Accelerating Digital Transformation in a changed world

Accelerating Digital Transformation in a changed world

Veeam’s 2020 Data Protection Trends Report finds that almost half of global organisations are being hindered in their Digital Transformation journeys. Trent Odgers, Cloud Manager, South Africa, Veeam, tells Intelligent CIO more.  

Digital Transformation (DX) and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are phrases that have been in the public lexicon for years. Boardrooms across the continent have acknowledged the need to fine tune a long-term digital roadmap, but as a famous meme illustrated, the current pandemic has shattered any doubt that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is well and truly here.

With the economic norm now turned on its head, businesses around the world – and Africa in particular – are scrambling to digitally transform. However, what does this mean? Vaguely, everyone knows that it is supposed to ‘make business better’ or more efficient.

The truth is that the drivers behind DX have been heightened post-pandemic. Ultimately, revenue determines a business’s prospects but people have always been an organisation’s biggest asset, and faced with an invisible enemy in the form of a virus, the importance and safety of employees should be at the forefront of everyone’s agenda.

The promise of streamlining an organisation, of finding efficiencies and unlocking real-world competitiveness, is compelling, especially when considering the challenge to remain relevant in the face of disruption on an unprecedented level.

The Veeam 2020 Data Protection Trends Report, which surveyed more than 1,500 respondents globally, including over 150 from Africa and the Middle East, found that 43% of respondents in Africa and the Middle East said lack of IT staff skills or expertise is preventing their organisation’s DX plans from going ahead. Other barriers in Africa and the Middle East were dependent on legacy systems (40%), limited budgets (29%), lack of buy-in from senior management, at 23%, and lack of time (16%).

In a post-pandemic world, the drivers may well overpower these barriers – which makes the design and implementation of intelligent software even more important.

Cost has always been a vital consideration but as we have seen around the world, the cost of not digitally transforming has been made equally apparent.

The result is that the C-suite want to improve their businesses but many decision makers don’t know where to start. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) – these innovations can, and do, improve business processes but the possibilities can be overwhelming.

The captains
Essentially, there are two tiers of IT decision-makers in an organisation, and these speak to two different, yet interlinked considerations. At the executive level, considerations will focus on efficiency, cost savings, governance and compliance. This level controls the budget.
But none of that would be meaningful without working extremely closely with the technical level at the organisation. How are operations going to be improved, which technology is required to make this happen and how can we redeploy current skill sets?
Marrying these two tiers, so that they speak the same language, creates the key, or legend, which demystifies the DX roadmap.
Like any map, there needs to be a methodical approach of placing your finger on the spot where you are currently, and then navigating or scaling on a needs’ basis.
Demystifying how to kick-off meaningful transformation in an organisation is as simple as modernising your backup, enabling a hybrid cloud strategy and then if you are moving data around – which you will be – you need to ensure this data is kept safe.

Backup modernisation
Businesses should be free to move their data and workloads, efficiently, safely and securely wherever they want, whether that is on-premises, the public cloud or private cloud.
According to the Veeam 2020 Data Protection Trends Report, over a quarter (28%) of Africa and Middle East businesses backup their data via a Backup as a Service (BaaS) provider. Slightly fewer, 27%, organisations in Africa and the Middle East use self-back up on-prem, while 26% conduct self-managed backup using cloud services.
Businesses should be free to choose where to go and what to do, but no matter what you do, protect all data, all the time, no matter where it is. In essence, go free but have a backup.
Modernisation of your backup means that you are able to protect all workloads, no matter the location, while reliably automating core backup and recovery abilities, like automatic backup testing which is one of the elements needed for compliance.
It also means that the backup is in a portable format that can easily be transformed into the required format needed at the next location, thus reducing the time to migrate workloads. If you are, in real-time, able to intelligently discover and remediate common issues you then have all the tools in place for modern application delivery and deployment.

Hybrid cloud acceleration
A simple Google search will find many thousands of articles on the cloud. However, these articles are not in the past tense – people are still wanting to go to the cloud. However, in Africa particularly, volatile exchange rates make pricing of services more sensitive.
Organisations are moving into and out of the cloud. There is no one-size fits all cloud strategy. Most organisations have moved specific workloads to the cloud, like collaboration tools.
Some organisations use the cloud to accelerate their DevOps and then move applications on-premises, while others develop on-premises and move to the cloud. This strategy also assists businesses to migrate specific workloads to cloud, as with Veeam, you can use a backup copy which doesn’t impact production and that gives the organisation time to test all the elements before switching the on-premises workload to a local or public cloud provider.
The reality is that businesses need to have a hybrid cloud strategy. The challenge with this is that the pace at which business wants to utilise the cloud is being limited by the tools and capabilities they currently have. They need to go to the cloud and come back in the same form as they started.
It is apparent, therefore, that a fundamental capability in any DX strategy needs to be an acceleration towards hybrid cloud, with seamless cloud backup and restore with data continuity and availability across various environments, and this needs to be managed in a simple, flexible and reliable way from a unified platform.

Data security
Businesses are more reliant on digital infrastructure than ever before, with many organisations completely dependent on their IT systems. Data security has grown in importance, but also complexity and cannot be an afterthought. Organisations need to have a reliable and robust data strategy that focuses on the failure scenarios that they have already faced, or likely scenarios, such as ransomware. All applications and workload updates need to be safeguarded before deploying.
Beyond the operational implications, the regulatory and compliance obligations of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) mean that any organisation could face severe financial or reputational damage if they don’t meet these guidelines. Even when restoring, data privacy and compliance guidelines need to be built into every process.

1-2-3 and accelerate
And at the crux of it, something as complex and previously frightening as DX becomes easy to envisage, manage and scale.
When you are able you get the three elements of backup modernisation, hybrid cloud strategy and data security running like clockwork with your organisation in the middle managing all the touchpoints seamlessly, your business’s DX strategy is vastly accelerated.

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