Alex McMullan, VP and CTO International, Pure Storage, explains what he has learnt following more than a year of COVID-19.
Even before COVID-19, the world was going through a period of great change. For many years, businesses have been under intense pressure to digitally transform or lose out to the competition. Digital Transformation instantly became an immediate imperative in order to survive.
While the immediacy caused by the pandemic proved to business leaders that Digital Transformation projects could happen far faster than previously thought, many IT departments were under such pressure to spin up technologies to support the business that they often didn’t have the necessary time to complete their usual due diligence.
This involves the management of tech debt — the off-balance-sheet accumulation of all the technology work a company needs to do in the future. If this is continually deferred, then it can prevent companies from being competitive as they focus their attention on managing the challenges hidden in the architecture.
However, CIOs still have to grapple with old infrastructure which isn’t designed for the modern digital age in that they can’t support critical data services or business models needed today. This legacy also makes it much more difficult to consolidate, migrate, scale or provide access to data, causing IT teams to have to go through disruptive enterprise storage refreshes.
These challenges are amplified under the additional pressure and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, meaning IT departments cut corners on various aspects, which in turn increases tech debt later in the innovation cycle.
Businesses need to build a strategy that prioritises Digital Transformation and manages tech debt more sustainably. There are five ways to do this:
- Align on IT and business strategy: Clarify the overall business strategy and define the capabilities needed at an enterprise level.
- Prioritise automation and elevate human innovation: Automate as much as possible to free up resources to focus on creating a culture of innovation and enabling long-term thinking.
- Choose flexible consumption models: Choose flexible consumption models whereby you only pay for what you use.
- Secure the right talent and allocate it accordingly: Ensure you have access to the right internal and external skills.
- Nurture and maintain employees as the world changes: Make sure employees are being supported and educated.
While the pandemic has taught organisations that fast change is possible, it’s now even more critical to balance the focus of that change on business agility. A strategy of total reliance on the latest software to mitigate tech debt should also be avoided.
Technology alone can’t solve these issues, a company’s culture and processes must evolve with or ahead of the times. Businesses now face the challenge of getting the right balance between moving fast but doing it in a way that avoids tech debt.