It took 40 years for the world to create the nearly 500 million apps in existence today. Yet such is the pace of change that the same number is expected to be created in the next three years alone. Just as apps have become essential tools in our daily lives, they have become vital interfaces for businesses to interact with their customers.
The speed of change has left some businesses struggling to keep up, with others left behind entirely. In attempting to keep pace with technology trends, many businesses have left themselves with a messy patchwork of ill-fitting IT solutions.
This patchworked approach only serves to stifle an organisation’s innovation strategy, sometimes with serious consequences. But it’s not too late to make up lost ground.
Why Digitalisation Uprooted Customer Expectations
‘Born in the cloud’ may sound like a buzzy marketing term, but in the case of organisations like Airbnb and Uber, it’s true and tells us something important. Companies built using modern cloud hyper-scalers have developed their apps using modern practices like microservices. In short, microservice architecture is an approach to app building that is flexible and easily scalable – the perfect foundation for a rapid growth trajectory.
This means organisations born in the cloud can innovate quickly, provide an enhanced user experience and roll out changes and updates to meet customer demand – without users ever experiencing disruption.
Contrast this with pre-cloud organisations, where IT teams often make do with building apps on top of creaky legacy infrastructure using outdated development methodologies. The difference can be stark: IT teams working on legacy infrastructure rarely make more than a handful of changes at once and often only do so at the weekend to avoid disruption. On the other hand, a company like Airbnb can make hundreds of tweaks and upgrades to its systems with rapid speed of delivery.
The difference between these two processes – and therefore the outcomes – is night and day. And it’s because of this difference the ability to efficiently roll out new and improved services has become such a key differentiator between the success of the cloud natives and the rest.
How Organisations Patched over the Problem
Business has become a race to see how quickly you can get intuitive digital products and services into the hands of your customers. This has accelerated shifts in boardroom power dynamics.
The CIO, generally in charge of cloud, data and app development teams, has shifted to becoming a key enabler and decision-maker for business innovation, making it all the more important for the CTO and CIO to combine their strategies to drive business value.
Some organisations have managed this balance well, but in others, the split between the two teams has had serious consequences. In some cases, developer teams have circumvented IT teams by setting up their own unmanaged cloud environments to build apps in. The lack of oversight leads to spiralling costs, inconsistent results, and security risks. However, the most common outcome is stagnation: without everyone on the same page, it becomes tough to compete with fully joined-up cloud natives.
Pre-cloud Organisations Needn’t Despair – There Is Hope
Pre-cloud organisations should take decisive steps to make up lost ground. Most importantly, they must ensure harmony between the old and the new. Developer teams must innovate in tandem with IT teams and modern apps must sit alongside legacy apps while striving to transition to cloud-native platforms.
This requires openness from both sides: developers should work in a way that’s complementary to legacy IT systems rather than replace or circumvent them entirely. IT teams must facilitate new and innovative development practices. The human element is key here: good communication and collaborative relationships between senior IT leadership, including the CIO and CTO, is essential to success.
Practically speaking, the next step is to identify which changes and upgrades are most urgent – and importantly, what can be done quickly. Prioritise projects that meet business outcomes, like minor tweaks to boost sales by making the customer’s journey on your app more intuitive. Focus on changes that can add value in the short term before planning major overhauls.
Why an Extra Pair of Eyes Can Make All the Difference
The biggest obstacle for pre-cloud businesses is often not their legacy IT or a lack of budget but company culture. Faced with change, it’s common for IT teams to simply say, “we don’t work like that”.
This self-defeating attitude is often deep-rooted, so seeking the support of external counsel can provide significant value. An outside pair of eyes can help identify problems and solutions that internal teams are just too embedded within existing processes to see. Both internal and external teams can then work together to unpick patchworked infrastructure and find the value-adding solutions that can push the business in the right direction.
Ashminder Ubhi, CDW Category Lead - Core Data Centre
For any enquiries contact: CloudEnquiries@uk.cdw.com | 020 7791 6000