Transforming Enterprise IT: Enabling the Shift from Defense to Offense

Transforming Enterprise IT: Enabling the Shift from Defense to Offense

Defense may win championships in football, but it's often those companies that go on the offensive by using new technology, people and processes that wind up hoisting the biggest trophy.

Ron Dupler is the CEO of GreenPages.

There’s a saying in football: Defense wins championships, which implies that beyond the flash of the high-powered, record-setting, aerial attacks currently in vogue in the NFL, that the teams that possess the discipline to build solid defensive teams are the ones best positioned to capture the prize in the end.

While I have traditionally agreed with a certain aspect of this mentality, there are a couple recent examples - from the NFL and from today’s business environment - that challenge the conventional wisdom supporting that statement. First off, as it relates to the NFL, Tom Brady now has four Super Bowl rings, and I don’t ever remember seeing him make a tackle (at least not a very good one). Second, when you look at today’s broader business climate and think about the disruption occurring across several industries, it’s pretty clear that the companies that are agile enough to strategically deploy advanced technologies as an offensive weapon are the ones taking their industries by storm. As a result, it relegates time-honored companies and brands to succumb to reactive, defensive strategies.

Disrupt Or Be Disrupted

With each day’s latest business headlines we learn of new "start-up" companies that are finding new ways to compete in what was once a mature market. You know the names: Uber and Airbnb. These companies have found a way to leverage advanced technologies as a strategic weapon and were able to completely turn existing industries on their heads without even owning cabs or hotels, respectively. How’d they do it? They were agile enough from a business standpoint to understand the disruptive force that technology can play, and they were fortunate enough not to be encumbered by existing infrastructure, policies and procedures. While these companies clearly were smart and innovative, they were also fortunate - they had a blank slate and could start from scratch with an offensive game plan capable of delivering value to customers in new ways.

Examples like this are clear signs that the world around us is changing dramatically. In almost every sector, industries and value chains are being disrupted, forcing business leaders to consider their own playbooks. Do they play defense by responding to the disruption, or do they go on offense and seize the opportunity to become the disruptor by deploying potentially game-changing technologies. To me, it has become obvious that the need for business agility and organizational innovation has never been greater.

How Did We Get Here?

With all this disruption affecting respected companies full of smart people, it begs the question, how did this happen? From a technology perspective, the truth is that this shift is the result of an evolutionary approach to IT that just wasn’t fast enough. Business leaders and IT departments have known that they need to embrace “new world” models and advanced architectures. However, with increasingly silohed organizations and competing business priorities, many were happy to take the evolutionary path, when the path their companies really needed them to be on was the revolutionary one.

It’s also the result of outdated legacy platforms that were just not designed to meet today’s needs and a lack of business innovation where people became comfortable with the present mode, without continually looking for a better way. So, its not just a technology problem, it's also a people and process problem as well.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The solution lies in finding an accelerated approach to embracing new world, modern IT architectures and service delivery models that enable business agility and innovation. As a starting point to achieving this agility, organizations need to deploy the types of new IT platforms that are capable of truly transforming the business. Beyond that, they need to think about the strategic needs of the business, and to ensure there is consensus and alignment with all functional areas of the business – especially IT.

Coming from someone who has seen their share of migrations, there are few companies capable of completing such a strategic undertaking alone. Having an outside perspective is useful in avoiding the pitfalls of politics, pride and process. It also helps if that outside perspective has a wealth of expertise deploying advanced virtualization and cloud solutions capable of getting the organization to the “new world.”

When selecting a partner to assist with this type of strategic effort, enterprises should look for a company that has the type of expertise that will allow them to start from scratch and who will lead discussions around “what could be” in terms of supporting your strategic business objectives. I think you will find that true transformation truly is possible when you take the time to define the ideal environment that includes how the infrastructure, people and process will align as part of that.

It may seem like a lot of work, but by going on the offensive with this type of approach your organization stands a much better chance of being the one hoisting the trophy at the end.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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