The Future of IT Infrastructure

The amount of change expected in the next few years is daunting, relentless and coming fast. The next five years will drive more change than the previous 50. As traditional businesses adapt to the realities of the new machine age – breathless time to market, intelligently enhanced everything, meaningful and personalized experiences – the implications for IT have been profound. It is no exaggeration to say that the core differentiator for a successful business today rests on the readiness of its IT infrastructure – and that an inflexible, sluggish, inefficient infrastructure poses a bigger competitive threat than any ingenious start-up or disruptive market force.

While the legacy IT industry of servers, databases and cables is still important, it has essentially become a utility, taking a backseat to the need for an agile, flexible and quickly scalable technology foundation to drive business. Companies with legacy technology architectures, therefore, face a dilemma: striking a balance between the present and future state of IT infrastructure. To achieve this equilibrium, the first ballast to discard is IT’s traditional obsession with cost-cutting. The simple fact is, a lower cost but completely irrelevant backbone will condemn you to lose in whatever market you operate in. In an era when start-ups can disrupt entire industries in weeks or months, a company’s technological backbone should – indeed, must - give it the ability (and agility) to immediately adapt or, better yet, set the pace.

IT that matters in the new machine age prioritizes cybersecurity, innovation, time-to-market and customer experience over cost-cutting, according to our latest study. Over the next 24 to 36 months, we will see a new phase develop for IT organizations, in which they are measured on a very different set of metrics than ever before. The IT mandate will stretch beyond the familiar realm of satisfying customers and employees, collaborating with the business and reducing costs, to sealing the customer relationship, discovering new business value and enabling business agility and innovation while also ensuring security.

We’ve developed a framework, dubbed “HEROES,” to help CIOs systematically move toward the new way of work for IT and maximize the strategic value of their IT investments. This framework involves change in five areas: hybrid cloud architectures, edge computing, robotic process automation (RPA), obsolescence of old IT and enterprise security. All five areas of the HEROES framework will be impacted by the growing influence of AI technologies, which will both “upgrade” the existing IT infrastructure and lay the foundation for the future. In fact, 61% of executives agreed that AI will fundamentally change their IT infrastructure procurement and consumption model over the next five years. In short, AI will be at the heart of the new IT infrastructure.

Starting Tomorrow: We can be 'HEROES'

The days of the IT department being responsible for only infrastructure and operations, with a relentless focus on cost reduction, are gone. Enterprises that view IT as a costly overhead and not a competitive capability will struggle to succeed in the new machine age. Changing this mindset within IT, and then selling the idea to the rest of the company, will be both a challenge and an opportunity for CIOs.

Just as tablets, smartphones and app stores led the consumerization of IT, our HEROES framework, complemented with AI, can help businesses find their way into the future. Business and technology leaders that seize this moment of change will have a front-row seat to the shift in IT value far into the future.

Check out our new report, The Future of IT Infrastructure, to gain insights into the changes leaders are making in their organization’s technology infrastructure, as well as the shifting nature of IT work, operations, performance metrics and jobs to re-tool for the digital age.