Your digital business can't afford these common IT mistakes

By Rick Michaels

According to the American Enterprise Institute, 88 percent of 1955's Fortune 500 companies are now gone. If you find that frightening, consider that the pace of change has sped up dramatically since then. Dr. Peter Diamandis, CEO and founder of the non-profit XPRIZE Foundation, predicted humankind will make greater technological gains in the next 20 years than it has in the past 200.

Digital business remains a top priority in the battle for survival, as organizations seek the agility to rapidly rethink and reinvent business. This affects the entire organization — marketing, sales, operations and finance — and is led by the CIO.

As you build the integrated, agile foundation and culture to support digital business, don't let the following common mistakes derail your progress:

Choosing a cloud platform that limits your options

Business reinvention conjures thoughts of the cloud, and for good reason: It's home to the iterative development that fosters meaningful innovation. Yet the cloud landscape is fraught with avoidable limitations. Many cloud vendors strongly encourage (if not require) that your workloads move to their public clouds, but choice of cloud deployment is essential. Placing each workload in the optimal location — public cloud, private cloud or on-premise — can increase the value of IT investments.

Likewise, your organization's ability to outmaneuver competition depends on the strength of your cloud ecosystem. Look beyond the sheer number of APIs available. A thousand redundant APIs aren't very helpful — diversity is what matters.

Isolating cloud and on-premise systems

The core enterprise apps that run your business are likely on-premise. That's not changing soon, either — two years from now, 45 percent of workloads will continue to run on dedicated servers.

A hybrid infrastructure integrated across cloud and on-premise systems is more likely to provide the agility that enables digital business. Nine in 10 leading organizations agree hybrid cloud delivers a higher ROI than all-traditional or all-cloud environments do.

Ensure your cloud platform plays well with multivendor clouds and supports integration across public and private, dedicated and shared and on-premise deployments. Only a well-integrated infrastructure can truly be nimble.

Maintaining data silos

Every day, 2.5 quintillion new bytes of data are created. And with the IoT expected to generate 2 zettabytes per year by 2019, both the challenges and opportunities are growing quickly.

Deriving value from all this data is prohibitively difficult if it's trapped in silos. Unfortunately, it generally is. As a business grows, it deploys apps dedicated to specific functions without a recognized need to integrate the data with broader systems. The problem is compounded by acquisitions — with their own apps and databases — as well as SaaS apps with data locked into the vendor's cloud.

Plus, up to 90 percent of all that data is unstructured, necessitating new approaches to properly process that information. Getting on top of it all requires a partner with the expertise and solutions to integrate, secure and govern all types of data, from any source, across a hybrid environment.

Missing important data sources

In today's digital economy, where everyone and everything is connected, companies need to continually rethink their data sources. Insights into customer needs, habits, satisfaction and more lay hidden in social media, online reviews and even in the variety of customer service channels.

Employees, too, retain a great deal of expertise and insight that too often doesn't make it to the larger organization. With augmented intelligence and cognitive capabilities, you can help the broader workforce better access organizational knowledge.

Read more: Five Data Sources IT Leaders Overlook

Taking on too much

It's no secret that just about every IT department is challenged by limited talent. For example, in the US, IT unemployment is hovering at just 2.9 percent, according to Dice.

In light of this shortage, every great IT mind on your team is a valuable resource. Put them to work on projects that truly matter. Keeping the lights on is important but won't disrupt industries. Leave the day-to-day tasks to a managed services provider that can apply AI and automation to IT management while your team focuses on business transformation.

Going at it alone

These types of mistakes are common, but not inevitable. CIOs successful in building a digital business do so in close partnership with both lines of business and an experienced IT partner. With business and technology priorities aligned and the right experts at your side, you can avoid the pitfalls as you lead your digital business into the future.

With businesses transforming faster than ever, the stakes have never been higher. Make sure none of these IT mistakes are holding your company back.