Doubling Down on Digital Transformation
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since Nicholas Negropante wrote his landmark 1995 book, Being Digital, which predicted a wholescale transformation of business assets to the new, emerging digital playing fields made possible by the Internet. However, while Negropante was right about a lot of things, the pace of digital transformation has been much slower than anyone anticipated. In fact, according to the most recent Dell Technologies Transformation Index, just 5% of firms are currently regarded as ‘digital leaders’.
In the opening weeks of March, when people all over the world began sheltering at home and internet usage swelled by over 25% in major cities, many speculated that the internet would crash, setting off a cascade of events that would cripple businesses and economies all over the world. And while there were many bumps along the way ̶ companies like YouTube and Netflix throttled back streaming quality in Europe at one point – the internet largely performed as designed, leveraging its distributed nature and flexible, connected infrastructures and networks to keep the world working, learning, and living in the face of a deadly pathogen. Simply put, data brings us together.
For those of us in the data center industry, COVID-19 has been our finest hour, proving to businesses and institutions all over the world that having a powerful, flexible digital infrastructure is not just a good idea – but provides mission-critical connectivity.
However, Goldman Sachs is now predicting a 6% quarter-on-quarter drop in U.S. GDP in the first three months of 2020 and an unprecedented 24% decline for the second quarter, which is causing CEOs and BODs to put a major squeeze on CIO budgets for 2020, despite all that COVID-19 has taught us about the need for speed when it comes to digital transformation.
Staring at the road ahead for business, I offer three important arguments for evaluating digital transformation spends in the year ahead:
First and foremost, if you have not already, embrace a cloud strategy and make it a key part of your 2020 IT spend. Behind the COVID-19 digital success story lies the ability for businesses, governments, schools, and health care systems to move, share, and access data and technologies from anywhere, seamlessly, and in real-time. Indeed, for those of us in the data center business, COVID-19 poured gasoline on the fires of digital transformation that we lit in the cloud over a generation ago.
Second, this isn’t the time to think conservatively – because, in the wake of COVID-19, you can rest assured that every single one of your competitors just learned the same digital lessons as you. So, invest in your digital transformation right now, or get left behind. Smart companies always find the money. After all, your employees won’t be going to technology conferences any time soon, and corporate T&E budgets are all but erased. So why not pour that money into your future?
Third, increasingly, businesses in Europe, the United States and all over the world are looking beyond the bottom line to the broader societal issues connecting all of us. One surprising benefit to COVID-19 has been reduction of pollution levels all over the word as manufacturing businesses, power plants and other carbon-generating businesses ground to a halt. In fact, according to the Journal Nature Climate Change, CO2 levels worldwide plunged over 17% in April, returning the world to 2006 pollution levels.
Though datacenters consume require large amounts of power, water and other resources, the recent clearing of the skies in India, China and Los Angeles show that a reduction in carbon footprints will make an extraordinary impact for everyone, and is worth fighting for at CyrusOne, and throughout the industry.
Mark me an optimist, but I truly believe that we’re entering the Golden Age of the datacenter industry, an era where companies, institutions and consumers all over the world understand that we’re the life’s blood of today’s digital economy, connecting people and businesses in ways never before thought possible and catalyzing the digital future.