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Straight Talk IT

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Three key technology issues dominate the ICT agenda for 2017: security, legacy modernization, and the need for digital capability (as identified in Ovum's ICT Enterprise Insights primary study of more than 6,500 technology executives). While the first two issues have been long-standing imperatives for the CIO, the latter has rapidly risen up the priority list in recent years and is now the top issue in many sectors, including retail banking, telecommunications, and media.

During this transition, Ovum's conversations with executives have shifted, from support in developing the business case for digital toward a greater focus on the path for transformation. Ovum has identified three core pillars that enterprises need to consider in the development of digital capability.

The first pillar is the creation of the digital platform and infrastructure itself. Enterprises need to develop a modern application framework and architecture that can provide or consume platform services through open APIs to create new digital products or services. This needs to be supported by flexible, scalable infrastructure, enabled through automated provisioning, that can efficiently respond to the volume demands of the digital world.

The second pillar is the creation of the ability to effectively exploit and utilize data. This requires a standards-based data infrastructure that can robustly consume and manage a high volume of internal and external data, with insight generated through high-performance analytics for both batch and streaming data. However, there needs to be a focus on generating and delivering actionable insights, not only enabling effective management decision-making but also embedding these into operational and customer-facing processes to drive optimal decision-making at the micro level.

The third pillar is the development of the enterprise's innovation process and methodology for the digital age. At the business level, this is about ensuring senior and enterprise-wide support for the creation of a digital culture, enabled by an appropriate organizational structure and the ability to recruit and develop digital skills. However, on an IT digital capability level, this is about adopting agile methodologies and DevOps practices to shift toward a continuous delivery approach – but, importantly, with repeatable, scalable processes. This allows institutions to deliver an ongoing innovation model that can respond rapidly to the dynamic nature of the digital world in a systematic and efficient manner.

In addition to the three core pillars, there is a foundation layer that should underpin these pillars: the creation of a clearly articulated digital strategy. Somewhat conversely, Ovum's ICT Enterprise Insights program found that while most enterprises had at least started on the creation of the three pillars of digital capability, less than 10% were doing so with an agreed, clear, and articulated view of what the enterprise was trying to do.

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