From Cost Centre to Engine for Growth – IT Gets Strategic

Customers understand that they need to continue to drive better productivity through the use of information technology and I am seeing it every day with customers across Europe, Middle East and Africa. It seems that the tide is beginning to turn, albeit slowly, and businesses are once again looking out for new information technology that will give them competitive advantage and drive down their overall costs. So what has brought about this change?

IT has undergone a fundamental shift over the past few years, mostly driven by the advent of two hugely disruptive technologies: cloud computing and big data analytics. These technologies have catapulted IT to the top of the corporate agenda. Businesses are waking up to the fact that if they want to transform their business operations and drive growth, they will need to invest in cloud and big data analytics.

IDC’s Enterprise Cloud Computing study, conducted earlier this year, revealed that on average 34% of current IT budgets are allocated to cloud computing technologies, and one in four respondents stated they believe cloud will play a critical role in shaping business strategy. This is clear evidence that businesses are now looking beyond cost savings and towards targeted growth. The same can be said for big data: open source analyst firm Wikibon has predicted that the big data market will grow from around $5 billion today to $50 billion by 2017 – that’s a CAGR of an astonishing 58%. Many organisations are beginning to see the huge potential of big data analysis and clearly want a part of it.

What makes these technologies so sought after by organisations is that they have the potential to drive real change. Cloud and big data analytics are transformational. They transform the business, the IT function and even the roles of employees, making organisations leaner and more geared towards generating new revenue streams while maximising existing ones.

Cloud provides the lean aspect of this. Larger organisations, for example, can operate their own IT as a service model and will be able to monitor IT costs and usage better than ever before. This will deliver far better planning and business alignment. In addition, through cloud, many organisations will no longer have to invest in costly infrastructures and underutilised network capacity. All the systems, applications and network resources they need can be delivered as a service and often on a subscription model. This means organisations only pay for what they need and can rapidly scale their business to accommodate growth.

This is a level of dynamism and agility we simply have not seen before, and it also frees up cash that the business can then invest in developing new services and breaking into new markets. It is due to this that The Centre for Economics and Business Research has predicted that cloud computing could add €177.3 billion per year to Europe’s major economies by 2015.

Big data analytics, meanwhile, provides businesses with the information they need to effectively create and market customer propositions. Drawing on a wide array of information from disparate databases, social media output, open data sources and many more, businesses can now gain key insights into customer behaviour and demand that can make all the difference to business success. If cloud provides organisations with more flexible, cost effective and scalable ways of working, big data delivers a platform on which entire business models and service innovations can be launched.

There has, therefore, never been a more exciting time. For a company such as EMC, which has been in business for over thirty years, it is truly rewarding to see IT infrastructure take such a prominent position in the business world. Technology innovation has seen IT rise above its roots as a simple tool for realising business practices, to a growth engine that is helping businesses not just weather the recession, but thrive in it.

About the Author: Adrian McDonald

Adrian McDonald is the EMEA President of Dell EMC. Adrian is responsible for the company’s overall revenue generation, management and business strategy in the region. As part of Dell Technologies, Adrian helps businesses understand and implement their own digital transformation, critically from a commercial as well as a technology perspective. In his role, Adrian has daily interactions with senior business leaders across EMEA and sees digital transformation as a top priority in helping companies win in the digital age. Adrian’s unique insight has led him to identify an evolution happening within the role of the CEO. This focuses on the CEO’s understanding and awareness of technology’s influence to ensure their business stays relevant and competitive in the fourth industrial revolution. This new type of CEO Adrian calls the ‘Connected CEO’ who strives for profit and revenue growth but now with technology and digital channels at the heart of this growth. Based at DELL EMC’s headquarters in London, Adrian has held the role of EMEA president since 2012. Whilst leading the business, Adrian has brought a relentless focus on innovation, notably with the introduction of a successful services and solutions-led agenda which continues to underpin the company’s drive for market-share capture. Since joining EMC in 1988, Adrian has held a variety of US-based, international and global positions at EMC including Senior Vice-President & General Manager for EMC’s business in the UK and then overseeing EMC’s EMEA-North region before becoming EMEA president in 2012. Adrian holds a BA Honours degree in History and Politics from Warwick University and is an alumni of Columbia Business School. He continues to be strong long-term supporter of the Princes Trust, sits on the EMEA Women in Action board and chairs the global MOSAIC board which advocates and promotes equality for minorities and cultural diversity.