Are you a DX Survivalist or an Innovator?

Cloud has become a critical element of today's IT strategies. Gartner estimates that, in Southeast Asia alone, cloud revenue is expected to reach USD 40.32 billion by 2025. You may not want to, but you have to consider how best to take advantage of the cloud. Is your organization focusing on an IT or a transformation agenda? Either way, the cloud will be part of these underlying IT strategies, but at very different levels.

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A global IDC survey has revealed that the largest portion of companies (34%) operate by the IT agenda. They are just beginning their cloud life cycle, merely trying to remain functional in this evolving, data-driven world. They execute their digital transformation strategy on a project basis with new, cloud-focused technologies and processes. These businesses generally hire an IT team to make sure operations continue at the lowest possible cost. They use the minimum amount of hardware and software needed to stay afloat and are focused on maintenance.

Yet, a small number of organizations are positioning themselves as ‘data thrivers' (11%), relying on data insights to provide their strategic edge in the market. Known as possessing the transformation agenda, such companies have aggressively invested in new infrastructure to support digital transformation, turning to their IT team to improve operational efficiency and evolve business practices. For the IT team, being a part of a business focused on transformation is often more satisfying and inspiring to operate; however, it is also more challenging.

IT teams that operate under the transformation agenda face higher expectations than those under the IT agenda. They require flexibility to make decisions and implement them quickly in a cloud, shifting data as necessary. If a project is unsuccessful, transformational IT teams are expected to disassemble workflows and associated applications swiftly and scale down the cloud, rather than face hundreds of useless, and costly, machines that no longer have a purpose.

Where Do You Go from Here?

Pixar's The Incredibles famously states that "when everyone is super, no one will be." In the past few years, we have seen a vast majority of enterprises make the jump to hybrid cloud environments. While that does indeed prove that they are innovators, it begs the question: As more companies use hybrid cloud and leverage the power of the transformation agenda, what will these innovative companies do next to stay ahead?

To me, it is clear that the next phase will be the extreme growth of hybrid multi-cloud environments. By 2022, 65% of A500 organizations will have a multicloud management strategy that includes integrated tools across public and private clouds (IDC).

After the massive success companies saw in leveraging hybrid cloud, and the growth that it enabled them, they became cloud-smart. Organizations took the time to learn the focus and strengths of each cloud provider and how they compare to on-premises clouds. They began to understand why one might be a better fit for a specific workload than another. As each cloud provider continues to emerge with stronger and stronger unique capabilities, customers will no longer accept that they have to choose just one vendor.

Let's Aim for Hybrid Multi-Cloud

Success in data innovation comes from maximizing the resources available to become the best, most efficient, and most innovative company. Five years ago, leaders did that with a hybrid of cloud and on-premises environments. Now, as technology has grown, they can distribute workloads between several cloud environments, including on-premises, with more ease than ever before.

Once we understand why a company has chosen a hybrid cloud, we can label them as either a survivalist or an innovator. Those who are innovators will never stop striving towards the next significant change – that's why innovators are already looking to speed their innovation further with the use of a multi-cloud environment.

Companies Have Already Arrived

For example, Temasek-backed WuXi NextCODE, one of the world's leading genomics organizations spanning Europe, the U.S., and China, uses an unimaginable amount of genome data to provide genomics diagnoses to hospitals and research organizations around the world. Its goal is to figure out how to find the next treatment for major diseases and help come to earlier detection and prevent loss of life. Its investment into multiple clouds (yes, more than one), and the innovation it has allowed has helped WuXi reduce infrastructure costs and increase flexibility so that it can focus on life-changing science.

Your Company Can Do It Too

Operating by the innovative transformation agenda is a strong start to building a foundation for growth in any business. But in a world where being super is no longer extraordinary, companies are challenged to take it one step further and to think a little bigger.

To differentiate and to succeed, you must embrace change, sometimes before it even happens. Allow technology to ease your life and your business pains by investing in the future. Don't just embrace the transformation agenda, live by it. Lead with innovation and always look to the future; it is the only way you will ever rise to the occasion.

Matthew Hurford, vice president for Solutions Engineering and field chief technology officer for Asia Pacific, NetApp contributed this article.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends.