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CIOs face a dilemma: The Digital Revolution is transforming society and business. It is creating tremendous opportunities for and real threats to even the most powerful organisations.

For the CIO this means meeting the business demand for ever faster innovation, but on a platform that can deliver sustained rapid change while also driving down costs on current and legacy applications and environments.

Managing these two strands simultaneously is a challenge that Gartner refers to as “Bimodal IT". The analyst group argues that CIOs must focus on two separate but coherent modes of IT delivery: one that is focused on stability and another, which concentrates on agility.

Presenting the CIO’s tasks in such a binary way is useful in emphasising what has to be done. However, CIOs who are trying to drive the core technologies of the digital revolution – social, mobile, analytics and cloud –know they have to find pathways from their current technology base to the digital future.

Part of this process is the increased use of -as-a-Service. In the past SaaS has sometimes been the go-to option for line of business leaders because they have been able to buy an off-the shelf solution to meet an immediate business need, rather than go through the IT department, sometimes storing up problems for the organisation in the longer term. Now, however, savvy CIOs are increasingly looking not just at SaaS, but all aaS options for any applications and platforms that are not business differentiators.

Put bluntly, applications that may be vital for the efficient functioning of your organisation, but do not provide or contain you “Secret Sauce”, should be considered for moving to an as-a-service model, so too should the platforms they run on.

Microsoft Windows 10 can help CIOs meet the challenges they now face. It offers a familiar, consumer-style interface while also allowing your business to support the changing nature of work, with its emphasis on social, mobile and collaboration. It allows the CIO to take a familiar product and begin using it as a key platform for the digital era and it offers the opportunity to move an as-a-service model, if that is appropriate.

How Windows 10 helps

The challenge for the CIO is simply stated: You want your business to innovate, to use the cloud wherever possible, and for your IT team to spend less time supporting legacy systems and more time on supporting and enabling your digital agenda.

Windows 10 can be a crucial element of this evolution. It is part of the move towards the outsourcing of non-core elements of IT in an attempt to control costs. Windows is a proven, evergreen operating system and Windows 10 is an upgrade that promises new functionality while minimising disruption. New features are delivered through automatic updates, helping the platform to stay current and helping your users benefit from new features.

Effectively Windows-as-service, the new operating system has numerous advantages over its predecessor. New patches – which include vital security updates, as well as new functionality, are applied automatically. This allows internal customers can carry on working from any location without having to wait for technical updates.

This immediately makes Windows 10 a cost effective way to boost enterprise security. New identity management features in the operating system– Windows Hello and Windows Passport – help boost security further.

Hello allows business users to log into their Windows 10-powered device using facial, fingerprint or eye recognition. Passport, meanwhile, uses the biometric features of Hello to create two-factor authentication.

Hello and Passport can provide a significant boost to IT support staff productivity. Estimates suggest about 30 percent of help desk calls are for password-related issues. Biometric security and two-factor authentication can remove this cost. The enhanced security features also provide value to end-users. Workers can access applications securely, without having to worry about passwords and potential frustrations associated to resets.

Secure collaboration

For too long CIOs have been playing catch up with tech savvy individuals and line of business managers who have got quite used to sourcing their own mobile, collaborative and point solutions for day-to-day business requirements.

Windows 10 offers CIOs the chance to regain some control of this process by supporting the business and its new ways of working, but doing so in a secure and cost effective way over the long-term.

Microsoft is setting Windows 10 at the apex of the consumer-enabled digital transformation. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella recently outlined how his firm believes there will be three actors in the future of interaction: people who have a natural conversation with one another; personal digital assistants who know people; and bots, which serve as new applications that converse with people.

Gartner estimates people inside and outside the workplace will use a series of virtual assistants, rather than apps, to guide their lives and complete tasks by 2020. Windows 10 is built for that development and includes the intelligent personal assistant Cortana. The conversation-based technology can help users with key productivity tasks, such as managing calendar dates and accessing contacts.

The more an individual uses Cortana, the more personalised the experience. Cortana can make choices, such as booking a table for a business lunch or sending documents to a colleague without manual search. At its Build 2016 developer conference, Microsoft launched the Cortana Collection to highlight hundreds of Cortana-enabled apps that are already available to Windows 10 users through the Windows Store.

Microsoft also unveiled the Microsoft Bot Framework at Build. The Framework includes 22 APIs, all of which will be free to use. The set of tools allows anyone to create a bot that they and their customers can chat to, potentially replacing app interfaces. The Framework will also create chatbots that can integrate into a range of platforms, including Skype, Slack, Telegram, email and the web.

A platform for a challenging future

Windows 10 has been created as a platform for the future, as an enabler for business agility, agile development and managed change. By implementing Windows 10 as-a-service, CIOs can change their business technology funding model to suit this new world.

By shifting core, but non-differentiating, technology from CAPEX to OPEX, it frees resources for innovation and creates a much flatter funding cycle. Your business can pay a fixed monthly cost per user and increase or decrease operational expenditure as business demands change. The move creates predictability, both in terms of outgoing costs and updates to key applications.

The transition can though be a big jump for your CEO and CFO peers, who are used to a CAPEX funding model, and they may need to be persuaded of the utility of such a move.

The benefits are not just a matter of cost. The move to an OPEX model delivers constant lifecycle management of your technology and helps balance the business’ demands for cost control with your end-users’ requirements for innovation. Your business benefits from regular refreshes to applications, offers a more secure way of working and provides support for the consumer-like experiences that your internal users crave.

Conclusion: How can external partners help?

The Digital Revolution is creating new businesses, new business partnerships and new technologies. CIOs trying to lead digital transformation of their organisation need to understand which parts of their technology stack will be platforms for the future and which should be phased out. They need to understand what technology should be delivered in-house and what should be acquired as-a-service and delivered by a partner.

Windows 10 can play a crucial role in the digital transformation of your organisation and it is designed and built to be run as-a-service, where appropriate.

It represents much more than a routine PC operating system upgrade. It is a cost-effective platform for collaboration and innovation. Its deployment will help you create an IT transformation story and help you deliver the platform for the innovative the business demands.

An expert third party can help you understand the cost savings, stakeholder management issues and IT resources that will be needed as your business moves towards Windows-as-a-service.

It can help develop your business case to support to Windows 10 and a new form of value-led IT investment. Your partner can help you develop a proof of concept and show c-suite peers how an investment in Windows 10 delivers real business benefits.