Driving the shift to digital business

Posted by Mike Vizard on Nov 19, 2014 8:33:00 AM

Just about every business executive these days is repeating a “digital business” mantra without fully understanding what that all entails.

In fact, a poll conducted by the research firm Saugatuck Technology finds that only a quarter of the enterprise leaders surveyed said their companies were already “Fully Engaged” or “Established” in digital business, with 74 percent having no digital footprint just yet.

canstockphoto9617174From an IT services firm perspective the good news is that by 2018 more than half said they will be a fully established digital business with another 33 percent forecasting they will be fully engaged. The simple fact of the matter is that most organizations can’t really become a digital business without completely re-engineering their IT systems.

Most of that work starts with wrapping a layer of RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs) around legacy applications. Rather than completely rewriting those applications, IT organizations find it more cost effective to expose those services to, for example, mobile computing applications. In that way, an organization can reduce the latency surrounding just about any business process.

In addition to building mobile applications that truly scale, IT organizations quickly run into API management issues. In fact, as part of a general modernizing of the entire DevOps process, CA Technologies at the recent CA World 2014 conference suggested that partners will soon see significant managed API services opportunities. Once that is established the data those APIs are accessing then has to be managed at scale, which as organizations move to embrace Big Data it creates yet another set of IT services opportunities.

As compelling an opportunity being a digital business can be for any size organization, the simple fact is that many of them simply don’t have the IT skills required to implement such strategies. In fact, a global survey of 2,339 CIOs conducted by Gartner notes that more than half of CIOs say the pace at which digital technology is affecting their business is too fast for them to cope with and 42 percent admit their organization lacks the skills to manage a truly digital business.

In the months and years ahead IT services firms will find themselves helping customers transform themselves into a digital business along two separate axis. On one side there will be a swath of applications representing external-facing systems of engagement that typically run in the cloud. On the other side are legacy applications that as systems of record typically run on-premise. The digital business opportunity for IT services provides is to not only help integrate those systems, but also provide the ongoing management of the entire business process those systems span.

As IT organizations continue to feel the pressure to go digital mount, they will need to turn to IT services firms that have the best handle on how to actually make that transition happen. After all, IT services firms have always stepped into the historic gap between IT and the business. The only difference now is as the business increasingly becomes digital the breadth and length of that bridge is not only getting both longer and wider, the traffic on it is moving faster than ever.

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