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The rules to success are changing – but are you?

Ed HoppittBy Ed Hoppitt

We live in a world where the quickest growing transportation company owns no cars (Uber), the hottest accommodation provider owns no accommodation (Air BnB) and the world’s leading internet television network creates very little of its own content (Netflix). Take a moment to let that sink in. Each of these companies is testament to the brave new world of IT that is continuing to shape and evolve the business landscape that surrounds each of us. And the reality is that the world’s leading hypergrowth companies no longer need to own a huge inventory. They instead depend on a global platform that easily facilitates commerce for both consumers and businesses on a massive, global scale.

In order to stay relevant today, your business must be in a position to adapt, in keeping with the evolving expectations of end users. If success used to be governed by those who were best able to feed, water and maintain existing infrastructure, it is today championed by those who are least afraid of opening up new opportunities through innovation. Applications, platforms and software are all changing the business rules of success, so instigating change to adapt is no longer just part of a business plan; it’s an essential survival tool.

With this in mind, here are three essential pointers to help ensure your business is able to adapt, on demand:

1.       Embrace openness

All around us, agile start-ups and individuals are leveraging the unique confluence of open platforms, crowd-funding and big data analytics that exist around us. The pace of technology change means that no individual company need be responsible for doing everything themselves, which is why more than ever, there’s a real business need for open source. Open source helps to create a broad ecosystem of technology partners, all helping make it possible to work closer with developers to drive common standards, security and interopability within the cloud native application market.

2.       Develop scale at speed

Adrian Cockroft, one of the founders of Netflix, a poster child of the software-defined business once famously said that: “scale breaks hardware, speed breaks software and speed at scale breaks everything.” What Adrian realised was that to develop speed at scale, traditional approaches simply do not work, and new methodologies are required, allowing applications to be more portable and broken down into smaller units. New approaches to security services also allow micro service architectures to be utilised.

3.       Create a one unified platform

Open market data architectures are being increasingly used to give developers the freedom to innovate and experiment. While this is precisely what’s required to keep pace in a world of constant change, it also means that your IT infrastructure stands at risk of growing increasingly muddled, as developers become more empowered to code in their own way. This where a single unified platform holds the key, as this is what is ultimately required to best manage the infrastructure, ensuring compliance, control, security and governance, all the while giving developers the freedom to innovate.

Ask yourself a simple question, can I handle the exponential rate of change that is happening all around me? If the answer to that is not a resolute yes, it is time that you invested some thought into how you can. Uber, Air BnB and Netflix are proof that previously classic barriers to entry that once inhibited small players from gaining traction in the market place are breaking down. Nobody said that surviving in such a disruptive landscape would be easy, but with thought and planning, it needn’t be too difficult either.

If you want to find out more about this and how to transform your business in the software-defined era, take a look at what our EMEA CTO Joe Baguley has to say in this blog post.

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Ed Hoppitt is a CTO Ambassador & Business Solution Architect, vExpert, for VMware EMEA and is based in the U.K.

Two Steps to Put IT at the Heart of the Business: How Senior IT Professionals Can Get the Business to Fall in Love with IT

Ed HoppittBy Ed Hoppitt

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I thought it appropriate to pose the question: “How do you move IT from being seen as a mere service provider, to being at the heart of key business decisions and initiatives in 2015?” Put in the parlance of romance, “How do you get the business to fall in love with IT?”

In the last few years, technology innovations and emerging business models have enabled competition in surprising new ways—and from surprising new sources. Now supermarkets are becoming retail banks, and Uber has a higher market value than Hertz and Avis combined. When technology enables a competitor to rise from nowhere in no time at all, it’s up to you, as a senior IT professional, to take charge of shaping the business transformation to empower your colleagues—and earn a place in the heart of the business.

But how do you make that happen? The road to IT romance starts with the following steps.

Step 1: Work on Your Image and Approach

If you’re going to woo the business, you’ll want to put your best foot forward. It’s not enough to transform your organisation; you need to be sure the business notices your new positive changes, and experiences the benefits of your efforts.

First, realise that perception of your organisation is everything, and being seen as a roadblock to innovation and agility will not get you that first date. Winning hearts and minds requires focussing on strategy over technology to contribute a fresh approach to achieving goals rather than the “same old same old.”

A large part of this entails transforming how you source and procure IT services. Most IT organisations are still focussed around complex hierarchical structures that simply aren’t agile enough to support a rapidly changing business environment. Hanging on to old delivery models—like old love letters—will only hold you in the past.

Here, the CIO’s leadership is critical in changing the organisation’s image from “gatekeeper” to “orchestrator.” You will need to champion a collaborative, hybrid sourcing model that allows you to draw on internal innovation—or leverage the dynamic new commercial ecosystem—based on the best solution to the challenge at hand.

Step 2: Contribute Something Meaningful to the Relationship

Having worked so hard to get a seat at the table, you’ll want to be sure you have something to offer once you get there. The following are three areas where you can add value to the business in 2015.

  • Hybrid: 2015 is going to be the year hybrid really takes off, becoming wholly integrated with enterprise IT. It will become key to be able to run a true Bi-Modal IT function, where “and” rather than “or” becomes the norm. No longer will a one-size-fits-all approach work, and the ability to be both a trailblazer of innovation for your business, as well as a safe pair of hands is critical going forward.
  • Internet Of Things (IoT): Internet Of Things (IoT): 2015 looks like the year IoT will become all pervasive. For example, British Gas has announced an IoT project called Hive, which allows customers to control their heating from a smartphone. When a commodity utility business unleashes software (a move driven by IT) as a differentiator, other markets (and competitors in the same market) will quickly follow. It is through taking the initiative and spotting that opportunity to use emerging technologies and then drive that change in your business and market that will bring success in this space. If, as CIO, you see an opportunity and seize it, the rest of the business can’t help but recognize IT as an orchestrator – not a gatekeeper.
  • Security: No company is going to accept a ‘Sony’ moment in 2015, and no IT executive is going to survive one. For too long, security management has lagged behind developments elsewhere in IT. Security needs to be at the heart of business, and that means it needs to be associated with workloads and data, not with the expensive proprietary hardware running complex software that doesn’t understand the constructs of the business.

This Valentine’s Day, do your best to help the business fall in love with you. They may not realise it yet, but you’re about to become the key to their future happiness—and survival. It’s time to get their attention and make some magic happen. Good luck!


Ed Hoppitt is a VMware EMEA Advisory Services & CTO Ambassador

Beyond Hype: Transforming IT to Deliver Faster Time to ROI

By Ed Hoppitt

ED HOPPITT-cropPhil Richards, Customer CTO for British Telecom’s global arm, BT Global Services, acts as customer champion and provides thought leadership, direction, and strategy to deliver both technical and commercial elegance to his customers.

As part of the extended VMware team partnering with BT, I’ve been working with Phil’s team to help identify opportunities for transformation — not just in the technology space but also people, process, and governance into the team’s key accounts. Phil took some time out for us recently to talk about his business and his relationship with VMware.

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Ed Hoppitt is a VMware Accelerate Advisory Services business solutions architect and CTO Ambassador and is based in the U.K. Follow him on Twitter @edhoppitt