The Coming Digital Divide – Dell Technologies

We’ve spent years talking about digital transformation, but the events from the past year and a half have signaled it is now here. During a very challenging time, we found organizations and businesses dramatically change how they service customers and deliver value to their stakeholders. Digital transformation is no longer an aspirational target, but rather a modern-day reality.

Every organization has woken up to the fact that they are now a technology company. Now comes the messy part. With this shift, entire industries are being reshaped by those organizations who can successfully navigate this change.

As organizations advance their plans, they are facing an invisible barrier that threatens to undercut their visions of this future in the form of increasing demands on IT and an increasingly competitive labor market. This is a simple supply and demand economics problem we are facing.

Demand versus constrained supply

If you have undertaken a house remodel project in the last year, you probably found a similar challenge as building supplies shot up in cost and builders were booked out months in advance. But that phenomenon was a point in time, this new digital reality is here to stay. Let’s look at why this is occurring.

Every company is now a technology company

I like to tell people the easiest and cheapest lesson to learn is the one that happens to someone else, and businesses have really taken this to heart. We’ve seen digital disruptors reshape markets for years. Lessons from outdated business models like Blockbuster, retail and automotive sectors have all been examined and reported on ad nauseam. Success in market, ability to deliver on the mission, even a publicly traded company’s market cap is now intertwined with that company’s ability to achieve success with their digital strategy.

Every function is going digital

Once an organization goes digital, there is no going back. It becomes pervasive and extends through the entire entity. The value data holds is inescapable delivering incredible insights and powering applications, simplifying processes and pretty much satisfying whatever ROI metric you throw at it. We see legacy systems and processes fade away in favor of new, agile and more informed solutions put in place, and most importantly, we see transformational experiences and products begin to form. It is a self-propelled insatiable need to continue the digital journey. It’s basically inevitable.

The problem is people, and the need for many more

Another trend you may have noticed in the past year is multiple industries  struggling to find employees, which like home construction, will resolve itself in short order as the market corrects itself. When it comes to tech workers, we’re facing an uncertain future, that of the greatest labor gap in history. Imagine during the Industrial Revolution, the need to turn a farmer into a factory worker. While it required some training, the tasks being performed were relatively easy to train for versus creating storage admins, cybersecurity engineers, IT Ops folks, or developers. Much like aging a whiskey in a cask for 10 years, failure to anticipate an increase in demand for a skillset leads to a lag in supply for which there’s no easy fix and can linger for years.

Some markets, such as the automotive industry, hadn’t anticipated how widespread and pervasive the need to go digital would be. Autonomous vehicle development started over a decade ago, but it’s only recently that the full extent of what it will take to achieve has become apparent. A few years back, a large auto manufacturer met with Dell Technologies to scope out a zettabyte of processing and storage capacity for approximately 16k videos and telemetry data to enable their autonomous program. We estimated, based on currently known and modeled storage/admin ratios at the time, the project would require 100,000 storage admins to maintain it. There simply are not enough storage admins in the world to satisfy that requirement.

We are seeing this play out in every technology discipline as the amount of VMs, GBs, Packets etc. dramatically increases We must also consider the importance of scalability as companies rely more on technology to do business, the cost of downtime has become more dramatic. There is a staffing problem and it’s not possible to buy our way out of it. Help in the form of “adding enough hands” isn’t coming, we need to try something else.

Failure to address this shortfall

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a large retailer about their roadmap for Kubernetes. Their response was “does it say Facebook on the side of the building? We can’t even keep our admins for 18 months.” Such pragmatism and earnest consideration opened my eyes to the reality of the digital divide. It’s about people. It’s about having access to the right skillsets, and the ability to extend and scale skilled workers’ productivity that fit the needs of the business. This customer needed ways to simplify implementations, to reduce the burden on their IT staff, ways to establish policies and practices that continued moving them forward even if they experienced churn. Instead, they were faced with obstacles to digital transformation that exposed their organization to significant risk.

The path forward is automation

Dell Technologies sees autonomous operations as the way to solve this gap and enable all organizations to achieve their digital destinies. Autonomous Operations (AO) requires data (AI Ops) and the ability to act on it (Intelligent Infrastructure) can be used to augment technology workers’ capabilities as well as remove burdensome repeatable tasks. By making each employee more efficient and removing background activities that can be safely handled by machines, we can create opportunities where every company can succeed.

Dell Technologies is hosting an Autonomous Operations event on September 22 for the Americas and EMEA, and September 23 for APJ. This event will include a star-studded panel of experts that will explore AO and its impact on organizations. Be sure to register and secure your spot today.

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