The year 2020 will be remembered for many things, but when I look back on the past 12 months, I believe it should be known as "The Year of Tactical Execution."
In my role leading ASUG, I've heard so many stories of the proverbial duck sliding across the water – while underneath there was a flurry of desperation and frantic work being done to stay afloat at many organizations.
As we welcome the new year, some companies are still striving to turn their fortunes around; others are seeking to capitalize on gains they've made during the year that changed almost everything. You'd rather be in the latter camp, but from the conversations I've been having with CIOs and IT leaders, there are still way too many frenzied ducks on the pond.
There's no shame in the fact that tactical execution was the top (or a top) priority last year. And I believe IT leaders stepped up to the challenge – the numerous stories I heard of IT teams enabling remote and secure working environments for thousands of employees over a single weekend is extraordinary. Collectively, we did a fantastic job and should be very proud that it was our technology teams that kept 2020 glued together.
As a result of that technological heroism, however, transformative technology projects were put on the back burner where they've been simmering all year long. Which isn't a surprise. Short-term objectives had to get done. Businesses need to stay afloat.
But now we've got to get back to thinking big, strategizing for competitive advantage, and moving forward with opportunistic IT programs that transform our products, our relationships with our customers, and our organizations.
A buzzword with actual buzz
The list of 2021 buzzwords is just starting to proliferate, but there's one I keep coming back to – hybrid. That's because at the high-level it has many important applications – to cloud computing (public vs. private), IT landscapes and management (on-premise and the cloud), networking and workload provisioning, integration, architecture, and many more I'm probably missing.
I'd also like to add this to the mix - the combination of home and office work environments that is sure to be with us for years to come.
So what is your "hybrid" approach? Because I think you've got to nail down a strategy before you start anything else this year. And let's be real here - It's a long-term, intensive progression. It's not an overnight, easy fix.
ASUG's forthcoming data from our annual Pulse of the SAP Customer study highlighted the top priorities for this year. On this to-do list, I would argue, is some heavy lifting that all have critical hybrid components and considerations (in order from top priority to least):
- standardizing business processes
- analytics and data management
- transitioning from manual to digital processes
- supporting a remote workforce
Underpinning all of this must be forging a resolute transition to the cloud.
The good news is that ASUG is seeing organizations getting their enterprise cloud plans in order. According to a joint partner study we did with Syntax, a majority of respondents (55%) said that they had an enterprise cloud strategy in place.
Two verbatim responses from recent survey participants illustrate why companies are hot for hybrid. When asked why they opted for a hybrid cloud strategy, here were their responses from two separate studies we conducted: "We will need to keep some components on-premise to reduce the complexity and costly work of interfacing to the cloud architecture," which is from an ASUG-Nutanix study. And this second one from the ASUG-Syntax study: "Hybrid cloud is more agile, and it's strategic for our business."
We all know that there is not one single path for how companies will move their software and workloads to a cloud environment, how much will be hybrid, or how much will remain on-premise. Choice and knowledge are critical to charting every customer's cloud strategy, since IT environments will vary from customer to customer.
Hybrid can equal technological flexibility – that's what every CIO wants. You can also make the case that used in the wrong hands, it can introduce head-scratching complexity. But IT concepts don't get to elite buzzword status unless there's enough merit in the framework and opportunity to deliver better IT operations and business results.
So if hybrid is going to be the buzzword du jour, then is hybrid going to be your Achilles' heel or a battering ram to blast through technology inertia? With some upfront planning and critical conversations on where your organization wants to go, I believe it can be the latter – and the results will show.
For SAP customers, in particular, ASUG's 2021 events calendar is chock-full of virtual ways that you can get insight straight from the experts and your fellow customers. I'd also point to ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA Virtual Conference in March, which is going to be four weeks' worth of targeted and helpful information for those customers living in a hybrid world.