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Competitive Advantage in the Digital Economy

Posted by Jess Thorpe | 02-Apr-2020 15:37:16

How best to respond to rapidly shifting priorities is a theme occupying all our minds at this time of worldwide disruption to social and economic realities. In the midst of a global pandemic, digital capabilities are proving fundamental. Maximum agility is required to cope with the current landscape, and this has implications for IT strategy and the infrastructure that underpins it.

With this in mind, the Nimbus Ninety community met for a virtual breakfast held in partnership with Equinix to explore 4 critical IT challenges facing organisations. Andrew McCreath, Senior Principal, Global Marketing, Equinix explained that the future of IT infrastructure is everywhere. Large data volumes, a thirst for information and communication, combined with the search for cost efficiencies has lead companies to look for that next edge. We’re all engaged in a digital race, AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner is a prime example of how network and scalability are essential for advantage. 

One of Nimbus Ninety's Advisory Board members set out the strategic priorities for IT in the context of recent events. Grappling with the single biggest global event since WW2, the world has been driven indoors. Connectivity is essential but even a small drop in packets can bring the system to a stop. Industries are affected differently. The human interaction element of retail is compromised, whilst mass working from home has regulatory implications across investment banking. Companies such as Amazon are so entrenched in the digital ecosystem that they have a clear advantage. Yet advantage is about ‘winning hearts and minds’ not just digital. What comes out of today's extraordinary situation should be for the better, and not just solidify existing monopolies. 

The group broke into discussion rooms to explore different issues in-depth and distill the key takeaways. 

Looking at next generation infrastructure and operating models, there are a number of key challenges. More investment is needed into infrastructure generally. On premise works, platforms are becoming more common and proximity to systems is key. ‘Cloud first’ strategy should not come at the expense of the network. CIOs face particular challenges. The scale and complexity of IT estates and the existence of shadow IT mean they don’t necessarily know all the systems in play.

From a customer perspective, bridging back-end legacy with front-end digital systems challenges traditional organisations who aren’t building from scratch. Delivering a great end-to-end experience is compromísed by a weak link in the chain - something as simple as poor wifi introducing friction. Infrastructure that can support scalability is critical. Whilst ‘digital only’ experiences will be rare, how digital and physical customer experiences dovetail may shift as the global pandemic gives rise to new behaviours and expectations.

Data is a primary asset, with applications being built around that. The value is getting the right information to where it needs to be, and whilst workloads might move to different clouds and to the edge, accessing central data has an unacceptable amount of latency. It’s critical for the business to have a clear direction of what it’s trying to solve and how data is used.  Members queried the right infrastructure to get data moved and shifted from data lakes to where the analysis needs to happen.

Lastly, members discussed how innovation is adapting in light of the COVID-19 crisis, where a focus on innovating for users and customers is essential as society is disrupted. How can we replicate the water cooler moments that spur innovation but from within our homes? How can we focus on the short term and find the opportunities to innovate? It requires a change of mindset.

Recent developments show that scalability is critical to adapting to change. This fascinating virtual event showed speed, connectivity and interconnection are strategic necessities and that organisations are stepping up to the challenge.

 

This event held was in partnership with Equinix, a data centre and colocation provider. 

Topics: Event reports

Written by Jess Thorpe

Jess leads on the research and content for Nimbus Ninety, searching out the latest trends and disruptions affecting our dynamic community of disruptive leaders.

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