Five Imperatives for Digital Business
Mobile-cloud technology is driving fundamental change across every vertical industry you can name, redefining how companies compete, and how they engage with their customers.
In his keynote that closed the VMworld 2015 General Session, CEO Pat Gelsinger shared a VMware perspective on five imperatives for digital business. He framed these imperatives as strategic “must-do’s” for business and IT leaders looking to stay ahead in a time of unpredictable and relentless change.
1. Asymmetry in Business
Gelsinger began by proclaiming that this is the best time in history to be an upstart company challenging the status quo. Thanks to pervasive mobile-cloud technology, nimble innovators now have fast, easy access to a global network of “shared” online resources, including talent, capital, and a marketplace of 3 billion people connected worldwide. Gelsinger explained that in today’s asymmetrical business world, upstarts have nothing to lose as they aggressively embrace new business models that change the rules of the game. Large, established businesses must recognize that the benefits of incumbency are declining. The pressure is on to innovate like a start-up and deliver like an enterprise. As Gelsinger described it, “Elephants must learn to dance.”
2. Now Entering: The Professional Era of Cloud
Gelsinger noted that while the Cloud is a key driver of today’s asymmetrical business world, the Cloud market itself is also changing rapidly. In his view, the Cloud that the industry has constructed to date looks a lot like a half-built bridge: picture two siloed towers that remain largely disconnected and disjointed. On one side you have the on-premises private-cloud tower, where governance is strong but app delivery is simply too slow. On the other side is the off-premises public-cloud tower, where app delivery is fast, but governance is weak. Gelsinger believes we must now move to a more connected and compatible “Professional Era of Cloud”, in which businesses launch applications to the “span” instead of a silo. This unified hybrid cloud represents the future of IT, providing the foundation for years to come.
3. The Security Challenge: Protecting People, Apps and Data
There’s an amazing array of security innovation happening today, yet breaches continue to occur at an alarming rate. So what’s missing, Gelsinger asked? Answer: A common, ubiquitous architecture that allows IT teams to align security controls to protect what they care about most: people, apps, and data. In short, what’s been lacking is security that is truly “architected in.” Enter the virtualization layer, which Gelsinger believes is changing the nature of cyber security forever. For the first time, virtualization provides a critical translation layer between the IT infrastructure sitting below and the apps and data that reside above. Leveraging virtualization as a foundational architecture, Gelsinger proclaimed that a renaissance in security has begun, and he urged IT leaders to seize the moment.
4. The Next Wave of IT Innovation: Proactive Technology
For his fourth imperative, Gelsinger widened the aperture to examine the next wave of IT innovation. He observed that despite all the amazing innovations at our fingertips today, the fact is that all of our current technology is fundamentally “reactive”, meaning it’s waiting for us to tell it what to do. Gelsinger explained that we are on the cusp of a new “proactive” model of technology, where software is smart enough to act on our behalf, handling everything from mundane everyday tasks to life-saving medical procedures executed by microscopic “milli-robots” traveling through a person’s bloodstream. Gelsinger observed that this proactive future will be built on intelligent automation, giving us the ability to predict (almost) anything.
5. Tech-driven Change Reshapes the S&P 500
Gelsinger concluded by sharing a perspective on the impact that all of this tech-driven change will have on businesses around the world. He cited data projecting that within the next decade, 40 percent of the S&P 500 will be no more. In other words, 4 out of 10 of today’s industry-leading businesses will be merged, changed, or extinct by 2025. Gelsinger noted that the ground shift within the tech sector will be even more profound. He predicted that half of the firms on today’s Tech 100 list will be gone within 10 years. Gelsinger’s final imperative focused on the need for businesses large and small to break out in order to stay relevant. He declared that inaction is the greatest risk today. He then issued a call to action for the 23,000 people in the audience at VMworld, describing them as the smartest tech people in their respective companies. As IT drives transformation, he said, they have an opportunity to be the entrepreneurs and innovators at the forefront of change. VMware’s commitment, he said, is to be their best partner for navigating this future.