“We have already acknowledged the reality that is digital transformation. It is not a fad or a buzzword. It is now an imperative for every organisation. It is not an end state within itself. It is not something that you wake up and find that you have realised it. It remains a moving target,” begins Wangui Njoroge Channel Manager, English-speaking Africa, Veritas Technologies LLC. She was speaking during CIO East Africa’s second East Africa SaccoTech Forum, and first-ever entirely virtual experience themed Accelerating Automation for Socio-Economic Development.
Digitalisation, it is now known, is not something anyone is ever close to achieving with the goalposts continually shifting. It will happen over time, and as the wind shifts, there is a need to adjust one’s sails. Multiple forces accelerate digital transformation. Based on research by Veritas, there are economic and market situations causing the forced acceleration of digital transformation.
It would be ignorant not to mention the biggest one affecting us globally – the pandemic. Businesses have had to fast forward their digital transformation plans. Stay at home measures implemented by governments across the world have raised telehealth services, for instance, with people gravitating towards apps. Communication has turned virtual with WFH (work from home) technologies. Closer to home, think of Safaricom. It would be interesting to see the uptake in their daily rates, especially in the last three months.
“There are many CFOs who have seen the financial benefits of working from home and are now critically considering having about 5 per cent of their workforce working remotely post COVID-19.”
“There are many CFOs who have seen the financial benefits of working from home and are now critically considering having about 5 per cent of their workforce working remotely post COVID-19. With banking, we see the rise of robotics as part of the customisation. The question to ask then is, what are the market forces accelerating your transformation? And in asking that, what are the risks digital transformation poses? Because they are there.”
Veritas listened to their customers and were able to glean the significant challenges customers are facing. IDC is predicting data growth by 2025 to be 175CB. That means more data to manage, to protect and to store. That responsibility will fall very heavily on enterprises and organisations, and specifically to the CIO. With the massive growth of data, comes massive insecurity as well.
The world is now recording one ransom attack every 11 seconds in 2020. These attacks are getting more sophisticated and more frequent. That is not news that we want to hear, but we need to listen to it to know how to plan for that. With all this data that is growing, how are CIOs going to regulate it from the recesses of the industry up to compliance from a SACCO perspective to international compliance with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)?
“The world is now recording one ransom attack every 11 seconds in 2020. These attacks are getting more sophisticated and more frequent. That is not news that we want to hear, but we need to listen to it to know how to plan for that.”
The concerns that make this issue difficult to address is the underlying complexity of IT. In the enterprise world, there are so many applications. Data flows from everywhere and is generated in very many different ways with new data sources are coming out every single day. The data sources that we have now are not the data sources that will exist even five years from now never mind a decade onwards. Data keeps increasing, and when in the middle of all this complexity, it seems completely overwhelming.
“I’ve talked to a number of CIOs about this. Just trying to make head or tail of the entire infrastructure is a very time-consuming job. The complexity acts as a sort of artificial gravity that holds the business down. It affects the digital transformation if all you are doing is fighting fires instead of working on what the business requires for the outcomes of the business itself. It is consuming budgets and other valuable resources that could have been located elsewhere. It is slowing down our pace as we try to thrive in this digital norm,” breaks down Wangui.
This makes addressing data growth that much harder. It makes you pay ransom for ransomware attack because you don’t have the confidence that you can get your data back, recover it, or get your systems back up and running. It also makes addressing forthcoming and new regulations that much more difficult. “In our research, we have realised CIOs don’t want to be asked what is keeping them up at night. They want to be told what will keep them up six months from now. They want a futuristic perspective.”
“In our research, we have realised CIOs don’t want to be asked what is keeping them up at night. They want to be told what will keep them up six months from now. They want a futuristic perspective.”
It would make sense eliminating the complexity. However, this is not the answer. Abstracting from that complexity is. Here is what that means. Consider your average smartphone. When you click on an app, you expect that the app will work and will be available to use. This is done very absentmindedly. Unlock screen, tap app. We know that is what is supposed to happen.
Clicking on the camera comes with the expectation that you will take a picture or a video. You expect that the data (image or video) will be protected. That no one will hack your phone. Or, if the device is compromised, that there will still be a way for you to recover that data. That it will not be lost forever. Your pictures are connected to the cloud. These are things we do not think about. Later, when you use the photo app, you expect to find your classified/organised data because you should be able to navigate and find your way around your data.
“How all this is happening in my phone, I honestly don’t care. What I care about is the outcome. More than the intricacies of how the outcome is achieved. That is the power of abstraction. The complexity did not go away. This also mimics the expectations we have of data centres and IT. Enterprises care about the availability, the protection and the insights of the application and their databases. So, remember transformation is a moving target. On that note, think, how can we help you?”
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