com­pe­ti­tion by pur­chas- ing be­spoke tech­nol­ogy stacks, lay­ing out the piece parts and as­sem­bling them to­gether to get a dig­i­tal en­ter­prise. It is a com­plex and in­tro­spec­tive jour­ney that de­mands bold de­ci­sions to sim­plify, mod­ern­ize and se­cure the com­pany’s dig­i­tal as­sets to achieve the nir­vana.

Be­fore em­bark­ing on the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney it def­i­nitely helps for long-es­tab­lished IT or­ga­ni­za­tions to have a mod­ern and se­cure IT back­bone as a pre-req­ui­site. With such a ro­bust IT back­bone, busi­nesses will be equipped to fend off con­tin­u­ous threats from ‘born dig­i­tal’ com­peti­tors, and also de­feat cor­po­rate sab­o­tages and frauds that aim to in­flict crit­i­cal li­a­bil­i­ties.

To grow rev­enue, mar­ket-share and prof­itabil­ity in to­day’s dig­i­tal world, it is nec­es­sary to ef­fect tech­nol­ogy changes at ev­ery layer of the en­ter­prise. Some com­pa­nies ex­tend their legacy sys­tems with mod­ern dig­i­tal plat­forms, which could add un­nec­es­sary com­pli­ca­tions in terms of IT in­fra­struc­ture. With so much chang­ing so quickly, it is nei­ther fea­si­ble to spend big on main­tain­ing legacy sys­tems, nor is it pos­si­ble to ef­fect cum­ber­some changes to make legacy IT com­pat­i­ble with myr­iad sys­tems from ac­qui­si­tions and part­ner­ships. Keep­ing all these in mind, here is a three­p­oint blue­print that helps any or­ga­ni­za­tion get started on its dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney.

SIM­PLIFY: RE­DUCE LEGACY, STREAM­LINE PRO­CESSES, AND TIGHTLY ALIGN WITH BUSI­NESS

IT com­plex­ity can be over­whelm­ing, and could be a hin­drance rather than en­abler in dig­i­tal busi­ness. Only those who de­clut­ter, will emerge win­ners in the dig­i­tal race.

A global wire­less ma­jor was strug­gling with ris­ing costs in pro­vid­ing cus­tomer sup­port through its bulky and in­ef­fi­cient 400-strong sup­port staff. The com­pany’s IT sup­port han­dled a huge al­pha­bet soup of ser­vices that even em­ployed ex­ter­nal ser­vice providers. Re­al­iz­ing that the in­ef­fi­cien­cies stemmed from this sys­temic com­plex­ity, the lead­ers wasted no time to take firm de­ci­sions to over­haul the sys­tems and sim­plify ex­ist­ing pro­cesses.

The com­pany went ahead with im­prov­ing its ser­vice man­age­ment model and con­sol­i­date to a sole provider of Level 2 sup­port (tech­ni­cal prob­lem solv­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties) for most of its ap­pli­ca­tions. This un­tan­gling of IT sys­tems pre­vented more than 2,000 ser­vice in­ci­dents in the first six months, and im­proved the over­all qual­ity of its ser­vices. The sim­pli­fi­ca­tion yielded a 34% re­duc­tion in the to­tal own­er­ship cost.

Thus, re­duc­ing the cost of IT ser­vices and free­ing scarce funds and skills will help any or­ga­ni­za­tion work wellon re­vamp­ing its busi­nesses and stay com­pet­i­tive. To­day, busi­nesses are sell­ing more prod­ucts and ser­vices in more mar­kets across more chan­nels than ever be­fore, re­sult­ing in largely avoid­able com­plex­i­ties. On top of that, sup­port­ing them in new and dif­fer­ent ways while com­ply­ing with ev­er­in­creas­ing reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments may im­pose con­flict­ing de­mands. Add to it, the fast-paced merg­ers, ac­qui­si­tions and re­or­ga­ni­za­tions to ex­ist­ing legacy sys­tems! This can only be man­aged if a com­pany re­duces legacy debt, sim­pli­fies its pro­cesses, op­ti­mizes staff, and aligns all its busi­nesses to the new sys­tem.

MOD­ERN­IZE: IN­TRO­DUCE NEWER, CLOUD- EN­ABLED AR­CHI­TEC­TURES

A pre­mier fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion was look­ing at new ways of han­dling its range of tier-one ap­pli­ca­tions, the com­plex­i­ties of its fi­nan­cial mes­sag­ing through mul­ti­ple chan­nels. The com­pany was also fac­ing a chal­lenge of find­ing ways to re­duce pro­duc­tion in­ci­dents and ser­vice re­quests. The or­ga­ni­za­tion em­barked on a mod­ern­iza­tion plan by im­ple­ment­ing au­to­mated soft­ware test­ing so­lu­tion, and an ef­fi­cient, low-cost sup­port model in place of its legacy sys­tem. The com­pany im­ple­mented a cen­tral­ized mon­i­tor­ing dash­board im­bib­ing these changes, which re­sulted in not only im­proved re­sponse time and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, but also man­aged to re­duce all crit­i­cal in­ci­dents by 30 per­cent.

Mod­ern­iza­tion has be­come im­per­a­tive for com­pet­ing in to­day’s hy­per-per­son­al­ized and al­ways-on dig­i­tal mar­ket­place, where in­formed cus­tomers ex­pect ser­vices and of­fers that suit their per­son­al­i­ties and unique needs. By re­plac­ing point-to-point in­ter­faces be­tween siloed, legacy sys­tems with ser­vices-based ap­proach makes it eas­ier, faster and cheaper to cre­ate a uni­fied ex­pe­ri­ence that users de­mand.

Fast evolv­ing so­cial, mo­bile, an­a­lyt­ics, and cloud (SMAC) plat­forms, com­bined with mi­croservers, Internet of Things (IoT), and vir­tual and aug­mented re­al­ity make a dy­namic and fluid IT land­scape. To­gether with a mod­ern IT ar­chi­tec­ture, an ag­ile method­ol­ogy and bet­ter busi­ness process map­ping, new dig­i­tal busi­ness mod­els serve the cus­tomer faster and bet­ter.

SE­CURE: MAKE, ES­TAB­LISH AND MAIN­TAIN A RE­SILIENT IT LAND­SCAPE

To­day, dig­i­tal se­cu­rity grabs head­lines more of­ten than ever be­fore, with at­tacks of shock­ing scale and depths be­ing re­ported from around the world. Since 2016-17, about 4,000 ran­somware at­tacks have been hap­pen­ing ev­ery day. With the ex­plo­sion of con­nected de­vices, it is es­ti­mated that cy­ber se­cu­rity at­tacks could re­sult in an es­ti­mated dam­age of $6 tril­lion by 2021.

A third-party pay­ment pro­ces­sor was in a hot spot as at­tacks ex­posed its cus­tomer credit card data, im­pact­ing the com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion. The re­pairs were quite ex­pen­sive, as switch­ing fees for rogue trans­ac­tions was steep, and the rise in traf­fic caused by the at­tacks in­creased the risk of fail­ure of its credit card au­tho­riza­tion sys­tems. To fix these chal­lenges, the com­pany im­ple­mented a real-time, rules-based fraud mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem that con­tin­u­ously eval­u­ated de­clined trans­ac­tions against pre­de­fined fraud pat­terns, blocked sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions and alerted se­cu­rity staff within sec­onds of an at­tack. The sys­tem’s early de­tec­tion of frauds helped the com­pany save up to $30,000 per month in switch fees, and halted more than 1,500 at­tempted fraud trans­ac­tions ev­ery sin­gle day!

An IT man­ager of to­day should not only avoid at­tacks, but also make it safer, quicker, and more flex­i­ble for per­mis­sioned users to seam­lessly deal with data and sys­tems. To achieve a se­cure dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture, it is there­fore nec­es­sary to put in a strong de­fence sys­tem, im­ple­ment an im­pen­e­tra­ble iden­tity, ap­pli­ca­tion and data pro­tec­tion layer, and also man­age all risks while com­ply­ing with the con­stantly chang­ing data se­cu­rity re­quire­ments.

LOOK­ING AHEAD

In the pur­suit of be­com­ing truly dig­i­tal, CIOs and IT or­ga­ni­za­tions should re-think how to build and main­tain an ef­fi­cient, re­silient and safe dig­i­tal back­bone by sim­pli­fy­ing, mod­ern­iz­ing and se­cur­ing their IT in­fra­struc­ture. A good start would be to im­ple­ment a right in­vest­ment and change man­age­ment plan, build­ing team skills, and align­ing all such changes with the com­pany’s over­all busi­ness vi­sion.

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