Category: Digital Transformation

Chart showing Scalability
Engage Technology to Scale at Unprecedented Speed
How can organizations unlock the full potential of IT to accelerate?

Can you scale while keeping all the plates spinning? Your current employee base may be doing an excellent job of keeping all their plates from crashing to the floor with the current technology in use, but adding many more employees and ramping up operations with that same technology stack results in pieces and shards of plates smashed all over the floor.

Business scalability is all about efficiency and growth. To be genuinely scalable in the modern sense of the word, an organization must:

  • accommodate increased demand
  • stay on top of trends
  • anticipate needs
  • be agile enough to handle disruption

The punch line is that all this has to be accomplished quickly. The need for speed requires companies to be highly efficient. That’s where the advantages of cloud environments come into play.

Scaling within the cloud helps you avoid the crash-resume-crash-resume cycle that companies are faced with when trying to scale with an on-site IT infrastructure. Modernizing operations is the “end game” of the digitization phase, which is foundational to the digital transformation journey—establishing an operational backbone is the objective many forward-leaning companies have pursued diligently in the past few years.

Operational excellence is now the minimum requirement for being competitive in the digital age. Let’s explore.

The Old Models of Scaling Won’t Work Anymore

For many, digitization has been the goal for years. The pandemic lockdowns were a coercive force pushing companies to send their employees home to work; thus, digitizing many aspects of their operations. Correctly digitizing operations move the organization further to become a digital company. That is being able to offer digital-value propositions to its customers.

Scalability used to be strictly about increasing profitability and improving efficiency when workload increases. It is also about adding new value propositions (digitization) at speeds that can keep up.

Older ways of doing things will work for a short while, but it won’t take long for businesses to fall too far behind.

Companies have used a siloed way of doing business since day one. Managers would create systems, data, and processes within business silos. Leaders often fail to consider how their systems and processes might eventually need to coordinate with other parts of the business. Once they recognized integration requirements, they’d tweak the systems and processes to achieve their objective, again within their given silo. Managers would address the need for linking systems and processes. The operational environment was complex, hierarchical, and too slow to be effective in today’s digital business world.

The New Dynamic in Scaling Operations – Digital Transformation

According to a December 11, 2020 article by McKinsey & Company, companies worldwide are hard at work evolving their operating models at unprecedented speed.

The hurdles go far beyond shifting back and forth between remote, in-office, and hybrid work models or simply adding or subtracting work-from-home talent as needed.

Digitization enhances operational excellence.

We’re talking about creating a coherent set of enterprise systems, data, and processes supporting core operations. Becoming digital enhances the customer value proposition.

Don’t confuse digitization (doing things we’ve always done only better) with digital transformation (doing things differently than we’ve done before). Being digital enhances the customer value proposition.

Business leaders who think they’re leveraging digital transformation strategy when, in fact, they’re just digitizing some aspect of their operations may achieve operational excellence on an outdated value proposition. For example, you are a taxi company that’s just perfected its operations (digitization). Suddenly Uber and Lyft arrive (digital companies). How’s that going to impact your business? Or consider the impact Amazon has on traditional retailers.

 

The Next Generation Model of Scaling

This operational backbone, or next-generation operating model, is a new way of running an organization. Next-generation operating models replace messy legacy systems, processes, and data generated by siloed business units. The new design is more open and non-linear. Systems, data, and processes become like the building blocks of a lego kit. that can reallocate resources and develop new digital capabilities in a matter of weeks. Now that’s a challenge.

No wonder, despite Herculean efforts and substantial investment, few companies can move to a modern, digitally-enabled way of working across the entirety of their operations.

Chart based on McKinsey survey showing that only one-third of 1,000 companies successfully established an operational backbone, or next-generation operating system.
A McKinsey survey of more than 1,000 companies indicates about one-third successfully roll out a new operating model.

 

Einstein is Never Wrong and Why Scaling in the Cloud is the Right Call Now

In their book “Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it and Why the Rest Don’t,” Verne Harnish and the team at Gazelles explain scaling all aspects of an organization (including the technology) by quoting Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Harnish goes on to say, “Scaling a business is a complex endeavor and requires robust – yet simple enough – tools and techniques to get the job done.”

Author Verne Harnish
Author of the book “Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it While the Rest Don’t,” Verne Harnish speaks to an audience of entrepreneurs.

That’s why companies worldwide are attracted to cloud-based applications and workflow as they try to scale. It’s robust enough to handle their “complex endeavor” but with tools simple enough to be implemented and utilized by a fast-growing internal team of employees.

Verne Harnish also helps us envision the stages of scaling infrastructure when he writes, “When you go from two employees to 10, you need better phone systems and more structured space. When your company reaches 50 employees, you still need space and phones. You suddenly also require an accounting system that shows precisely which projects, customers, or products make money. Between 50 and 360 employees, your information-technology systems need to be upgraded and integrated. And above that, you must revamp them again….”

The Two Pizza Rule – Everyone Needs Access, but Not Everyone Needs Their Own Pizza

Amazon has the “two pizza rule.” By it, they mean that no team should be any bigger than can be fed with two pizzas. While that works for physical teams, it doesn’t work for your IT. If you’re going to scale your personnel, you have to scale up your IT – applications, cloud assets, infrastructure, etc. You can’t scale with a “two pizza” rule for your IT infrastructure. Sure, everybody needs access to the “pizza,” but not all your employees are going to need the same key or even access to the same kind of “pizza” as other employees. Scaling technology isn’t simple and requires a partner who understands how the organization’s goals, people, and roles all funnel into the need for tech access as the company scales.

Harness Cloud-based Data Power to Inform Your Scaling Strategy

Your data for your KPIs has to scale – and evolve – with you. Big data, IoT, and AI can help your business leverage more granular data than ever before. Today, under the direction of Reed Hastings, Netflix is a prime example of how scaling a company’s IT can result in game-changing data usage. As Netflix tracks every action of its 213 million-plus subscribers, it can accurately predict what shows, and movies from its production wing will be successful. With this visibility into customers comes the ability to be nimble and agile with their service delivery.

 

Alfred Chandler, Jr, Professor
Alfred DuPont Chandler, Jr, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his 1977 book, “The Visible Hand: Managerial Revolution in American Business,” wrote extensively about modern corporations’ scale and management structures.
Where Did Outdated Scaling Models Originate? – The Industrial Revolution

Alfred Chandler, Jr is one of the most respected figures in business history. His work redefined industrialization’s business and economic history and gave us a fresh perspective on how the modern digital firm differs from the industrial-age model.

Managerial firms, according to Chandler, evolved to take advantage of productive techniques available after the establishment of rail networks. More profits came from higher productivity and lower costs. America’s “managerial class” arose from this operating model where managers coordinate increasingly complex and interdependent systems.

The New Kind of Firm & a New Way to Scale

Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani’s HBR article of Winter 2021, “Competing in the Age of AI,” describes how Chandler’s model focuses on the benefits for those companies that successfully achieve greater production scope, and/or variety. On-going efforts to improve added learning as a key characteristic of successful scaling.

“Scale, scope, and learning have come to be considered the essential drivers of a firm’s operating performance. And for a long time, they’ve been enabled by carefully defined business processes that rely on labor and management to deliver products and services to customers, and that are reinforced by traditional IT systems. After hundreds of years of incremental improvements to the industrial model, the digital firm is now radically changing the scale, scope, and learning paradigm.

AI-driven processes can be scaled up much more rapidly than traditional processes can, allow for much greater scope because they can easily be connected with other digitalized businesses, and create incredibly powerful opportunities for learning and improvement, like the ability to produce ever more accurate and sophisticated customer-behavior models and then tailor services accordingly.”

The Foundation of Operational Excellence

Becoming digital is an essential watershed for any modern company.. Leveraging SMACIT, digital expands and accelerates innovation. However, companies cannot afford to neglect the pursuit of operational excellence.

Executing a business strategy that is consistent, reliable, and cost-effective is foundational to sustained business health. Operational excellence is also the mindset that embraces constant and never-ending improvement. Continuous attention to pursuing operational excellence means every employee can see, deliver, and enhance the flow of value to customers.

The constant pressure for all companies is a perfect storm of demands that include the speed of delivery, technology, and communication acceleration. Every employee from the top down is busy making decisions and exploring ideas. They don’t have the time to waste on broken operational processes. Information technology that encompasses systems, processes, and data must make things easier for employees and customers alike.

Perfecting the business model via digital transformation has been key to the expansion and domination of household brands today.

 

Prague, Czech Republic - August 28, 2018: Range of iPods inside Apple Museum in Prague, the largest private collection of Apple products around the world.
The iPod is a line of portable media players and multi-purpose mobile devices designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The first version, released on October 23, 2001, about eight and a half months after the Macintosh version of iTunes.

Apple began its journey in 1976 and slowly climbed, but its rocket ship of success didn’t go into orbit until 2001 – 25 years later – when the iPod was released. Their launch into this new realm was only made possible with the scalable technologies needed to supply and service the massive demand for the iPod, and its succeeding generations of small devices for the mass market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starbucks employees prepare coffee.
Our story begins in 1971 along the cobblestone streets of Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market. Here, Starbucks opened its first store, offering fresh-roasted coffee beans, tea, and spices from around the world for our customers to take home. They started by selling coffee beans roasted by Peet’s, a gourmet coffee company in Berkeley, California, then began roasting their own. A year later, Howard Schultz came on board as CEO, urging Starbucks opened its first espresso bar in 1984.

Starbucks also had its learning curve. The company took 20 years from 1971 to perfect its business model and underlying corporate technologies to scale from 100 locations in 1991 to 18,000 locations in 62 countries today.

 

But that was then, back before the availability of cloud resources. Now, the cloud, and cloud-based technologies, can propel companies, big and small, into a new stratosphere of capability within a short amount of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investing in Scaling Tech Capability Pays Off

While you expect a company like JP Morgan Chase to be investing heavily in technology, what may not quickly come to mind is that they have been investing in tech all along the way as they scaled the business. They are investing in IT-based workflow advancements because that investment pays off. JP Morgan Chase has more than 50,000 technology professionals and invests eleven billion per year in its digital development.

But JP Morgan chase isn’t the only big-name company where we see investment in tech as a part of a scaling strategy. In 2018, Walmart chose to bring on an additional 1,700 IT staffers. To quote USA Today, they “beefed up” their “omnichannel presence to better compete with Amazon, Costco, and other peers.”

The result?

Walmart’s stock rose by 17% over the next two years.

While neither JP Morgan Chase nor Walmart took on massive “scaling” projects over the past two years (not many did), we can guess that the industry leaders see technology as the business expansion enabler that it is.

In Conclusion

Scalability is a necessary ingredient to future-proofing your network. Businesses have survived without a scalable network, but that won’t be true as we move into this decade.

Business leaders must liberate their companies from legacy systems, safeguard their data, and continuously conserve costs by implementing technology that fits where they’re at and where they’re going strategically. Scaling a business with agility and resiliency can only be achieved by embracing new technology, and that begins by designing an IT environment built for the digital age.

Success in 2022 is going to be about flexibility and scalability. If you’re going to compete and win, the cloud environment will be critical to your success.

Choose options that allow enough elasticity for you to reimagine what optimal scalability means to you.

Lay the groundwork so that there’s a solid foundation. That way, your digital journey will move forward with incredible, even inspiring, momentum.

The Importance of Having a Strategic Technology Partner

 

Scaling Up in 2022

Scalability has always been an essential characteristic for companies to develop. Today, an organization’s capacity to scale quickly, effectively, and economically can mean the difference between winning new business or missing it altogether. At the rate business moves in 2022, the window of opportunity opens and closes quickly. Being prepared is essential.

An increase in scalability enables businesses to grow their capacity and capabilities effectively and with minimal disruption. The benefits of increased scalability extend beyond handling more business. The foundations required for modern scalability also deliver immense value in other areas, including:

·     Enhanced & Improved Customer Experience

·     Improved Resiliency

·     Nimble Operations

·     Highly Engaged & Motivated Employees

Scaling is complex and involves many moving parts ranging from building the right corporate culture to hiring high-performing talent, having the proper structure, and the financing to support it. Using the right technology is an essential ingredient, and that’s where this article will focus.

Everyone Benefits When People and Tech Work Together

Any discussion about technology and modern scalability involves leadership because leadership needs to communicate closely with internal IT and external technology partners. A technology engaged leadership is the only way an organization can prepare its people and culture to handle the growth. Improving scalability in the modern sense means a paradigm shift in how the company operates. The intention and drive to become a better company, to escalate its level of service to its customers, has got to be part of the equation, or attempt at scaling to any significant level will fly off the rails.

Complacent leadership or a culture of doing business-as-usual is one of the reasons companies procrastinate investing in upgrading their technology infrastructure. If current equipment is working, why mess with it?

A recent McKinsey report shows a slight improvement in companies trying between 2018 and 2020. This chart indicates while most companies have made progress modernizing their operations, less than one-third have moved beyond the pilot phase.
Legacy Systems Are More Susceptible to Cyber Attacks

This kind of reliance on legacy equipment not only hobbles any attempts at scaling, old hardware, and outdated operating systems are a disaster waiting to happen. Legacy systems are a significant cybersecurity risk.

Our article WHY IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SO IMPORTANT TO SUSTAINED SUCCESS (PART 1)? Explains the importance of having people with good communication skills leading technology, data, and processes. It would be best if you had good communicators knowledgeable about available technologies and how they can help. These consultants can help you rethink your operations from the top down. The right partner can also maintain and refresh technology roadmaps to ensure a consistent unified architecture (referred to as an “operational backbone” in the article mentioned above).

IronOrbit is the kind of partner who has the business operations experience and technical expertise to get your next-generation operating model started on solid footage..

Increasing scalability is a challenge for any company on multiple levels, but significant changes can become seamless with the right technology in place, at least from an IT perspective.

Talk to one of our consultants today. We can help get the conversation started and help you evaluate the best available options that are right for your business. 

Call (888) 753-5060

2022 Tech Trends to Increase Business Growth & Resilience

 

2022 will continue to see the digitization and virtualization of society and business. The need for sustainability, increasing data volumes, and computer network speeds will drive digital transformation as companies move from a survival strategy to one of thriving.

As promised by Moore’s Law several decades ago, technology advancements continue to accelerate, but the speed at which these accelerations are occurring far outpaced earlier projections. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report says, “Developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and genetics and biotechnology are all building on and amplifying one another. More than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that at not yet considered crucial to the job today.”

When you think about what technologies might be game-changing for your company in 2022, you aren’t thinking about nanotechnology, quantum computing, or neural interfaces. As much as the tech giants may want to forecast a utopian future based on these technologies, what your company needs right now is technologies that will help you get more done with less, work from anywhere, and support your organizational objectives.

Let’s dive into some “right now” technologies that can be disruptive in a good way to your workflow and organization as a whole in 2022.

 

Digitization and Virtual Environments

The trend toward leveraging big data and the digitization of workflow within organizations makes virtual work environments possible. During the pandemic, everybody scrambled to set up home offices. The organizations that already had a virtual IT infrastructure had a much smoother transition. Employees just had to grab their computers from the office and take them home. Others had to work through it and make adjustments along the way. Most of those that didn’t transition went out of business.

It’s interesting to note that many business leaders are still grappling with the employee question of when (or if) they’ll be returning to an office environment. Sharyn Leaver writing for Forrester, predicts only 10% of companies will remain fully remote. Of the 60% planning to shift to some sort of hybrid model, one-third of those firms will fail in their first attempt at anywhere work.

New technologies are emerging in every area. Cloud computing continues to be at the forefront of every discussion because it is foundational to everything else. All IT services, applications, and cybersecurity protocols are delivered through the cloud.

Last October, at Gartner’s IT Symposium in Stamford, Connecticut, analysts reported that enterprises must move away from “lift and shift” migration and toward Cloud-Native Platforms (CNPs). The power of cloud computing provides scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities “as a service” to technology creators using internet technologies, delivering fast time to value and reduced costs.  For this reason, Gartner predicts CNPs will serve as the foundation for more than 85% of new digital initiatives by 2025, up from less than 40% in 2021.

 

Aamer Baig writes in an article for McKinsey, “Most companies we know are well into their cloud journeys and understand notionally that the cloud offers a big opportunity. But many are struggling to capture the full value cloud offers. As in the adoption of any new technology, of course, hiccups are inevitable. But the fundamental issue is that companies are looking at the cloud as a source of IT productivity improvements rather than as a source of transformative value—which is more than $1 trillion, by our calculations.

Improvements in productivity and efficiency gains through cloud-migration programs can generate significant cost savings, but they essentially represent better ways of doing what IT already does. CIOs have a crucial role in getting the business to focus on the far bigger prize: the new businesses, innovative practices, and new sources of revenue that cloud either enables or accelerates.

One pharma company built its GxP-compliant IT environment on the cloud and uses an ecosystem of cloud services that connect with manufacturing instruments, robotics, and other systems. It has been using a combination of scaling, instance management, storage, workload processing, and data-warehousing services to accelerate vaccine development.

A large agriculture company put into the cloud the vast amounts of data it had accumulated on improving equipment maintenance and used advanced analytics to generate insights that became the basis for a new business offering to growers.

CIOs need to master cloud economics and target business areas that can benefit from the cloud’s advantages of speed, flexibility, and scale. As importantly, they need to consider how to make the large-scale changes to IT’s operating model that are needed to build the capabilities to generate new value. Fewer than 10 percent of technology leaders, however, say they are most focused on hiring cloud talent, placing it at the bottom of hiring priorities. That’s a red flag, especially considering that almost 50 percent of CIOs plan to migrate more than three-quarters of all workloads to the cloud in the next two years.”

 

The term artificial intelligence was coined by Dartmouth math professor John McCarthy in 1955.

 

AI will continue to improve and become ubiquitous in the year 2022. Even the most rudimentary of businesses are utilizing AI devices connected to nearly everything and using AI in:

  • Voice Assistants
  • Smart TVs
  • Smart Whiteboards
  • Language Translation
  • Mobile Devices
  • Robotic Process Automation

Companies using AI devices accumulate tremendous amounts of customer data. This well of information just then needs to be categorized and analyzed for pro-growth decisions based on real-time data. 2022 will see a dramatic jump in the utilization of AI due to the higher speeds available through the widespread adoption of the 5G network.

Before rushing out to buy the latest and greatest in AI technology, it’s a good idea to do some research or delegate an IT innovation team to do some preliminary homework. Become familiar with the capabilities of the technology and ensure it aligns with the mid-range and long-term strategy of your organization.

In a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article first published in 2018, Thomas Davenport and Rajeev Ronanki wrote about the importance of understanding which technologies perform what types of tasks, and the strengths and limitations of each. They write, “we encountered several organizations that wasted time and money pursuing the wrong technology for the job at hand.”

Since many organizations, even large enterprise companies, can lack the necessary in-house expertise to evaluate new and emerging technologies, it’s necessary for business leaders to work closely with IT to identify the right consultants to advise on high-priority projects.

Davenpot and Ronanki found that nearly a majority of cognitive technology projects had to do with robotics and automation. Business leaders have two schools of thought when it comes to automation. Some see automation as a way to eliminate full-time employees while others see it as a way to automate menial tasks in order to make better use of its people.  Amazon for instance has been looking at ways for its people to devote more time to building new products. The Hands Off the Wheel program began in the retail management division to develop ways for machine learning to handle repetitive mundane work such as keeping its gigantic warehouses stocked with products to sell.

When companies make it clear that they are using AI to help people rather than replace them, they significantly outperform companies that don’t set that objective (HBR).

Alex Kantrowitz, author of ALWAYS DAY ONE: HOW THE TECH TITANS PLAN TO STAY ON TOP FOREVER (Portfolio, 2020), writes in an article for Harvard Business Review, that Amazon’s transition to Hands Off the Wheel took years to roll out and a great deal of training. “The retail-division employees were despondent at first, recognizing that their jobs were transforming. Yet in time, many saw the logic. ‘When we heard that ordering was going to be automated by algorithms, its like, ‘OK, what’s happening to my job?’”

According to Kantrowitz, Amazon didn’t implement this program to reduce headcount but rather free up personnel to invent and oversee new product development.  Kantrowitz makes an essential point: “Had Amazon eliminated those jobs, it would have made its flagship business more profitable but would have missed the next new business opportunity.

Amazon has about 350,000 mobile drive unit robots working alongside hundreds of thousands of humans employed at fulfillment centers.

 

Entrepreneurship and seizing opportunities through leverage are at the heart of Amazon’s raison d’être. At no other time in history has it been as easy, fast, and inexpensive to start a new business. Amazon’s view is that it is a facilitator of entrepreneurship, providing the investment, platform, and resources to help build new businesses.

Amazon first opened its online shelves to small businesses in 2000. In 2018, the company created an internal Small Business Empowerment team. In a press announcement, CEO Dave Clark said, “We made the decision to open our store’s virtual shelves to third-party sellers. At the time, big-box retailers had been pushing small businesses out of the retail market. We bet that bringing selling partners into our store would not only be a win for customers who want vast product selection, low prices, and fast delivery, but it would also be a win for small businesses wanting to reach more customers, increase revenue and profits, and create good jobs.”

The number of US sellers who surpassed $1 million in sales grew another 15%. Kantrowitz concludes, “If Amazon is any indication, businesses that reassign employees after automating their work will thrive.”

A recent Forrester study shows that technology leaders will focus on human-centered technology transformations. Indicating that less than 15% of firms nominated digital transformation as a priority in 2022, the report suggests leading firms will use emerging technology to unlock the creativity of their employees and drive innovation that focuses on outcomes, not just financial results.

Subscription-Based Technologies

The trend of “______ as a Service” technologies has exploded in the past few years. 2022 will see more of this trend – for several good reasons.

Subscription-based business technologies:

  • don’t force you to buy more than you are using
  • are cost-effective
  • are easily scalable up or down
  • are flexible to match market fluctuations
  • can be deployed easily and quickly

Maybe the best part about subscription-based technologies is the zero-coding needed to utilize them. You don’t have to have an in-house IT team. These technologies come pre-built and can integrate easily with other technologies in use within your business. In addition, because the technologies are virtual (in a cloud environment), your business has less exposure to cyber risk and a higher level of business continuity readiness.

Compliance Technologies

The more data that a company creates and gathers from the public, the greater their social responsibility becomes for the protection and use of that data. Whether your company needs to have transparency, governance, and accountability regarding data to protect your brand or you have legislative and industry-standard compliance mandates to adhere to, the technologies revolving around compliance are here to stay and will be growing throughout 2022. These new compliance technologies will help streamline your compliance efforts, minimizing the effort and money expended on compliance concerns.

 

Employee Wellness and Retention Technologies

The pandemic has brought a wave of resignations and shuffling of employees from one company to another. Business leaders are looking to technology to make employment at their organization more attractive to prospective – and current – employees. This desire to improve working conditions for employee retention has resulted in the utilization of many technologies. These advancements range from wearables that help employees monitor wellness for a work/life balance to new features built into ergonomic forms that reduce stress and improve employees’ workday in repetitive motion tasks.

Other considerations regarding employee wellness and retention technologies are tech that improves communication and collaboration on tasks and incorporates that “water cooler” chat function lost in the social distancing and work-from-home exodus of 2020.

By using tech to reincorporate that human connection into the virtual workplace, companies are helping to give their employees more of a sense of camaraderie and belonging – rather than isolation.

 

In Conclusion:

Your business, like many others, is reliant upon technology to maintain your competitive edge. It’s important to know what technologies other companies are leveraging – both within your industry and the broader marketplace. But knowing that other companies are having success with or planning on implementing game-changing tech within their organizations isn’t enough. Companies that take decisive action will face the fast-paced challenges of the next few years much better than those that are more cautious. Combine strategic planning with bold decision-making as you prioritize your technology objectives for the next 12 months. You must have a trusted IT partner to vet those technologies and advise you about their potential ROI within your particular business.

2022 is shaping up to be a year of both promise and uncertainty, but one thing is sure: companies that build a platform to embrace new tech within their workflow will have an advantage out of the starting gate.

 

Moving to the Cloud is an Essential Strategy for 2022

While not the magic bullet that solves all your operational problems, moving to the cloud forms the foundation of building a solid technology platform.

Businesses that took the opportunity to remake and future-proof their infrastructure and workforce during the pandemic will continue to pull ahead of the competition. As we move into 2022, it becomes imperative for companies to move to the cloud to accomplish two strategies:

  • Be agile and flexibly prepared for the unexpected
  • To Take advantage of emerging AI-enabled digital technologies

These two objectives mean large-scale changes to IT’s operating model. The more technology-savvy people in the company should take the lead in understanding what moving to the cloud would mean for the company. Target specific business areas and look at how having workflows on the cloud benefits operations through increased speed, flexibility, and scale, which are the standard hallmarks of having operations in a cloud environment.

Speed, Flexibility, & Scalability

If you want to deliver digital capabilities anywhere and everywhere, consider how the IronOrbit ecosystem uses the core capabilities of cloud computing to provide scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities. Our teams of engineers and business visionaries have taken the complexity out of migrating your environment to the cloud, so you benefit from faster time to value and reduced costs.

The improvements in productivity and efficiency can generate significant cost savings over time; however, the actual benefit delivery is optimizing IT functions. You’ll be doing things you’ve always done, but you’ll be doing them better, and your operations will be much more resistant to disruptions.

Introducing IOCentral

Our new automated self-service portal, IOCentral, delivers a fast and easy way to scale storage, networks, databases, and computer functionality. An intuitive interface allows you to scale business functions more quickly by connecting essential software and microservices. Using AI-enabled technology, IOCentral enables flexibility and comprehensive ecosystem management from one pane of glass.

Speed, flexibility, scalability, and reduced costs indeed represent long-term value, but those in and of themselves do not convey the urgency for moving to the cloud. For that, we need to look further ahead.

The Bigger Business Benefit of Moving to the Cloud

Taking full advantage of your move to the cloud means looking at the new possibilities available to your business because now your business is part of the global cloud ecosystem. The cloud now becomes a catalyst to build new capabilities and value propositions for your customers.

This larger prize focuses on building innovative practices, new sources of revenue, and learning from the unique knowledge flows that will inspire leadership, not IT, to create new digital value propositions for your customers.

Without the cloud, leadership will never be able to enter the competitive arena of 2022 and beyond, let alone have the possibility to innovate new products and services.

The Cloud Delivers All IT Services, Apps, and More.

 

Be ready to use new digital technologies and stay ahead of change. Call now for a proof-of-concept of how IronOrbit can prepare your business for sustained success.

Call us today at 888-753-5060

 

5 C-Level Executives watch as two storm fronts approach.
Future-Proofing: the Key to All-Weather Success

 

 

Two dangerous weather fronts are bearing down upon businesses today.

 

What does future-proofing your company mean to you?

If you have a sinking feeling that your organization moves too slow, units are too siloed, or you’re still hobbling along on outdated legacy systems, you’re probably right. Your organization is overdue for future-proofing initiatives.

The age of standardization and predictability has disappeared. The concepts that will keep you afloat in the coming tsunami are agility, adaptability, and flexibility.

So, where is the threat to your business?

Let’s take a look.

Company leaders now have to grapple with the convergence of four intense pressure points.

  • Increased Connectivity
  • Lower Transaction Costs
  • Unprecedented Automation
  • Shifting DemographicsThat is one storm.

The other is a technology storm called SMACIT.

  • Social
  • Mobile
  • Analytics
  • Cloud
  • Internet of ThingsEach storm is a formidable force in and of itself. Together, they’re like the collision of two hurricanes that will wash away unprepared businesses.

 

As executive leaders, we must look for markers signaling shifting market trends and changes in customer expectations. Companies must be prepared for the unexpected as much as possible.

It’s a tall order, and you could be asking yourself, “where do I begin?”

The Technology

Future-proofing your organization is about much more than technology. But implementing foundational technology is low-hanging fruit that can be integrated into your current operating system perhaps much quicker and easier than you thought possible.

For any company looking for elasticity and wants to stay competitive, transactions and work environments are mainly in the virtual world. Mobile workflow, virtualized workplaces, and market environments will be the rule, not the exception moving forward.

A wide range of high-tech productivity tools and communication solutions offer simple, cost-effective ways to equip a remote workforce of any size effectively. As miraculous as all these technologies are, they are just a tiny fraction of the universe we are all about to enter.

 

The Journey

Future-Proofing is a journey, not a destination. As your business grows and matures in parallel with new technologies and market expansion/fluctuation, you will have to give ongoing attention to preparing your business to face and succeed against a new, emerging range of uncertainties. Flexibility, adaptability, and scalability are the essential goals – all of which are powerful benefits of being a part of the IronOrbit cloud ecosystem.

 

The Partner

The IronOrbit cloud ecosystem is the ultimate solution in flexibility, security, and reliable speed. Tools like INFINITY Workspaces and IOCentral represent a cutting-edge breakthrough approach that makes adoption comfortable while keeping a close watch on ROI.

IronOrbit allows you to keep an eye on expenses while enjoying a comfortable, 100% built-for-you experience. If you’re beginning a digital transformation journey, start by letting us host you on our secure private cloud. We will tailor every component to the needs of your organization.

Our baked-in scalability provides a cost-effective, easy-to-use way to scale up or down as needed. Being in the IronOrbit cloud offers a framework for your data to have heightened security and more agility t to meet customer demands.

 

We are here to help you. Please arrange for a free no-obligation consultation with one of our representatives today.

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The Challenge of Future-Proofing is trying to predict the unexpected
The How & Why of Future-Proofing Your Company

 

Future-proofing is the process of preparing for anticipated (and unanticipated) business disruptions. It has always been problematic but is now even more of a challenge.

In this article, we’ll explore the “why” and “how” of future-proofing your business and provide actionable steps to take.

The Future-Proof Challenge of Quickly Evolving Technologies

The rapid acceleration of technology has made future-proofing a business exponentially tricky.

Jimmy Rotella, Sr Solutions Architect at Nvidia, said in a recent episode of “What’s Up AEC?!” that 2020 accelerated a work-from-home movement that was inevitably going to happen in 5 to 10 years.

In an October 2021 Harvard Business Review article, authors Michael Mankins, Eric Garton, and Dan Schwartz write, “technology was already changing the nature of work before Covid-19 took hold. Innovations were redefining the basis of competition in most industries and, consequently, the talent companies need to win over the long term.”

Companies held on by their fingernails for economic survival. The article points out that the businesses that took the lead in the aftermath were the ones who seized the opportunity to remake their organizations and adapt to the new environment.

Disruptors in the Marketplace

Business leaders are worried about what’s going to happen to their companies moving forward. KPMG reports that 74% of CEOs are afraid of some new company disrupting their business model.

knocking down a large portion of their corporate park….managing decline
Eastman Kodak, a 120-year-old company, declared bankruptcy. If business leaders do not manage ongoing innovation, they’ll be presiding over decline and collapse.

Companies look for indicators of possible future disruptions. Things could be going perfectly today, and the next thing you know, someone does it better than you, faster than you, and cheaper. Focus on solving specific problems for your customers. What will the market share be for a product or service in Q4 next year? How about the year after that? Part of this inquiry requires discovering where the weaknesses are in an organization. Spending more time on future-proofing an organization increases your chances of being more proactive instead of putting out fires as they happen.

The Statistics Aren’t on Your Side

Forty thousand companies out of one million will last over ten years. That means that 960,000 go out of business before their first ten years, and only 45 companies out of a million last 100 years.

Why are these figures so grim? What is it that makes preparing a business for future needs such a daunting task? To understand the background of the problem, let’s look at a parenting metaphor.

Parents spend nearly twenty years preparing their children to enter the adult world. In essence, those parents are “future-proofing their children. After all, Mom and Dad don’t know what the world will be like when the children reach adulthood, what kind of people they will encounter, what troubles will come their way, and what dangers they will face. The children will have to be self-sufficient, capable, and adaptable to the inevitable change that will take place during their lifetime.

Your business is no different.

It must be prepped for any eventuality. Every variable is considered.

As we have experienced over the past few years, the future is uncertain. But, with the right preparations, your business can move confidently into the future. The right technologies and strategies can put a forward-leaning company ahead of the competition that hasn’t invested in preparedness.

Let’s explore future-proofing your business, so you can outpace your competition when the next market fluctuation takes them by surprise.

The Connection Between Future-Proofing and Your Company’s Lifecycle
Innovative thought leader and author Tendayi Viki.
Tendayi Viki, an author, and corporate innovation expert gave an insightful keynote address at the 2019 Solita Meeting Point, where he drew direct connections between future-proofing companies and their lifecycle.

Tendayi Viki, an author, and corporate innovation expert, gave an insightful keynote address at the 2019 Solita Meeting Point. He said all business models have a life cycle, and the problem many companies make is taking the life cycle of a business model and making it the same thing as the life cycle of the company. These cannot be the same thing if you want to future-proof an organization because it chains the two life cycles together. Future-proofing should develop a portfolio of business models (not to be confused with a portfolio of products) that balance risk and return.

McKinsey reports that only 6% of executives are satisfied with their company’s innovation.

A Portfolio of different business models. Some are high risk, low reward, while others are low risk and high rewards.
Implementing multiple business models is a strategy to gain a durable advantage and strengthen resiliency against disruptive forces.

Coming up with ideas isn’t so much a problem as shaping those ideas into new value propositions that resonate with customers. Combine those value propositions into sustainably profitable business models. New value propositions require innovation. The objective is to build a portfolio of rising and fall business models to strengthen resiliency.

Reduce uncertainty by experimenting with ideas so that they become sources of revenue.

Innovation Readiness – Embedding Flexibility Into the Future of Your Business

As work and customer transactions continue to grow in a virtual environment, the need to experiment with ideas and business models in the digital realm will grow. Experimentation requires a purposeful engagement between leadership, employees, and technology.

According to the previously mentioned Harvard Business Review article, few business leaders “manage engagement with technology in a coordinated way, so employees become suspicious of it, and the technology underperforms management expectations. That’s a pity because when people and tech work together, everyone benefits.”

The article tells how USAA Insurance uses an integrated approach to developing and deploying AI-enabled tools. The use of next-generation technology frees up people on the claims team to focus on helping customers. “This kind of work is more satisfying for the people and better leverages their capabilities.”

The Future with Your Customers

One aspect of preparedness that makes becoming digital a competitive necessity comes from the customer engagement side.
As Deloitte reports, in nearly every industry across the globe today, customer expectations continue to rise. An explosion of device types and data means that most consumers now expect personalized experiences and increased access to increased amounts of information, when and where they need it. As the number of touchpoints grows, the customer wants “same customer” recognition at every point of interaction. Customer service is more than easy engagement. Today’s customer wants to be necessary each step of the way.

Customers expect products and services tailored to them in personalized, contextual interactions. Customers also wish to read reviews from other customers. The days of siloed IT systems and business functions are behind us, and those who do not realize this will soon be out of business. There is genuine pressure today, much more than a couple of years ago, to digitize operations and become digital companies. There is no time to lose.

Four interrelated forces culminating to unwind old rules of management.
These are the four interrelated trends culminating in unraveling the old management rules and the traditional structure of organizations. (source: McKinsey Reports)
Future-Proofing Your Profitability

A recent McKinsey report found that the top 20 percent of companies earn 95 percent of economic profit. Any organization that isn’t seeking new approaches is on borrowed time. By leveraging current technologies and embracing experimentation, organizations can discover new ways of doing things that are not as fragile and vulnerable to unpredictability.

Companies must define data, business, and infrastructure components and design them for reuse to succeed digitally. Reconsider customer offerings in terms of individual components (see the Lego analogy in Part 2 of Why is Digital Transformation So Important to Sustained Success?). One of the powerful benefits of being digital is the repository of reusable business, data, and infrastructure components.

The “How” of Future-Proofing – Operational Backbone and the Digital Platform

The operational backbone supports core business processes and relates to operational excellence. This set of systems is the cost of entry for doing business digitally into the future. In Designed for Digital, Jeanne Ross explains that companies with an adequate operational backbone are 2.5 times as agile and 44% more innovative than companies without an operational backbone. The digital platform, built on a foundation of cloud services, delivers new sources of revenue, leveraging the capabilities of digital technology to enhance customer engagement and solve customer problems. Digitizing operations is a much easier and shorter journey. Most companies experienced a certain amount of it during the pandemic when they had to, under duress, move to remote work environments. Full-on digital transformation is an ongoing process.

Think of it as a journey. New technologies show up on the horizon so frequently that companies have to adapt and adopt almost on the fly. Operating on legacy systems will make this level of agility impossible. Traditional siloed business environments will also prevent progress. It’s far too slow.

The traditional hierarchy of the corporate organizational chart is mechanical by design. Built on antiquated 18th and 19th Century Industrial Revolution ideas, the focus was uniformity, bureaucracy, and control. These are the antithesis of what companies need to focus on today. Now we need creativity, elasticity, and speed.

Protecting Your Data into the Future

From a technology perspective, companies must build ways to capture and store data because even if they don’t know how to make practical use of this gold mine of information now, they will figure it out shortly. An essential aspect of paradigm-shifting towards a future-proof strategy is realizing how important data will become for the long-term success of your business. Think in terms of components and modular applications. These are things that can repurpose for something else. Tap into the power and multiple benefits of accessible scalability-based technologies. Learning to utilize connecting and scaling data will enable companies to develop new products and digital value propositions.

A Future-Proofed IT Environment

In Four Factors to Help You Future-Proof Your IT Environment, Vivek Agarwal writes, “future-proofing means taking steps so you’re able to flex and expand as needed for as-yet-unknown needs and opportunities.” He goes on to explain how the cloud can make companies more agile in meeting customer needs. Moving away from traditional data centers into scalable cloud infrastructure can make enterprises nimbler and more adaptable.

 

A flower is being moved from one environment to another
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Alexander Den Heijer

Your core business – the value you deliver to your customers – is the flower that must be protected and nurtured.

With the evolution of technology and fluctuations in the market, the soil that your core business is in may change.

Future-proofing your business means fortifying the core business to thrive in whatever soil conditions it finds itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

As a technology website, we are writing about technology and how digitization impacts all levels of business and the customer experience. But here’s the thing, technology is only a means to an end. Let’s summarize your next steps in the future-proofing your business.

Take advantage of cloud-based tools and digitizing operations to future-proof your business. They are merely ways to grease the rails of adopting new ways of doing things and liberate the most precious of your resources – people – from tedious manual input tasks.

Build easily scalable systems. Scalability will also impact flexibility so that management can focus on inspiring and revitalizing their teams and organizations.

Shift your team’s focus from reacting to the unexpected to one of possibility thinking. Human creativity and resilience work best in flexible environments that nurture growth, reward their strengths, and help compensate for their weaknesses.

Roadblocks to Scaling Up
Scaling Up: 13 Roadblocks to Success
Scaling up is the ability to take on increased workloads in a cost-effective manner and meet the demands of your business without suffering the negative consequences of overreaching.

Scaling up sounds like a fantastic idea. After all, who wouldn’t want to be able to handle more work, delivering more goods and services while leveraging economies of scale for greater profitability?

But the promise of scaling is often like an iceberg. What you see above the water (the work to be done) is nothing compared to the work lurking under the water. These are the challenges faced in scaling a business. Some companies get to a point where it is painful to add another client or bring on more talent. Scaling up seems like piling on more overhead for less reward. Revenue never has a chance to turn into profits.

Here are some barriers many companies may face as they ramp up their operations.

Scaling Up Too Soon

A good question to ask a good business consultant is, Is it too soon to grow the business? Any time before you have all the pieces in place and a strategy to scale is too soon. Is the market is ready to embrace and demand your products or services? Timing is everything. First, to go big into the market is sometimes a good idea, but sometimes not. Companies get eaten alive and never recover.

No Plan to Scale Up

Often the small to mid-size business fails in the efforts to scale for lack of planning. They have an objective and a vague notion of how to get there. Growth-minded companies might partner with that vendor or hire new employees.  But all too often, a structured plan is missing. Having a strategy that guides the requirements, stages, and timeline for scaling is foundational for success. As a result, the timing is off, and the company is missing pieces of the puzzle. Frustration and failure soon follow.

No Understanding of the Difference Between Growth and Scaling

For most successful companies, growth came before scaling up. Taking time to grow allows SOPs to be established and perfected. Taking the time to grow enables hiring key people and building a solid reputation. These things are critical for financial backing to scale. Growth is a time to experiment and approve or discard strategic partners and vendors. Growth helps them understand the management and IT resources required for successful scaling. Multiplying processes and output without a substantial increase in resources is the foundation of scalability. Business leaders need to know if the company is prepared to scale up.

Unnecessary or Untimely Product/Service Additions

As soon as a company begins to have a little bit of success in their efforts to scale, they often become overzealous with their efforts to take over the marketplace.

They may move away from their core business too quickly and begin advertising products and services they are not prepared to deliver. Even if they can make a dollar on those tangential goods and services, they are taking resources away from what is central to their current revenue stream and their ability to scale.

Selecting the Wrong Partners & Vendors

Companies across the planet have learned the wrong partners or vendors can put companies at risk. Long supply chains and unproven vendors can have detrimental consequences on the delivery of goods and services to your customers, as well as injure brand reputations.

Avoid vendors and strategic partners who over promise and under deliver. There is no room for freeloading. Everyone has to do their part.

 

Lack of Internal Communication

Employees need to know the company culture and what is expected. Companies need complete buy-in from their workforce to scale up successfully. There also must be a strategy communicated internally. Along with the nuts and bolts of your well-laid strategy is a minefield of employee concerns, expectations, and emotions that you must address. If employees feel left out of the loop – or worse, insecure in their jobs – they will not be best positioned to support scaling efforts. Internal communication requires more than just a company-wide meeting or a series of internal memos sent out to senior staff. Instead, the business leaders must keep their finger on the pulse of how the staff is acclimating to the proposed and in-progress changes.

 

Internal Communication and Planning
Verne Harnish’s book Scaling Up shows how to improve scalability. Scalability requires putting the right team together and then educating them on the growth strategies of the company. Articulate a clear vision for meeting future goals regularly.

Apple's founder Steve Jobs showcases Apple's latest laptop.

 

The last decision Steve Jobs made was to build Apple University.

He knew that it would be the one legacy he’d leave behind so that his organization would thrive long after he was gone.

Cutting Prices

Once you’ve been able to leverage some economies of scale, there is often a temptation to cut prices to undercut the competition and gain more market share. “After all,” you think, “We’re still making the same amount on our goods/services.” While it’s tempting to cut your prices and try to push the competition out of business, the money you will lose is better saved and utilized within your scaling efforts.

Technology That Can’t (or Can’t Easily) Scale-Up

Whether you’re working with legacy systems that keep your productivity limited, or you’re working with on-site workstations and servers that are expensive and cumbersome to scale, your technology is limiting your potential. This roadblock used to be a nearly insurmountable one for businesses trying to scale on a budget. However, with advances in cloud-based IT infrastructure and Desktop as a Service, the financial hurdle considerations are lowered due to the cloud’s ability to scale with your business expansion. Companies across the planet have factored cloud computing ability into their scaling strategy and are successfully leveraging the flexibility, mobility, and cost-effective nature of cloud workflow assets.

As an IBM fellow, Jason McGee puts it, migrating applications to the cloud can deliver significant business benefits for companies of all sizes.

Failing to Create Long-Term Demand

Business leaders that fundamentally misunderstand the role of advertising and marketing often pin their hopes of scaling on the stop-and-go stutter-step of marketing efforts. While marketing strategy should always be a part of your scaling endeavor, it is not sufficient on its own to supply continuous, qualified customers. Instead, part of any scaling strategy should be a plan to grow market demand for your products/services. After all, you want them knocking on your door for what you provide; you don’t want to be chasing work constantly with ad campaigns.

Cash Flow and Credit

There is no way around it, scaling requires sufficient cash flow. Many organizations with a fantastic plan to scale launch that endeavor, only to find that their efforts are stymied by lack of on-hand cash or credit. In a recent episode of “What’s Up AEC?!” the Immediate Past Board Chair of ACEC National, Charles Gozdziewski warns about the cash flow aspect of scaling up too quickly. “I’ve seen small firms suddenly become part of a big project. They go from 10 people to 25 people and then they go bankrupt. They just don’t have the financing or financial knowledge to handle it.”

Each stage of your scaling strategy will require more financial backing, and that backing must be available at that stage or things begin to unravel. Setting yourself up for success requires ensuring that you will have the backing you need well in advance of your step to the next level of operational expansion.

Yellow Chair amongst rows of blue chairs.
Scaling up starts and ends with individuals. Make sure you have the right people in the right seats.
Quality Employees Instead of Quantity

Scaling starts and ends with individuals. Whether you are in a service industry or manufacture goods, your employees can make or break your scaling prospects. As much as anything else, scaling requires the right beliefs and behavior. Growth-oriented companies need people who are comfortable with change, who can move fast, and take ownership of tasks. In the rush to scale, companies often hire too quickly and find that they experience internal roadblocks to productivity because of the unqualified staff they’ve hired. Unfortunately, companies that are quickly ramping up delivery of goods and services often don’t have time for extensive employee training or the flexibility for employees to learn “on the job.” A resourceful HR team should be among your first hires to help ensure that your business sources and hires employees that can step in and do the work without handholding.

Ignoring Growth Pains and Fixating on Growth Pains

Whether leadership is determined not to let that “one issue” hold things back or fixate on that “one issue” to the detriment of other things that require attention, it still lands the administration in a difficult spot. On the one hand, small issues at one stage of scaling can become mountains of pain in the next stage of expansion. On the other, a fixation with a specific issue can lead to an unhealthy overemphasis on one aspect of the business, throwing everything out of kilter.

To scale, you must be aware of growing pains and be able to handle them appropriately without devoting all your attention and resources to those problems.

Micromanagement

Organizations with micromanagers at the top very often do not do well when it comes to scaling up operations. Delegating responsibility is an essential component of scaling an enterprise. A business leader must know their self well enough to see this tendency in themselves before it becomes an issue that derails the scaling process. Sometimes, it’s necessary to step into a different leadership role and allow someone that has delegation skills to fill that administrative slot. As you scale, so should your management structure. Finding the right role for you to play and bringing in the people you need to bolster your weaknesses is a sign of a good leader.

 

In Conclusion

 

Despite significant roadblocks to developing capacities to scale up quickly, there are multiple benefits for an organization to prepare itself for the likelihood of scaling up.

The challenges of scaling up are complex because scalability isn’t just about growth. It also has to do with its ability to be flexible, agile, and versatile. The same things that position the business for expansion are the same things that prepare them for unknown shifts in the market and unforeseen events like a worldwide pandemic. Preparedness is all about becoming proactive and being strategic with digital technology.

In a Forbes article from March 1, 2021, Paolo Gallo and Giuseppe Stigliano write, “Because of the dizzying speed of change today, fueled by this umpteenth acceleration, companies can’t count on their strengths alone to innovate. The CEO of a mobility services company reminded us how crucial it is at this stage to build eco-systems, resisting the temptation to reduce them to ego-systems. We have to collaborate with third parties to build systems in which the individual parts function as a single entity, in a more or less continual way to provide high-value-added services to final customers. Companies have to see themselves as fluid platforms, capable together of providing a value proposition that is exponentially bigger than what they could offer alone.”

In one of our previous blogs, we stressed the importance of componentization as a key ingredient to offering new digital value propositions. Taking the time to componentize offerings and build a solid digital foundation for your company will also position it for agility, flexibility, and growth.

The in-depth Deloitte Insights article, Putting Digital at the Heart of Strategy, goes beyond pointing out that digital transformation enables new growth opportunities. It indicates that those companies that don’t digitize in the next five years will be doomed.

Digitizing operations, a key benefit of cloud computing, improves an organization’s ability to meet sudden increases (or decreases) in demand.

Post Pandemic Business Success is About Renewal
Post-Pandemic Business Success is About Renewal
As businesses regain their balance, the leadership must focus on renewal, not recovery, if they want to stay competitive in their market.

If there’s a lesson to be learned about the pandemic, it’s the importance of being adaptable. Another critical quality for survival was speed. There wasn’t much time to deliberate. Companies had to act fast. Acting with speed and agility wasn’t tied to the size of the company. It was less about ability and more about choosing to be quick and adaptable.

Covid-19 changed how we live and work on multiple levels. We’ve seen accelerated changes in consumer and business behaviors that are likely to persist. Strategies meant to restore things as they were before the pandemic will prove frustrating.

Business leaders need to look beyond recovery. As Rebecca Brooks points out in her article for the Forbes Agency Council, the pandemic revealed the flaws in our systems. All of them. Whether they were socio-economic, corporate, or governmental. “That’s why I’m not trying to lead my company back to where it was in December of 2019,” she writes. “That place and time are gone. I want a renewal— not a recovery — so that our people are equipped and prepared to handle the challenges we’ll face today and tomorrow.

Because businesses and consumer behavior will never be the same, business leaders are looking for technology, specifically digital technology, to lead the way. Digitizing operations use the technology to replicate an existing service in a digital form. Becoming digital means using technology to transform the service into something significantly better. Companies can’t afford to drop the value propositions that work, at least not right away. Nor can they afford to settle with running the business as they had before the pandemic. It is a different market now. In this climate of rapid change and delivery, there’s nothing worse than complacency.

Be Inspired by Technology

The whole idea behind digital transformation is to leverage all the potentialities of technology (namely cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence) to create and deliver better products and services.

Why is the ability to be inspired by technology such a prized commodity? Because now you can conceive an idea, get it funded, bring it to life, and scale it easily, quickly, and more economical than ever before. Andrew Hessel, a distinguished research scientist at Autodesk, said, “The gap between science-fiction and science is getting really narrow now; as soon as someone has the idea and articulates it, it can be manifested in a short time.”

A recent Gartner report on identifying future work trends recommends several methods for creating a future-of-work strategy. The recommendations include using the visionary imaginations of science-fiction writers. Apparently, there are many organizations already employing science-fiction writers to develop bold ideas. Gartner points out that creative thinking is critical for moving past incremental innovation. People often become trapped by cognitive biases (what they know and expect from everyday experiences). They become unable to see potential futures because they are weighed down by the limitations of present conditions.

Market Trends

While the crisis of covid-19 has boosted innovations in technology, it has also created shock waves of uncertainty which are particularly felt by investors and multinational companies. Having witnessed the vulnerability of long-distance supply chains, many business leaders are looking for more local options to replace global manufacturing partners.

ZARA store front in New York city.
ZARA, one of the most known retail companies in the world, has built its success on a solid cloud-based infrastructure.

The Spanish clothing retailer ZARA, founded in 1975, is one company that has been ahead of the trend. While most clothing brands floundered during the pandemic, ZARA was able to keep things moving because they had a shorter supply chain. Not an easy feat to pull off, especially when you have 2,270 stores worldwide. Most western brands use offshore manufacturing in Asia, where labor is much cheaper. The time between design and delivery of the finished product could be months.

Because ZARA used local manufacturers, they moved quickly from design to delivery in a matter of weeks. ZARA also benefited from having no stockpiles of unsold inventory, and they were able to respond to consumer trends promptly. This strategy of using local suppliers turns out to be an effective model. Other companies: in other industries have begun to follow its example.

Job Growth

The clothing industry was one of the markets hit the hardest during the pandemic. The manufacturing of clothing requires the work of many people. Consider that, in Asia alone, the clothing industry employs 43 million people. So, when clothing sales fall 73.5 % in the United States, Bangladesh loses out on $3.2 Billion in canceled clothing exports.

Worldwide, factory jobs will soon be a thing of the past because everything has been automated. Low-skill labor of all kinds will slowly continue to disappear over the next decade. It is anticipated that 1 out of 16 people will have to change occupations between now and 2030. This era of occupational transitions will require the need to train millions of people for new jobs. What benefits, such as sick leave or unemployment, be available for all workers (including gig workers)? The main areas of job growth will be highly skilled occupations: including teachers and training instructors.

Consumer Behavior

According to McKinsey & Company, consumer behavior that shifted in response to Covid-19: such as ordering groceries online and virtual healthcare, will continue at higher levels. E-commerce is booming. The virus also initiated a reversal of some behaviors, such as investing in the home. As the pandemic subsides, some consumer behaviors disrupted by Covid-19, including entertainment, leisure air travel, and remote education, will eventually make their comeback.

Hybrid or Fully Remote Workforce
Pie chart showing remote-work potential by numbers of days per week.
McKinsey and Company assessed over two thousand work activities to evaluate what work can be done without any activity loss in a work-from-home environment. In their research, twenty to twenty-five percent of the workforces in advanced economies were able to operate effectively without losing any of their efficiency. The number of remote workers since the pandemic has increased four to five times. Companies are now devising hybrid remote work plans that enable them to reduce office space saving money and increasing profit margins while giving workers more location flexibility.

During a video roundtable discussion entitled “What’s Up AEC?” Nvidia’s Senior Solutions Architect, Jimmy Rotella, said, “We had always seen a remote workforce coming. Analysts say that the pandemic has actually accelerated the work-from-home movement by 5 to 10 years.”

Now, there is a real focus on employees having options. They can work from home, in the office or both. In fact, the “employee experience” has become equally important as the customer experience.  Providing a great experience to both customers and employees is a defining aspect of a company’s brand.

According to a Fuze survey:

·       83% of workers do not believe they need to be in an office to be productive

·       43% believe they would be more productive working from home

·       70% of those surveyed between the ages of 16–44 want to be more mobile at work

·       88% use smartphones for work daily

·       49% use a tablet minimum of three times per week.

Now that the pandemic is winding down, organizations continue to think about how they want to work moving forward. Most employees now have a taste of what it’s like to work from home, and they want to keep it that way if possible. The trend for most companies has shifted in favor of remote and hybrid working scenarios. Owen Hughes writes, in his attention-grabbing article SPENDING ON TECH IS ABOUT TO ROCKET. BUT IT WON’T BE THE IT DEPARTMENT DOING THE BUYING, that the growth in IT spending will be around companies digitizing operations (moving to the cloud) and becoming digital.

Welcome to 2025

& Tech-Celeration

Zipline is the largest automated on-demand delivery service.
Zipline has made more than 150,000 commercial drone deliveries including blood, medicines, and vaccines. It has transformed national health systems by expanding access to care for millions of people.

The post-pandemic acceleration in the adoption of technologies is pushing us into the future at breakneck speeds.  The new word for this rapid adoption of new technologies is tech-celeration. Experts estimate the acceleration is at least 5 years. Healthcare and higher education are among the industries that have probably seen the greatest push towards tech-celeration. For example, in the United Kingdom, the National Health Service built a telehealth system over a weekend and rolled it out to doctors across the country by the end of the following week. There were similar scenarios in the United States.

Although e-learning has been available to the public since 2000, it has been relatively dormant in university settings until the pandemic. Now, the online education market is expected to quadruple in revenue by 2026. Educational institutions are more open to using computers for distance learning and developing more robust online degree programs.

IT Moves to Center Stage

According to analysts, the surge in IT spending this year won’t come from traditional IT departments, but other areas of the business undergoing digital transformation. These units see IT charged as a cost of revenue or cost of goods sold.

John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner, said: “IT no longer just supports corporate operations as it traditionally has, but is fully participating in business value delivery. Not only does this shift IT from a back-office role to the front of a business, but it also changes the source of funding from an overhead expense that is maintained, monitored, and sometimes cut, to the thing that drives revenue.”

Mark Samuels’ May 22, 2018, article warns readers of the many pitfalls associated with digital transformation even as it acknowledges its importance to business renewal. A few years later, this urgency to transform into digital companies is as intense as ever. Like the acceleration of remote work, the pandemic pushed up the digital transformation agenda for everyone.

For more information please read parts 1 and 2 of WHY IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SO IMPORTANT TO SUSTAINED SUCCESS? These highly informative blogs were based on research by Jeanne W. Ross.

New Crisis. New Opportunities.

Covid-19 created the opportunity for new businesses, as well as new types of businesses to emerge. According to the earlier referenced survey, the number of new business start-ups has doubled in the USA since 2019. During Covid-19, however, many workers in the United States were furloughed, laid off, or simply dropped out of the labor force for other reasons, and thereby embraced the opportunity to create the start-up of their dreams. New job titles have appeared on the horizon. For example, the research company Econsultancy tracked the use of the chief data officer title on LinkedIn for two years. In April 2016, 2,899 people were identified as chief data officers; by February 2018, there were 11,418.

 

IN CONCLUSION

Because of the changes brought upon by the pandemic digitization increased faster than ever thought to be possible and pressured many companies to move faster than they would have liked. It is now an on-demand economy (compliments of the cloud ecosystem). This is a new industrial revolution driven both by fear of digital disruption and the opportunities created by the cloud ecosystem.

The disruption caused by Covid-19 also offers a path to higher productivity and broad-based growth. Digital enterprises like Netflix, Google, and Facebook will only continue to get bigger. The Amazon model of fast and direct delivery will continue to blaze a path through online shopping.

Although the pandemic has contributed to a slowdown of globalization, the world has grown too integrated for globalization to be stopped. According to The Economist magazine, the biggest missing piece of the global puzzle is for business and government leaders to make interdependence work with resilience. Technology, and how people use it, will surely play a critical role.

Even before the pandemic lockdown, social media, mobile, analytics, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things pressured companies to become more digital. Digital technologies deliver ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity, and massive processing power. Digital technologies enhance both the customer experience as well as employees.

Becoming a digital company means delivering new and improved product features. Too many executives rush into transforming their companies to become digital. Digital business transformation is a long journey. Leaders need to commit to the long haul while sustaining existing business.

Take notice of industry trends and identify which ones will have the biggest impact on your organization. Identify where your company has the greatest competitive advantages. Play to those strengths. Build relationships with providers who are dedicated to your success and whose expertise you can leverage.

 

The Cloud Ecosystem Economy
Today’s Cloud Ecosystem Economy and Why it is Important to Understand

 

Like it or not, we are living, no….thriving, in a cloud ecosystem economy and there is no turning back.

What is a Cloud Ecosystem Economy?

Just as a biological ecosystem consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact, the cloud ecosystem is a complex system of increasingly interdependent components all working together. The cloud ecosystem economy is the great catalyst that levels the playing field for all businesses. This is an explosive ecosystem that expands the reach and scope of every business that taps into it. It has also increased the power of the individual and made available vast amounts of knowledge flows. That’s one of the reasons why Rene Buest’s, article How Tech CEOs Participate in Ecosystems, describes this phenomenon as a continually evolving ecosystem that forms the basis of innovative digital solutions and products. It’s why Jeanne Ross prescribes cloud services as the foundation for all digital offerings; thereby become the bedrock for digital transformation.

It is true to say that the Cloud is just someone else’s computer. That is one way to think about it, but it’s far from presenting the whole story. What cloud technology makes possible goes considerably beyond computing capabilities. We’re talking about many kinds of immense databases and knowledge flows the cloud taps into. We’re talking about synergy and exponential growth (see Moore’s Law).

Imagine if you owned a business at the beginning of the 20th Century and hadn’t yet adopted telephone technology. How long could you have remained competitive in such an environment? While business leaders don’t need to understand the ins and outs of the technology, they must understand how the technology impacts the future of their business.

In a recent report, the data analysis company Ecosystem cites three reasons CEOs need to get involved in and have visibility into an organization’s cloud investment.

 

Chart showing the top reasons business leaders are moving their IT environment to the cloud.
A study from Ecosystem, a technology data, and analysis company, showed the main cloud benefits sought by companies considering cloud migration.
Cloud Enables Transformation

Enterprise companies have matured in their Cloud adoption. Decisions are no longer driven by the benefits of shifting Cloud from CapEx to OpEx. The top 3 Cloud benefits sought by companies are

1. Improved Service Levels & Agility 
2. Increased Work Process Efficiency
3. Flexibility & Scalability 

The idea is that the Cloud Ecosystem is a group of technologies and resources that empower infrastructure and open the doors to a world of digital value propositions not yet imagined. The Cloud Ecosystem is an enabler of doing business, real-time data access for productivity increase, and process automation. This impacts the entire organization and involves prioritizing the needs of certain functions over others. These are not decisions the CIO should make alone.

The Cloud is Not Cheap

Cloud adoption may not reduce costs. Ecosystem360 found that over a third of the organizations surveyed find the Cloud more expensive than traditional licensing or owning the hardware. As businesses use the Cloud to scale, several aspects are dynamic and require constant reassessment. In many cases, companies have found themselves having to find and recruit new teams to manage and maintain the Cloud environment. This is not an issue with IronOrbit. Because IronOrbit offers an all-inclusive solution, you don’t have the high, unexpected, added cost of third-party IT resources. Instead, you get a predictable monthly fee.

Joining the Cloud Ecosystem Gives You Access to Emerging Technologies

Tom Wujec is a fellow at AutoDesk and a global leader in 3-D design, engineering, and entertainment software. He said, “When any industry becomes computable, it goes through a series of predictable changes: It moves from being digitalized to being disrupted to being democratized.”

The Democratization of Disruptive Technologies

While it is true the technology and business world is disruptive; it is also becoming increasingly democratized. The Cloud Ecosystem is a principle conveyor of new technology adoptions. Companies have to be a part of the Cloud Ecosystem to leverage emerging technologies (democratization) or face disruptions from competitors who beat them to the Cloud. Returning to the Ecosystem article, “Cloud is no longer only required for infrastructure and back-up, but improving business processes, by enabling real-time data and systems access. Similarly, IoT devices will grow exponentially.

The Cloud Ecosystem Economy was well on its way before the recent pandemic, which only further accelerated the use of cloud-based solutions. The Ecosystem findings suggest Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) will remain the key area of focus, especially Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS).

“The gap between science-fiction and science is getting narrow now,” said Andrew Hessel, a former research scientist at AutoDesk and now co-chair of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at Singularity University. “As soon as soon as someone has an idea and articulates it, it can be manifested in a very short period.”

The Cloud Ecosystem has left the purview of the IT department and is now part of the board room discussions. Technology is no longer just a point solution. It is a collaboration between humans and machines because, with the help of the Cloud Ecosystem, business leaders can understand the whole range of viable possibilities beyond what any human mind can comprehend on its own. It is time to take advantage of what’s possible. Be inspired by technology and what it can do to increase value to your customers.

Business leaders recognize that taking advantage of the Cloud Ecosystem Economy is about creating a platform for efficiency, innovation, and growth. In a 2021 Harvard Business Review Survey amongst CEOs, 87% said that Cloud would be a critical component to achieving sustainability goals to a moderate or significant degree. The article also reported that only 37% of C-level executives had fully achieved the outcomes they expected from their cloud initiatives. Rene Buest reports, “Only about 3 in 10 CEOs reported complete confidence in their organization’s cloud migration initiatives to deliver expected value at the expected time.

Many variables come into moving legacy systems into the Cloud. There are many pitfalls on the way to cloud migration. Certainly, a big part of the challenge is having the skills on hand to take advantage of the Cloud. More often than not, companies can be so eager to take advantage of what cloud technology offers that leadership makes their choice on price and expediency alone. It looks like a good deal at the moment and they go for it without regard to how it will fit with their company.

Don’t make the same mistake. IronOrbit offers comprehensive, professionally managed services for a predictable monthly fee. We build it for you so that it works. You don’t need to wonder if you have the right skills in-house to make full use of it. At the same time, you’ll have all the flexibility and control that you want.

We invite you to check out our INFINITY Workspaces demo and then do your own proof-on-concept.

Call Today 1-888- 753-5060

Increased Productivity and Collaboration is the real reason why AEC firms work with IronOrbit
The Reason Why AEC Firm MSA Partnered with IronOrbit

 

If there was a silver lining to the COVID pandemic, it exposed vulnerabilities in the way companies operate their business. As lockdowns and work-from-home orders spread across the country, companies scrambled for their employees to effectively work remotely.

MSA Professional Services, a 350-employee-owned civil engineering and environmental firm located across four states, was one such company. You might see their work as you drive past a park, a reservoir, or a public activity center. Satellites orbiting Earth record the environmental and community impact of their thoughtfully designed works from outer space.

MSA’s work requires real-time collaboration with project managers or contractors in the field. Management has known that conventional application delivery and desktop management technologies wouldn’t keep up with growing demands.

Months before anyone had even heard of COVID-19, the MSA leadership was looking at the best way for them to migrate their IT environment to the cloud. Like sculptors chiseling away at a block of marble, the process began to reveal what the right cloud design should look like. Leadership knew they needed control of their information. They needed their data to be secure, and, perhaps most importantly, their engineers needed to work on heavy-duty 2D and 3D files on resource-hungry applications from home.

IronOrbit solved the problems of end-user performance with GPU-Accelerated INFINITY Workspaces. Whether it’s fifty users or a thousand, engineers enjoy an even better and more highly responsive experience than they’d get from a high-end physical workstation. Since scalability is built into the design, MSA found that adding or subtracting users was not an issue.

SUPERIOR TECHNOLOGY RESULTS IN A SUPERIOR SERVICE

An essential aspect of IronOrbit’s delivery of high performance at scale is the use of NVIDIA RTX™ Technology, powering the most demanding design, rendering, and engineering workloads from the cloud . This technology delivers rapid deployments of virtual applications and workspaces. MSA engineers can view and work with large 2D and 3D models with efficiency and increased productivity.

“WE NEED MORE CONTROL & SECURITY” – MSA Leadership

As these specific requirements came into focus, it narrowed their field of view as they considered different cloud service providers. Because of the level of control they wanted, together with the necessity for tight security, they knew they were looking for a private cloud approach.

But not just any private cloud.

The delivery of services from the end user’s perspective had to be fast and seamless with no latency or drag of any kind. There’s nothing worse for a designer or engineer than working on a modern app like AutoCAD or Revit, being in the home stretch of finalizing a project, and having to deal with jumpy, erratic responses from a mouse or a stylus pen.

…AND ONE MORE THING

To make the challenge even more interesting, many engineers live in rural areas with sub-standard internet connections.

Senior Systems Engineer Mike Albitz led a series of proof-of-concept drills with IronOrbit’s INFINITY Workspaces when the pandemic erupted. “When the pandemic broke out, it escalated the whole process,” said Albitz. “When COVID-19 started, we were able to provide latency-free desktops to our engineers with slow home Internet connections using IronOrbit. This was an invaluable option to keep our teams productive.”

CLOSE COLLABORATION WITH CLIENTS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

During the process of moving to the cloud, there will be technical challenges that pop up from time to time. The key is to address them as quickly as possible. This requires close communication and transparency. Built on a genuine commitment to customer service, IronOrbit onboarding teams maintain a high-touch with clients throughout the process and beyond.

Good luck getting an actual person to answer a question if you’re using a public cloud. Close client support isn’t part of their “do-it-yourself on our platform” business model.

This may be true of other private cloud companies as well, but not with IronOrbit.

For us, the standard is one-on-one human contact availability 24/7.

WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG?

It’s important to know that public cloud providers do not come standard with recovery time objectives (RTO) or recovery point objectives (RPO). It’s an add-on cost. With public cloud services, many features will fall under the category of an add-on cost.

IronOrbit offers comprehensive packages for predictable monthly fees, including standard 48-hour RTO and 24-hour RPO.

STRATEGY LEADS TECHNOLOGY (CONCLUSION)

MSA leadership was ahead of the pack going into 2020, and they’re still leading the way in the industry. They knew that they wanted to move into the cloud, and they realized that it had to be a high-impact, custom cloud and hosted desktop solution designed with AEC processes in mind.

The IronOrbit team applauds the long-term vision of the MSA leadership. They anticipated their need for better application hosting solutions and embraced the future of AEC cloud computing – INFINITY Workspaces. MSA put the focus in the right place. They explored technology based on their business operations and growth objectives.

What about you?

How well are your designers and engineers doing with off-the-shelf work-from-home solutions?

Have you gotten into a cloud environment that hasn’t been architected specifically for GPU-heavy workloads?

Let us give you a virtual tour of the INFINITY Workstation and discover what go-anywhere design efficiency combined with granular control and security can do for your business.

 

Call us at 1-888-753-5060 for your free consultation today.