No digital panacea
None of the aforementioned technology progressions exists as any kind of magical cure-all or panacea. Implemented without care and attention they will (potentially) fail at the first hurdle. These new tools, platforms, processes, workflows and services need to be brought online with some key considerations.
All technologies will need to be implemented with a view to their:
- Long-term road map for maintenance and updates.
- Ability to scale (upwards or downwards) depending on longer term growth.
- Ability to reposition (horizontally, left or right) depending on new market penetration or skews to the core business model and the firm’s central market-facing commercial proposition.
- Power to be able to integrate effectively on a cross-platform multi-channel basis.
- Capability to interoperate with other systems if the firm makes mergers and acquisitions.
- Option for secure end-of-life retirement, with appropriate levels of compliance to data protection regulations.
- Provide effective data storage controls, where security is effectively implemented alongside so-called e-discovery controls, so the right information can be found when needed.
These seven caveats, or qualifications, for digital maturity are by no means exhaustive, exclusive or non-extensible. If anything, this unofficial list of cornerstones is simply intended to put some context into the suggestion that the road to fully fledged intelligent digitization is a tough one to go down.
Let’s take readiness for full-blown cloud computing implementation as a prime example.
A measure of cloud readiness
Cloud is never a rip and replace process. No company can simply turn off its pre-cloud systems and expect the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model to take its place without a process of sensitive strategic planning.
Things happen in different ways in the cloud. Memory allocation for applications and databases is a prime example. Because the computing power a firm draws upon will be supplied from a data centre (for public cloud) or an internal data centre (for on-premises private cloud), the route to memory storage is different. The way information is stored to cloud uploads is different, as is the manner data is classified, time-stamped and stored.
Firms making this progression to cloud need to make sure, as a fundamental part of their migration plans, that they have maturity assessment audits in place throughout the transition process. They then need to implement further ongoing regularly scheduled maturity assessment audits through service-based cloud controls.
Cloud is not for Christmas
Cloud is not a one-off move or something any organization gets for Christmas – it’s for life. This means the migration process necessitates an intelligent underpinning of maturity monitoring to ensure robust services deliver the compute power they have been designed to deliver in the first place.
The word we will hear time and time again in this space is, of course, benchmarking. As a means of checking on (and constantly monitoring) our digital maturity, it exists at several levels, though initially we can consider two areas:
- Benchmarking needs to feature as a key functional component of daily operations management, so that server performance and other discrete units inside a firm’s total IT stack can be monitored for data efficiency, clock speed, save times, data access and retrieval times, as well as backup and a number of other core elements.
- At a higher and wider level, benchmarking needs to exist as a control mechanism that extends across the total software Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) process, so we can assess our application and data health at any one moment in time on a recurring basis.
As an example of what DXC Technology does in this zone, we know it runs benchmarks representing diverse workloads, so customers can get a realistic picture of the real-world performance of their applications once they are subjected to real-world data flows. These results are audited, certified or peer-reviewed by independent performance councils. They reveal what is described as a winning track record over time for DXC (and its partner technology) and customers understand equipment capabilities across different industry segments.
The mature road ahead
Digital maturity mapping may sound like an onerous task at this stage. After all, we are asking firms to move to cloud, to mobile, to big data analytics, and more, plus at the same time implement a layer of controls, audits and benchmark assessments. That said, these processes will become embedded into the way firms now work in the always-on digitally transformed service-based world of the future.
Go through some of this (actually rewarding and not that unpleasant) pain barrier and you’ll be able to drive down the next leg of the information highway. Fail to think about digital maturity and you may not even get your driving licence.
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Author: Adrian Bridgwater
Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance technology journalist with a specialist focus on the development and management of enterprise software applications and services. He has spent the last twenty years in a variety of technology-focused media roles and as such is fully conversant with the wider technology.