* An article written by Alex Sima, Market Development Partner

It is without a doubt that modernizing the IT landscape is a challenge when stakeholders require their CIO budget owners to only "keep the lights on" while managing the technology floor.

Innovation tiers before the 2020 budget lockdown:

We attempted in the past year to closely look at how businesses used to allocate time and resources to different kinds of innovation activity. And in a normal state of the global economy we would address three types of innovation that have become normative across industries: 

  1. Incremental — Sometimes called “Core” or “Horizon One” innovations, these typically serve existing customers or markets. They may involve new, improved, refined, or “incrementally better” of existing products or services. These innovations are usually closely tied to the core business. 
  2. Adjacent — These innovations, often called “ Horizon Two” innovations, typically involve expansion to an “adjacent” business or customer segment. These innovations usually leverage the company’s expertise or capabilities in new ways. 
  3. Transformational — Sometimes called “Breakthrough,” “Horizon 3”, or disruptive innovation, transformational innovation involves the creation of entirely new businesses to serve new markets and new customers. 

But what about here and now:

Whilst incredibly pleasing to think strategically "into the future", we are mostly appreciated nowadays for our professional ability to look "into the present".

So leaving aside the disruptive innovation we focus on incremental improvements of the existing technology stacks. This is the focus of the current article, staying grounded in pragmatical thinking. Here are the 5 directions we consider most beneficial for your IT landscape:

1) Automate software and infrastructure deployments
The end-to-end provisioning process for modern software and infrastructure is one of the most critical aspects of Run-the-business IT operations. If you are still using traditional resources like bare metal running VMs or manual software deployments, it is time to move on to a safer and cheaper ecosystem. 

A few principles that are a must and we convey on a daily basis to prospect partners are:

  • Pay-as-you-go (private / public cloud services)
  • Save when you reserve (proper capacity planning management)
  • Pay less when scaling (return of investment by automation)

Pay-as-you-go allows you to easily adapt to changing business needs without overcommitting budgets and improving your responsiveness to changes. With a pay-as-you-go model, you can adapt your business depending on need and not on forecasts, reducing the risk of over positioning or missing capacity.

With Reserved Instances as a cloud solution, you can for instance save up to 75% over equivalent on-demand capacity. When you buy Reserved Instances, the larger the upfront payment, the greater the discount.

2) Implement once, deploy everywhere
Having the IT portfolio running in silos may have been possible in the past, but not anymore. As such, multi-platform products and services are becoming ubiquitous. Front-end applications are increasingly accessed from a variety of devices, from smartphones to embedded touch panels, to web browsers.

The concept of Write Once, Deploy Everywhere refers to the ability of a development team to write an application once, using a single development stack, abstract of the platform(s) upon which the application will be deployed and yet maintain the ability to deploy the application to all desired platforms, e.g., Android, iOS, Windows, etc. Ideally, this is accomplished without sacrificing maintainability, performance, or user experience (UX).

Ask your technology partner to provide with a concrete example, for instance, to see how an application can be built to target desktop, mobile, microprocessor and microcontroller-based embedded systems, and web browsers, reusing most of the code. When they mention tools like Ionic, Xamarin, React Native, etc. consider you are on a good path.

3) Code it, ship it, own it with full-service ownership

Full-service ownership is the philosophy that engineers are responsible for the code and services they create in production. Using the "code it, ship it, own it," mentality means embracing the DevOps principle of no longer throwing code over the wall to operations nor relying on the site reliability engineering (SRE) team to ensure the reliability of services in the wild. 

Instead the forementioned build your demands towards this goal: "Accountability, reliability, and continuous improvement are the main objectives of full-service ownership."

Empowering engineers to work on the edge of the customer experience by owning the full lifecycle of their code and services gives companies a competitive advantage. As well as benefiting the company, full-service ownership benefits the engineer. Accountability ensures high-quality work and gives engineers a direct line of sight into how the code or service is performing and impacting the customers' day-to-day.

4) Make a step towards Low Code Application Platforms

Low-code is a visual approach to software development. Low-code abstracts and automates every step of the application lifecycle to enable the rapid delivery of a variety of software solutions. It breaks the traditional silos of business and IT to promote continuous collaboration.

Increased business demand for software solutions and a shortage of skilled developers have propelled the adoption of low-code development platforms to the forefront.

5) Choose a transparent tech partner

Technology partners need to continuously adapt to the buyers' demand and rarely succeed in being transparent from day 1 on all the costs. Choose a partner that can talk you through at least all the below-mentioned facets of running a technology solution and can advise you on shaping a fare Return of Investment:

  • Features (and associated change management flexibility)
  • Security (especially in regulated environments)
  • Flexibility (ability to scale up/down the solution)
  • Interoperability (ability to fit a solution in your real landscape)
  • Setup Costs (ability to train your resources to adopt the new tech)
  • License Costs (choosing solutions that don't require exhaustive support costs)

If your Technology partner presents these facets when designing a technology upgrade, you know that you are in a good company.

Executive Summary:

The biggest challenge today is to follow the technology trends being capped on the budget. As such the following directions are pragmatical ways in which you can improve the IT landscape, being careful to the "value at cost":

  1. Automate software and infrastructure deployments
  2. Implement once, deploy everywhere
  3. Code it, ship it, own it with full-service ownership
  4. Make a step towards Low Code Application Platforms
  5. Choose a transparent tech partner

At Accesa, we walk our customers through the 5 steps as a continuous improvement throughout the restrictive economical context.

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