Cisco’s recent $3.7 billion acquisition of AppDynamics reflected major changes in an industry which is more reliant than ever on applications, digital services and data. The virtual has replaced the physical as the linchpin of enterprise, with software and services supporting business operations, driving growth, and opening up new revenue opportunities. The value of data and digital services is becoming more and more apparent as we continue to move towards an information-driven economy where data has become the new currency. The current digital transformation brings a wave of opportunity for the enterprise unlike anything seen before, yet businesses must prepare, adapt and implement a clear digital strategy or risk drowning and missing out on what could be lucrative opportunities.
Digital transformation is making an impact on every sector, across every industry, on a global scale. The enterprise has never experienced this level of upheaval before, and established brands are scrambling to update and replace IT systems whilst being overtaken by disruptive brands leveraging digital strategies. Business is now grounded in software and applications, whether on-premises or in the cloud, which are relied upon to drive new business models and growth. The performance and reliability of a business’s digital services and infrastructure are therefore paramount to success and survival in this new age.
Success through digital transformation is linked to the performance of applications, on-premises infrastructure and cloud computing. Whilst these can be valuable drivers of growth, they can also be pain points in any business. Many CIOs and IT departments across all sectors have been left wondering how to keep pace with change; how to adjust and upgrade systems, how to monitor constantly evolving networks and infrastructures, and perhaps – most importantly – how to avoid crises. The stakes are high in this evolution, and enterprises know it.
The volume of data and information which businesses now process on a daily basis is on an unfathomable scale. This is compounded by the widespread adoption of IoT technologies in both the consumer and enterprise markets. The advent of connected devices, smart infrastructure, complex networks and the constant availability of digital services mean businesses are sitting on a wealth of data. This must be protected and properly utilised in order to support both operations and the bottom line. Enterprises need to be aware that every system upgrade, connection, or third-party application added to existing IT infrastructure will increase service delivery complexity, scale, and operational risk. As such, the role of the CIO is more important now than it’s ever been.
In this increasingly digital environment it’s down to the CIO to manage this complex and even perilous transition, maintain a sense of order, and lay the foundations for the future. The CIO is uniquely placed to supervise any enterprise digital transformation strategy due to their unique understanding of the existing IT infrastructure and service assurance needs in order to better serve business growth. However, what is highly important to remember is that digital transformation is no longer shorthand for merely upgrading IT systems. Where once adopting new technology and improving IT infrastructure was solely the remit of the CIO and IT department, the all-encompassing digital transformation has moved these concerns into the boardroom, and rightly so. Every single aspect of a business must evolve, and an effective and robust strategy must therefore incorporate all areas of business, from operations and processes to customer experience. Digital transformation must be adopted as the mantra for modern business; without this, companies will fall by the wayside, overtaken by web-scale organisations which are realising and exploiting the value of digital services.
In addition to being left behind, businesses which fail to implement a digital transformation strategy put themselves and their customers at significant risk. Security risks are now more prevalent, and the spate of DDoS attacks via IoT devices we’ve seen recently are evidence of the dark side of the digital transformation; insecure networks exploited by hackers, with disastrous consequences. As an ever growing number of smart devices are connected to the burgeoning IoT ecosystem, effective management of these systems naturally becomes more complex. Gaining a full system-level view of the enterprise’s network infrastructure will be absolutely vital for curbing such attacks in the future, and mitigating threats that have not come to fruition yet.
Steering a business through digital transformation requires keeping abreast of rapid change and implementing effective strategies, both at an IT and human level. Everything is interconnected; digital services, IT infrastructure, cloud and virtual environments, IoT. Software is now the backbone of the enterprise and data is the glue that holds these businesses together. The challenge now is to get in front of IT and data problems before they become major issues, lessening disruption and aiding in a smoother digital transformation process. This can only be achieved through end-to-end visibility of all of the systems responsible for service delivery and their interdependencies, and 24x7 monitoring and analysis of an entire IT stack, across edge, core and cloud. Analytics – past, present and future – will enable businesses to understand, predict, act, and automate. The reliance on digital services, networks and architectures means there is greater room for disruption and service failures. These can only be avoided by keeping sight of valuable data in real time, at all times, and by detecting and isolating problems before they impact users.
A single problem in one part of a business’s infrastructure can rapidly impact on the entire ecosystem, affecting not only its IT department, but the operations of the business as a whole. This is the reason why service assurance is essential in order to detect anomalies that may hamper business performance and revenues. While there are different approaches to service assurance, Cisco’s acquisition of AppDynamics is a testament to the important role it plays in digital transformation. The move is indicative of the shifting direction of the industry as a whole, and going forward we can therefore expect to see other businesses making similar M&A moves, as the digital transformation sweeps all industries, leaving only the ill-prepared in its wake.
Michael Segal, Area Vice President Strategy, NETSCOUT
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