By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. March 16, 2016
The idea that information technology (IT) can “transform” organizations for the better is so commonly accepted within the technology industry that the term is nearly a bromide. So it’s a good thing that EMC and VMware are taking a close, objective look at the issue in its new State of IT Transformation report which analyzes the opinions and experiences of over 660 of the two companies’ customers across 18 different industries.
All were participants in EMC IT Transformation and/or VMware Accelerate workshops so, in a sense, they were self-selected for the survey. But it also means that respondents were particularly well suited to assess how their organizations currently use IT, what they hope to accomplish in the coming 12 to 18 months and the steps that are required to achieve those goals.
Not too surprisingly, the subject is deeper and more complex than one might assume. Yes, IT transformation does indicate a belief that technology assets and processes can deliver fundamental benefits. But it also recognizes that accomplishing that goal requires an organization to reshape how it manages and uses IT in essential ways.
Both of these issues are addressed in the EMC/VMware study, and while many organizations are making clear progress in achieving their goals, some surprising gaps were also apparent.
Goals and gaps
For example, most survey respondents said they want to improve their companies’ IT service strategy by operating it like a customer-focused business. Plus, 80% think they can accomplish this by offering solutions via a self-service portal and catalog and by automating IT service delivery. But while 90% of those surveyed said they understand the importance of documenting transformation roadmaps and strategies, well over half (55%) said their organizations haven’t yet done so.
That gap between goals and accomplishments continued in other areas:
- Nearly 8 in 10 respondents said they hope to provision IT resources in less than 24 hours, but over half reported that the process usually takes 2 to 4 weeks.
- Nearly 90% said they want to use automation to track IT resource usage by individual business units, but 70% reported gaps in their ability to quantify IT resource consumption across the larger business.
- Participants indicated a desire to improve software development, but over 80% said their DevOps organizations lack a scalable, infrastructure-independent application framework to support their efforts.
- Nearly 7 in 10 reported taking 6 to 12 months to complete a new application development lifecycle; far longer than the “few weeks” most said they hope to achieve.
However, EMC and VMware’s survey also reported significant progress in some areas and within some specific sectors. For example, virtually every respondent said their organization plans to maximize compute, storage and application virtualization, critical factors in improving overall IT infrastructure efficiencies and pursuing cloud computing priorities. Supporting production applications with hybrid cloud is also a top priority, with the vast majority (90%) of participants saying they are in either the evaluation or proof of concept stage for such deployments within the next 18 to 24 months.
Respondents from four vertical industries also reported better than average results:
- Financial services companies scored above average in most areas, and over 40% have a fully supported, documented IT transformation strategy and roadmap.
- A fifth of government organizations say they support production apps in hybrid clouds and have virtualized nearly all of their compute and application assets.
- Retailers were the top performing sector in desktop virtualization and also said that over half of their applications are built on scalable, infrastructure-independent frameworks.
- Telecommunications companies lead in network virtualization adoption, with an average score of 40% of network assets virtualized with the top fifth of participants saying their infrastructures are nearly 80% virtualized.
Some of the results of EMC and VMware’s State of IT Transformation report are hardly surprising. For example, the push to virtualize compute, storage and networking assets has been in progress for years with ample evidence of provable benefits and results. In addition, the prevalence of desktop virtualization among retailers is likely linked to the popularity of VDI solutions supporting point of sale (POS) terminals.
The increasing traction of hybrid cloud solutions has also been increasingly apparent, though the plans of so many companies to use these environments to support production applications was eye-opening. So was the progress of government agencies that have seldom had their IT successes mentioned in the same breath as forward-looking financial services and telecommunications companies.
While the gaps between organizations’ plans and their actual accomplishments might seem discouraging, the objectivity of those respondents actually offers reason for hope. IT transformation is seldom easy and is never a one-size- (or timeline) -fits-all endeavor. The fact that so many private and public sector organizations are planning and pursuing these efforts attests to both their fundamental benefits and their potential for inspiring positive change.
As such, EMC and VMware’s State of IT Transformation report qualifies as a valuable portrait of businesses and industries in a state of evolution, and of the role IT plays in both inspiring and enabling those efforts. This first survey is remarkably interesting but future studies examining the continuing progress of participants’ transformational efforts should be even more insightful.
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