Business of colocation.

Second part of the Gartner round up by Christoffer Hillbom explores the structure of our industry and how we do business.

Continuing my thoughts and views stimulated by my attendance at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2019, I wanted to spend some time exploring what the event revealed about the structure of our industry and how we do business.

Even though the phrase “data center” was mentioned many times during the week-long event it is apparent that the data center is far from being on any CIOs top agenda! I hope it’s because they’ve delegated the responsibility to a competent team or middle management responsible for infrastructure. But I fear the worst-case scenario; that the data center is just a cost line item and not seen as the actual center of the digital transformation enterprises and society are undergoing. To give one example; during one very well-attended session the presenter asked everyone who had been into a data center to raise their hand. I estimate that only 10% of the CIOs and IT leaders present signaled that they’d actually visited a data center in real life!

If we as an industry truly believe that the data center has a vital role to play in making this transformation in a sustainable manner, there’s a gap to bridge. We need to work harder to ensure CIOs and high-level IT-leaders are made aware of the opportunities that deploying data centers in the right region and utilizing the latest technology captures.

As of now, I’m afraid there are two separated silos; one containing the CIOs attending Gartner Symposium IT/Xpo and discussing future IT-platforms and services but giving less thought to the data center that will power these future IT-platforms. The other  consisting of the data center industry leaders attending, for example, DCD in London. Hopefully, there are more connections between the silos than I saw in Barcelona.

Business Process Innovation
Gartner Analyst Cladio Da Rold’s presentation on Sourcing Strategy to execute digital platforms was one of the most thought-provoking. He suggested that we should stop using time consuming inefficient RFP-processes when sourcing infrastructure managed services. The ever-increasing pace of change is creating many unknowns and uncertainties. Ultimately, you do not know what your IT-platform will look like in three to five years from now, so trying to guesstimate requirements in a traditional RFP-process is bound to fail. The clear conclusion is that for digital transformation the traditional RFP-process just doesn’t cut it. Instead, you should focus on buying solid industrial performances, proven track record and great customer satisfaction rather than service promises.

The RFP-process could be replaced by agile workshop engagements with the shortlisted vendors. The workshops defining the need and contractual aspects around become the first foundation of creating a partnership with the vendor that can support you on your transformation journey. Replacing the traditional RFP-process with a more agile sourcing process can reduce the procurement time to as low as four months.

This approach places a great deal of responsibility on the vendors in terms of being prepared to participate in such collaborative workshops and having empowered teams ready to engage with the customer at a higher pace. But in return, the lead time from first engagement to signed contract is reduced.

The good news is that I feel confident that DigiPlex’s decentralized and team-based organization is well positioned for such engagements, and our excellent track record and strong customer satisfaction should grant us a spot on the shortlist every time

Finally, the process implies a shift towards a buying pattern more redolent of consumer markets i.e. more of the buying decision is made pre-engagement with the vendor making brand reputation and visibility in the market as important as ever.

Gartner events bring together the crème-de-la-crème of the IT industry, and I was pleased to be part of these intensive, future-focused discussions. It is clear to me that not only are there challenges ahead, but huge opportunity. The key to overcoming the former and making the most of the latter is to remain engaged with the big issues outlined, and to work collaboratively to deliver solutions. I believe that at DigiPlex we are well-placed to do this, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and customers to deliver on the promise of colocation.

Article by Head of Sales Operations – Christoffer Hillbom