How To Transform An IT Architecture

When you are going to migrate to a new system, key questions have to be asked
When you are going to migrate to a new system, key questions have to be asked
Image Credit: Jamie

The reason that an IT department exists within a company is to provide the company with a way to use the importance of information technology to provide the company with a competitive advantage. The IT department provides the company with the ability to process all of the data that is collected while at the same time providing the company’s customers with a seamless experience. In today’s modern times, IT departments are using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing to accomplish all of this. However, companies are struggling to adapt to these new ways of doing business. Just exactly how does one go about transforming an IT architecture?

Challenges In Transformation

So what is it that makes transforming an IT infrastructure from where we are to this shiny new future that is filled with A.I, machine learning, and clouds so difficult? People with the CIO job all agree that the number one thing that is holding us back is inertia. We are all faced with the question of just exactly how we can get from where we currently are to where we would like to be. The reason that this is such a sticky question is because we can’t just devote all of our time to the transformation. Instead, we have an obligation to “keep the lights on” while the transformation from here to there is underway.

When the person in the CIO position starts to consider performing a wholesale IT transformation, there are some key questions that they are going to have to take the time to ask. The first of these questions is whether or not the new architecture is going to be flexible enough. Once you’ve made the switch, are you going to find yourself ending up with a rigid architecture? Or will you find yourself with an architecture that will be able to to grow and change with the business? Next you’ll have to determine just how secure the new architecture is going to be. Will you have addressed the issues that your current architecture has presented you with? The company’s IT needs will never stop growing. This is why you have to take a look at the new architecture and determine if it is going to be able to meet your future scalability needs. Finally, you’ll need to ask yourself if the expense of migrating to a new IT architecture will be worth it.

As a CIO takes a look at their options when it comes to transforming an IT architecture, cost will always play an important role. Costs will come into play not just when you are determining how you will purchase both hardware and software, but also when you take a look at how a IT architecture change will impact the people out in the field. The data that you have stored on your current systems will need to be migrated to the new architecture and that is going to impact all of the people who are currently using that data. As with all transformations, there will be risks and the CIO needs to be aware of what they are. The new architecture will have to provide users with the agility of using the cloud; however, at the same time there will be a need for data and applications that the end users have direct control over. During the time that you are making a transition from an old architecture to a new one, you’ll still have to deliver services to your customers.

How To Do A Transformation Correctly

How a CIO is going to want to go about staffing the IT department once the new architecture has been implemented is a key question. CIOs need to understand that no matter how much automation has been put in place, they are going to need people who understand their systems. They are going to need to have people who understand how the company’s systems operate and what to do in the event that something goes haywire. The big providers of IT staffing can help a CIO, but they can’t do it all. As the CIO, you should have a between 12-24 month target to determine what you want your staffing to look like. You’ll want to determine how much of your operations you’ll want to turn over to the managed services companies.

CIOs need to understand that IT architectures don’t stand still. Instead, they get updated and upgraded on a constant basis. The use of the cloud as a part of the architecture makes this much easier to do. The challenge with all of this is that the systems integrators don’t generally understand this since they don’t have the same hardware and software. As we move forward, a great number of the tasks and services that the systems integrators have provided for our current IT architectures will become automated in our next IT architecture. Both the arrival of automation and the cloud will allow IT systems to become more intelligent and allow them to heal themselves.

Moving to a modern IT architecture is not an easy thing for a CIO to do. Although they may not want to do it, they do need to do it. Somebody has to sit down with them and explain to them why it needs to be done and why it is in the best interest of not only the CIO, but also the company. In the world of IT, we are transitioning from an “always on” model to a “spin up” and “spin down” model based on end user needs. CIOs understand that they are looking at a future that is filled with a great deal of change. Their new architecture needs to be able to support what the company needs for next few months as well as for the next few years.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs are being confronted with a host of new IT technologies. Ranging from artificial intelligence to machine learning to cloud computing, change is all around us. What many CIOs are discovering is that their IT architecture is not up to the task of supporting these new technologies. What this means is that they will need to change their IT architecture. In order to do this successfully, they are going to have to make sure that they ask the right questions.

CIOs are being held back from transforming their IT architectures by inertia. They have to keep doing their daily tasks even as the transformation is underway. Questions have to be asked about the new architecture. One of the most important is if it is going to flexible enough to deal with the company’s future needs. Additionally costs will have to be considered. Hardware and software costs along with costs to the rest of the company as they have to put up with the transformation as it happens. Once the transformation has occurred, CIOs will need to determine how they want to go about staffing their IT department. Nothing stands still and the new IT architecture will be something that will need to be upgraded and changed over time. Ultimately, the company’s new IT architecture needs to support it both today and tomorrow.

CIOs who are considering an IT architecture change need to make sure that they are good at reading the future. The architecture that they put into place will need to meet the company’s needs in both the short term and the long term. Taking the time to ask the right questions is a great way to make sure that you’ll create the right solution. Make good architecture decisions and the company will benefit from them for a long time.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How can a CIO ensure that their new IT architecture will be able to support the company in the long term?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When a member of your department does a good job, all of a sudden you find yourself in a difficult position. You’d like to show this individual that they did a good job and that you appreciate it. However, the big question is often how best to go about doing this. There are a number of different things that you can do: you can hand out awards, give them an office that has a coveted window, or increase their scope of responsibility. However, what a lot of CIOs don’t realize is that by doing these things, they are actually causing a great deal of damage.