Why agile IT is at the heart of disrupted industries

By Mark Hare, IBM Systems Services Sales leader for Middle East and Africa  

New technology is changing the face of business on a global scale. Just take a look at your smartphone apps and some of the billion-dollar enterprises you carry around daily. Industries are being disrupted at a speed and scale that has never been seen before, causing established players to react or become redundant.

The driving force behind these disruptors is agile IT infrastructure, which has allowed them to grow and innovate at a magnificent pace. The rapid trajectory of these startups and SMEs will be a worry for the ‘traditional’ firms whose emergence was less hasty, but their concerns can be overcome using the very same technology that caused them.

In short, the disrupted need to act like a disruptor to survive, and they can start by investing in the same technology as the fledgling firms that threaten them.

One of the best examples of this volatile new business world is Uber. The company launched in 2010 to enable you and me to become taxi drivers almost overnight. Now, the business operates in over 65 countries and 400 cities, and boasts a valuation close to $62billion. What’s more, Uber is looking to expand its services from cars to helicopters, and plans to enter the hospitality industry in a restaurant delivery capacity. Low costs and high practicality are key to Uber’s success, but the company hasn’t been welcomed by all. In London, for example, Uber is the scourge of the iconic black cab driver, as they are seen to be taking customers and cash from the capital’s established taxi drivers.

This may be true, but Uber has simply brought to market a service that many customers prefer. Arguably, it is up to Transport for London (TFL), who regulates the capital’s taxis, to keep up and offer a competitive alternative.

This situation, where a new market entrant puts pressure on established players, isn’t confined to the west. Most significantly, it is also seen in emerging African nations which at first glance should offer a safe haven for big western firms to dominate, free from local competition. In Nigeria, disruption is happening within the money transfer market that depends heavily on the continent. SMEs have come in and attracted customers away from the likes of Western Union and MoneyGram by offering low or no remittance fees. They’ve been helped by the mobile revolution and the resulting arrival of the new app economy, which has opened doors to businesses by changing customer expectations.

This shifting landscape has allowed fledgling disruptors to establish themselves early on by meeting the new demands of consumers from the very start. Of course, the same opportunities are available to big organizations, but they often lack the agility to move quickly enough to capitalize on them. And one of the biggest reasons for this is inadequate IT infrastructure.

Today, CIOs need to be more than IT executives but business executives who are responsible for delivering better business outcomes through technology. They need to help define the business strategy and put IT at its core, so the company is prepared to react as the market evolves. Startups realize this and are profiting because they laid this foundation from the start. Large firms need to do the same to keep up.

The best way to make your business agile is to adopt IT as a Service (ITaaS). Doing so gives the IT function a business-centric focus which helps you to spot and react to the digital demands of the enterprise. Our experience has shown us that ITaaS can increase IT staff productivity by 42 percent, which enables applications to be delivered faster to maximize customer satisfaction. Moving infrastructure to the cloud can also cut related costs by 24 percent and deliver an ROI of up to 224 percent over three years. Add to this the flexibility that scalability offers and the insights provided by big data analytics, and you have a business that is empowered to be a disruptor. 

We’ve already made this happen on the continent for one of Nigeria’s biggest banks through our Integrated Managed Infrastructure (IMI) services. I won’t distract you with details, but you’ll find lots of insight-packed content about IMI and the advantages of switching to a hybrid IT environment here.

As an important side note, saving time is one of the biggest benefits to adopting ITaaS. Doing so frees up the hours that are crucial for innovation but that so many organizations lack. With ITaaS in place you can dedicate more time to exceeding customer expectations and building an infrastructure that gets more value from IT.

Situations like Nigeria’s money transfer market and Uber’s onward march tell me you’ll need to do both to get ahead of the competition. Our experts can offer more valuable insights on how IMI can help. Click here to arrange a demonstration of IMI and to find out your potential ROI from the service. 

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