Building an intelligent operating model for the future: The importance of looking ahead

Typically, the longer established an organisation is, the greater the number of legacy systems. Over time, those employees with knowledge of all those systems acquired over the years leave the business, and consequently legacy systems become less well understood. At the same time, they become more burdensome to maintain or need to be modified to meet new needs. With parts of your organisation reliant on those systems, risks increase over time. Now you’re faced with reverse engineering your systems to achieve IT modernisation.

Within a large organisation, you may need to work through 15 to 20 systems, and you’ll need to prioritise the most critical first. Instead of firefighting to maintain legacy systems, you now need to build an operating model that allows you to respond quickly to business needs.

 

The triggers that will inform your roadmap

The triggers to watch out for are often impending hardware refreshes, the renewal of data centre contracts or an upcoming renegotiation of your hosting. Having these events mapped out and clearly visible on the horizon, can help galvanise action and provide a road map for your digital transformation.

 

Accept constant change

Cloud offers almost limitless possibilities. You can set up a system from scratch, get it working and then decide it’s not successful and switch it off. With cloud, you can start small, and your revenue tracks your costs closely. There’s no need to go into analysis paralysis and go for best of breed for everything, just pick a cloud platform, get to know it, accept its’ limitations where they exist and the benefits of all the pre-integration of that platform will far outweigh any limitations.

The best way to illustrate how important it is to start creating your intelligent operational model can be shown with a few example customers. It is the transformational effect of greater flexibility that moving to the cloud can give that enables organisations to be agile, to capitalise on new market opportunities, to remove costs during a downturn and to be innovative, without the fear of failure.

 

Customer examples of cloud transformation

Heathrow airport had relied on an important on-premises system to communicate with their customers, the Flight Information hub. The hub was a key system for the organisation, but Heathrow wanted to move to a serverless model, shifting the responsibility for maintaining infrastructure away from their IT team. Redcentric rebuilt the system on Microsoft Azure, so that now all they needed to do was to send code to Azure, and that layer of infrastructure is now managed for them.

So how was this serverless model a winning strategy?

During the pandemic, Heathrow flights were no longer flying. This meant revenue dropped, but with their cloud migration, as usage decreased so did costs. As flights resumed, the system was seamlessly able to scale up with demand. That’s the intelligent model, using these levers so that rather than fixed costs from physical assets which don’t allow you to flex your resources up and down, you’re able to stay agile.

 

White Company use an e-commerce platform for online retail. With shoppers increasingly purchasing online, during peak trading periods at Xmas and on Cyber Monday, their on-premises server struggled to handle the huge peaks in traffic. To manage capacity and prevent the collapse of their online ordering system, the amount of traffic reaching the site was restricted, resulting in a loss of revenue. Their subsequent cloud migration meant that during the pandemic when they were forced to trade completely online, they were one of several companies who were able to grow their revenue and take advantage of more online activity, despite shutting down their high-street stores.

How did they do achieve revenue growth while managing costs?

As online demand increased, they were able to acquire new capacity and they were able to transition quickly, capitalising on the boom in online sales. With the lifting of restrictions and the pandemic impact on retail largely gone, the public returned to more shopping in store. This meant a reduction in online trading, and they were able to scale back cloud resources and reduce costs in line with the change in purchasing behaviours.

 

Channel 4 saw a huge growth in traffic during the pandemic, as people increased their online viewing. They were challenged with delivering 4 times as much video without increasing their costs.

How did they respond to increased demand?

The answer is because they had invested in flexible cloud resources. With cloud, it’s possible to scale up or down and to deliver technical efficiencies and leverage supplier relationships, to keep costs down.

 

Partner with a safe pair of hands

There’s a lot to consider when you’re starting your journey. You’ll need to think about which users need access to what; security and how you’re going to authenticate employees accessing your systems; auditing who has done what and where and when. Billing management can be complex and time-consuming. You’ll need to be able to find out what has happened when things go wrong, so reporting and exception handling are also items to be considered.

You’re well advised to seek out a partner who will take the time to understand your business and your objectives, and then help guide you on your journey. Look ahead for your compelling events – and start somewhere. Your intelligent operating model will bring many rewards you haven’t even thought about yet.

 


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