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Perspectives

Simplify, Modernize and Secure Your Digital IT Landscape

2017-10-31


What does it take to provide digital products and services? Everything from cloud-based social and mobile apps to connectivity with devices on the Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality and much, much more.

But retrofitting these (and future) technologies onto a siloed, brittle IT infrastructure is a recipe for budget overruns, unhappy users and complaints that IT is, once again, blocking  innovation rather than enabling it.  Winning with digital applications requires first simplifying, modernizing and securing your digital infrastructure. Read on to learn what this means and how to get started.

Imperative One: Simplify

Digital enterprises offer more goods and services across more markets, comply with more regulations and support more and more technologies than ever before.

All this means complexity that drives up costs and makes it harder to maintain performance, reliability or security. Worst of all, complexity makes it harder to deliver the innovation needed to grow the business. Typical cost containment and incremental improvements aren’t enough. IT organizations must instead achieve quantum leaps in simplification by:

  • Reducing the “technical debt” of maintaining, enhancing and securing systems. This means inventorying applications, platforms and infrastructure, eliminating anything not essential and upgrading others using agility-boosting approaches such as cloud and micro services. Integrated services delivery helps ensure efficiency, coordination and control of the IT portfolio, while new methodologies such as DevOps speed the replacement or enhancement of older applications.

  • Simplifying processes such as managing vendors, testing and app development using process engineering guided by a cross-enterprise IT process framework. Process governance using a centralized framework ensures efficient stakeholder management and the delivery of measurable results. It also creates a standard process for sourcing and vendor governance while establishing joint business/IT process improvement efforts.

  • Facilitate business/IT alignment through business value management that better explains the value of IT to the business and helps IT meet or exceed SLAs. Real-time service intelligence helps managers address problems or opportunities. Best practices in business-IT governance and effective portfolio management continually realign spending based on the importance and performance of various IT assets. Intelligent demand management explains the costs of various IT services to business managers, prioritizes the services and optimizes spend.

Imperative Two: Modernize

Digital enterprises need to deploy cloud, mobile, social and analytic platforms, powered by agile development and delivery processes, to support new products, services, business models and partnerships. But they’re often stuck with a jumble of brittle, aging and poorly integrated systems that cost too much, slow innovation and reduce employee productivity and customer satisfaction.

A more modern, agile and efficient IT infrastructure requires: 

  • A legacy landscape refresh through value-driven tools and utilities that replaces or reengineers old systems with modern architectures, open API (application programming interface) platforms, development languages and databases. Cloud-based solutions for back-office services such as e-mail and collaboration help lower costs and increase flexibility.

  • A micro services architecture that provides business functions as loosely coupled modules through APIs. This lets front-line employees access corporate systems to improve the all-important customer experience while reducing costs.

  • Process transformation through business process mapping, Agile development, DevOps and management practices such as ITSM to cut costs, increase consistency and security, and speed time-to-market for innovative services. 

  • Transformation of the IT operating model to accommodate modern technologies such as cloud that allow IT spending to scale up and down as needed. This may require new service models in which an enterprise can access potentially unlimited resources but only pays for what it uses, and managed services, in which the enterprise owns or has direct oversight of the organization or system being managed, with the provider delivering services under a contractual, service-level agreement.

  • A systematic approach to training that moves beyond a constant scramble for the latest skills to career architectures for employees. These help nurture new skills in staff who already understand their vertical market as well as the culture and history of their employer. 

Imperative Three: Security

While cybersecurity spending is expected to exceed $1 trillion between 2017 to 2021, enterprises are expected to suffer $6 trillion in cybercrime damage a year by the end of that period. And security challenges are growing, with the need to secure as many as 20 billion devices on the Internet of Things and 1.5 million cybersecurity jobs going unfilled.

Security poses two challenges. The first is to prevent embarrassing and costly breaches that can devastate a company’s earnings and reputation (not to mention the career of a CIO.) The second, and equally important, is to allow the legitimate sharing of data between both internal and external systems needed to power innovative products and services.  

A secure digital infrastructure that charts a successful middle course must provide: 

  • Defense against attacks. Core enabling technologies include perimeter and network security (using both physical and software-defined preventive measures) and a security operations center to manage and coordinate protection against not only technical threats, but reputational and business risk. It also requires threat intelligence services that collect, analyze and filter data about emerging threats to produce actionable information for decision makers.

  • Identity, application and data protection. Identity and access management gives the right individuals access to the right resources at the right time and for the right reasons. Application penetration testing identifies vulnerabilities so they can be fixed before an attack. Data classification and encryption ensures that the most sensitive data receives the highest level of protection, making the proper tradeoffs between cost, accessibility and security.

  • Information security management links basic security to broader considerations such as how to achieve the most cost-effective compliance with changing business, legal and regulatory requirements. Information risk management balances the cost of security against the likelihood and severity of IT and business risks. Information security management covers business continuity and disaster recovery planning, as well as the automation of governance risk and compliance for lower cost, better information sharing and greater consistency. 

Figure 1

To learn more, read our full report Going Digital? Not Without a Simple, Modern and Secure IT Backbone or visit the Cognizant Digital Systems & Technology section of the website.

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