Driving digital transformation into 2017

The Digital Transformation (DX) affecting businesses of all shapes and sizes shows no signs of slowing down as we approach 2017, and changes will continue apace next year as organisations shift their focus from physical assets in favour of a data-driven business model.  

The path to modernisation is an important one, and businesses taking this journey will need to consider how each aspect of their business can be optimised to fulfil new growth potential and digital objectives. To succeed, these enterprises will need to set out a focused DX strategy and keep abreast of developments in their field. 

We won’t know for certain where things will stand at this time next year, but we can forecast a number of factors which will drive DX throughout 2017 and beyond:

The long-term impact of digitisation

Digitisation has already had a profound impact on the factory floor, and the number of jobs lost to automation over the past 30 years has now ticked over the six million mark in the US alone. However, as we move into 2017, the impact of DX and automation on the global job market will start to shift. 

The most recent Arbor Networks Infrastructure Security Report shows a dramatic growth in volumetric DDoS attacks and demonstrates how the Internet of Things is forever changing the threat landscape. Last year, 20 per cent of service provider respondents reported attacks over 50Gbps. This year, nearly one-quarter reported peak attack sizes over 100Gbps. This illustrates the extent of the threat of such attacks, and without adequate security measures we can only assume this trend will continue next year.  

In response, the number of jobs in information security is going to see a significant spike. On the factory floor, DX and automation have been blamed for replacing workers, however, the need for an expansion in IT security demonstrates how in the future DX and automation will actually be responsible for creating more jobs rather than simply taking away from the overall pool of positions. 

Since many of the jobs related to DX and automation would require software programming skills, the true challenge would be training and education of the workforce.

The revised role of the CIO

In 2017, the role of the CIO will become will be an increasingly important one. With their knowledge of a company’s existing IT infrastructure and future demands, it will be down to the CIO to take the lead and manage a company’s DX strategy. 

Digital Transformation is touching all aspects of business, and as a result all enterprises need to be aware that every system upgrade, connection, or native and third-party applications added to existing IT infrastructure on-premise or in the cloud will increase service delivery complexity, scale, and operational risk. It’s a situation that’s not only going to create headaches for IT teams, but could also have serious implications for the successful running of a business. 

As such, CIOs of companies spanning the entire global market will be vital to the success or failure of the business. It will be down to the CIO to manage the digital transition, maintain a sense of order, and lay the foundations for the future. CIOs take note: 2017 will not offer an easy ride!

The cost vs value of data

Barely a week goes by without reports of a hacking attempt, data leak, or network breach. But how much is a GB of data worth to a private company or public organisation and how does this value ramp up as we start to talk about data in the thousands, or tens of thousands, of gigabytes? Equally, as far as data loss is concerned, the volume of the lost data is secondary to data classification. If lost data is classified as highly confidential, then even the loss of small volumes could have devastating effects on the corporation and its leadership team.  

If all systems are running smoothly, the intrinsic value of this information that can be continuously collected and analysed in real time with existing technologies, is significant when it comes to customer insights for a variety of business departments. The potential cost from lost data, corrupted information, or security breaches, however, is much higher. 

As we move into 2017, the true value of data crossing the network will become apparent. The reality of the modern network environment highlights the importance of real-time visibility into global threat vectors and anomalies in order to identify costly threats. Businesses will increasingly start to recognise the risk vs reward ratio, and will place new emphasis on ensuring data is being protected in order to minimise the cost related to data loss while optimising the value gained from the insight it offers.

Business assurance, the lifeblood of DX 

It’s clear that continuous deployment of new services onto IT on premises and cloud based infrastructure is what the digital economy depends on 24/7. Managing this DX is highly strategic for business and IT leaders as a result, and risk mitigation and service performance are two of the most important transformational metrics. As we move into 2017, enterprises will recognise the increasing value of business assurance. 

Doing this the wrong way, relying on incoherent data and silo-specific tools, will cost companies a lot of money when they are faced with service disruptions, sometimes running into millions of dollars an hour.  

On the flipside, businesses will also recognise how accelerating DX and assuring a consistent service delivery relies on a real-time information platform that supports comprehensive IT visibility, capable of producing unique insights into operations.

The DevOps chaos theory

As we move into 2017, DevOps principles will start to have much greater impact for large enterprises, with the true value of this methodology being identified through a new approach. As development velocity increases, and the scale of the enterprise also increases, these businesses will develop a much greater reliance on DevOps principles in order to rein in the chaos associated with continuous development that's being spurred on by automation. 

In this environment, Chaos (C) will become a function of both Velocity (V) and Scale (S). The hypothesis is that increase in velocity of new software releases and scale of Dev and Ops organisations will result in the new DevOps equation for Chaos of C~V*S². Since most Chaos will manifest itself in production environments, it will become vital for enterprises to identify the level of constraint placed upon the Operations team, helping to address what changes must be made, and what technology must be introduced, to prevent Operations from becoming a bottleneck to the continuous development cycle. Businesses will need to adapt and change in 2017 to keep pace with the Digital Transformation affecting the global market. 

Workforce, infrastructure, and policy will all need to be reconsidered and adjusted to ensure enterprises do not miss out on the significant benefits which can be wrought thanks to the new digital economy. It’s also a question of culture, as the team needs to be completely comfortable in shifting between ‘failsafe’ and ‘safe to fail’ scenarios. 

The most important figure in this shift will be the CIO, and the most important strategy will be one based on developing comprehensive business assurance. Getting these things right and planning for next year will help maintain business velocity throughout the Digital Transformation.

Michael Segal, Area Vice President for Strategy, NETSCOUT
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