Since the financial crash of 2008, if not before, the IT industry has been consumed with the art of consolidation. We can all admit that prior to this near global meltdown we had become somewhat profligate with IT resources. Standing up an individual server for a new application, or even standing up a new data centre because the old one was full of stuff had become commonplace.
Over the last 10 years I have sat in many conferences hearing CIO’s bemoan the hundreds of applications they have to feed and water, but with many having only a handful of users who were clinging on to them for dear life. Too many applications, too many servers, too much storage, too much complexity, too much cost.
Consolidation, driven by virtualisation was a proactive and sensible response to wasted network, data centre and security platform resources. But, during the decade when we tried to mend our digital decadence, as consumers we were overwhelmed with the perfect storm of mobility, apps, cloud and personalisation. Whatever we wanted, when we wanted, and
made to feel like it was designed just for us.
Netflix, Amazon, UBER, Airbnb, Instagram, Boohoo, Etsy, did two things. They took friction out of an existing process (watching movies, buying a book, booking a cab) but they also made the user the centre of their world. Personalisation driven by data and machine learning ensure we keep engaged with their platforms and services.
Standardisation in the digital world is akin to visiting ten clothes stores and finding they all sell the exact same pair of shoes or pants. We would get bored super quick. Personalisation in the digital world is the killer differentiation.
So, as we end the first digital decade, I believe it is time we entirely re-thought the value of the key digital platforms that drive all businesses and governments.
Every CIO and IT leader must now enter this new digital decade with the same mindset of personalising key platforms (Network, Data Centre, Cloud, Security) as is for the applications being developed to excite customers and citizens.
Imagine for one second, and it’s not difficult, that the trend of consolidation continues to sweep through the retail sector until everyone runs to the same consolidation cost model and every retailer uses the same architecture for their businesses; either internally or in the cloud. All highly efficient, but how do you differentiate from the competition? Where’s your edge?
What if those platforms can be personalised to your business? They don’t just run application or pass packets anymore, they can be programmed, integrated, automated, developed into your wider digital strategy? Yes, you and all your competitors have the same platforms, architectures and tools to manage the platform, but imagine if you all have the competitive edge of personalisation.
You are employing developers to personalise your customer or citizen apps, so why not apply the same logic and thinking to the platforms that are your digital foundations and enablers.
Imagine if you figure out that you can personalise your store network and integrate it directly into your ITSM system. When faults occur, your service team can resolve the issue faster than your competitors. More store up time and more transactions through the tills.
Imagine if you figure out you can personalise that store network to directly support loss prevention RFID tags across all your stock, and integrate from loading bay to customer exit, reducing your losses by 50% more than your competition? Less theft, less work for staff, more stock to be sold, happier customers.
Imagine if you can personalise your data centre platform to perform at optimal speed for every application when they need them, making sure that consolidated platform stays consolidated but responds to business need with no input from IT. Better throughput at the tills when it gets busy, better performance of other applications at less cost, lower prices in
the store, more sales, happier customers.
Now imagine if you have figured those things out and your competition hasn’t. Their mindset is managing consolidation or operating a standardised platform. Who wins then?
It’s why in my view every CIO now needs to start to understand the power of platform programmability, integration, automation, and development.
When do you need to do it? Now. Not everybody; not every member of the team, but, in the race for digital supremacy in every industry, do you want to be the CIO known for consolidating their business or differentiating it?
I predict it won’t be long before consolidation has levelled the retail playing field putting more businesses in poll position in the digital differentiation race. So who wins in this sea of highly-efficient sameness? If you master the art of personalisation, you do!