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Build your digital transformation on these four pillars

Lars Rossen Chief Technology Officer, Micro Focus

Digital transformation has been a complex endeavor since businesses first started going down this path, and it's not getting any simpler. The technology landscape runs from mainframe to PC, from mobile to server, and from on-premises operations to the cloud, with most organizations running some combination of the above.

Getting a handle on a digital transformation today means trying to control as much of this as possible as you support the business’s broader goals of building new revenue streams, cutting costs, and minimizing overall risk.

While IT has traditionally been a cost center that helps in optimizing the business, in the new normal, CIOs must collaborate with the entire C-suite in order to move the business forward effectively, even if everyone has a different agenda. (And everyone always has a different agenda.) IT is no longer just about optimizing the business. It’s about delivering business.

To maximize the value of your digital transformation, focus on these four key areas.

1. Accelerate application delivery

It’s critical to be able to reliably scale agile and DevOps across all of your environments, from the mainframe to the cloud, while quickly bringing innovations to life at the pace your business demands.

2. Simplify your IT transformation

By simplifying the complexity of a hybrid IT environment and unifying how you provision and manage it, you can transform into an agile, services-driven organization.

3. Strengthen your cyber resilience

Now more than ever, it's critical to intelligently adapt your security posture to respond to an ever-evolving threat landscape and protect your company’s most important assets: its data.

4. Analyze in time to act

Finally, you need to leverage machine learning in order to transform unlimited volumes of data into accurate, actionable, and automated insights that are useful to the business.

Shared architecture is key

All four of these pillars should be built with a shared architecture in mind. It’s essential to avoid implementing a jumble of disparate products, each of which is designed to tackle a single aspect of this strategy. Instead, implement tool chain components that work together in a unified, cohesive manner.

Leverage common tools whenever possible, regardless of the underlying platform, and your teams should use them across functions, including strategic planning, development and operations, quality assurance, customer support, and security and governance.

Your best option to get started: IT4IT

This all sounds complex, but help is available, because this methodology and architecture has been standardized as part of the IT4IT Reference Architecture, which lays out the groundwork of this implementation for you. The IT4IT standard is gaining traction because it defines a comprehensive IT framework for delivering value to the business through key value streams—the standard has been downloaded more than 10,000 times to date.

So how do you get started with this process, and what steps do you need to take to implement an IT4IT architecture foundation in your enterprise? The first step is to identify the stakeholders across your IT organization: the people who will be essential in implementing this strategy.

Then assess what systems currently exist in each of the functional buckets that serve as the backdrop to your architecture and ask which value streams are the most critical to standardize and improve. From there, the process is iterative. Determine which tools will meet your needs and implement them in iterations based on importance.

In several businesses we worked with, we created a visual map of all the tools the organization was using in order to paint a clear picture of its trouble spots and disconnects, and to develop an appropriate strategy for the business’s transformation.

For example, you can leverage IT4IT to solve hybrid IT management challenges. You do this by leveraging a common tool set to manage a closed-loop incident process that uses predictive technology to automate your customer support requests, connecting your assurance, support, consumption, and fulfillment functional groups.

IT4IT can also improve DevOps automation by increasing service reliability, helping you to visualize, analyze, and maintain IT health through a feedback loop that connects assurance, support, consumption, quality, and development—while accelerating delivery through automated release and fulfillment systems.

With everyone aligned on a common set of tools, the business runs more efficiently and with a greater alignment to the business’s overall goals.

How my team consolidated tool chains

My team adopted these strategies and processes after recognizing the challenges and limitations of our own disconnected tool chains. (In our software build group alone, we were using 96 different tools, mostly due to many acquisitions.) Because of this disconnect, our IT group was unable to effectively connect with customers or support them, because everything was buried in different tool chains.

Resources could not be reused across departments, and teams didn’t trust one another from one department to the next because their operational environments were so different. Without the IT4IT reference architecture, we didn’t have an effective way of building a digital factory that could deliver digital products effectively.

IT4IT was designed to correct this type of issue, and it’s been dramatically successful in our own ecosystem. Now we’re working on the next iteration of IT4IT, and there’s more innovation coming in the generation of the standard. IT4IT gives you the freedom to re-architect and re-engineer your existing processes—and best of all, it does so in a vendor-agnostic way, so you can freely move any element of your architecture from one vendor to another as needed.

Want to learn more? Join the IT4IT webinar, "Control Your Digital Transformation with IT4IT Value Streams," where I discuss how your enterprise can move through the IT value chain with maximum efficiency and agility.

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