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In the business world, from analyst firms to talking heads on TV and in visionary magazines in the airport, we hear about the wonders of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Virtual Reality and a variety of cutting edge technologies as though they are the only issues your business should care about – all as part of a “Digital Transformation” (DX) of your business.
Meanwhile, in the offices of a typical organization, the struggle is real to keep the technology lights on and prevent the foundation from crumbling, as long-needed upgrades to fundamental technologies and processes have been left unfunded and untouched for years.
IT staff feel overwhelmed with the volume of work, legacy systems threaten to collapse and take out the business, and it seems simply impossible to work on strategic, long-term projects like AI in the midst of daily operational challenges.
Every IT organization knows full well they have some “zombie/legacy systems” that are just barely holding on, and it’s simply a matter of time before the magic that’s kept them running as long as they have just doesn’t work anymore. If your data protection system (backup and recovery) is one of these, your risks are much higher than you’re acknowledging.
Sure, you should be considering and experimenting with how AI can impact your business, but how do you go about pursuing the cutting edge in one area, while being woefully behind in another?
Building the Future, While Keeping the Lights On - Why Not Do Both?
Realistically, you have to do both, of course – implement and maintain new technologies that will ensure your business has a successful, competitive future AND also make sure any existing technology you’re keeping works as it should without being an anchor tying you to the past.
The risks of doing nothing on either front are substantial, and for reasons that are often baffling, doing nothing to modernize backup and replication within organizations is a common approach. It seems obvious that the processes at the heart of your risk management strategy needs to stay current with today’s business needs, and yet legacy backup systems are extremely common.
It may seem like your backup and recovery strategy should have no impact on digital transformation, but the two are intimately tied together, particularly from a staffing and skills perspective.
For personnel stuck trying to keep the lights on while desperately hoping against hope that the whole thing doesn’t simply implode, being stuck behind the scenes managing these systems leaves IT personnel with a career path that leads nowhere – a significant demotivator for both existing and future employees.
And it’s not just low-level IT staff that are at risk of leaving.
According to the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2019 Predictions, by 2022, 75% of CIOs “who do not shift their organizations to empowered IT product teams to enable digital innovation, disruption, and scale will fail in their roles.” If it is clear that the business will not support and fund the required modernization needed to move forward on new innovations AND foundational processes like backup and recovery, smart CIOs will have their eyes focused on finding a new employer before the business crumbles from neglect.
This is a long-standing problem, with 66% of enterprises admitting that digital transformation initiatives are being held back by unplanned downtime based on the Veeam 2017 Availability Report.
Fast-forward to 2019, with the 2019 Veeam Cloud Data Management Report, which surveyed 1,575 senior business and IT decision makers worldwide to understand their approach to data protection and data management today, unplanned downtime remains a challenge to digital transformation:
- 73% of organizations are unable to meet users’ demands for uninterrupted access to applications and data;
- Respondents have (on average) experienced five to ten unplanned outages in the last 12 months, each lasting an average of 65 minutes;
- And the costs are significant – on average, lost data from mission- critical application downtime costs organizations $102,450 per hour.
Pursuing “pure” digital transformation without making sure your foundation is solid is clearly very dangerous territory. But if you do both at once, with a more modern approach to data protection and data management, your odds of success dramatically improve.
Today’s Challenges Require New Approaches
Computers have clearly revolutionized the world, and arguably, digital transformation has been well underway for the last 30 years, with some industries and roles lagging behind during that journey, and others leading the way.
Yet to get to the point where the expectations of what today’s digital transformation promises will require rethinking some fundamental assumptions of technology and IT.
What is IT’s role? How should technology be purchased and implemented? And where is technology in any form, whether IT is involved or not, adding value to the business?
For example, how should processes, technology and capabilities be delivered?
The “as-a-service” models, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a- Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), or even more specific offerings such as Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) or Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS), are clearly taking off as a new alternative to traditional technology models.
In fact, the 2019 Veeam Report found that 77% of respondents say they are using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), 51% are using cloud for backup and 44% are using Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS). Why? Reliability, flexibility and data security are their top three reasons for pursuing more modern ways of managing the technology required by today’s businesses.
In short, not only are new technologies available that eliminate the old inefficiencies of earlier generations, but the very nature of whether to own and operate technology directly or “outsource” by way of an as-a-service approach, has opened up everyone’s eyes, from the C-suite on down and across business and technical teams, to an entirely different discussion about choosing solutions and the best ways of implementing and operating new tech.
And while any new technology or new deployment approach like as-a-service models eliminates many of the cons of prior technologies, new skills need to be nurtured
to embrace the future and let go of the past. Those skills won’t get built up without purposefully addressing your digital transformation skills gap – a universal issue across organizations of all sizes.
91% of organizations responding to the 2019 Veeam Report see upskilling employee’s digital skills as vital to their success.
This is true for “data scientists” and other more business-leaning roles, just as much as it applies to IT teams. Dead-end jobs are dangerous not only to employees but to the business itself – a dual risk that is often ignored.
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