Making Disruption a Part of the Enterprise

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    It seems that everyone is worrying about disruption these days, whether it’s market disruption, business model disruption, or technology disruption.

    Of course, it’s always better to be the disruptor than the disruptee, so it seems that a primary strategic objective for the enterprise in the coming year is to improve the ability to disrupt others while minimizing the effects of disruption at home.

    This is easier said than done, but with the advent of software-defined infrastructure and rapid application and service development, it’s no longer outside the bounds of possibility.

    Citrix Asean’s Mark Micallef noted recently that disruption is increasing competitiveness in the marketplace but adding to the headaches of those who fail to transcend their traditional business models. But rather than view disruption as the enemy, it would be wiser to view it as an opportunity to evolve into a more dynamic, forward-leaning organization for the 21st Century economy.

    A key element in this process is the transition from an infrastructure-based technology model to an application-centered one that is more focused on business outcomes and requirements than iron-clad control. If you are unclear about how this works, take a look at your mobile environment, which most likely features self-service provisioning, high degrees of collaboration and social networking and is rarely device- or infrastructure-dependent.

    It’s for this reason that Dev/Ops has come on so strongly in recent months as a key enterprise objective, says ActiveState Software’s Bernard Golden. Unfortunately, few organizations seem to have embraced the movement to the degree that is necessary given the speed at which a well-constructed app can take down established industries. A thorough Dev/Ops infrastructure requires some fairly heavy lifting for things like automated infrastructure provisioning, continuous integration and realignment of business teams and processes – a transition that can take years when approached sequentially. The problem is, most established organizations don’t have years, so if there has ever been an occasion where the executive suite needs to throw caution into the wind and rush to implement a new technology paradigm, this is it.

    But what happens if the process of preparing for disruption starts to cause the very disruption you are hoping to avoid? According to tech consultant Dan Kusnetzky, the trick is in knowing what to change and what to leave in place, and the first rule in that game is to not allow vendors to dictate to you what needs to go. Vendors have a way of positioning anything they want to replace as old and in the way, even if it continues to provide reliable and profitable service.

    The best strategy, therefore, is to craft a plan of disruption first and then approach key vendors with your ideas as to what should be done. No one knows your business better than you, after all, and by approaching disruption as a strategic imperative rather than an emergency, “hair on fire” situation, you stand the best chance of implementing not only a quick transition, but a successful one.

    Enterprise executives should also adopt a new posture when it comes to disruption. The knee-jerk reaction is that disruption is something to be avoided at all costs, leading to a brittle, fortress-style enterprise that is frankly out of sync with the emerging digital economy. A far better approach is to incorporate it into the new business model by recognizing that a) disruption is inevitable and b) it is far better to manage it than fight it.

    By learning to roll with the punches, and crafting a data environment that allows you to do just that, the enterprise becomes resilient to the changes that new digital technologies are bringing about. True, disruption will still be inconvenient, but if handled properly, it won’t be fatal.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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