By Michael Morris, Senior Director Product Management at CA Technologies
This past week I was in Atlanta, meeting with customers at a Digital Experience Summit at CNN's World Headquarters. I heard from many customers about how they are working through their digital transformations around their businesses including things like agile application development, moving workloads to cloud environments, and shifting their focus to a customer centric view of planning their businesses. There were a few key items that kept coming up as themes to challenges every one of these folks were facing.
Focusing On The Customer
The first challenge was all the shift in focus on the customer. There is nothing new about focusing on customers as this has been a key for many companies for many years and I believe those businesses that have had that focus are the ones that are really thriving in their respective markets. In fact if you look at the Fortune 1000 businesses that have not significantly paid attention to their customers and have not adapted to the digital transformations are those companies that have fallen by the way side in today's economic climate. Some examples of this over the past 10+ years are Blockbuster, Nortel, and Kodak just to name a few. I read an article in Forbes by Nathan Furr which referenced the study from the book Built to Change by Edward Lawler III and Christopher G Worley 2006 that it is projected that 70% of the Fortune 1000 companies will be replaced in the next few years. Similarly, Pat Gelsiger (VMWare CEO) said 40% of the S&P500 will disappear within a decade. The key here, it is becoming a business survival imperative to adjust how business is being done and the focus is around how to deliver on their customer needs.
Transforming IT Staff Skillset
The second challenge I was hearing was around how they need to develop their people to new approaches and new skills to deliver on the transformation. This past year I was working with a major telecommunications carrier and in those conversations one of the things they brought up was how they have hundreds of tremendous network engineers with years of experience in telecom networking. Yet their biggest challenge was transforming those highly skilled and highly experienced people into software developers. They no longer needed traditional network jockeys, but instead needed folks who could translate that knowledge to software defined networking who could literally write code to run the network. I have been hearing for years how their will be a shortage of software development skills in the US in particular but I think this highlights why. No longer are software developers just needed for software vendors, but for telecom, MSPs, and traditional IT groups across all enterprises. It is agile software development skills that need to be fostered and championed starting in our classrooms and recruited in our hiring practices.
Managing Hybrid, Dynamic Infrastructures
Finally the third challenge I heard people talking about was that they hadn't fully solved how to manage and monitor their complex hybrid cloud infrastructure environment and the applications that run on them, in order to deliver optimal business outcomes. A key point here too is that they are facing this challenge with a transformed environment that includes a bunch of legacy infrastructure including mainframes, classic storage farms, and racks of computing systems all now being tied to new private cloud systems with openstack and docker technologies and/or public cloud environments in Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud. The environment is more heterogeneous than ever and running across very diverse and distinct platforms. If that is not enough complexity the elasticity and dynamic nature of everything keeps the situation constantly fluid so almost no variable is fixed.
In summary their traditional approaches and point tools for managing all this are no longer sufficient to keep up and evolve with the pace of change. Business are looking for technology partners that can help them on this journey. Their solution providers and vendors need to have the tools to understand the new complex infrastructure and how the applications map to the dynamic infrastructure. There are few players in the industry that have the portfolio of solutions to fully help in this journey and the key is aligning with a partner that is committed to that same journey in digital transformation.