When new technologies emerge, sociologists suggest there is a clear pattern from invention to large-scale adoption — a bell-shaped curve that starts with pioneers willing to take a risk and steadily rises to an inflection point of popular adoption, with laggards bringing up the rear. Technological breakthroughs from the automobile to the iPod have proven the theory. Even the internet, which emerged more than 20 years ago, took considerable time to gain traction before it was understood and widely adopted by individuals and corporations for consumer use.
When it comes to the digital technologies disrupting and shaping businesses today, the same adoption curve applies. Yet. where there was little peril in being the last person to own an iPod, in today’s digital-first world, harnessing technology too late in the game is risky. The competitive, connected business environment is evolving at the same accelerated pace as technology life cycles, and even the most successful companies are working hard to stay ahead.
This dynamic places tremendous pressure on business leaders to take a bigger role at every stage of technology implementation. It's never been more critical for MSPs to help their customers gain a big-picture view of how their technologies are working together, with an eye to driving innovation or disruption in their industries, rather than following along.
Besides employing a holistic view of the business to assess and implement new systems, I am seeing advanced organizations break down silos internally. They're also following these three guiding principles to ensure they harness technology on the right side of the curve.
1. Actively seek to bridge the gap between corporate and consumer IT. Enterprise IT is no longer immune to what’s happening in consumer IT, and companies must find ways to use both effectively. Stop letting customers rant about "shadow IT" and help them realize that they can learn from what end users are doing. Not only that, mobility and cloud are increasing the pace of innovation and off-books use of tech, making it even more essential to unlock new opportunities that weren’t readily apparent.
As disruptive solutions show their power to reshape entire industries, a la Uber, to stay at the forefront, companies must shift their mindset from “optimizing scarce resources” to “harnessing abundance.” Technology is enabling this in real-time. Building digital structures and moving to the cloud can also serve as a competitive advantage. Today, technology goes beyond enabling business — it leads. And notably, industries from manufacturing to telecom and hospitality are facing similar challenges, albeit nuanced to their business models or customers.
For partners, being nimble enough to test new solutions, business and consumer, is essential to serving customers. For example, my company, TCS, recently partnered with a leading Japanese power systems company to develop a boiler "digital twin" that helps in monitoring and enabling efficient boiler operations using the power of artificial intelligence and IoT.
In sum, companies must challenge long-standing operational assumptions and rethink relationships with end customers, the wider ecosystem and competitors to bring new technology-driven solutions to life. And, in a crowded competitive market, they must also be selective to prioritize solutions and technologies that directly connect to strategic business objectives. Partners who can help make those connections will win.
2. Put cloud at the center of your strategy to enable every digital transformation. Cloud is powering the rapid creation of new customer-facing services, software and digitized processes that allow organizations to deliver on customers’ demands by removing the “heavy lifting” and upfront investment needed with traditional infrastructure; in fact, the cloud is no longer viewed as an alternative to on-premises or colo infrastructure, as VARs are finding out. In today’s world, all kinds of digital services are available from a variety of partners, and they're leveling the playing field. Any digital-transformation strategy today must have a cloud component, meaning partners must have sophisticated cloud practices. Period.
3. Use data as currency. Big data is a key component shaping today’s digital economy. Rapid technological advancements have enabled businesses to access large volumes of data flowing in through multiple touch points across the network. However, without the ability to collate, structure and analyze data, it remains largely unusable. A unified data storage and analytics system can facilitate data driven decision-making based on actionable insights. Do you have such an offering in your portfolio?
Don't let customers perpetuate traditional siloed data repository model. They'll be ineffective and unable to drive business efficiency or uncover new opportunities. In order to retain a competitive edge and brand loyalty, businesses need to consistently deliver relevant, individualized and compelling customer experiences. Within this context, MSPs need to help CIOs understand the end customer’s needs, preferences and expectations. It's critical for success.
Companies that holistically store, analyze and act on their data benefit from improved agility and scalability, greater data integration synergy and even higher return on investment. Leveraging data-driven insights can expedite decision-making and ultimately maximize business and revenue growth.
One important key to success today is employing a technology-agnostic framework — one that allows companies to be nimble and leverage solutions that are most impactful for their business. MSPs with the ability to integrate best-of-breed technologies have an edge. Bottom line, if a customer's corporate leadership isn't putting digital transformation at the forefront of their business strategy and collaboratively working across the organization to identify optimization opportunities as they arise, they may well find themselves on the wrong side of the curve.
Brij Gupta is the global head of technology alliances for TCS. Additionally, he manages the field-alliance operations for technology alliance partners in North America, LATAM, the U.K. and Europe. He has over 15 years of experience across multiple roles, including corporate sales in India with TCS’ products alliances group; strategic planning for TCS North America, strategic alliances; and process excellence and procurement. In 2009, to drive closer connect and joint sales on the ground, Brij led the setting up of the "Field Alliances" concept for TCS, a first-of-its-kind for a global system integrator.