In many ways, digital transformation has become a buzzword of our times. Businesses are facing the impending arrival of a completely different way of doing business, one which heavily relies on advanced technologies and collected data to make operations and marketing more efficient and personalized. In their zeal to be first movers in this paradigm shift, companies have started building the infrastructure to create a digital repository of their data, and have begun to call this their ‘digital transformation’.
This, while remarkable, falls well short of the high standard that digital transformation ought to carry. Simply replacing outdated methods of data storage and using new equipment to perform the same function is just converting analogue to digital, which is only a small part of the overall digital transformation process. However, the truly transformative potential of digital transformation is being missed here, and Stuart Nielsen-Marsh, the Director of Public Cloud Strategy at Pulsant, believes that the business world is doing the phrase a major disservice by using it in this fashion.
“Instead of focusing solely on technology, organizations need to take a step back and adopt a more holistic approach to digital transformation that inspires a genuine re-engineering of their business.”
With India’s growing economy giving rise to a vast number of stakeholders and players at the intersection of data and technology, there is much at stake here. IT spending in India is expected to reach USD 87.1 billion this year, of which more than USD 3.1 billion is projected to be on data centre systems alone. More than the money, though, it is the incredible opportunity that digital transformation will bring – if done correctly and covering the entire structure of an organization.
By placing their data in the cloud through a service provider or in an in-house data centre, businesses would have merely scratched the surface of what digital transformation can accomplish. The dataset should be built in a manner which allows business development teams to review the data to determine which clients to pursue. The same dataset could also be evaluated to give insights at varying levels – from indicating which markets and products are more profitable, to providing accurate numbers to project which marketing strategy would yield better returns on their investment.
Bringing data analytics and advanced technology into their existing systems can bring greater value to their digital transformation, leading to a business transformation, as Stuart Nielsen-March recommends.
There is a reason for The Economist to identify data as the new oil; as technology is progressing and more uses for it can be found, data will be the most valuable commercial resource of the upcoming digital era. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are doing incredible things with the data that they have collected over time – and much of their growth and success can be attributed to the use to which they put their data, often several years after it was first collected.
These global technology leaders began small but thought further ahead than their shorter-lived peers. They built open, disaggregated, and modular data centre networks to enjoy the tremendous cost-saving, flexibility, and scalability they provide. By focusing on making the data storage as efficient as possible while ensuring that there was enough scope for future-use and expansion, these companies have increased the speed and reduced the cost of network expansion and modification. This allowed these companies to continually upgrade their systems and operate them more nimbly through integrating automation and provisioning tools.
This mode of data centre design – called Webscale IT – creates a more resilient architecture to support accelerated application delivery and an environment of continuous experimentation. In other words, it allows companies to more fully realize the potential benefits of digital transformation now and leaves scope for greater utility in the future.
As global economies begin their digital transformation, the increasing value of data and its use is likely to make data centres the cornerstone of digital transformation. Much of the digital revolution and technology-led disruption was set up due to an improvement in our ability to store and utilize data. The processing power of computing systems, the capacity of self-learning algorithms, and the potential for data analytics in the commercial world were only truly unlocked once our data storage capacity multiplied greatly in the 1990s. Today, most of the new emerging technologies expected to define and underpin the future of enterprise – AI, computer vision, the cloud, big data, IoT – are being thought of while designing the large data-reliant ecosystem of India’s digital future.
India is already the seventh-largest data centre market in the world, according to Gartner, and is the second-largest, and second-fastest growing, data centre market in the Asia-Pacific region, second only to China. According to Cushman & Wakefield’s recent report in April 2018, India will be a USD 4.5 billion data centre market by 2018 and will reach USD 7 billion by 2020. The country is expected to increase its data centre capacity to 10.9 million square feet by the end of 2018, growing at a CAGR of 19.8 percent between 2008 and 2018.
Companies looking to avail this lucrative opportunity must, therefore, pay attention to their data and its storage in order to stay relevant and competitive in the fast-changing industry landscape. They need an understanding of the options available before them, which can have an immense impact upon their data-driven future. Should they be setting up their own data centres, or should they be relying on a multi-tenant data centre? How should their own centre be designed? Which technology should they be compliant with? Understanding the various technology components of the data centre universe would require some study and networking to understanding the existing state of an industry, the solutions being relied upon by competitors, and looking beyond 2018 to find the right mix to make their digital transformation into the webscale data centre as lucrative as it could possibly be.
Naveen Andrade is General Manager at DatacenterDynamics India.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)