The digital revolution is disrupting established business models around the world. It is creating new markets and alliances and it is allowing organisations to go from start-up to mass scale operations within a few years.
Empowered customers and the technologies that underpin the digital revolution - mobile; cloud, analytics and social - create enormous opportunities and, inevitably, some challenges for business technology leaders.
We live in a world where Agile methodologies are essential to delivering rapid product launches and rapid time to value that business requires. This means new ways of working within the organisation but also new approaches to partnerships. For Enterprise IT, it means that old-style, monolithic IT procurement and partnership practices are no longer appropriate.
CIOs and business technology leaders are on the hunt for innovative technologies and innovative suppliers.
Enterprises need rapid, tech-driven innovation, particularly in their systems of engagement. But they also need efficiency and stability in their core systems of record and they need to control the ways the two sets of systems interact to ensure compliance and security.
These are not contradictory requirements, but satisfying the need for rapid innovation and ensuring the integrity of the core systems and data requires care.
CEOs and their CIOs, Chief Digital Officers and Chief Marketing Officers are almost invariably excited about the plethora of new technologies and new suppliers that have emerged. However, they sometimes struggle to work out how to engage with them or to see a quick enough path to value from the technologies on offer.
They admire the dynamism and enthusiasm of start-ups and want to bring some of that culture into both their development and operations teams. They also find attractive the way start-ups keep their internal IT and infrastructure costs down through the use of cloud services and the hiring expertise for self-contained, short-term requirements.
However, there are real questions about how far these approaches scale at the enterprise level.
Large enterprises and government departments have tried many ways to bring cutting edge technologies, Agile methodologies and a start-up mindset to their organisation.
Some have tried to promote lab programmes. Others have tried to speed innovation through hack days and incubators. These often point towards clever solutions. Too often though, rather than being the agents of digital transformation, they too end up producing front end apps or proof of concept products that don’t integrate or scale or which fail on security and compliance fundamentals.
With CIOs now facing the real hard work of digital transformation, a different approach can pay dividends. Organisations are moving beyond simply delivering front-end customer experience systems to the modernisation of their core operations and organisation.
The CIOs undertaking this work need to both modernise their core infrastructure that is running systems of record, such as ERP, and gain access to the latest applications and technologies, usually via cloud.
Inevitably this will require new approaches to sourcing and, more importantly, partnership with technology suppliers. Analyst group Gartner, for example, says 70% of CIOs intend to change their sourcing mix in the next 2 to 3 years to deliver the complex mix of on premises, hosted and pure cloud technologies that digital transformation requires.
It is a trend that HPE Enterprise Services has responded to. Greg Robins Vice President of HPE Enterprise Services Global Alliances, explains "The advance of digitization and service economy means that organizations are sourcing more granular solutions from cloud, customer experience experts and social media specialists. This modular approach to creating a digital infrastructure that is agile, scalable and can be adapted quickly to support a changing business landscape, can only be met by multi-lateral partnerships."
HPE Enterprise Services has continued to revamp its partner ecosystems to offer CIOs and CEOs both core enterprise operations services and a managed ecosystem of highly innovative partners, through a formalized alliance program, a key part of which is a templated process for assessing and onboarding new suppliers.
The combination promises enterprises simplicity, innovation and measurable results via rigorous technology supplier assessment, engagement, and governance criteria.
This is particularly important as technology purchasing decisions are increasingly being taken in business units, rather than via the IT organisation, argues Margaret Gardner Global Alliance Marketing Leader for HPE’s Enterprise Services organisation.
This templated approach is designed not only for CIOs and their vendor management teams but to help “steer inexperienced groups within the organization, who are looking to engage new partners, away from knee-jerk picks that do not carefully consider partnering best practices.”
In a world where CEOs, CIOs and line of business leaders are looking to buy services and reward outcomes, Robins, from HPE Enterprise Services says the traditional role of systems integrators has also transformed. Where once it involved gluing together a coherent infrastructure stack and tuning it to run a giant, monolithic, enterprise application, it must now be something much more fluid.
"Partner ecosystems provide an answer to modern businesses new patterns of consumption" he says, "Managing the interdependencies of an ecosystem calls for superb partner selection, engagement and a governance model with the ability to manage outcomes that fulfil business objectives".
This approach arises from the sheer speed of technical change in the core components of the digital revolution – mobile, social, analytics and cloud. And the challenges this poses are compounded by sometimes conflicting, and often immature, standards in key digital applications such as the Internet of Things.
All of this is underpinned by a difficult business environment. Enterprise technology organisations operate in a world of tight budgets, economic and political uncertainty and increasingly complex regulatory regimes which could be subject to rapid change, post- Brexit.
That’s why CEOs and their CIOs need help. Few can or should go it alone.
Partnership and alliances are at the heart of the digital revolution and that should be reflected by enterprise technology organisations and their leading suppliers. In today's fast moving, digital driven economy, who you partner with and how you leverage those partners can make a world of difference.
This article is bought to you in association with The Business Value Exchange