Want to Stay Fit and Relevant in the Digital Age? Go Cloud Native.
Contemplating the year 2030, just a dozen or so years from now, can be head-spinning. “Realizing 2030: The Next Era of Human-Machine Partnership” makes for interesting reading on how rapidly evolving and converging technologies may impact individuals and organizations.
One striking image evoked by the paper is that of humans acting like “digital resource conductors.” In my mind’s eye I see each of us with our conductor’s baton, directing holograms of useful services in 3D virtual reality to “orchestrate, manage, and automate many day-to-day activities.”
I like this image because I prefer a future in which humans are the “actors” rather than the “acted upon.” And I believe that by thinking and acting wisely, we can do more than position ourselves for the future, we can help to create the kind of future we want.
Fit and Relevant in the Digital Age
Recently, a large customer in APJ complained that everybody understands the threats of digital transformation—intensifying competition, disruptive technology and business models, relentless, rapid change—what’s not understood is how to “stay fit and relevant in the digital age.”
As the Realizing 2030 paper reports, a Dell Digital Transformation Index study conducted with 4,000 senior decision makers from across the world found 45 percent concerned about becoming obsolete in 3-5 years. Nearly half said they don’t know what their industry will look like in just three years’ time, and 73 percent believe they need to be more ‘digital’ to succeed in the future.
“How to stay fit and relevant in the digital age” seems a very good way of putting the challenge these leaders were describing. The phrase came back to me later, when meeting with the applications development team at a large telecommunications company in APJ. The team was laser-focused on creating a differentiating “cloud native application environment of the future.” They were applying cloud native architecture and the 12-factor app methodology for modernizing applications—and adopting a micro services architecture leveraging Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Spring and other micro service technologies on AWS for agile new cloud native application development.
Reflecting later on how the telecom applications development team was moving ahead to create their digital future, it seemed to me that some very good advice for “staying fit and relevant in the digital age” would be to: “Go native.”
Traditionally, “go native” means to adopt the customs and way of life of the country or region where one happens to be. What I’m suggesting is that, in recognition of where we stand today, we “go digital native” and “go cloud native.”
No matter what industry you are in, the digital native generation (and their descendants) make up a rapidly growing proportion of your customers.
Which means that even those of us born too soon should work to understand and begin to think like the generation that grew up in the digital world.
One thing we know about digital natives is that they are already very comfortable ‘conducting’ their lives online. Indeed, within the next three years, it’s estimated that 50 percent of the products and services that all businesses sell will be digitally enhanced.
Another thing we know about digital natives is that they are very, very quick to change their brand loyalty and buying behavior. To win and retain digital natives, you need to deliver value, speed, convenience, and innovation—not just once, but frequently and consistently.
That’s why, my second piece of advice is to “go cloud native”—and as quickly as possible.
Without a cloud native application environment and agile development, you simply can’t innovate and deliver fast enough—and cost-effectively enough—to stay fit and relevant in today’s digital marketplace.
Simply put, digital innovation is the new value creation—and cloud is the way that value is delivered. For example, a leading luxury auto firm we work with here in EMEA no longer refers to themselves as an “auto manufacturer,” but as an “automotive technology company.” Other customers are similarly working to transform and re-position themselves in the marketplace as “digital technology companies.”
As Realizing 2030 puts it: “Increasing innovation in cloud-native apps and their propensity to be built and deployed in quick cadence to offer greater agility, resilience, and portability across clouds will drive further uptake. Start-ups are starting to use cloud-native approaches to disrupt traditional industries; and by 2030, cloud technologies will be embedded.”
For a beautiful example, take a look at how Chitale Dairy improves the economic well-being of dairy farmers in India with their ‘cow to cloud’ initiative!
I predict that within three years, 75 percent of IT spend will be driven by cloud native applications. To be able to deliver the world-class experience that digital customers demand will take the right cloud infrastructure capabilities, the right open native cloud software platform environment and the right agile and DevOps processes.
What steps are you taking to remain fit and relevant in the digital age?