New NTT research says the future will go to the "Bold and the Brave"

via Flickr ©  muffinn (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © muffinn (CC BY 2.0)

  •  Pandemic having a galvanising effect on telecoms and IT innovation
  • Opportunities exist but technology strategies must be aligned to business needs and goals 
  • Digital transformation is accelerating but only 20.6 per cent of efforts are yet optimised


Throughout history recurrent existential crises have concentrated minds and fostered remarkable scientific and technological change over very short periods of time as societies adapted to new realities. For example, the telecoms and IT sectors have responded incredibly well to the sudden and unforeseen need to provide robust solutions to the massively increased global demands for enhanced communications facilities since Covid-19 struck a year and more ago now.

Transformation was already a rising trend before Covid-19 but the disease served to further hone concentration as the requirements for increased agility, greater efficiencies and strengthened resilience have become the order of the days of the pandemic. However, despite all the immense effort that has been expended on accelerated metamorphoses, a new report from NTT, the Japanese global comms technologies services provider, reveals only 20.6 per cent of of digital transformation efforts have yet been optimised.

NTT's 2021 Global Managed Services Reports finds, on the upside, that 89.7 per cent of businesses in the Asia Pacific region agree that Covid-19 has wrought abrupt and massive changes to operating processes and 91.8 per cent say it has speeded the definition of digital transformation strategies. The reality of the pandemic and its medium- to long-term ramifications for the entire world has presented companies, enterprises and organisations with an unlooked-for "opportunity" to re-visit their technology strategies and how they align to greater business needs. The NTT report reveals that 92.4 per cent of IT teams across the world now agree that their overall technology strategy is either fully (49.8 per cent) or partially (42.6 per cent) aligned to the organisation’s business strategy requirements as such teams have become more responsive to organisational demands. Simultaneously, in telecoms terms, it has pushed business stakeholders towards fast-track services and solutions of type already prevalent in IT, such as enabling a distributed workforce, to a far wider audience.

However, despite this enhanced strategic alignment, priorities between a business and IT remain problematical and disconnects are common. For example, globally, 69.9 per cent of operations teams believe a coherent and fully defined technology strategy is vital to driving greater business efficiency. Meanwhile, just 48.0 per cent of IT teams agree with that analysis. What's more, while 69.6 per cent of operations teams globally cite speed and agility as a key component of technology strategy, only 53.4 per cent of IT team subscribe to that view. There is an evident and potentially highly problematical disjoint here that could have serious ramifications.

Commenting on the report, Damian Skendrovic, executive vice president at NTT said, "The unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 has impressed upon businesses has forced the issue of business and IT alignment into the limelight. And there is still work to do to ensure core organisational priorities are understood by all. IT is under immense pressure to deliver against present requirements, while concurrently planning for future delivery and innovation. With technology and agility front and centre of the business conversation, alignment of priorities is no longer optional, it is critical for the sustainability and resilience of the business."

Not all organisations regard pandemic-induced change as a positive

The new NTT research highlights significant differences in approach between organisations and enterprises with some seeing the cost optimisation as a route to the creation of greater resilience, while others are concentrating on being "bold and brave" as NTT puts it, co-opting the title of an obscure and little regarded 1956 Hollywood war movie starring the diminutive but feisty Mickey Rooney.

The report says the "bold and the brave" regard Covid-19 as a chance to grasp newly revealed market opportunities and to scale accordingly. Some 33.8 per cent of the companies cited in the NTT  research are "pivoting technology focus" as a result. That figure rises to 41.7 per cent in organisations with 75 per cent and more of their IT systems and resources managed by third parties. For those organisations with little to none of their IT managed by third parties, the perceived need to pivot technology focus falls markedly to just 25.7 per cent.

Damian Skendrovic observes, "While not all organisations view disruption as an opportunity, one-third have adjusted course because they see a chance to do things better and take advantage; particularly in relation to enabling a more distributed workforce and innovative technologies. Bold and brave businesses are approaching resilience in a new and innovative light, and trusted technology partners are helping them achieve this."

Elsewhere the research shows that adopting key strategies such as embracing emerging technologies, acquiring the ability to automate and to deploying innovation as quickly as possible are pre-requisites for future business success.  In the Asia Pacific, 93.9 per cent of business and IT leaders agree that emerging technology is crucial to their strategies. 

As Skendrovic says, "Rapid change has been forced onto IT teams. While business stakeholders expect to exercise a degree of agility in execution - IT is saddled with managing their own challenges. From managing vendor complexity, which further extends to integrating disparate systems, along with emerging technologies and legacy infrastructure; through to budget constraints and a lack of skills to keep pace with business demands."

Speed to market is now a primary competitive differentiator and more important than ever whilst ensuring and optimising digital transformation vital. According to NTT,  "bold and brave"organisations are twice as likely maximise the benefits of digital transformation efforts and to partner with managed services providers for over half of their IT support.

Furthermore, a marked reduction in the pressure being felt by IT teams can be achieved by adopting a "DevOps culture" while platform automation allows a focus on innovation, cost-optimisation and  continuous improvement across a business.

The overall message of the NTT report message is that while not every business or organisation presently regards the changes resultant on the effects of the global pandemic as a positive thing given current difficulties, many others regard the sudden enforcement of new norms as an opportunity to accelerate transformation and maximise innovation agility and scale.

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