Taking the Journey to Adaptive Tech 

"Do you want to be excellent, or do you want to be comfortable?" 

- words spoken by British Paralympic medallist Stef Reid at this year's IT Strategy Briefing. 

Stef Reid British Paralympian at ITSB18-3Stef Reid, British Paralympian and ITSB18 keynote speaker 

The road to digital transformation can be challenging for businesses as they learn to adapt to new systems, platforms, software and ecosystems. But for those willing to embark on the journey, the results are revolutionary for growth and success.

For the second year, our IT Strategy Briefing centred on an Adaptive Technology model (ATM) – a  blueprint for the modern workplace. The event was at the home of motor racing; the McLaren Thought Leadership Centre.

Following the model’s launch in 2017, this year’s event focussed on putting the theory into practice. We heard how tech giants - such as Microsoft and ServiceNow – are using it to transform their businesses and from clients who shared their stories of 'ATM in action'.

Reid - keynote speaker for the event - captivated the 100+ strong audience with her deeply personal story and shone on stage.     

Adaptation – what does it mean for YOUR business? 

A recurring theme of the day was adaptability; the attitudes and habits fundamental to success.

Reid drew parallels with how her “adaptive mindset” in competitive sport applies in the workplace. She pointed to IT Lab as an example of a company adapting to change, and highlighted our relationship with the British Paralympic Association. 

“IT Lab is a proud partner of the British Paralympic Association. As a Paralympian, it’s a partnership I’m proud of," said Reid. 

"IT Lab prides itself on its ability to adapt and evolve. And the reality is, when you have a disability, everything about life is an exercise in adaptation.

“McLaren is also a great example of being adaptive. It's an organisation that constantly asks the question: how can we do this better?”

Sam Price, McLaren’s IT Director, gave an insight into how one of F1's most successful teams continues to adapt and evolve in the face of intense competition.

He said: “You’ll find our digital journey is like many other organisations. Maybe at a higher speed, but the same principles apply. We continue to move from the static slow of the legacy world to a technology-driven, collaboration focussed world of real-time data. 

"To move from that old world of operating to the new cloud and app-driven world, we all need partners. We partnered with IT Lab because they demonstrate the same commitment to pace, flexibility and attention to detail as us.

“Their recent acquisition of Content and Code is another set of valuable skills to the breadth of expertise they already offer us.”

Putting a Vision into Action

Peter Sweetbaum, IT Lab’s CEO, gave delegates a preview of what they could expect from the day:

“Today is about showing what happens when you put a vision into action. The Adaptive Technology Model (ATM) is our vision for transformation. It’s a framework we developed and is helping our clients to work optimally in an app and SaaS centric world.

“At ITSB17 we unpacked the concept of ATM. There are other models - what’s interesting is that if you extract what underpins them, there are two fundamental things.

“The first is that any organisation considering driving transformation and change must have imbued within it a culture of adaptation.

“The second is that CIOs and organisations need to be ready to explore new technology models, solutions and services. A well-executed digital strategy should be the engine for new forms of engagement and new opportunities.”

Three thought-provoking panels explored:

How the Technology Industry is Enabling Transformation

Paul Bolt, Microsoft’s straight-talking Chief Marketing Officer, examined how the consumerisation of technology is driving a new wave of innovation in the way we live and work.

He also spoke about diversity in the workplace and the technologies that are making the world a more inclusive place.  

Bolt shared how Microsoft thinks about digital transformation by outlining their four pillars for transformation: 

1. Empowering your employees 

2. Engaging your customers. 

3. Optimising your operations. 

4. Transforming your products. 

Experts from IT Lab and Content and Code explained why user-engagement is crucial for successful technology implementation.

Erin McCall, IT Lab's Consultant, said: "It's vital to involve the users in the process. The leaders in the business need to be bought into this, driving communications and bringing people along with them."

The panel also discussed various collaboration tools for surfacing information in one place, and simplifying identity management. 

Other insights from the panellists from ServiceNow and Devoteam included:

  • Making sure new tools don’t bring new silos
  • Leveraging the assets you already have
  • Treating users like consumers
  • Bringing everything together in one platform
  • The holy grail of ITIL: better user-experiences

ATM in Action - Client Journeys

IT Lab clients Theramex and Fishawack shared their journeys towards an Adaptive Technology Model. Case studies and videos will be available soon. 

Leaders from EY and Stance Global gave their take on ATM. Andy Beale of Stance Global commented: “ATM helps you understand how you get from where you are to where you need to be.”

Beale added: “The model gives sensible, structured advice for today’s markets. It’s rooted in practical doing, not management Greek." 

Managing Legacy Applications – The Elephant in the Room

Thought leaders from IT Lab, Content and Code, Haulfryn Group and SAS talked about the shift from bespoke applications to an app economy. A range of technologies was discussed, including intelligent edge, PowerApps and AI.

The panel also explored the importance of the user experience and user engagement.  "It’s about putting that usability and functionality in the hands of the users when they most need it,” said Dan Coleby, IT Lab's Director of Business Performance and Consulting. 

Asked how much legacy applications inhibit the value companies get from IT, a poll of the delegates revealed:

  • 52% felt "somewhat" inhibited
  • 46% are being held back by legacy applications

With only 3% free of the legacy shackles. 

Managing Security Threat: insights from the industry

Michael Bateman, IT Lab’s Director of Cyber and CISO, delivered enthralling and shocking insights into the world of cyber-crime, including the spectre of "multiple warheads". These are small attacks used to garner information on an organisation’s security before launching a deadly attack.

Bateman was joined by security specialists from Egnyte, Mimecast and AlienVault who spoke about what they’re seeing:

  • Increasingly sophisticated phishing attacks, including malware hidden in images.
  • The explosion of ransomware and convincing business email compromise (impersonation) attacks.
  • Email still makes up most cyber-attacks.

Attackers are continually adapting too. Using a combination of experts, having threat intelligence in one place to understand it - and employee education are vital.  Cloud services give organisations the ability to adapt much quicker than on-premise systems.

Bateman: “To move forward, we have to be willing to take risks, which can be hard for us to do, in the security space especially.”

Addressing the Technology Challenges we're all familiar with 

ITSB18 Panel Sessions Dan Sloshberg Mimecast

Dan Sloshberg of Mimecast discussing security 

Delegates had a choice of four breakout sessions hosted by IT Lab partners:

  1. DevOps: Breaking Down the Barriers – Devoteam
  2. The Inside Story on Security – Mimecast
  3. Data Protection Insights: The Size of Your Company Doesn’t Matter to Data Thieves – Egnyte
  4. Simplify the Network for Digital Transformation – Aryaka

All four sessions enjoyed healthy numbers, despite the lure of the McLaren tours! You can look forward to videos and blogs on these topics in the coming weeks and months. 

ITSB18 McLaren Tours

McLaren tours at ITSB18  

Rounding up ITSB18: THREE TAKEAWAY POINTS  

Geoff Kneen IT Lab’s Managing Director thanked everyone for their contributions. He made special mentions of Stef Reid and McLaren: “Everyone will take Stef’s words as a constant inspiration. And thanks to McLaren for allowing us to use the coolest place in the country!

“Our poll today asked: How ATM aligned are you? 85% of you said you’re on your way, making a real difference, or way ahead of the game.

"I didn’t think anybody would say they’re way ahead. But what this tells us is the summary of my first takeaway point:

  1. Continuous adaptation. We’re already there. The Adaptive Technology Model is live. We’re no longer a ‘digital transformation’. We are - as Stef said - a ’continuous adaptation’. This isn’t about whether this is going to happen. The new world is here; how do we make the best of it? 

The second summary point comes from our clients on the panels earlier. They talked about the clear business benefits you get from operating an Adaptive Technology Model:

  1. Articulate value. How many of us here can articulate what a 1% increase in productivity means to our business in terms of profit and cash? And how many of us here truly understand the real cost of capital to our organisation? If you can articulate that, you can articulate the benefit of moving to a consumption-based model.

The third point relates to pace of change. The IT industry is relentless. We’re in an app and SaaS centric world: we’re now cloud-based.

New technologies are coming at us all the time – AI, robotic process automation, blockchain. But how can we take advantage of them if the key data we need to analyse is locked away in legacy applications? So, my third point is: 

  1. Liberate your legacy. You can do this without having to re-invent all those propriety and legacy applications.

“Everybody needs a great partner to go on this journey. Many of you are familiar with the capabilities of IT Lab.

Content and Code’s capabilities across the Microsoft stack are unparalleled in the UK. We’re really proud they’re now part of the IT family.

“We believe that our coming together makes us a great partner for your adaptive journey.” 

 Dan Coleby, Peter Wilson and Michael Bateman of IT Lab reflect on ITSB18

Written by Christine Ellis