More democratization of advanced technology is inevitable

We're running out of excuses when it pertains to moving to advanced transformative technologies.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

If a sales or other line-of-business executive in your enterprise isn't talking about artificial intelligence these days, it's time to ask why -- and get them on board. We're running out of excuses when it pertains to moving to advanced transformative technologies. Solutions such as AI are now readily available, and businesses no longer need to make heavy investments to stay ahead in today's digital economy. Furthermore, it's getting impossible to do business without transformative digital technologies. It's only a matter of will, of education, and evangelizing of the new horizons these technologies open for the business. 

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Automation is getting us there. John Roese, global chief technology officer at Dell Technologies, states that transformative digital technologies are now a necessity, but there simply aren't enough people to keep an enterprise competitive in the 2020s. "It's a scale issue," he explained in a recent interview published by MIT Technology Review. "Without autonomous operations, it becomes impossible to keep up with the growing opportunity to become a more digital business using human effort alone."  

The choice is clear, he adds: to meet demands for greater IT capacity, "we could either try to hire exponentially more people, or we could do it in a different way, which is to divide up the work between people and machines in a more creative and effective way."  The good news, Roese continues, is "you don't have to be digitally forward in your capability set. You do not need a giant data science team. You do not need to develop your own software. You do not need to build your own infrastructure. You can consume it from any number of sources of supply that are actually delivering to you highly advanced and almost turnkey outcomes for many of the situations."

That applies to IT team sizes as well, he continues. "From an infrastructure perspective, a company today that has a small IT organization but is embracing autonomous operations can deliver a much bigger, more scalable infrastructure." In addition, today's IT teams "can extend more capabilities to the edge, can have a multi-cloud strategy, and can do it probably faster and better than a giant organization of experts two years ago."

Over the past two years, there's been a "progressive shift towards smarter systems, more autonomy, different consumption models," Roese says. This is paving the way toward technology democratization. "Several years ago, in order to execute a digital transformation successfully, you had to do most of the work. There were no turnkey products available. Companies were not necessarily set up to do it for you in a way that was easy to consume without tremendous amounts of expertise inside of your company.".

As a result, everyone is participating in technology decisions and implementation. For example, it's actually common to hear the head of sales talk about AI these days, he says. "If it isn't happening in your company, you probably ought to ask why. Because selling is a relationship between you and your customer, but there's a third party that can help you -- and that third party is data and artificial intelligence that can give you better insights and be more contextually aware and more responsive to your customer."

Roese adds that "it's fascinating to see how these technical terms like AI and machine learning and autonomous operations are now part of the business dialogue. I think most business leaders understand there's that third party in the relationship. It's not just them and their customer, it's the technology that they use that can ultimately change the economics and the performance of their part of the business, whether it be sales or services or engineering or IT."

Even just a couple of years ago, advanced technology such as AI was the province of companies with deep resources and talented in-house staffs. "They had to be able to capture the talent pool to really develop their own technology or to be really down in the weeds," Roese says. "It was a have-and-have-not scenario. Fast forward till today, clearly, we still need smart people. But now, companies with much smaller software development teams using low code applications and containerization and automation tools can develop really interesting software assets with a much smaller footprint."  

So, "instead of having to have a giant data science team to develop your entire tool chain, a much smaller data science team and analytics team can actually use the platforms and capabilities that exist out there," Roese explains. In addition, these platforms enable smaller teams "get almost better work done than what companies could do two years ago."  

With the democratization of advanced technology, successful digital adoption needs to be tied to a human-machine partnership. "The sheer scale of digital transformation tasks exceeds the human capacity of your IT organizations and the budget that you have to use just pure human effort," says Roese. "This inevitably leads you to looking for ways to shift the work into autonomous systems, into the infrastructure, into the technology so that that scarce resource of human capacity can still keep up with the high-level objectives,"

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