“No multicloud for the wrong reasons!“ 3 Ways Digital Innovation Will Work in 2022
09.02.2022A guest post by Julian Dunn *
In all likelihood, 2022 will be a decisive year for IT and digital managers in companies. Because now comes the difficult part of digitization: it is important to drive continuous digital innovation and performance improvement in order to remain competitive.
Digital transformation is entering a new phase for many companies; playing it safe is not an option, but investing in good IT production environments is.
In the past two years, investments in cloud technologies and related developments have been made on an unprecedented scale. In many cases, these investments helped to stabilize the ship when it had to navigate rough seas due to the pandemic and the shift from stationary to digital commerce. They were necessary to enable hybrid work on a large scale, to streamline business processes and to enable companies to adapt to the rapidly changing consumer behavior towards “digital-first”.
Just playing it safe now is not an option. Only companies that are able to maintain their focus on innovation will usually outperform the market by up to 30 percent in the years after the crisis, according to a study by McKinsey.
As digital transformation enters a new phase, it is to be expected that leading companies will have to continue to demonstrate their adaptability in order to remain innovative. Success will depend on many factors: from the way developers are supported, pragmatic infrastructure decisions to a realistic assessment of complexity. In the following, these factors are divided into three key topics that will enable companies to accelerate their digital innovation and be successful in 2022:
1. Leading companies will explicitly invest in the productivity of their developers.
Developers sit at the control center of the digitally innovative company. However, many of the tools they used have historically been unwieldy, underperforming, tied to local endpoints, and required a high level of manual configuration and management.
That’s changing now. Currently, there is a significant increase in the importance of teams responsible for developer tools and whose internal customers are software developers. More and more companies are switching their teams to cloud-based DevOps and CI/CD platforms such as “Gitlab” and “Github” and using functions such as “Github Actions” and “Codespaces”.
Why this shift? In short: to better equip the developers for their tasks and thus facilitate innovation.
The application architectures have become too complex and the computing power requirements too high to maintain the status quo. Clever companies will use the new approaches to solve the problem ‘works on my laptop, but not in the production environment’, which plagues many projects. They will also use these new environments to solve the ongoing challenge of continuous deployment.
This step allows companies to use the same complex environment for development in the cloud as for productive use. And this more powerful development environment can be better than any laptop. This is good news for everyone: McKinsey also found that companies with a higher development speed achieve up to five times higher sales growth than their colleagues with a lower speed.
2. Leading companies will avoid over-engineering the infrastructure.
According to a study by Flexera, 92 percent of companies are now pursuing a multi-cloud strategy and 80 percent a hybrid cloud strategy. In the short term, those who pursue a multicloud strategy will continue to invest in various providers, taking large sums in their hands.
But how many actually achieve the best results with it?According to IDG, 79 percent of organizations struggle to take advantage of multi-cloud because workloads remain in silos.
This is due to the fact that many companies are pursuing a multi-vendor cloud strategy for the wrong reasons: they want to avoid dependency instead of gaining advantages by choosing the best features.
In 2022, many of these multicloud projects will have a negative return on investment and force a rethink. Ultimately, those companies that accept that the future lies in a hybrid cloud rather than a multicloud will be successful.
This also includes a certain degree of pragmatism. Engineering executives will choose the execution location that is most suitable for their code. Their choice is then based on the best existing features in the corresponding environment, instead of introducing multicloud only on the basis of a dogma in terms of provider loyalty, which does not add value to the company.
This approach also allows companies to achieve more with limited internal capabilities and focus on what they are good at: innovating instead of replicating multiple robust cloud environments.
3. Leading companies will drastically reduce complexity.
Today’s businesses may be running thousands of digital services with millions of dependencies that can change within milliseconds. Microservices, containers, serverless architectures and orchestration platforms create enormous complexity. In addition, the demand for more innovative customer experiences will continue to increase. However, an increase in complexity is not to be expected, because that would simply not be sustainable.
In other words: Could there be a “Dunbar number” for system complexity? The answer is: Yes.
There are signs of a backlash to the complexity of some approaches, such as Kubernetes, and the interface required to get business value from it. There is also an increasing acceptance of managed services offered by cloud service providers. Such services – for example, managed database services – automatically ensure scalability, reliability and redundancy. This means that companies do not have to develop all these properties themselves.
There are two other measures that leading companies use to combat complexity. First, you explicitly invest in the management of dependencies in real time: this gives you a clear picture of how digital systems are connected, even if the overall system changes every day. In this way, IT teams can monitor, manage and resolve digital incidents in real time before users and customers notice it.
The second option is to invest in automation in order to hide the internal complexity for the one who will have to perform the tasks in the end. Research shows that 73 percent of IT executives rely on automation or plan to do so in order to cope with the complexity and increasing pressure on digital services.
Strengthening teams – more time for innovation
In order to successfully accelerate digital innovation in 2022, the three approaches mentioned are essential. Companies need to give developers more time to exploit their strengths: innovating instead of just keeping operations running.
Pragmatic technical decisions and investments focused on optimizing developer productivity are of central importance. The introduction of automated functions that minimize work and maximize creativity also plays an important role. For companies that want to always be one step ahead of the competition, this is the blueprint for success.
* About the author
Julian Dunn, Director of Product Marketing at Pagerduty
(Image source: Pagerduty)