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The Concept of Digital Agility

Mid March 2020 the world changed for everybody. Of course, this includes IT managers and CIOs. From one day to the other end users and IT staff was forced to work remotely. For some companies this was business as usual from an IT point of view.  They could already work whenever and where they wanted. This was part of their IT Strategy and they had everything in place. They often had a cloud first strategy. And they had a Cloud Center of Excellence in setup or in full execution. Others had none of this in place. Some companies even had a policy that nobody could work remotely … They all had one thing in common: it was no longer a decision somebody had to take. Half of March a lot of people become remote workers overnight …

What is Digital Agility?

One definition of agility is “the ability to move quickly and easily“. Adding digital to it means doing that with technology and tools.   The term ‘Agile’ is derived from ‘The Manifesto for Agile Software Development’ which describes a collaborative way of working based on a set of principles that have come to mean early delivery of business value. While it started as a new way of developing software, the agile state of mind now covers the whole enterprise.

Translate this into an IT Strategy and with digital agility you end up with a securecost efficient and scalable platform supporting an organisation with people capable of adapting fast to changes and initiating and driving changes themselves. Finally, this platform should also be future proof in order to drive innovation or being able to react to totally unplanned events.

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People are at the center of a Digital Agile environment. The platform is what enables them to be successful.

What about Digital Agility in the middle of the March 2020 crisis?

IT managers are in doubt that decisions taken in the March 2020 timeframe are still giving them the guarantee of a fully secure environment. Decisions have been taken that would never have been taken in normal circumstances. Exceptional circumstances require exceptional decisions. And some of these are potentially having an impact on the normal security standards. 

The same is true for cost efficiency. During the first weeks of the lockdown, Microsoft Azure in Western Europe was having serious capacity challenges. Our Cronos CSP business was not reporting a massive increase. A lot of companies had to “open the tab” using a credit card. Not the most cost-efficient way of consuming cloud services. But exceptional circumstances require exceptional decisions.

And what about scalability? During the initial lockdown we saw a big increase in the number of virtual desktops deployed and used in Azure. The pay-as-you-go pricing is very expensive. But is it scalable? To some extend is it. You can quickly virtualize and deploy legacy desktop apps to the cloud with unified management in the Azure portal.  And there’s more: with Windows Virtual Desktop you pay only for Azure Virtual Machines and Azure Storage consumed by users during their use of the service.  But this is obviously not what you have in mind when thinking about true cloud scalability … That is a whole different game, which could not be done overnight.

What about a future proof IT environment?

Topic number 4 for Digital Agility is to have a future proof IT environment. A solid cloud first strategy gives a company access to all innovations coming from the cloud. This might not be the top of mind topic to cover during a crisis moment. But it’s good to know that a robust, well architectured and well governed cloud first IT environment is very likely to be future proof as well. Solutions that have been rolled out during the crisis are in most cases not well architectured, nor well governed. So, there’s work to be done to get them back on track.

What is next?

The key questions for the IT managers or CIOs are:

  1. How do I get visibility on what decisions have been taken and what the impact is?
  2. How do I get control back?
  3. How do I structure the approach to get to all of that?
  4. How do I turn this into a plan for the future?
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