Network infrastructure is key to digital transformation
Tech Trends · Feb 13, 2017
Digital Transformation (DX) is the latest term to be bandied about by the ICT sector—and, frankly, by industry at-large. The concept is an interesting one, particularly given that the digital transformation of networks began in 1962 with the arrival of T-Carrier, and digital infrastructure such as switches, routers, multiplexers and computers have been in widespread use for just about the same amount of time. How, then, is this transformation different? The answer is, profoundly so.
DX is a strategically-focused effort to change the customer’s business vision by encouraging innovation and a willingness to adopt elements of new business models as part of the overall strategy. This is not a digital infrastructure evolution; it is a digital thinking evolution, and its success is fundamentally dependent on the underlying telecom network.
Consider this: for decades, companies have sold desirable products and services to a demanding market. Bookstores sold books and magazines; trucking companies and taxi fleets moved goods and people; hotels booked reservations; music companies sold records, 8-tracks (I say bring ‘em back), cassettes, and CDs, and telephone companies sold—well, telephone calls.
Today, the rules are radically different. Amazon has taken over the book market, not to mention the global supply chain. Uber has disrupted the taxi market with clean cars and lower prices. Airbnb books people into non-hotels. Apple has reinvented the music industry. Netflix and its many cousins have changed the way video is consumed. This isn’t market domination: it’s market disintermediation, and it’s redefining everything.
As sexy as all these applications and mobile capabilities are, though, we can’t ignore ‘the one ring that binds them all.’ The modern enterprise functions because of the fixed network that ties together the disparate devices upon which they base their day-to-day operations, while the wireless network delivers flexibility, ubiquity, and dynamic engagement between the enterprise and customers it serves. And tying all that access together? An optical fibre-based superhighway that enables the power of business at unimaginably fast data velocities.
By digitizing assets, not infrastructure, companies radically improve the experience they offer to customers, employees, suppliers, partners and stakeholders. Rest assured, this is a ‘when,’ not an ‘if’ question, and it’s not a phase that will soon pass. DX represents a profound, technology-dependent organizational culture-shift. It’s exciting, it’s frightening, and it’s here to stay.
As disruptive as it may be, DX is also ripe with opportunity, and organizations that allow themselves to undergo transformation will reap benefits. Look at the numbers as we enter the early stages of Digital Transformation. By 2018, somewhere between 15 and 30 percent of all telecom and IT investment will be in digital platforms to support DX, and 30% of all digital services will be delivered by organizations that lie outside of the traditional IT organization—in other words, organizations that disrupt and disintermediate the traditional way of doing things. Keep in mind that we’re talking about next year.
But at the same time, never forget two very important facts. Digital Transformation is the tool that facilitates Business Transformation. It’s the means to a very important end state, an end state that defines why TELUS even exists—it’s all about the customer. It is also fundamentally, irretrievably, ineluctably dependent on the digital network. No network? No Digital Transformation. No Digital Transformation? No Business Transformation. And that would be very sad indeed.
All of this to say - with the network being at the heart of a DX strategy, here are some insights and solutions: