Want to Win in the Digital Economy? Transform your IT Infrastructure

GettyImages-844319742The digital economy is upon us. And data is, de facto, playing an ever-greater role in determining business success. Skeptics might say that this is nothing new…after all, data has always been valuable, which is why we have been storing so much of it over the past few decades.

Let’s dig into the contemporary difference - a distinction that many businesses miss – by reviewing where we have, mostly, gotten to so far: Yes, data has long been a necessity of doing business; and the introduction of traditional IT services has improved efficiency. Email, for example, is a lot handier than having to leave voicemails for everyone, or faxing people, or - if you want to make the extreme case - using the post office. But any competitive gains that traditional IT services offer have long been negated, since everyone else gets access to the same IT services. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, you aren’t dominating your industry just because you have access to email!

So then, what makes the emerging digital economy different? With an increased emphasis on application development and the emergence of new data-centric workloads (such as analytics or even artificial intelligence with machine learning) what’s changed is that how you leverage your data has the power to deliver a genuine competitive edge. With these new workloads, data can help improve operating efficiencies, enable employees to become more productive, improve organizational engagement with customers, and even generate digital products and services to address previously untapped markets. In other words, how effectively businesses leverage their data has the power to determine an industry’s winners and losers.

All this increased emphasis on the power of data further increases the pressure on IT organizations. As data becomes more valuable, more of it is generated, more must be stored, and more data must not only be accessed, but it must also be accessed more quickly. If you are reading this blog, you are likely feeling the increased strain!

But everyone else is having the same struggles, right?

Well, there’s some news on that front. The answer is no.

Some IT organizations have figured this out. And the ones that have are far more likely to be better serving their business and better enabling it to compete in this digital economy.

ESG recently conducted research to better understand the impact that different IT organizational templates and infrastructures have on business results. Although conducted in association with IBM, this was open market research, meaning that IBM itself had no input, beyond generic demographic attributes, regarding the 800 IT decision makers that responded.* That’s an important note, as will become clear later. This blog is intended to give just a few ‘sneak peaks’ as to some of the headline findings; the full report and resulting model will appear in the coming weeks. 

ESG’s research analysis categorized each IT organization based on how extensively it leveraged more transformational storage technologies, such as flash storage, multi-clouds, virtualization, analytics, and automation. Based on the responses, we gave each IT organization a score, and then placed them into different groups based on those scores. The group that scored the highest we will call the “leaders,” and the group that scored the lowest, we will call the “laggards.” Of course, determining the use of modern storage and multi-clouds was not the point…the real aim was to determine whether there was a positive correlation between such use and better IT/business outcomes. Here’s the answer: When it comes to maximizing the value of data, storage technologies and infrastructures matter significantly; and some IT organizations are dramatically more successful others.

To whet your appetite for the full report (we’ll blog again then), here are some initial findings from our research:

  • Leaders said that they were able to support analytics workloads “very well” 4 times more often than Laggards.
  • Similar results were reported for application development, as Leaders were 5X more likely to categorize their support of application development as “very good.”
  • Leaders are also 15X more likely to report themselves as being “extremely satisfied” with their business applications than Laggards.
  • Leaders are 20X more likely to be “very successful” using data to predict changing market dynamics; which no doubt helps them to achieve their 4X better revenues from new digital-based business endeavors   

We know we live in a time when IT capabilities can determine – significantly or totally - the winners and losers. As our research shows, the difference between leveraging the latest in technologies (storage, clouds etc.), doesn’t simply offer slight advantage, but can mean orders of magnitude improvement. Leaders not only do better from their projects, but they also complete them under-budget (3X versus Laggards) and ahead-of-schedule (2.5X). And, remember we mentioned that IBM had no input as to the specific respondents included in this research? It was therefore no doubt corporately happy to discover that 93% of the surveyed leaders in the research were found to rely on IBM storage!

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*Of course, IBM’s interest in allowing this research to happen is neither solely virtuous nor academic; it has one of the most complete storage offerings, and has recently made announcements to further explain its overall approach as well as to launch new elements in its portfolio. You can find out more about that in this blog and video about IBM's latest announcements  

Topics: Storage