In today’s economy, an organisation’s success is increasingly determined by its ability to innovate and adapt to outside disruptions. For this to be possible, the right IT infrastructure and organisational practices must be in place. For its 2015 Future-Ready Index, analyst firm IDC interviewed more than 2,500 IT executives worldwide about their organisations’ level of ‘future-readiness’, and the extent to which they think it matters in today’s digital business world.
Getting ready for the future
According to IDC, a future-ready enterprise is one that is “always extending the abilities of its IT infrastructure and applications while also pursuing IT organisational practices that enable it to identify and address changing business and technology needs”.
From the survey, IDC identified four levels of enterprise future-readiness: Current Focused (the least future-ready), Future Aware, Future Focused, Future Creators (the most future-ready). The study found that the more future ready an organisation is, the stronger the business outcome, from revenue growth and profitability to employee productivity and retention. As such, Future Creators, with IT departments that have a service-centric culture and are capable of supporting business needs, outperformed all other organisations. However, only 18% of study participants fall into this category, with most belonging to Future Focused (33%), followed closely by Future Aware (32%), and finally Current Focused with 16%.
Where to invest
IDC also identified four key IT aspects that define future-ready enterprises, and it’s in these areas where the right investments can accelerate an organisation’s journey to a successful future:
- Converged infrastructure
Unifying the core data centre components in a single, integrated platform enables organisations to better utilise their existing IT assets. Where a Current Focused organisation has an evolutionary approach to IT infrastructure and individualistic-driven IT transformation, a Future Creator has a sophisticated, revolutionary approach to digital business and business-driven transformation. In the study, 60% of Future Creators cited greater IT staff productivity as a significant benefit delivered by converged infrastructure, while only 30% of Current Focused organisations said the same.
The ability to scale services up and down quickly enables IT to better align with real business cycles and meet fluctuations on demand. A Current Focused organisation has no cloud strategy, and ad hoc use of public cloud services by business units (shadow IT), whereas a Future Creator has cross-cloud service catalogues that cater to line of business demand. In fact, 46% of Future Creators in the IDC study have multiple, extensive cloud strategies, and manage them as one resource.
- Big data and analytics
Getting the right data to executives, frontline employees, and even customers at the right time enables better and faster business decisions. Big data and analytics (BDA) can also be used to automate critical business functions for improved accuracy and efficiency. A Current Focused organisation has little or no BDA strategy, and any data outputs have little influence on decision makers, while a Future Creator has an enterprise-wide BDA strategy that works to translate big data into actionable insights, which are then used to drive business decisions. According to the study, 94% of Future Creator executives have access to BDA when needed, yet only 49% do at Current Focused organisations.
- IT organisational practices
Effective and aligned IT organisations are essential to support the technological underpinnings of future-ready organisations. This means having the right people with the right skills to implement and maximise the benefits of converged infrastructure, cloud, and BDA technologies. In a Current Focused organisation, IT operates on a request basis and there is minimal, if any, IT workforce planning. In a Future Creator organisation, IT and the line of business are aligned across all meaningful activities, and IT workforce planning includes career planning and infrastructure scenarios.
What lies ahead
Future-ready organisations not only react quicker to market changes but are also better equipped to become disruptors themselves. CIOs looking to make their organisations future-ready should think of it as an ongoing journey rather than a destination. Future-readiness is something that needs to be maintained; organisations must remain adaptable and innovative to stay ahead of the competition.
Logicalis’ version of the Future Creator is the Service Defined Enterprise. Read our complimentary eBook, Why every CEO wants to lead a Service Defined Enterprise – and why the CIO needs to make it happen, to learn more.