17/05/2018
Martin Hess

AI, Machine Learning and IoT are undoubtedly the headline-grabbing technologies of the moment. All have attracted significant global investment. Over $15.2 billion was invested in AI start-ups globally last year, with the highest levels of investment going to China.*

Martin Hess Managing Director, OCSL (@MartinHess8) Make contact

It’s easy to see how the widespread deployment of these kinds of next-generation technologies will revolutionise the way we live, learn and work. But for me, one of the biggest tech revolutions of the past few years is not AI, not even Cloud - but infrastructure.

The biggest revolution in infrastructure has been the shift to a solution-orientated approach to improving workload performance. This has been the real game-changer.

Infrastructure and emerging technologies

At a recent CIO event, I asked the assembled group “Where does AI sit in your current list of priorities?”. Interestingly, all came from blue-chip organisations, but none had AI in their top 3 priorities for the year.  That’s not to say there wasn’t significant interest levels. There was.  But most were viewing it as tomorrow’s opportunity, rather than today’s priority.

Unsurprising. There’s often a dissonance between “noise” and reality in tech. The interest levels generated by analysts and the media is often vastly disproportionate to your average CIO’s budgetary spend.  

But in my mind, this also reflects the nature of the infrastructure revolution. Your level of focus on emerging tech - and the necessary infrastructure changes you need to make to deploy such technologies - should be totally be geared by your workloads and business goals.  It’s not tech, for tech’s sake anymore.

If you’re a CIO in travel or retail, customer experience is your lifeblood. So, the pressure to get your infrastructure to a stage where DevOps is a reality - where systems and apps can be spun up, tested, then rolled out at speed - is significant. 

You could say it’s the sliding sale of consumer expectation that drives CIOs investment priorities and choices.

The solution-orientated approach to infrastructure

Even the “traditional” legacy world has shifted to a workload-driven approach. Just look at how Flash Storage, Hyper Converged and Software Defined Networking are now being used help drive greater value, flexibility and insight across different industries.

It’s interesting that Gartner predicts that by 2020, 75% of enterprises will experience visible business disruptions due to I&O (Infrastructure & Operations) skills gaps.**

With Public, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud and On Premises, there’s never been more flexibility and choice. And with the advent of DevOps, CIOs now demand complete agility and flexibility from infrastructure.  No business can afford to let it act as a brake on their digital transformation, or their business goals.

Even the way you sell infrastructure has changed

In a world where clients are now mainly consuming technology versus making capital purchases, the job of the infrastructure platform is to be ever-more agile and scale with app development and the business.

And this has certainly impacted the way you sell infrastructure. You need to have a 360-degree picture of business goals, apps and infrastructure.

At OCSL we’ve transformed both the way we sell and who we sell to. Our sellers need to be agile. They need to have the skills and knowledge to nimbly dip in and out of conversations that encompass all the elements above.  They need to feel as comfortable talking to a Chief Digital Officer as they would to a CIO, or Head of IT.

We’ve re-calibrated our business around the new service-driven, solution-led world of IT. And this is reflected in our flagship service, our Enablement Framework.  Its bespoke methodology takes clients through a series of logical steps to align IT to business goals with a high degree of precision. 

Many of our clients have legacy systems, so a Hybrid IT strategy is an economic necessity.  They need to drive forward with digital transformation, but still realise value from on premises investment.

These days, infrastructure needs to be more responsive than ever - both for the migration of old apps and for the deployment of new apps.

Sources
*. CB review ** Gartner

Thought piece