November 02, 2016

Storage: The Digital Transformation Imperative

by David Senf, Program Vice President, IDC Canada


Today's IT leaders are called on to take advantage of what IDC describes as 3rd Platform technologies — cloud, mobile, social, IoT, and data analytics — to better serve customers and rethink traditional notions of how employees get work done. The competitive strengths of the past — corporate size and history, brand recognition, and market leadership — have given way to a "new order" where speed, technology savvy, innovative ideas, and comfort with Big Data and analytics rule the day. To survive, let alone compete, traditional organizations have to adapt, sometimes dramatically. This technology and business change is commonly referred to as digital transformation (DX).


The following questions were posed to David Senf, program vice president of IDC Canada's Infrastructure Solutions Group, to help IT leaders understand the challenges and opportunities created by digital transformation.


What is DX and Why Should I Care?

Every Canadian organization — whether aware yet or not — is already impacted by DX. Breaking news of protests sparked by rapid change in industries such as transportation, hospitality, and retail have come under the spotlight. By no means are these early and loud indicators of transformation isolated, however. DX recasts how employees in health, finance, manufacturing, and all other industries get their jobs done. Equally as important, DX reshapes how customers can engage with government and businesses. It's less about modernizing old processes and more about rethinking how the business of your organization gets done.

DX is about using 3rd Platform technologies (cloud, mobility, Big Data, social, and IoT) to do more with less effort. For example, Uber eliminates the traditional taxi dispatcher, while vastly expanding the pool of potential drivers — and managed to improve the experience for customers, too. LANDR in Montreal is turning the music industry on its head by automating aspects of production. This means more musicians gain access to otherwise out-of-reach expensive services while improving the process of engineering songs. LANDR uses machine learning (part of Big Data) and cloud to deliver its services globally from Canada. The Weather Network provides 80 billion forecasts a year across Canada to personalize weather for businesses and consumers. Each of these examples operates in traditional industries, but with unconventional approaches that are steeped in DX technologies.


What is IT's Role in DX?

Business departments such as marketing, sales, finance, and human resources took to cloud and mobility early on. As these technologies coalesce into more of a platform rather than piece parts, IT's importance and role grow — quickly. To put a finer point on this, IT will not merely have a role in DX, but should be the driver alongside the business.

Of course, most Canadian IT staff deal with legacy systems and applications in addition to thinking through how to expand into DX technologies. The speed at which IT can help the business transform employee processes or engage customers in new ways is based on many factors borne both out of legacy systems/skills and the ability to integrate with DX.

Staff skills, maturity of processes, and technology modernization count chiefly among success factors for IT. Bringing legacy technologies and abilities into the era of DX will take some work — but it is critical now to undertake the effort. DX is here, now. No Canadian organization is immune. Only IT has the field of vision to know what to do and not to do when managing, securing, purchasing, and ensuring performance of systems and applications (whether on-premise or in the cloud) to support DX.


How Does Storage Enable DX?
At the heart of DX is data. The more data there is, the higher the visibility your organization has into whatever problem it is trying to solve. This is not unlike being able to zoom in on a picture of a crowd in a digital photo — more data provided by a higher resolution camera means far more detail can be gleaned about each person. Similarly, all different kinds of data become important in the age of DX. Understanding why a customer left to buy from another brand, how an employee can be more efficient, or how to engage Canadians more often, for example, will rely on geolocation, demographic, sensor, and many other data sources.

How and where data is stored lays the foundation for IT to respond quickly and accurately. The vast majority of Canadian organizations — your peers and maybe even your organization — tell IDC that their storage infrastructure is not ready to handle the speed of change.

Stay tuned for future articles from IDC Canada analysts. We will provide advice on the best path forward from a storage perspective to ensure the most important resource — data — does not instead become a bottleneck to DX.


About the Author

David.jpegDavid Senf is IDC Canada's Program Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group. His team forecasts and tracks the markets and competitors in the cloud, servers, storage, networking, security, software tools, and virtualization. He works with vendors, the channel, CIOs and IT professionals to form a complete picture of buying patterns. In the decade prior to joining IDC, he sold, managed and implemented IT consulting initiatives ranging from Web portals to online presence. His accumulated understanding of technology trends from a business strategy and IT "nuts and bolts" perspective enriches his research with both strategic and tactical advice.

Read another blog by David Senf, "Digital Transformation and Balancing Data Across Hybrid Cloud Options"


About IDC Canada

IDC.pngFor more than 30 years, IDC Canada has provided information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology market insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC Canada is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company.