“The CIO’s job has changed more in the last five years than any other position in the business world,” says Zeus Kerravala, Principal Analyst at ZK Research. “The mandate for today’s CIO is to work with line-of-business leaders to create more innovative organizations and move the corporate needle.”
In the increasingly fast-paced environment of global business, CIOs are being tasked with spearheading and empowering rapid, disruptive innovation through technologies that enable their organizations to tap new markets and drive greater efficiency and productivity, all while improving experiences for their customers, partners, and employees. Here’s the problem: 70 to 80 percent of the typical IT budget is spent maintaining current systems. This leaves minimal resources for new capabilities and services designed to deliver strategic business benefit.
According to Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, “Organizations need to figure out how they can spend more of their IT budget on innovative enabling technologies that are going to allow them to better help the business succeed.”
The big question is, “How can IT accelerate innovation?” According to Kerravala and Laliberte, it’s a matter of attaining greater agility and speed to drive business transformation. In other words, fast innovation requires “fast IT”.
However, CIOs are challenged more now than at any other time in their careers. Mobile technologies and ever-expanding expectations of customers, clients, and stakeholders are spurring complexity. Cloud-based services are redefining the IT landscape, while security threats are more daunting than ever. And for many, IT budgets are flat or declining.
The Internet of Everything (IoE)—the increasing connectedness of people, process, data and things—is compounding the weight on CIOs. Just the number of connected “things” in the world will surge from about 13 billion today to more than 50 billion in 2020. Keeping in mind that even more people connect each year, data is generated at increasing multiples, and the number of business and personal processes coming online is staggering. It’s no surprise that in a 2014 study conducted by Cisco of top CIOs, fully 80 percent see IoE as a “significant” or “very significant” challenge for their organizations.1
Fast IT: The New Normal for IT
What is Fast IT, in practice? At its highest level, Fast IT is the new IT model that transforms and simplifies IT operations. It evolves and unifies infrastructures, platforms, applications, and processes to reduce complexity, accelerate service deployment, and increase security.
Fast IT holds the promise of enabling IT organizations to excel in the face of unprecedented pressure to innovate at a speed and scale never seen before. This new approach to IT helps CIOs successfully navigate the waters of the IoE, application-centric infrastructures (ACIs), hybrid clouds, mobility, and security.
To enable Fast IT, CIOs must address people, processes, and organizational elements in combination with several technology infrastructure requirements. Four foundational steps on the road to Fast IT include:
- Harnessing programmability and automation so that infrastructures are smart and adaptive to circumvent many manually intensive IT tasks.
- Reducing infrastructure complexity to conserve funds at a time when budgets are tight and IT complexity is mounting.
- Harnessing intelligence for agile operations and services such as faster provisioning of enterprise applications that fuel the business. In a 2014 Cisco survey, CIOs pinpointed provisioning enterprise applications at scale as one of their greatest challenges, rating this issue 7.5 out of 10 (where 10 represents a “very significant challenge”).2
- Implementing dynamic, policy-driven security across the organization that enables protection before, during, and after attacks.
Fast IT simplifies operations and allows organizations to move seamlessly through a “fabric of clouds,” whether on-premise, off-premise, physical, or virtual. It establishes resources capable of processing data in motion at the edge of the network for rapid, informed decision making. Driving visibility into security across domains, devices, applications, and services is an additional hallmark of Fast IT.
By implementing a Fast IT model, IT can potentially capture a 20-25 percent reduction in costs that can be re-deployed to address new capabilities.3 IT is free to innovate and become a trusted partner that drives positive business outcomes.
“We see IT organizations going through a state of transformation right now,” says Laliberte. “They’re trying to move from a very static legacy environment. What organizations need to do is transform that legacy environment into one that’s much more modern, agile, and efficient.”
Who is spearheading the transformation? CIOs worldwide. In a survey from March 2013, Cisco, in partnership with Intel, shows that 76 percent of IT leaders said they are now tasked with orchestrating services, applications, experiences, and new capabilities on behalf of the business.4
For CIOs charged with accelerating business innovation—and that includes all IT leaders—the pace is only getting faster.
1 “Fast IT: Accelerating Innovation in the Internet of Everything Era,” Bradley, Loucks, Macaulay, O’Connell, Schroder, August 2014.
2 “Fast IT: Accelerating Innovation in the Internet of Everything Era,” Bradley, Loucks, Macaulay, O’Connell, Schroder, August 2014.
3 “Fast IT: Accelerating Innovation in the Internet of Everything Era,” Bradley, Loucks, Macaulay, O’Connell, Schroder, August 2014.