Enjoy the Best of Both Worlds with Hybrid Digital Infrastructure Management (HDIM)

The purpose of IT Infrastructure and ITES is to provide continual services, without disruption and deliver best-in-class customer experience. This is only possible when the triad of end-users, customers and employees, all receive consistent response and support. Solely relying on legacy infrastructure to maintain digital assets is a thing of the past. Organisations are restructuring and automating their IT Infrastructure at a faster pace than ever deemed prior. Enterprises are drawn to a system where they can leverage the advantages of their heritage systems as well as newer technologies with more advanced features like cloud and AI.

IT infrastructure modules are no longer static entities; they are acknowledged as dynamic integral units and organisations are moving away from on-site IT Infrastructure to Cloud-enhanced systems that is better suited to the times and comes with short term and long term perks like ease-of-access, cost-efficiency and low maintenance owing to the lack of physical support infrastructure.

The Selection: ‘Critical Decision’

The most difficult part of a journey is staring it. For organisations, deciding on which systems are to stay in the legacy mode and which are to be moved to the cloud is a haunting question. The key is to identify the advent of the journey towards cloudification of systems and have a defined point of inflection that will pace up the journey of adoption.

It depends on the type of business and the kind of applications that are being used in the environment for one to decide which cloud is to be adopted and which application will be shifted first to the cloud.

There are many proven and tested approaches that are used by organizations to embark on the cloud journey, such as,

  • Moving the test and Dev environment to the cloud
  • Moving some Disaster Recovery systems to the cloud
  • Moving specific non-business workloads to the cloud
  • Consolidating distributed systems into a single large compute environment

The cloudification of infrastructure helps the ITOPS team in managing the cloud infrastructure seamlessly and focusing more on the legacy systems migration to the new platforms by restructuring or redeploying them inthe new environment.

The Transition: ‘Comfort Zone’

Companies are enthusiastically starting their cloud journey and they are systematically making the transition of a portion of the infrastructure to cloud while some are still using the current legacy systems and the rest are migrated and maintained on private and/or public clouds, this is where most firms consider to be their comfort zone. This partial Cloud adoption provides leeway to companies where the cost of replenishing their phasing out or phased out physical infrastructure significantly out-weighs the monetary gains of implementing an entirely cloud-run configuration. On the other hand, some organisations may face challenges in adopting cloud because of restrictions imposed by governing regulatory bodies, fear of data-breaches, concerns over compliances &security factors.

Post-Adoption Management: ‘Continual Journey’

This ‘best of both worlds’ scenario is what led to the development of “Hybrid Digital Infrastructure Management” (HDIM), these evolved systems allow enterprises to maintain a steady balance of physical/on-site IT assets and private/public cloud-based infrastructure while workloads keep growing with the business scaling up. Organisations are thus able to take advantage of the security and compliance benefits of their own legacy systems while at the same time have their cloudified infrastructure that is easily accessible and manageable.

According to Gartner, around 20% of enterprises are projected to employ HDIM tools to optimize their workload and IT configurations by 2022.

The best part of Hybrid Digital Infrastructure Management is that it incorporates both on-site heritage systems as well as the latest innovations. The hybrid environment is best for DevOps tools to flourish and deliver better results. HDIM also reduces complexities associated with migration of entire configurations to an online shared platform by making the move to the new system smooth and uneventful.

What does HDIM entail?

Hybrid IT Management monitors all assets 24×7 across domains and utilizes predictive data analytics backed by Artificial Intelligence. Hardware probes capture data from physical assets storage, servers, and networks while digital assets are monitored by software probes that access this information without disrupting the running of devices. This information is gathered with or without the involvement of agents and is cross-referenced, evaluated, and everything from the largest to most miniscule amount of Information that is gathered by the HDIM systems is virtually recorded, analysed and reported for action to make sure they are running efficiently. This data is recorded for future reference and can be retrieved at any time. Hardware and software probes also alert the system in the event of security breaches and illegal access attempts.

Is it all Good?

Infrastructure when Managed by HDIM tends to witness a drastic improvement in connectivity and collaboration efficiency of the ITOPS team and makes remote management easy for operations. While shared platforms give diversity they also enhance scalability and plays the role of a catalyst in business growth.

With HDIM, automation of major processes can be deployed easily. Cost involving maintenance of assets and development is reduced with the adoption of Hybrid Digital IT Management.

With so many benefits also come a host of complexities associated with HDIM. The concern of data breaches and cyber attacks is a constantly in question, organisations hence opt to retain critical and important business-data centric configurations under legacy systems.

Continuous examination of Hybrid systems is required to ensure there are no data audit errors. There are major challenges linked to having Hybrid system-management considering the fact that it is a  daunting task to handle ever-growing data across multiple systems that are poles apart in terms of physical infrastructure. The Management of Hybrid IT systems also requires niche skills that may drive up talent development and acquisition costs. Also, weightage needs to be given on allocating the right bandwidth to run these systems as personal devices from various locations may connect to the systems in the current and post-pandemic scenario.

The long-term benefit of an HDIM is truly attractive and it certainly will become the new standard of running DCOPS in the future. We are seeing more and more organisations turning to Hybrid IT for their IT infrastructure Management needs. HDIM brings to the table, the superior aspects of both heritage systems as well as newer technologies and proves to be effective on both fronts and drives innovation with minimal disruption.

Head, Automation Practice

Getting to Gold with ‘Accelerated Processes’

Transactions and Services 
It’s amazing that organizations make huge efforts to conduct many basic transactions – Purchasing, Order Management, HR, Payroll and Financials. On the other hand, it is the nuances in these very transactions that differentiate the organization. 
These are the CORE transactions- critical to the success of the business and priceless as a knowledge body. They are pure Gold. They are not just transactions – they are services offered to stakeholders.
Even after realising the value of transactions, the newfound wisdom just stayed in my head – except for the occasional coffee time gloating over the importance of transactions. But it stayed in a more profound way these services are a potential differentiator – though I could not put my finger on how to go about that differentiation. Partly because of the obvious challenges that come with targeted differentiation. Differentiation, if ‘slow’, does not create the intended impact. Many of these core services have been customized to suit business company business processes. There are many steps of the workflows, steps that wait on people to complete them. This creates bottlenecks and slows down the process.
Cut to -A few years ago, we at CMS IT took a conscious decision to make automation our key services differentiator in helping our customers achieve their digital transformation goals. Service differentiation is not just about managing the process but about adding value through it. Improved processes, while they do have the obvious and quick gains in terms of CSAT and improved sales- it also has a transformational impact concerning overall stakeholder confidence and building a culture of excellence. Our approach is to look at each of the processes as an SLA driven service and then go about streamlining the process, monitoring the SLA and putting in place a continuous improvement framework. These CORE processes of the organization have to be a part of any meaningful attempt at digital transformation. After all, in the hunt for Gold, we were not willing to settle for silver or bronze on behalf of our customers. How do we achieve these superior efficiencies? It’s important to identify superior technology and deliver it with domain-specific interventions. A good solution should be delivered by experts in the domain who can think through the current day challenges and future possibilities. Domain expertise is key – Gold is better off in the hands of a Goldsmith.

The Rediscovery

Questioning what we thought we knew 
In a typical ERP implementation, during the solution design phase, transactions are evaluated in detail. The upstream process, the downstream process and the multiple ways in which these processes can be executed. But it often leaves out one very critical aspect that is often the difference between a successful and unsuccessful implementation- the design of the workforce. To be fair, successful project managers spend a lot of time in training the workforce. Enter Robotic Process Automation (RPA). With RPA we can now target to transform the workforce along with the process. Here is a tool that can streamline like never before.
More importantly – the question is whether the core processes can take a quantum leap. Is the workforce designed to execute the process with zero errors? Is the workforce designed to generate data for streamlining of the process? And are we generating analytics on the efficacy of the processes and indeed the bottlenecks?
The new-age transaction framework must include RPA for all these reasons and more.
Building in Durability
Our core transactions no matter how well designed they are- are learning processes. In a pure people dependent process, the learning resides with individuals. Should we not move towards making the learnings off transactions available to all those who transact in the future?
Take the simple aspect of duplication in the supplier or customer lists. While traditional ERP’s offer tools to merge genuine duplications – it’s a known fact that these lists in several organizations are struggling with duplicate entries. Is there an opportunity to streamline the list of supply chain partners? Can we entrust the task of maintaining this list to an automated digital employee who is constantly on the lookout for any slip in the quality of data?
Looking at the future
The future is a step away from the past and yet everyone I speak to in the industry is aspiring for that quantum leap. They want the knowledge of past transactions and yet they want to do everything radically differently in the future. There is also the aspect of scalability. How do we make the transaction processing capability of the organization scalable and de-scalable? These are not questions that we ask of ourselves in a traditional ERP or enterprise solutions implementation. So why ask them now?
RPA Bots and Intelligent Bots
We all love our colleagues (well at least some of them 😊) and for someone like me who tends to play long innings in organizations – they are a part of everyday life. Many of them become friends and almost all of them leave a mark in life. The future of work involves some of those colleagues along with others who can do none of the water cooler conversations and lunchtime bickering that is expected of them. They are the RPA bots and intelligent bots.
In the future – especially in the core transactions will have both kinds of colleagues. They will also have human employees. The colleagues who have coffee with us are the ones who will make the decisions that require intelligence and judgement. While the other set cannot bicker at the coffee table (bots cannot feel emotions – at least not yet) – they are here to empower our human colleagues. Our digital colleagues make a mark by empowering the intellect of our human colleagues. Our digital friends will make work even more exciting by removing mundane repetitive tasks from our plate. What’s more, they deliver at stunning accuracy rates, give consistent deliverables, and provide scalability to the business by being able to work round the clock.
So what might a future digital workforce look like?
It is important to know what thought leaders are saying – the World Economic Forum paper on the future of jobs ( 2018) came up with these interesting predictions – its obvious to them as its obvious to us that the digital workforce while initially creating some redundancies ends up creating significant new types of roles over the medium term.In terms of numbers – we have been getting some very good insights out of our engagements. In the core transactions area – the 100% manual workforce could shift to 50% digital workforce. What’s more the overall effort in doing mundane repetitive tasks will also change.    
Thumb rule – a 10 member PO data entry team will be 3  human workers and 3 bots. So what will happen to the human-workers? My advice is that if you are one of the 10 human workers – your aspiration should be – not to remain as a part of the 3 remaining in that team, but to move to value-added allied functions which are enabled by the onset of digital. The PO entry staff should aspire for supply chain analyst or supplier development roles. Many of them could become champions of the digital approach. And how about building skills to manage a workforce of humans and bots working together?
The new digital approach is more about domain expertise than about technology. I’m walking the talk on this- our core RPA team at CMS IT is a techno-functional team whose primary skills are Finance, SCM, HR and payroll.
Mining Gold
Our core transactions – when delivered consistently and accurately make our organization predictable. They are in most cases the first point of interaction with our suppliers, customers and employees. Can we use a digital workforce to ring-fence transactions by gradually eliminating bottlenecks and urgently eliminating mistakes? Can we make our response and resolution time consistent and scalable thus improving our organization’s core? Transactional strength results in strong brand messages to all our stakeholders and separates the women from the girls. If you want to mine gold within your organization, I strongly recommend that the core processes are one of the key places to look for.

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Practice Head - Digital Services