We’ve been talking about digital transformation for years now. We track progress through the three-phased journey to become a digital business in our annual research and note that this year there is significant convergence on the second phase, that of digital expansion. A majority (81%) of organizations are entrenched in phase two right now. You can see the results of that entrenchment in the digital services launched every other day by the usual suspects – financial services, media and entertainment, and technology firms – but also in other, less obvious markets such as the public sector and service providers.
Digital transformation needs IT’s operational support
Now, none of these digital services – which are a combination of apps, data, and app delivery and security technologies – would be possible without an optimized, efficient ops team. That’s the team that operates and makes the magic happen behind the scenes to keep the myriad components of a digital service fast, secure, and available.
Business gets that. They know that delivering a “digital service” today means they better be able to support it. That means scale, security, and performance. We see this understanding manifest in the focus of digital transformation projects this year, which has landed squarely on … wait for it … IT operations.
That’s right. IT operations stand alone at the top of the “who gets the digital transformation spotlight” this year, with 64% of organizations focusing their initiatives on IT operations.
That should mean – I hope it means – a focus on modernizing operational practices and adopting technologies that aid in scaling the processes that deploy and manage a large chunk of the IT stack.
Because organizations can’t keep throwing people at the increasing number of applications, microservices, APIs, and app delivery services required to launch and grow a digital service, they can't. Even if they could hire enough talent, we know from folks like Conway and Brooks and a hundred other experts on communications and organizational structure that there is an inflection point at which more people begin to degrade velocity rather than increase it. I call this the Law of Diminishing Deployments.
See, if you just keep doing more of the same kind of ops without paying attention to new practices and approaches that include more modern tools and technologies, you're going to run out of steam. Either your people or your digital services will suffer, and neither of those consequences is a good one.
IT Ops as an indicator of IT’s value
So, the focus on IT operations is a fantastic indicator that both business and technology leaders recognize the critical role IT operations plays in a digital business. Spoiler alert: it’s a HUGE one.
Modernizing IT – including operations – is an expansive task. It requires new approaches and practices with an eye toward enabling the rapid adoption of new technologies. That’s what John Chambers was talking about when he said, "At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next ten years… if they don't figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies."
Traditional operational practices are based on traditional technologies, which are ultimately based on fixed, rigid technologies and concepts that no longer hold true in today’s modern world. People, apps, and systems roam – from core to cloud to edge – and require more flexible infrastructure and systems to accommodate them. And with that flexibility must come new operational approaches that incorporate the dynamic nature of users, apps, and environments. That means modernizing operations is critical for organizations not just to address multi-cloud madness but to continue to make progress on their digital transformation journeys.
Because trust me, that operational foundation will be even more important as business really starts to explore phase three and begins to demand more data, more automation, and more AI to generate the insights needed to make decisions at the speed of digital business.
IT Ops is in the digital transformation spotlight, and that’s a Very Good Thing for everyone.