The Need for Innovation is an ongoing series that explores the motivations, benefits, and key components to adopting a modern approach to IT infrastructure, and why it might be key to achieving the goals of your business. If you want to dive deeper into what this means for your organization, get in touch with us at [email protected].
As you start to think about modernizing your IT infrastructure, you may be confronted with the question, “Why bother?” It can be tempting to stay the course, especially when you’ve invested so much time, effort, and capital toward your existing infrastructure. The simple answer is that if you want your business to avoid becoming stagnant and seek to be able to respond swiftly to your clients’ needs, adopting a modern approach to IT is an important route to consider.
The business landscape in many industries is changing rapidly, and it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to consider how they will not only respond to their clients’ evolving needs, but also get ahead of them. Embracing an attitude of agility is one of the first steps that an organization can take to foster an environment where change is expected and even welcomed. Modern IT management requires a shift in how we think about IT day-to-day, but it also allows organizations to develop a culture of agility where IT is not just keeping the lights on; instead, IT is actively helping your business initiate change to create more value for your clients.
We’ll talk more about HOW to enable agility in your IT in future posts, but for now, let’s look at WHY it’s worth supporting agility by making the shift to a modern approach to IT.
Why is agility so important?
Agility can be defined as “the ability to move quickly and easily”. In the context of your business, another definition is even more apt: “ways of planning and doing work in which it is understood that making changes as they are needed is an important part of the job.” If the objective of your business is to serve your clients, being able to respond to their demands and to market pressures is critical, even if it means changing course. This is a key factor driving digital transformation.
There are multiple philosophies and frameworks that you can choose from, but no matter what path you take, there will be common characteristics, and common outcomes. Modern approaches to IT value business-led development, where priorities are driven by what will benefit the business, which is in turn driven by what clients will value (and pay for). There is a focus on quick turnaround times, and iterative change based on continuous feedback.
What are some benefits to choosing an agile, modern approach to your IT infrastructure?
Flexibility (Not Over planning)
While it’s always a good idea to start an initiative with an overarching vision in mind, agility requires an adaptive perspective, rather than a predictive one. This means avoiding overplanning. This does not mean no planning whatsoever, however spending a lot of time creating a highly detailed plan becomes unnecessary. This means that it’s important to encourage a willingness to change the plan if it no longer makes sense. To support this, it’s helpful to remove barriers to change, such as stringent change management procedures and numerous handoffs. While this may seem scary, when changes are small, frequent, and incremental, adapting the plan becomes second nature.
Regardless of the exact approach that your business chooses to follow, it is necessary to both expect and accept that failure will occur. Instead of viewing failure as a negative outcome, it is helpful to reframe it as an opportunity to learn and make improvements, embracing the ability to quickly pivot. Key to making this work is planning for failure and breaking work down into smaller chunks, which means that each individual failure has a smaller impact. This also means that it’s easier to revise planned work or change course if necessary. Additionally, this shortens the timescale for delivering a usable solution, where improvements and new features can be introduced incrementally, as opposed to waiting for all components to be complete as you do when following a more traditional approach. A short timeframe for delivering a working product means that you can get feedback early in the process, and change course rapidly, without requiring extensive rework. By “failing fast,” you can ensure that the solutions you deliver to your clients always bring them value. This increases client satisfaction, informs your future goals, and helps your business to stand out in a competitive market.
Experimentation & Creativity
Flexible planning and embracing quick pivots enable an approach that lends itself naturally to experimentation and creativity. It is important to also foster a culture where trying new things is encouraged, consequences and risk are minimized, and time spent pursuing creative and unproven approaches to problem-solving is valued. Creating this type of culture takes work but bolsters innovation. While there are some practical things that make embracing experimentation and creativity easier, such as creating test and staging environments that mimic the production environment, much of the work is in adopting the attitude that nothing is impossible. Some practices that encourage innovation include dedicating time and resources to experimentation, collaboration, and socializing new ideas and concepts, as well as providing opportunities for unstructured learning and trying something new for the sake of trying, without expectation of creating a sellable product every time. Hackathons are a great way to bring all of this together, and to encourage creative and unproven approaches to problem-solving.
One of the key tenets of a modern approach to managed IT is that there are many opportunities for improvement. These improvements will primarily focus on optimization: the ability to optimize resources, optimize processes, and ultimately to optimize costs. These optimizations lead to running an efficient infrastructure, which can scale to your business demands in near real-time. This makes your business more efficient and cost-effective, allowing you to reinvest that capital into other innovations and improvements that create more value for your clients.
It's clear that there are many benefits to your business that can be realized by pursuing a modern approach to IT management, chief among them the agility to swiftly respond to your client’s needs. Modern infrastructure provides flexibility and enables experimentation and creativity. There is one caveat, however, which is that for this approach to see success, it needs to be actively and explicitly championed as an organizational priority.
Support from the Top
Pursuing business agility provides many opportunities for grassroots initiatives and bottom-up solutions; however, it is crucial that company leadership sets the tone. To successfully foster a culture and create an environment where individuals are willing to take risks and experiment, the message needs to come from the top, and be modeled at every level of the organization. If flexibility, change, creativity, and experimentation are to be pursued, systems must be in place that encourage the adoption of these principles, and the idea that “this is how we do it” needs to be replaced by “let’s try doing this another way.”
At Long View, we strive to be our clients’ most loved technology services partner, which means understanding their business needs and helping them to achieve their goals. You can see many of the innovative management capabilities outlined above in practice with our new Modernization through Managed Services offering. Contact us to find out more about how Long View can help your business reach new heights.
If you are interested in learning more about Long View's Modernization through Managed Services offering, connect with us and start the conversation on how we can help your business achieve ambitious goals.