Rising Trends and Challenges in IT Services Landscape

By Karen Renner, SVP, CIO, CommScope

Karen Renner, SVP, CIO, CommScope

In recent times, the IT Services landscape has witnessed a massive surge of innovations and advancements. One of the more recent trends is the increasing demand for the interconnectivity of devices. Even though it is not a new phenomenon, interconnected devices are entering the workspace at a rapid pace – whether in our distribution centers, factories or from our employees. Employees require seamless integration for all their devices and to the applications and equipment that they work on every day, no matter their location, i.e., login in once on their laptop and be automatically logged into their mobile as well. The factory floor is also becoming more interconnected. Lots of machinery use process automation to collect tons of data. The data is then leveraged for more predictive insights into maintenance, quality, traceability, etc.  So, connectivity, speed and latency become critical to the quality and performance of how that data is captured and integrated with other systems. 

Another rising trend is robotic process automation and machine learning—they are going mainstream in the enterprise and their adoption is quickly ramping up. This technology enables our business to be more efficient and is offering a new career growth opportunity for our IT teams.

With all that connectivity, however, come security issues. Data related to customers, employees and partners need protection in a way that was not required before. So, from a device perspective, security needs to be part of the equation rather than something to revisit later. We continue to invest valuable resources in this area because the risks are becoming increasingly more complex. It's mission-critical to know who needs access to data, at what time, from which location, and using what device.

"An essential requirement of today’s CIOs is to keep their organizations relevant by being open and adaptive to change" 

One of the biggest challenges that hit a lot of individuals is the deployment of major enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. The implementation of such systems impacts almost everyone in the company. The change management required to pull it off is enormous. In some projects, CIOs may either have great success or wish they could redo it. However, it can be one of the most rewarding things for an enterprise to achieve.

For example, in CommScope, we implemented a new ERP for financials and indirect procurement for a large portion of our business. It was a true cloud solution replacing on-premise ERP functionality. We launched this platform in July 2019. The challenge was that it was a new technology for both the business and IT so we were all learning together to work new ways in the cloud environment. We leveraged Platform-as-a-Services(PaaS) infrastructure as well. Some of the process discipline we leveraged for success was a tight control on any customizations and avoided a “lift and shift” of our legacy, on premise environment.

With cloud solutions, we can leverage a lot of built-in best practices, and those are constantly updated. We get an update every quarter. So, now we are staying afresh with new features and functionalities that we can deliver with newfound speed.

An essential requirement of today’s CIOs is to keep their organizations relevant by being open and adaptive to change. For CIOs, technology is always changing. This is very exciting as there is always something new to anticipate; however, embedding the latest technologies to enterprises is always a challenge. It is always critical to be able to understand where the use of technology within the business is correct. CIOs have an excellent opportunity to become leading technologists of the company. They can also become champions of new and digital ways of working.

Organizations, whether they are large or small, need to understand how their specialties can be driven if they wish to streamline their business and stay relevant in the market. CIOs need to understand the overall landscape of business and the strategic direction of their organization. There are always critical process gaps or experience gaps that need to be addressed. Success depends on organizations trying to find the right levels of efficiency or driving a change across them. They also need to be flexible and ready for the next wave of technological advancement and innovations that will come eventually.

There is going to be a “big bang” with the advent of the 5th generation of mobile technology, also referred to as 5G. 4G technology was all about consumerization. It allowed people to use their mobile devices to do everything that is done on a laptop.5G is a lot about the connectivity and efficiency of an enterprise. We estimate that by next year, there will be 20 billion IoT connections. These connections, along with 5G, will become considerable game-changers in the industry. People will demand those connections to be always on along with the increase in upload and download speed. The ability to capture data and move around quickly is going to be critical for insights and analytics. Therefore, from a CIOs perspective, the future is fascinating and is brimming with new learning opportunities.

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