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Transformation or Just an Incremental Improvement?

by Andrew Lerner  |  March 2, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

There are certain terms in networking that are widely over-used, we’ve all heard them: transformation, innovation, software-defined, dynamic, integrated, zero touch provisioning (if you have to physically install something, by definition, isn’t that touch?)… In many regards these terms mean nothing (but also everything at the same time). In fact, I have a half-written blog on that topic, but I digress… Thus, it was a pleasure coming across a research note from my colleague Ron Blair on broader IT strategies, stating:

I&O leaders find that the inconsistent usage of buzzwords like “transformation,” “optimization” and “modernization” across the organization is counterproductive to understanding how they can best contribute, let alone help identify what investments are required

This was part of a research report he recently published called Seven Deadly Sins of I&O Cost Optimization and Transformational Investment.

Side Note 1 – Ron may edge me out for boldest Gartner title of the year with that one, compared to How to Avoid the Biggest Ripoff in Networking (paywall).

Side Note 2 – Yes, I realize the irony that transformation is in the research title, but stay with me here… because, in fact, deadly sin #1 is the Transformational Trap:

One person’s idea of IT transformation is often unnoticed by the consumers of the service, or it’s looked upon merely as a nice-to-have equipment upgrade. What is considered transformational to I&O — or transformational in terms of the services that I&O provides to application teams and business units (BUs) — is not always transformational to the company. It is important to clearly define what is truly transformational, versus a different way to provide what is already provided today in merely a more efficient manner.

From an I&O perspective, “transformation” can mean a lot of things — One person’s transformation is another person’s incremental upgrade. This definitely extends into networking because 95% of the time we hear a network vendor say the word transformation, it simply isn’t transformational.

The research lists the 7 deadliest sins when creating I&O strategies and/or transformation plans, which include (in addition to transformation trap): Bad Strategy, Having Responsibility for IT Demand With No Chargeback Model, Business Case Blunders, Siloed Suboptimization, A Nonactionable Approach, and “Think” Versus “Know” Results. The research note also identifies actionable ways who to overcome these sins.

Seven Deadly Sins of I&O Cost Optimization and Transformational Investment (Paywall).

Summary: The proliferation of cloud, software-defined and on-premises I&O options makes investment decisions challenging. I&O leaders need to avoid “seven deadly sins” in order to capture efficiency gains and produce strategic, outcome-driven results.


Andrew & Ron

Category: culture  guest-blog  just-published  networking  strategy  

Tags: transformation  

Andrew Lerner
Research Vice President
4 years at Gartner
19 years IT Industry

Andrew Lerner is a Vice President in Gartner Research. He covers enterprise networking, including data center, campus and WAN with a focus on emerging technologies (SDN, SD-WAN, and Intent-based networking). Read Full Bio

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