Why agile IT infrastructure is a disruptor’s weapon

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

In the context of business, what does ‘innovative’ mean to you? An organization that consistently brings original products to market? Or one that found a novel way to improve its day-to-day operations?

In my opinion, the term applies to both, as the modern business needs to think innovatively from the top down to stay competitive. The reason for this is the amount of disruption in the digital era. One company now has the power to enter an industry and turn it upside down by doing something ground-breaking. Everyone else must then react or get left behind, and the best way is to fight fire with fire.

By prioritizing innovation across the organization you can defend against disruptors by reacting quickly to changing customer demands. However, not every company is innovation-ready, as many are lacking in two important areas.

Firstly, some IT leaders don’t have the time to spearhead innovation from within the organization. They’re too focused on internal operations to find innovative ways for IT to drive customer value. Secondly, some companies simply haven’t invested in the IT infrastructure they need to become innovators.  

If one or both of these scenarios describes your business, it would be wise to learn lessons from the disruption that Airbnb caused here in Africa. When the company launched in 2008, Kenya only played a very small part. Now, over 1,400 Kenyan properties are listed on the site, and the number of local travelers booking through the platform tripled during the year to July 2015.

While hospitality firms may not be able to replicate the Airbnb business model in Africa, its arrival does mean the mega-brand’s competitors must come up with innovative ways to win back customers. Flexible IT infrastructure is the tool they need.  

We’ve seen the benefits of investing in new infrastructure through our work with Bidco in Kenya. The consumer goods manufacturer and marketer adopted our IBM Integrated Managed Infrastructure (IMI) service to boost productivity by 42 percent, improve business application performance, and reduce costs.

For others who’ve adopted IMI, we’ve seen three-year ROI of 224%, an 88% reduction in unplanned downtime, and a 24% reduction in IT costs. With cost and time saved, organizations like yours and Bidco can invest both into innovative projects that give you a firmer grip on the market. And if new competitors arrive with innovations of their own, you can react quickly to generate greater business value for customers through the digital touch points they land on.

Whether you want to be your industry’s next disruptive force or safeguard the business from new entrants, innovation is the answer in today’s highly digitized environment. But an innovative mindset isn’t enough. You need to back it up with IT infrastructure that allows your company to quickly meet its digital demands in a secure and cost-effective way. IMI does just that.

Our experts can tell you much more about IMI and how it helps meet your business objectives. Click here to meet them in person.

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