Organizations in a variety of sectors have watched helplessly in recent years as technology-powered upstarts reinvented the rules of their business. Hotels have lost market share to services such as Airbnb. Uber and Lyft have knocked the taxi industry on its heels. And services such as Netflix pushed traditional video stores to the brink of extinction, practically overnight.

In each of these cases, traditional organizations were woefully unprepared to adapt to a new landscape.

Going forward, if executives want to head off digital disruption in their own industries, they must prepare their organizations to embrace innovation at the same speed as startups. This means investing today in the infrastructure that will power tomorrow’s digital transformation.

I recently spoke at Dell EMC World. Here’s the advice I offered there for making infrastructure investments to support IT evolution.

Standardize for Scalability

Traditionally, when rolling out applications, organizations have relied on their IT groups to design, install, configure and test infrastructure to support the new use case. This process can take months, and frankly, most organizations no longer have that sort of time. Infrastructure must be standardized, agile and ready to scale at a moment’s notice.

While many organizations rely on the cloud to quickly scale up resources, some are finding that the economics become less attractive as their deployments grow. And others (especially those in sensitive and highly regulated industries) simply don’t trust cloud providers with their data.

Converged and hyperconverged infrastructure models – which combine processing, networking and storage – make more sense for many enterprises. The simplicity and scalability of these solutions enable IT shops to focus more of their energy on strategic projects and spend less time on simple, mundane chores.

Invest for Peak Performance

Organizations need to operate at the speed of their customers’ expectations. And those expectations have quickly shifted from “fast” to “instant.” An enterprise that makes its customers wait risks losing sales.

Traditionally, IT teams have had to engineer solutions around the storage limitations of spinning discs. But flash storage arrays have dropped dramatically in price over the last several years, eliminating a key limitation that has prevented organizations from unleashing the full potential of their technology.

Design for Big Data

The innovative use of customer and enterprise data will continue to drive improvements in processes, and organizations must prepare by doing two things: taking steps to collect data that is currently being discarded, and making investments in storage solutions that natively support Big Data protocols like Hadoop Distributed File System.

Big Data represents an opportunity for IT departments to recast themselves as revenue generators, rather than as cost centers. If IT shops provide easily scalable storage solutions that support Big Data, organizations will use them to create new value.

Enable the Internet of Things

Most networks have not been designed to handle traffic from the myriad sensors and devices that will soon be serving up data. By 2020, 21 billion objects and devices are projected to be connected to the internet, and the organizations that find new ways to leverage these connections will give themselves a competitive advantage. But first, they must upgrade hardware in remote network corners that were never expected to handle large volumes of data.

To learn more about how CDW can help your organization invest in infrastructure to enable digital transformation, visit CDW.com/DigitalTransformation

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