The pandemic has accelerated business changes with unprecedented speed and organizations should seize the moment to advance their business transformations, urged an expert at a recent ITWC webinar.

“A new era of business reinvention is dawning,” said Charlotte Wang, Chief Technology Officer with IBM Services in Canada. “There is such an amazing amount of technology, social and regulatory forces all descending at once that have implications for the business of IT.” 

Wang said she’s often asked how to make the transition from “legacy to new” by businesses struggling with old, on-premises applications.  To move forward, they should embrace open systems, multi-cloud, automation, artificial intelligence and the API economy. It all starts with the business goals, she said. “My passion is how to make IT relevant to the business.”

Wang shared three key tips for IT teams to energize their organizations’ transformation strategies:

Enable the business

In the new paradigm, IT must solicit the business requirements and help business understand what has to change to meet those goals. “It isn’t just chucking things over the wall to IT,” said Wang.  “Now, you’re inserting yourself as part of the business value chain.”   

This means that IT people, even in traditional operations, will need to understand more about the business. “And the business needs to have a little bit more empathy for what the IT operations people need to go through.”

This partnership is an important part of a cultural change, said Wang.  Going forward, IT will be looking to invest its costs savings back into the business. As well, it will seek opportunities to automate its operations to free up the creativity of its team members. Some people may be fearful about their jobs, noted Wang. But, “it is part of the leadership to re-affirm that employees can gain new skills and play new roles in the business.”

Delight the developers

A self-service, automated fulfillment experience will win over the developers in this cultural shift, said Wang. It means that they can spin up a new server environment in 15 minutes instead spending a few weeks on a manual build.

This also has useful implications for the organization. “If I can achieve that, then I’m going to have governance,” she said. “They’re consuming what I want them to as part of a standard catalogue of services.”  

Follow the data

Wang described an open, hybrid, multi-cloud reference architecture that allows organizations to “build once, innovate anywhere and move freely.”  The foundation is based on a set of services curated according to the business needs. It represents a shift to an outcomes-based approach, she said.

Containers are the “new middleware. It’s fair to say you cannot move at the speed that you need to move without containers,” Wang said.

Don’t underestimate the need to modernize the network, which stitches it all together, cautioned Wang. “You need to follow the data through the network,” she said. For example, look at where it is stored, the amount of storage needed and whether it’s encrypted in transit or at rest.  This is essential for the effective operation of analytics or AI applications.

“The IT service architecture will come as a natural function of communicating with your business as part of the digital transformation and as part of enabling the business to emerge stronger.” Wang said