Digital transformation is delivering a competitive business advantage, but it’s also driving greater IT complexity. It’s a delicate balancing act as IT calibrates the need for agility with the need for stability and adherence to compliance.
Protecting revenue generation sounds like keeping critical business systems up and running, but it is more than that. RIVERBED
Based on my experience there are four areas that are critical to better support growth, while at the same time minimizing risk.
1. Protecting revenue generation
Protecting revenue generation sounds like keeping critical business systems up and running, but it is more than that. Quarter-close and year-end close processes are high-stress situations that can impact company earnings and share price. In this scenario, keeping the systems up and running is table stakes. I recommend a combined approach that allows IT organizations to shift from reactive to proactive mode. It starts with stakeholder alignment to capture the business-critical functionality associated with core processes. IT should deeply instrument the revenue generation process across multiple systems, simulate the process from the perspective of the end user, and proactively alert on transactions that are at risk. Just this past quarter, we detected that a critical $10 million deal would not process properly in closing days of quarter end. Armed with this knowledge, my team was able to find a creative workaround with business partners, who were able to then close the deal on time and help meet investor expectations.
2. Safeguarding innovation
Many IT organizations rely on their own lab environments or public cloud environments as test beds for innovation. However, to take best advantage of innovation, new solutions need to be brought into the enterprise so they can be exposed to more users, and access real-world systems and data. By re-thinking the network architecture, enterprises can better support and accelerate innovation while also protecting mission-critical IT services.
We are on a multi-year journey to re-architect Riverbed’s network to modernize our infrastructure and support innovation. Our goal is to remove the friction inherent in worldwide collaboration, seamlessly moving software and hardware from the incubator lab to production. We do this by leveraging software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities – including Riverbed’s own SD-WAN solution – to deploy new digital services, while at the same time, maintaining security and management controls. As the “first customer” of my company’s products, I’m committed to taking on additional levels of risk if it means that the final product is more stable and will better meet customer needs. The challenge is to do this smartly, which means architecting our environment to minimize the risks associated with pre-release hardware and software.
3. Strengthening application delivery and compliance
Keeping up with compliance obligations for employee, customer, and partner data is becoming increasingly more challenging. When technology was primarily housed in the organization’s data center, it was much easier to manage availability and compliance since everything was within the organization’s control. IT is now responsible for system availability and compliance for the enterprise, though much of the technology is deployed and run by third-party cloud providers across multiple locations globally.
Cloud services such as SaaS and IaaS are essential to the success of digital businesses, but they can introduce blind spots when managing availability and compliance. To gain insight into Riverbed’s environment that spans both our data center and third-party cloud services, we leverage an integrated digital experience management tool set from Riverbed called SteelCentral that monitors end-user experience on the device, application performance, and network traffic. It helps us gain visibility into our applications in the public cloud and into the data flowing between our environment and our cloud providers so we can ensure that performance levels meet or even exceed our users’ expectations. In addition, we collect and analyze data on all our applications and integrations points to confirm that the required management controls are in place. Integrated visibility is the key.
4. Protecting the branch while accelerating M&A
Cloud and mobile mega trends aside, local services and solutions are still delivered at branch locations. We’ve focused on simplifying operations for branch locations, streamlining employee access, and improving performance. The foundation of our approach to the edge is data centralization which supports better application availability, disaster recovery, and data protection.
This strategy pays off in M&A scenarios. To realize the promise of a merger or an acquisition, IT must successfully support integration efforts and make the new company, its employees, and its customers feel welcome. New remote offices should be brought on board as quickly as possible and information securely consolidated across multiple sites. By focusing on modern branch infrastructure, we’ve been able to greatly accelerate the process of bringing newly-acquired sites onto a standardized set of digital services.
The balancing act
When embarking on digital transformation, the CIO’s role calibrates speed with stability and compliance. In my role as Riverbed’s CIO, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to innovate by deploying our digital experience management and next-gen infrastructure solutions to accelerate our digital transformation journey and drive greater performance and user satisfaction. Since complexity is the archenemy of speed, I recommend starting by re-architecting traditional networks and the edge for speed, simplicity, and security and don’t hold back on early adoption of new solutions.