Delivering innovation and leadership into the recovery and “new normal”

BrandPost By APC
Jan 04, 2021
CIODigital TransformationInnovation

A light bulb with gears and a network of sparks that form the shape of a virtual brain.
Credit: Urupong / Getty Images

Through the disruption and market volatility that occurred through 2020, technology leaders have worked closely in partnership with businesses to address their problems around resiliency, productivity, sustainability and competitive opportunity. This was the key insight to come from an interview hosted by Nextgen Distribution Director, Susan Searle with Joe Craparotta, ANZ VP of Secure Power at APC by Schneider Electric, and Laurence Baynham, CEO and Managing Director of Data#3.

“For most organisations, the business strategy is their digital strategy,” Craparotta said. A KPMG report has found that 80 per cent of revenue growth will come from digital offerings and operations by 2022. Many organisations undertook digital transformation exercises in 2020 to enable their workforce to continue operating and shift workloads to the cloud and edge. Now, those businesses are well placed to execute on an innovation strategy to take advantage of these new revenue opportunities.

“From March we saw a shift in some of the customer’s thinking and some very large organisations and government departments needed to shift out of a centralised environment to a work from home environment,” Baynham said.

“We went through a react phase and across Australia we reacted very well to their immediate needs. Now we’re in an adapt phase, and some of the things that we put in pretty hurriedly are now being enhanced to make sure that they’re optimised.”

Accelerating innovation

One of the key messages to come from the rapid deployment of these solutions is that they’re not new technologies or concepts. Rather, enterprises have been rapidly accelerating adoption of technologies that were already on the trajectory. It’s just that rather than adopting them in five or ten years, they’ve got them now.

“We had all of that organic growth already coming through, and then there was this overnight acceleration, in suddenly needing to house capacity that would house all the data that was being created, while making sure that it was accessible and highly resilient as well,” Craparotta said.

“During COVID, the insatiable appetite of the market for data creation, the criticality of the data and access to data all the time became really important.”

According to Craparotta, what changed was that suddenly organisations had an outcome in the near to immediate term that allowed them to understand the outcomes and benefits of a digital transformation project immediately. Digital transformations are challenging – some analysts report a failure rate as high as 70 per cent. So, previously, it was challenging for the CIO to articulate the value of such projects against the future value that they would provide. With the immediate need to digitally transform, however, organisations are now in a strong position for innovation through the recovery, almost as a secondary benefit to the investments made in this past year.

“Understanding digital transformation was part of the journey, but really, it was understanding the outcomes of what digital infrastructure was going to deliver that was more important,” Craparotta said. “We realised very early that you get that by understanding a day in the life of the end-user, whether that be for a healthcare asset, university application or any critical infrastructure.”

Baynham agreed, and said that the forces accelerating innovation and transformation are consistent across all sectors. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s an airline, the retail industry, banking, or in fact government and the provision of government services through self-service portals, the digital transformation is taking place and accelerating,” he said.

Achieving next-generation sustainability

The other area that CIOs need to be particularly cognizant about is sustainability. Data centres currently consume around two per cent of total world electricity, but that could rise to become as high as eight per cent by 2030. That’s a substantial sustainability concern, and as social and regulatory pressure around power consumption grows, CIOs will need to have an answer for it.

“It will be frightening if we don’t connect this power and energy economy to the digital economy. As we come out of the recoveries, it needs to be a green recovery,” Craparotta said. The solution cannot be the reduction in the use of IT, as digitisation becomes ever more core to the way organisations operate. Investing in solutions around efficiency and the sustainable consumption of power will help CIOs run lean, but resilient and innovative IT environments.

Indeed, as Baynham noted, the rapid transformation and acceleration of IT plans now may well have the benefit of also accelerating sustainability, ultimately helping with society’s tackling of climate change and other environmental challenges through the management of the “new normal” ways of working.

“It was a very exciting time before COVID and it’s accelerated,” he said. “What we’re looking forward to, is the economic recovery and government budgets catching up with the technology spend.”

Watch the full interview between Baynham, Craparotta, and Nextgen Distribution Director, Susan Searle, here.