How a multi-cloud strategy can accelerate your digital transformation

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By David Webster

IT’S AMAZING to think that within our lifetime we will travel to work in a self-driving car; we’ll have conversations with our refrigerators about what’s for dinner; and we’ll receive customer service from Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered chat bots. Developments in technology are taking these once-fictional scenarios and planting them in our very near future.

As we innovate tirelessly to bring these solutions to life, we will fundamentally change the way we interact with machines. In fact, according to a recent Dell Technologies study, ‘Realizing 2030: A Divided Vision of the Future,’ most business leaders (80%) in Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) believe humans and machines will work together as integrated teams within five years.

APJ organizations are embracing new technologies as they digitally transform, and these technologies are creating the pathways to more human-machine partnerships. Take AI for example — the research showed that 81% of business leaders expect to use AI to preempt customer demands within five years. This is encouraging, but for organizations to fully realize the value of emerging technology and the exponential increase in data it will generate, it’s essential they make the right IT transformation decisions around their cloud computing approach; the requirements driven by digital will simply break traditional IT infrastructure otherwise.

Many business and IT leaders from around the region unfortunately still live with the baggage of past decisions; with cloud adoption having often been a tick in the box rather than part of a wider strategy. Over the years, we’ve seen high public cloud adoption but are now also witnessing a shift to private or hybrid clouds, and partnerships with cloud service providers to meet varied business requirements and workloads. For example, for gains in speed and efficiency, certain workloads are being moved back on-premise, while public cloud is increasingly being used for non-mission critical workloads. In fact, we’ll see more than 70% of enterprises in APJ turning to a multi-cloud strategy by 2018, according to IDC.

So, while it’s clear that the future is multi-cloud, organizations are facing significant challenges managing the complexity and demands that this reality brings. They need a strategy that allows them to move data back and forth with ease, and manage their entire multi-cloud infrastructure in a simple, seamless way.

Navigating this complexity to truly realize the value of emerging technologies requires a strong focus on collaboration. Here’s how to build the right collaborative approach in your organization:

Customer experience is a key competitive differentiator in today’s market and multi-cloud environments are increasingly being used to transition to new customer engagement models. In fact, making customer experience a boardroom concern is a priority amongst almost 9 in 10 businesses in APJ, according to the Realizing 2030 research. With IT departments and CIOs taking on more strategic roles as facilitators between various internal and external partners, keeping all parties focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience will help foster collaboration and partnership.

Cloud native apps are key to delivering innovation, enhanced customer experience, and driving differentiation across all industries. No wonder 45% of APJ leaders are already investing in technology to bring apps into the cloud public or private access (e.g. hybrid cloud) — with another 47% planning to invest over the next five years (Realizing 2030).

However, it’s not just about technology, it’s also about investing in the right talent and skills, and in this multi-cloud world we are seeing the need for DevOps to evolve beyond just delivering cloud native apps. With data volumes increasing thanks to emerging technologies, it will be the organizations that recognize the arrival of DataOps and find effective ways to collaborate to manage data that will accelerate their digital transformations.

Multi-cloud is just the beginning. As my colleague and Dell EMC CTO, John Roese, shared in his 2018 predictions, the future is the mega cloud, where a system of clouds collaborate and interwork. This is the next generation of IT infrastructure and it will require an even closer collaboration between IT and the business; with a strong focus on building true strategic partnerships internally.

For IT leadership, Hemal Shah, Dell EMC APJ CIO, nicely sums up how he is seeing this partnership approach evolve: ‘Smaller, self-sufficient, dedicated teams are emerging in larger enterprises and are focused on innovation and providing opportunities for application developers, data scientists and others in IT to partner with senior executives in identifying new opportunities.’

As technology continues to evolve, businesses need a strong focus on building strong collaboration today to be efficient and agile enough to take on the bigger transformation challenges of tomorrow, building the foundations for the mega cloud.

Emerging technologies will bring many incredible transformations to our lives, and the cloud will play a vital role in making this future a reality. The way we use cloud infrastructure is changing — and quickly. This evolution needs to be paired with the right culture in order to realize the true value of these new technologies. By focusing on collaboration, APJ leaders will put their organization on a smoother and faster path to digital transformation.

David Webster is the president of Dell EMC APJ Enterprise.