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Digital innovation has rarely been more important than it became in 2020, when COVID-19 moved much of the world virtual. In our previous two posts, we discussed what shapes digital innovation and how critical it is in underpinning the business. In this post, we'll discuss the building blocks for digital innovation. 

So, what are the key building blocks for optimal digital innovation? IDC identifies seven important dimensions that need to be well orchestrated to enable organizations to become first-line digital innovators:

  1. Engage the senior leadership in strategy development and program execution. The involvement of the senior leadership is critical. Getting your organization to push the envelope and become a leader in digital innovation requires determination and organizational adjustments. Today, one in three European organizations we've surveyed cites leadership involvement as critical in pushing digital innovation. Be mindful that their role and engagement can tremendously galvanize or slow down progress. 

  2. Spearhead with automation for a continuously lean business. Promote an automation-first attitude across the organization so that the automation strategy is ingrained in higher-level business strategy, and automation programs are run based on business mandates and business KPIs rather than based on IT metrics. That position can be achieved by industrializing automation with DevOps techniques, placing security at the core of any automation project while taking care that team agility is not damaged.

  3. Drive automation decisions with deep data. Business-led automation requires decision making to be data-driven. This allows for pervasive traceability and the measurement of automation activity and impact across the digital innovation value chain. Beyond having a clear view on how digital innovation forms and flows through the organization, permeating the value chain with analytics enables true data-leadership. For example, informed analysis provides views on realized and potential impact of past and planned programs and facilitates data-led decision making.

  4. Integrate with finesse. To orchestrate value across your entire organization (e.g., old and new IT, old and new business processes) and funnel that value into your digital innovation pipeline, you need to be able to easily connect data, application environments, technical and business teams. Optimizing architecture and driving down the cost of integration is one of the hardest things to achieve, so refine integration as a core dimension of your hybrid cloud strategy as early on as possible. This means fine-tuning connectivity between technology, people and processes.

  5. Put bots at work to smarten your cloud ops. Once there is a strong integration fabric layered across your hybrid architecture, optimization of the operations within your hybrid cloud operations is the natural next step. Machine learning-based use cases around monitoring, alerting and remediation are quickly maturing to help drive machine-based systems optimization. Experimenting with autonomous cloud systems and adding bots to your cloud management environment should help drive up the productivity of your cloud and hybrid IT admins, and in the process enforce additional governance and compliance into your operations. 

  6. Build portability across your digital innovation capability. Your cloud operations should be highly abstracted, irrespective of the infrastructure stacks that run beneath it. To achieve digital autonomy, it's important you work towards full cloud portability. Achieving, and then maintaining, workload portability lowers business disruption when moving across clouds and provides an additional layer of flexibility and agility to the organization. Your cloud-native strategy can be instrumental to drive the organization towards that portability vision.

  7. Put formal structure and clear planning into how you build your digital ecosystem. First, build a long term vision or plan that maps out how you distribute the products of your digital innovation programs into external communities. Second, understand how and at what cadence you are engaging with developer communities. Finally, understand how to help these communities absorb and infuse the digital value churned-out by your digital innovation engine. Building your digital ecosystem requires a culture of openness, where participation in open source communities becomes a core credo. Permeating your digital innovation delivery capability with open source is a key component of that strategy.

Digital innovation is one of the biggest battlegrounds in business and competitive strategy over the next 10 years. Perfecting these seven dimensions and ensuring they work seamlessly together can help place your organization in a solid position to compete in the market and helps shield it from potential business disruption.

Guest post sponsored by Red Hat

About the author

George Mironescu is a Senior Research Manager with more than 15 years of experience in the software and IT services industry. He leads IDC's cloud platform research across Europe, where he provides insights and advice around topics such as end-user investments, buying behavior and client attitudes, vendor market movements, portfolio positioning, product development strategies, and ecosystem affiliation.

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