For many businesses, this year will be marked as one that’s been a bitter fight for survival. The response to the coronavirus crisis has forced sharp organisational changes, and technology is by necessity at the forefront. Every CIO is aware of the tremendous importance of IT, not just to save money, but as the key vector for delivering competitive advantage. This crisis has proved its value beyond all doubt. However, ITDMs may not be directing their efforts in the areas best placed to bring about that advantage, misguidedly pointing resources towards lifting core applications to the cloud – when the real innovation is best built at the edge.
They could be forgiven for doing so. Much of the received wisdom remains in pinning absolutely everything to cloud, especially from the major ERP vendors who wish to keep customers locked in and upgrading to their latest solutions even when the customer does not especially benefit.
In this time of survival, a route forward may look more daunting than ever, but there are ways to afford more efficiency at the bottom line while also innovating where it counts.
Let’s not describe the fallout of this crisis in the language of opportunity. However, there may be some salvageable slivers of hope that can lead to desirable results, provided certain measures are built upon productively, rather than being quickly forgotten about when the dust settles.
Key here is taking stock, re-assessing the market, and establishing whether value is being provided from the existing setup.
Here’s where third-party support, like Rimini Street, can really help: 50% in immediate savings on support fees and up to 90% off the total cost of support is an enticing proposition. But, crucially, an under-examined benefit to third-party support is that it also affords more of that most valuable asset – time – and ultimately sets up businesses to operate according to their own terms, where they can pour resources into the areas where innovation actually takes place.
Unity in outlook, coalescing at the edge
For many years, digital transformation has been the principle buzz-phrase in the business world; but ultimately, it did not deliver.
“Digital transformation was the term that everybody used,” says Mark Armstrong, Rimini Street’s General Manager in EMEA. “We all got excited about it – mobile, omnichannel in retail, all different types of engagement – but nothing really went anywhere. One of the main reasons was that business and IT were never really aligned.
“You don’t need a digital transformation solution. What you needed was a business transformation strategy.”
To get business and IT aligned means fostering a culture of close-knit collaboration to drive towards business goals. That means unifying decision-makers in strategy, and ensuring senior executives are working together rather than on their own patches.
Third-party support allows businesses the breathing space to get on the same page, and to properly plan their roadmaps – re-allocating saved resources to areas that boost the core business proposition.
It’s unlikely that your core system of record, for example, will be a source of innovation or competitive advantage.
The value is really going to be drawn from tightly integrated, modern solutions, and that means picking best-in-breed technologies which fit the needs of your business, rather than those of the provider.
Fortunately, the latest and greatest technologies are cloud-enabled and built to interface with one another. While opting for a one-stop-shop provider was rational in the past, today, software is built to talk to each other through APIs and microservices integration, and complexity can be more effectively managed.
“Now’s the time to pause and take a look around what’s in the marketplace,” adds Armstrong. “The challenge of having best-in-class solutions isn’t an issue, because they’re all in the cloud, they’re available to integrate, and they’ve all got interfaces to each other.”
“There’s nothing I can do to my core systems of record, my financial systems, that’s going to drive competitive advantage,” says Armstrong. “What you really want to be doing is innovating around the edge, using new, disruptive technologies that can help you compete in the market you’re in.”
Today, more than ever, there’s an opportunity to look at the marketplace. CIOs shouldn’t be wasting their time managing bits and bytes, but working together with other decision-makers to look to the future.
Businesses should leave the core systems alone, applying third-party support to buy time and drive savings that can be re-invested at the edge. Only these careful balancing acts between innovating and surviving, and agility and efficiency, can create the conditions ripe not only for survival in this trickiest of years, but also for creating competitive advantage – with best-in-breed technology leveraged not for the sake of spurious moves towards digital transformation, but as a carefully plotted, integral part of wider business strategy.