How do you drive innovation while “keeping the lights on”?


Business Continuity, innovation

Organisations have to be innovative to remain competitive, but unless you are a startup or an early adopter, a good portion of your resources and budget are likely focused on “keeping the lights on.” Truth be told, IT departments would much rather spend more on innovation, but continue to allocate the bulk of their financial resources on maintenance, because “turning the lights off” is not an option.

Accelerated growth of applications in the digital economy is making it very challenging for IT departments to keep pace. Traditional data centres are not always capable of adapting to the rapidly changing digital landscape. Inflexible IT infrastructure, minimal scalability, security and other challenges add up, which impede, rather than enable, meaningful innovation and growth.

At our recent Commercial Sector roundtable we were joined by Phil Croxford, ECU Channel and Partner Director at VMWare and IT leaders from across the commercial sector as they shared their top tips on how to successfully strike the right balance between innovation and keeping the lights on.

Here’s what they had to say…

1. “Don’t get stuck in the drudgery of maintenance mode”

It might seem obvious, but if you can afford to hand over the day-to-day maintenance of your infrastructure, do it. Managed Service Providers are well equipped to keep the lights on while you team focuses on driving innovation. Free up your team to think more strategically and work on your next project to keep you ahead of the competition.

2. “Start with a positive attitude and encourage your team to follow”

Negativity breads yet more negativity, so be positive instead! Take the time to understand why your team or a particular member of your team is resistant to change. Maybe they’ve only worked in the industry for 5 years and they’ve yet to experience any significant changes. Maybe they’re only highly qualified in one particular area and they worry they don’t have the skills required to adapt, maybe they think they don’t have time to retrain because they’re so busy keeping the lights on or maybe they think they’re going to be out of a job. Now you can begin to understand why they might be apprehensive.

Talking and reassuring them might work – but it also might not. It may be true that they don’t have time to dedicate to retraining or they still may not fully understand the need drive innovation. In some cases, you may be required to hire new talent with a raft of new skills and that’s also fine. Both your old and new recruits will start to work together, and you’ll begin to see a form of osmosis taking place as your other employees begin to absorb a load of new skills and practices from the new recruits.

3. “Stand your ground- be brutal. Someone needs to have the balls to stand up and say when something isn’t right.”

Sometimes you just need to say no but always make sure you elaborate and support your argument. If the board is looking to expand their data centre usage, don’t just explain why you think it’s a bad idea, tell them why you think moving to cloud is a better idea. Explain why cloud is the backbone of digitisation and address their reservations. If they’re still refusing to listen, explain what your competitors are doing. Maybe they’re already in the cloud and are launching IoT initiatives or are maybe turning big data into intelligent business decisions.

To secure executive buy in, many organiations are now looking to run Assessment Services which highlight the journey organisations need to take to deliver their transformational ambitions. Readiness assessments also highlight the return on investment from cost savings to staff reductions, increased productivity or increased competitiveness.

4. “Don’t aim to change everything all in one go. Start by changing one thing at a time” 

If you aim to change too many things at a time, you’re asking for trouble. Implementing a data centre zero strategy is already enough to make your System Engineer’s head fall off so don’t start talking about POCs for IoT initiatives. Take one step at a time, give one project 100% of your attention, close the project and evaluate its success before moving on.

5. “Don’t fall into the trap of investing in new technology just because it’s new. New doesn’t always mean it’ll be good.”

You may absolutely detest the legacy infrastructure you have in place right now, but just remember all that legacy infrastructure has stood the test of time and the next investment you make will need to do the same. Ensure you’re investing in the right technology for the right reasons. If you’ve already conducted a readiness assessment, you can rest assured that a whole team has worked night and day for weeks, collecting and analysing data to ensure a strategic recommendation has highlighted the right technology for your needs.

Just remember, the balancing act of trying to stay innovative while maintaining existing IT doesn’t need to be stressful. To find out how you can begin to move away from your legacy infrastructure and secure executive buy in for an innovative IT project click here.

Alternatively, to take a tour of our UK-based Secure Operations Centre where we manage our customer’s infrastructure around the clock.

Posted by Helen Thomas