Getting on with Digital Transformation: Three Steps to Making Strategic Technology Choices

Wednesday September 05, 2018

In a recently published Uptime Institute Survey, Uptime Institute found that organizations operating data centers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit professionals skilled in security, networking, and hybrid technologies. This realization comes at an interesting time, as the monolithic business infrastructure built over the last two decades is now entering a period of transformation.

In some ways, this reminds me of the prelude to the millennium some 20 years ago. At the time, everyone decided to embrace the Internet and tackle the Y2K problem all at once. This led to a shortage of Internet experts and information technology professionals skilled in the Y2K problem, giving way to one of the biggest technology booms to date.

History never repeats itself, but it often rhymes

As far as general market dynamics are concerned, everyone doing the same thing at the same time tends to lead to a boom. While the Information Technology and Communications industry has been drumming the importance of the digital transformation trend for several years now, the progress to date has been lackluster. However, with the awareness of digital transformation hitting the mainstream, it is now beginning to seem like things are about to change.

Once the mainstream market starts moving forward, there will be two problems that organizations have to address: the shortage of knowledgeable staff and the complexity of the next-generation business platforms. Both issues come with significant strategic implications, because getting things wrong and missing the train may lead to a competitive disadvantage.

Therefore, all organizations must try to come to grips with understanding how to position with the technology dimensions of the digital transformation. To get started, here is a list of three key considerations that should be weighed in before making decisions.

1. As an organization, do we really have the know-how and the resources to do this on our own?

Engineers love solving challenging problems with interesting technologies. So, their first instinct is to develop things in-house. Yet as the technology that powers the digital transformation is becoming increasingly complex, there is a growing gap between what in-house engineers do and do not know.

In this situation, it is often advisable to work with partners who have already been on the learning curve for a few years. Even for organizations that can afford to invest tens or hundreds of millions on these initiatives, having knowledgeable partners is a great way to reduce the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and to speed up the time-to-market for the agile business platforms of tomorrow.

2. Do we understand that complex working systems are invariably developed from simple systems?

The development of complex systems should always be started by building a simple system that works. While a new paradigm such as agile business infrastructure may make it tempting to design everything from a clean slate, this typically leads to designs with layers of excess complexity that do not meet the untrained eye.

Leveraging the existing infrastructure to the fullest extent is often a much better approach because when done right it will shorten the project lead times, cut the costs and ensure business continuity. For example, hybrid multi-cloud architectures are a wonderful way to augment the legacy infrastructure with automation and public clouds.

3. How long can we afford to wait?

Experience tells us that transformational information technology undertakings often involve delays and budget overruns. This is generally caused by designs that introduce hidden layers of complexity. Therefore, instead of relying on internal efforts to learn the ropes, a much better strategy is to implement a blueprint architecture developed by a consortium of vendors having prior experience working with automation initiatives of similar scale. The market may be new, but there are industry pioneers out there who have already been there, seen it and done it.


As digital transformation makes progress, organizations will have to decide how to address the impending change. New technologies are an excellent way to enable new business models and processes, but they come with new levels of complexity that the specialists experienced in the traditional technologies may not fully acknowledge. To address this issue, most organizations are best off by partnering with companies that have already paid their dues and spent some time on the learning curve.