From edge computing to artificial intelligence (AI), changes to our digital infrastructures are constant. Far from being in a back office server room, today’s operational infrastructures are everywhere — edge locations, in the cloud, collocated, and on-premise data centers, to name a few. Increasingly complex, these architectures make planning and disaster recovery beyond challenging and potentially untenable. But that’s only one area keeping chief information officers (CIOs) up at night. What are the top three challenges CIOs will face in their digital architectures this year?
Staffing shortages, infrastructure, and your business
When we discuss infrastructure challenges, the emphasis should be on equipment and processing, or perhaps security issues. But the reality is that we simply don’t have enough IT talent to maintain our sprawling architectures. The predictors indicate 30% of emerging IT skills roles will go unfilled through 2022.
In a scarce hiring environment, the entire infrastructure could be threatened, along with any new digital transformation initiatives. Although enterprises can move toward reskilling internal employees, the truth is, many of the skills required under digital transformation models simply can’t quickly or easily be taught in-house.
The lack of IT talent has become one of the top infrastructure challenges for companies this year. Companies can cope by seeking new consulting partnerships to fill gaps as they form staffing partnerships to provide additional HR bandwidth. The “as-a-service” model can help; IT talent will always gravitate toward the big names (and big money) from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and IBM. Enterprise IT leadership can leverage this talent vis-à-vis infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or other cloud models.
Another option is to take advantage of automation to redistribute workloads and tasks.
Robotic process automation’s impact on digital architecture
Enterprises must adapt their IT infrastructures for increased application agility, control, and performance. Robotic process automation (RPA) will increasingly change employee workloads and the infrastructures they manage in the coming years. RPA will heavily impact everything from troubleshooting and support tickets to infrastructure security efforts. In the coming years, look for RPA to have a massive impact on enterprise architectures in the following six areas:
- Data entry automation
- Integration of multiple platforms
- Elimination of repetitive manual data entries
- Quality control and process validation
- Business rule automation
- Network security monitoring
The challenge is that the science of RPA is in its infancy. Scaling RPA across IT architectures faces huge human and bureaucratic hurdles. Individual workers, including those in IT, worry that robots will usurp them. C-suite stakeholders are skeptical of the financial gains inherent in workflow automation, particularly given the wide range of competing IT innovations clamoring for their attention.
But we believe the switch from manual infrastructure management to more intuitive machine learning algorithms and RPA processes will redefine IT departments, freeing up human technical resources for more high-value work. It is perhaps inevitable, as enterprise organizations struggle to find technical talent, that we use these tools to improve human effectiveness. But make no mistake; RPA is not a side effect caused by another trend. This year, RPA will be a trend unto itself.
Disaster recovery planning with distributed architectures
The latest numbers illustrate the increasing complexity inherent in cloud architectures; 84% of CIOs have five different cloud providers. This is just one example of how IT architectures are becoming more diverse. Although a “not all my eggs in one basket” can be appealing to CIOs concerned about a single source of IT failure, today’s distributed architectures across file systems, virtual servers, applications, and devices, create their own set of challenges.
Distributed architectures can add increased scalability and reliability to enterprise IT. But from a security standpoint, there are more moving parts and, therefore, more risk. Distributed computing creates big challenges for disaster recovery because as the infrastructure diversifies, so does the data flow. Moving selected workloads closer to the end-user is desirable from a performance perspective, but planning for the protection and risk management of these systems will be nearly impossible.
Preparation for the future state of our digital infrastructure requires new partnerships focusing beyond the infrastructure and into the strategies behind our digital transformation. The Windsor Group Sourcing Advisory helps IT teams transition their response to fit the evolution of our technology resources. Start the conversation and mitigate your business risk.