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Leveraging Data to Maximize IT Modernization Projects
By Ben Newton, Operational Intelligence Evangelist, Sumo Logic 

Today, IT teams have a wealth of cloud services and systems to quickly build and deliver what previously required significant capital investment and manual labor. However, given the mix of old and new technology investments - digital transformation projects can often become complex. In fact, according to research by McKinsey, around 70 percent of digital transformation initiatives fail. Visibility across hybrid environments and tracking key performance and service metrics is key to ensuring these initiatives succeed.

Ensuring processes are aligned to business goals and open to change

Companies often approach modernization projects as solely technology-driven and miss the cultural and people angle. However, this is a mistake, since digital transformation requires changes to high-level processes, operations, and team dynamics. Modern businesses are currently faced with a tsunami of data, and while many understand there's significant value in application data - the transition from planning to implementation is daunting and fraught with pitfalls.

The critical issue is that legacy, siloed tools lack the comprehensive context needed. Public cloud platforms offer integrated platforms with powerful APIs and data streams, with which  modern analytics tools can provide real-time, deep insights. Individually, each project may offer an opportunity to modernize, but they all must be aligned to inform intelligent decisions. 

To achieve this, a business must evaluate the complete picture including business objectives and what intelligence gaps exist. While there are huge amounts of data at our disposal today, many teams are counter-intuitively dealing with a lack of visibility, as they are unable to harness that data.  This intelligence gap creates huge blind spots and negatively impacts decision-making. 

Similarly, business-level objectives must be understood and aligned across departments. For example, if an organization has a goal to increase sales by 20% in a year - the company must evaluate what that means for IT teams and how to adjust technology strategies to help achieve this goal. Ensuring the right understanding of company goals and aligning efforts to those goals can be the difference between success and failure.

Culture is also a key component for modernizing IT. Modern architectures like microservices were designed with Agile and DevOps-style team dynamics in mind. Asking traditional, top-down, centralized teams to innovate like this without adopting more modern organizations is the key reason many of these efforts fail. In particular, like any new implementation of technology, the transition can be difficult unless people understand the value of the changes and how it will benefit them.

Understanding the link between data and process

Understanding how data can inform any process involves understanding how individual business units make decisions. For example, how does the security team prioritize its efforts? How do developers spot operational issues? How do customer support teams use data to address requests and recognize patterns? All of these tasks involve people making decisions using available data. It is incredibly important to have a common, shared data platform in order to facilitate quick decisions and encourage collaboration.

Within organizations, processes are often informed by individual company standards or based on previous decisions and tech implementations. Changes to these processes may be welcomed with open arms, but they may also face resistance. It is important to allow for teams to approach tools on their own terms, while also making sure that the whole organization is leveraging a shared analytics platform in order to get the maximum benefit.

For IT modernization programs to truly work, they have to deliver results both short-term and long-term over time. Quick wins can really help to build confidence and support. More expansive ideas are possible once the organization sees the benefits and is fully behind the effort..Bottom line, the push for businesses to work in real-time, using dynamic and changing data, means that digital transformation investments must be tested and adapted quickly.

Ensuring that your IT modernization initiative is part of the 30 percent of successful projects is about more than just being able to analyze data faster - instead, it's about bridging the information gaps, making the new processes work for the entire organization, and delivering measurable results. To successfully achieve this, organizations must take a holistic approach to data covering people, process, and technology.

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About the Author

Ben Newton sumo logic 

Ben Newton, Operational Intelligence Evangelist at Sumo Logic is a veteran of the IT Operations market, with a two decade career across large and small companies like Loudcloud, BladeLogic, Northrop Grumman, EDS, and BMC. Ben got to do DevOps before DevOps was cool, working with government agencies and major commercial brands to be more agile and move faster. More recently, Ben spent 5 years in product management at Sumo Logic, and is now running product marketing for Operations Analytics at Sumo Logic. His latest project, Masters of Data, has let him combine his love of podcasts and music with his love of good conversations.

Published Friday, May 15, 2020 7:36 AM by David Marshall
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