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How to lead the way in the new ‘space race’ of digital innovation

How to lead the way in the new ‘space race’ of digital innovation
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Organizations of all shapes and sizes are in a constant race to create new digital experiences and reach new frontiers of possibility that can put them ahead of their competitors. As this race continues to heat up, IDC predicts that by 2023, the global economy will reach "digital supremacy”, with more than half of all GDP worldwide driven by products and services from digitally transformed enterprises. In the continued journey towards this digital-first future, it’s essential to innovate faster than the rest – no organization wants to be left back on earth as its competitors break through the stratosphere.

As a case in point, the events of the past year have seen customers demanding more digital services from providers across the board. However, many organizations struggle to make digital innovation as much of a priority as it needs to be. Research has found that more than half of CIOs say IT management teams are never able to complete all the tasks the business requires of them due to the amount of time that gets drained by just ‘keeping the lights on’. When visionary software engineers get bogged down in mundane, time-draining activities, digital transformation gets held back. It is therefore essential that organizations find a way to overcome these constraints to ensure they remain at the forefront of the space race of digital innovation.

Innovation starts with ground control

Before organizations can launch towards new digital horizons, having a solid foundation for innovation is essential to success. This foundation must be built on well-organized IT teams that are closely aligned with the business and working towards a clear set of goals and desired outcomes. However, it’s increasingly difficult to achieve that alignment as cloud computing and digital service ecosystems continue to grow in complexity.

The problem is that IT and digital business teams often rely on such a multitude of tools to monitor different aspects of the environment and manage user experience that it has become a significant undertaking to create a clear picture of what’s going on across the business. As such, collaboration between teams is very difficult to achieve, with different groups looking at different sets of data and their own version of ‘the truth’. Bridging these gaps and enabling teams to work in closer alignment is becoming a crucial imperative, and significant efforts are already being invested in this area. Gartner predicts that 50 percent of organizations will experience increased collaboration between business and IT teams by 2022.

Turning AI and automation into innovation rocket fuel

However, enabling greater cross-team collaboration by itself doesn’t address the core problem that is hindering organizations from achieving their digital ambitions. IT teams are still being stretched too thinly, and simply don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks that rest on their shoulders. To overcome this, organizations should look at where they can automate the repetitive, everyday tasks that drain so much of IT’s time. There’s clearly significant potential to reduce manual workloads in this way – Gartner predicts that 69 percent of routine work currently done by managers will be fully automated by 2024, so they’re freed up to focus on new innovation projects.

Enabling greater automation in today’s dynamic, web-scale cloud environments can be particularly challenging, given the difficulty of maintaining observability – you can’t automate what you can’t see. To begin with, IT teams need the ability to continuously and automatically discover the entire environment, including all applications, microservices, and serverless architecture. This will ensure they can maintain observability across their environment. However, it’s not enough to simply capture observability data – teams also need the ability to analyze it in real-time and understand it in full context, so they can derive actionable insights that can be used to automate processes. This can only be achieved with a unified data model that combines IT and business metrics, and deterministic AI that can instantly interpret the root cause of any anomalies, and drive automated responses to remediate them. All of this means IT can focus on big-picture initiatives that drive value for the business and its customers, leaving AI to take care of routine processes.

Creating new moon-landing moments

One company that is harnessing this approach to support continued innovation is ERT, a developer of applications that were used by medical researchers in 75% of all FDA approved clinical trials in 2019. ERT’s solutions are critical to its customers’ ability to get new, and potentially life-saving treatments and vaccines to market faster. ERT used intelligent observability to automate its DevOps processes, which resulted in its ability to speed up the delivery of new applications from an average of six weeks to just four weeks. ERT is also using automation and AI to trigger self-healing workloads, reducing development time whilst ensuring the highest standards of quality and precision.

As the new space race continues, a growing divide between those who leverage AI to automate more processes and those who don’t will emerge. IDC predicts that worldwide spending on artificial intelligence is expected to double in four years, reaching $110 billion by 2024 – which gives a sense of just how much focus is being placed on these technologies. By taking steps to adopt and adapt now, organizations can put themselves in a far better position to be among the first to plant a flag in newly discovered grounds of digital innovation.

  • Abdi Essa, Regional Vice President, UK&I, Dynatrace.

Abdi Essa, Regional Vice President, UK&I, Dynatrace.