How to Innovate while managing your IT Operations

26 May, 2020


Business transformation through technology is happening faster and more pervasively than any other point in history. In today’s connected, mobile, application-based world, organizations must constantly innovate to satisfy the appetite for customers who expect quick and reliable service at their fingertips, on any device they choose. With the latest advancements in cloud technology, the ability to modernize for better security, greater functionality, and workforce efficiency is now within reach of organizations of all sizes.

When it comes to facilitating innovation, modern IT management is essential. Gone are the days where IT was concerned with operations. Today, IT infrastructure is the foundation upon which a company can continue to transform products and services, accelerate operations, and empower users to do more with less.

However, most leaders of applications and infrastructure functions appear less than satisfied with their units’ ability to innovate. While they report significant progress over the past few years, most say their organizations do not have a repeatable process for extracting value from innovation and do not devote enough resources to it compared with running day-to-day operations. Moreover, many IT functions are not seen within the company as a source of innovation.

You probably don't think of your IT team as the main driver of your business's ability to innovate. In traditional organizations, IT exists in a support capacity, ensuring that the corporate technology infrastructure, applications, and data are all accessible and working. But think again. Any market-leading companies across industries value their IT capabilities much differently, positioning IT as a strategic asset focused on usability, scalability, and speed to market. Do you want to find a way to create an edge over the competition? Then take a cue from these market leaders and start valuing your own IT as an innovation incubator instead of a reactive support shop.

How IT applications and infrastructure leaders view their innovation priorities and how they are managing their organizations and vendor relationships to support their agendas.

1. Innovation is more than just technology

Almost all infrastructure leaders described innovation not as the introduction of new technologies but as “new ways of doing things” when providing service and conducting day-to-day operations for their organizations. While many of these leaders summarized their innovation agendas using technological terms like cloud computing or desktop virtualization, they point out that selecting the right technologies is only half the job. Integrating technologies into services that meet business-user needs and building scalable processes for provisioning and support represent the more complicated and challenging part of capturing value from innovation.

2. Cloud computing is transitioning to the mainstream

There is more agreement on the importance of cloud computing than on its definition.

Roughly five out of six large infrastructure organizations list cloud computing as one of their top innovation priorities over the next couple of years, and nearly all have a cloud-computing program or are starting to develop plans to put one in place. While leaders emphasized that cloud computing did not necessarily mean procuring publicly available services, they drew no clear dividing line between a highly virtualized server environment and a “private cloud” environment. Defining characteristics cited by infrastructure leaders included one-touch provisioning, end-to-end automation, stateless servers, converged technologies, and dynamic capacity reallocation based on business rules. Infrastructure executives voiced a fair bit of discomfort with how cloud computing has been presented in the business and trade press. Several described their private-cloud programs as the natural continuation of years of consolidating, standardizing, virtualizing, and automating their server environments. A few infrastructure leaders described “cloud” as a “marketecture” term and said they preferred to talk about “utility computing” or “virtualization 3.0.”

3. Vendor relationships must focus on innovation

Almost all infrastructure leaders said that technology vendors’ insights and capabilities were critical for their innovation efforts, and many noted that they had to collaborate with vendors on technology road maps to have a chance of success. As one infrastructure leader noted, “My technology strategy depends on products that haven’t been invented yet. I have to understand what my most strategic vendors are developing and find ways to influence their product road maps.”

Leaders of IT infrastructure functions face a formidable innovation challenge. To make the most of technology opportunities like cloud computing, unified communications, mobility, and virtual desktops, these leaders must integrate technology with new services and processes that meet business-user needs. That means engaging proactively with the business side, finding the right talent, and building vendor relationships that support innovation.

4. Intelligent experiences

Intelligent experiences combine the speed and scale of modern web applications with cognitive services using data science, advanced analytics, and bots. Alone, each of these technologies might be sufficient to meet your customers' needs. Smartly combined, they broaden the spectrum of needs that can be reached through a digital experience, while helping to contain development costs.

5. Modern web/mobility apps with Rich User Experience(UX)

When an application or experience is required to meet a customer need, modern web applications can be the fastest way to go. Modern web experiences can engage internal or external customers quickly and allow for rapid iteration on the solution.

PRONIX is a strategy and innovation consulting firm helping companies increase growth and profitability. We collaborate with our clients to build innovation capabilities, devise growth strategies, create better products and services, and reinvent business models.

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