Russell Skingsley

Evolution Through Digital Transformation Starts With Data Infrastructure

Blog Post created by Russell Skingsley Employee on Jul 23, 2017

According to Charles Darwin, it’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor even the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.


What’s interesting about Darwin’s theory is that it suggests that “innovation” in a species relies on accidental mutations that have been found to be beneficial over millions of years in an ever-changing environment.


We don’t have time for mechanisms like that in the world of business today but we do need that fundamental ability to innovate in an ever-changing environment. As the rate of change increases so too does the need for more rapid innovations in order to survive.  Accidental mutations are not really going to work as the innovation engine in such a compressed timeframe and so our ability to deliberately innovate needs to be assisted by extremely agile and adaptable underpinnings.


The Dawn of Digital Transformation


The ability to drive this rate of innovation calls for “Digital Transformation”. This can be thought of as a fundamental and accelerating change in a company’s activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way that accommodates current concerns as well as future challenges.


Digital Transformation at its heart is about making the optimal use of data and providing the access to it and the ability to build platforms out of it to those people in the organization most likely to create innovation.  In effect giving the keys to the innovation engine to those most likely to yield great business “mutations”.


Every digital transformation begins with how an enterprise deals with data. Whenever I talk to customers about their own transformation journey, I keep hearing a core set of questions. How do I govern my data to ensure I’m meeting all my compliance and regulatory requirements? How do I mobilize my data for different apps, different users, and different purposes? How can I truly turn data into something tangible, into assets? How can I analyze all this data to turn it into insights to drive my business needs?  More fundamentally though there is an often-implied question that asks, “How do I get data into the hands of people most likely to be able to use it to come up with better or new business ideas”?


So, let’s look at answering some of these questions, and set out some stepping stones to help companies carry out their own digital transformation smoothly and efficiently.


It starts with infrastructure

At HDS, we talk a lot about the importance of modernizing data infrastructure to fully enable Digital Transformation, but what does this mean in practical terms for an organization?


We’ve identified five areas to focus on, which we feel are key to enabling Digital Transformation


1.     Accelerate data access: Forward-thinking IT organizations understand the importance of being able to respond quickly to an ever-changing market, but delivering this requires a fundamental shift in data access performance. It has now become conventional wisdom that “speeds and feeds don’t matter”.  Well that is true unless we are talking about several orders of magnitude differentials.  This is what we are faced with now in regard to the transition to Flash storage over conventional disk.  This is not an incremental speed difference, this is such a leap in performance that things not previously possible are now possible.  Flash provides the speed and agility needed to help IT infrastructure retain its competitive advantage and increase customer satisfaction. The shift to flash is critical for digital transformation, and solutions like Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP), can deliver data faster and improve customer experiences while keeping operations running at maximum efficiency.


2.     Simplify Data Center infrastructure: The next step is to simplify and move away from siloed infrastructure to an architecture that can deliver cloud-like agility, with improved efficiency and increased manageability. Hitachi’s platform of hybrid and all-flash converged and hyper-converged solutions, such as Unified Compute Platform, enable businesses to drive change, modernize infrastructure and stay ahead of the competition.  Most importantly these Data Center modernizations provide the building blocks for the real power behind a Digital Transformation agenda – freeing up people to innovate. 


3.     Secure data and operations: Every organization that is undertaking Digital Transformation has come to the realization that data is one of their most important assets.  With this comes an acceptance that we can no longer trade off availability for protection, we need both.  This important assumption demands a modern approach to Data Protection meaning businesses need to eliminate high costs and complexity to deliver flexible, scalable solutions that can protect all necessary data whilst retaining access at all times.  Hitachi has a number of ways we can help with this.  With Hitachi Global-Active Device, for example, businesses can ensure continuous operations for key applications thanks to nonstop, uninterrupted availability across multiple Data Centers.


4.     Liberate IT staff from recurring tasks: IT staff often struggle to keep up with the technology and management complexities of constant data growth and infrastructure changes. Storage tasks, in particular, provisioning, are often time consuming, require specialized skills and can be prone to human error. Many organizations today are looking for help in automating their environments but do not know where to start, we can help with that.  For example,  Hitachi Automation Director software lets organizations automate common and repetitive storage administration tasks. With its predefined templates and integrated service-builder tool, it can improve productivity and control rising storage costs, freeing up precious IT resources to focus on delivering Digital Transformation.


5. Leverage cloud to innovate: The digital economy demands new applications and services to continuously feed the new “fail fast” mechanism of digital evolution.  The ability to be able to try an idea and ramp it quickly if it succeeds and remove it easily if it fails can only be delivered by cloud. By taking advantage of an integrated, application-centric, private cloud platform, enterprises can truly provide the keys to the innovation engine to the people with the best business ideas. Hitachi Enterprise Cloud does just this - accelerating cloud deployment and lowering the cost of management to deliver best-in-class cloud capabilities.


According to IDC1, Digital Transformation is going to change the way enterprises operate and reshape the global economy. As Digital Transformation efforts shift from 'project' or 'initiative' status to a strategic business imperative, we are now reaching an inflexion point that marks the “Dawn of the Digital Transformation Economy”.


The question that enterprises need to ask is whether they are willing to evolve the way they deal with digital challenges? Because, if they aren’t, or even wait too long, they risk going the way of the dinosaurs.