Digitally enabled, connected environments are the new norm, with nearly two-thirds of customer interactions occurring in the digital realm and more businesses transitioning to long-term remote or hybrid operations. Malaysia too has experienced an increase in the demand for digital services. In response, the government aims to accelerate its adoption of digital technologies through the MyDIGITAL initiative, aiming to create a favourable environment that benefits both the public and businesses. In turn, businesses also need to step up their digital adoption, contribute to the digital economy, and achieve fair, accountable, and sustainable economic progress.
In these environments, technology tools allow for innovation. For example, industrial companies use connected technology for remote asset monitoring, tracking and maintenance. Healthcare providers offer direct patient care through connected devices. Connected classroom tools enable novel learning methods, like virtual reality.
These innovations are not possible without edge functionality and distributed IT environments. And edge and distributed IT cannot function without resilient and reliable energy and connectivity. To power edge deployments appropriately, organisations must adopt a mindset shift, wherein they treat operations and cloud infrastructure as one unified strategy rather than as separate items. IT innovation and operational efficiency become symbiotic, measured, and managed together.
Merging IT and operations requires a data-driven approach
The goal of a unified strategy and the cornerstone of digitally enabled, connected environments is seamless access to IT services, regardless of whether those services reside at the edge, in the cloud or in a data centre. However, distributed IT environments are especially vulnerable to disruptions that threaten technology availability. Environmental disasters, poor connectivity and maintenance delays are just some of the challenges that face distributed IT environments. Organisations that wish to complete the mindset shift to unified operations and IT must monitor every facet of their infrastructure and its impact on operations.
Software tools that provide real-time visibility of IT equipment can aid businesses as they move to a digitally enabled and connected paradigm. Because distributed IT means personnel are not on-site at every edge node or regional data centre, remote monitoring is especially valuable. Data-driven analytics can proactively advise of potential equipment failures or capture energy use as workloads change. With real-time visibility into the entire infrastructure, organisations can troubleshoot more efficiently, reduce downtime risks, lower maintenance costs, and ensure every component of the infrastructure receives reliable power.
Distributed architectures also represent security risks, both digital and physical. Data protection is at the forefront for most organisations, but remote infrastructure locations can also be subject to tampering or removal by unauthorised people. Security-related monitoring will also be a crucial component of any end-to-end monitoring initiative.
Connected operations rely on consistent technology availability. And any technological vulnerabilities can lead to operational challenges. However, not every organisation has the skill sets to implement and maintain remote monitoring software or the manpower to dispatch maintenance personnel.
Partner ecosystems fill skills gaps and offer guidance
Because not all organisations are equipped to manage every nuance of merging technology and operations, building an ecosystem of partners will be paramount to success. Partners may be anything from distributors to integrators and even consultants who provide skills and knowledge a company’s workforce may not possess.
By working with experts, companies gain connections to specific services rendered, as well as a wider breadth of knowledge and access to expertise and innovative technologies. Moreover, leveraging partners to fill in knowledge gaps can help stakeholders build internal alignment that drives change.
Technology, partners speed the transformative journey to a digitally enabled future
As digital customer interactions continue to evolve and proliferate, transforming into digitally enabled, connected operations becomes a question of “when” not “if.” This transformation can confer numerous benefits, including improved efficiencies, reduced risks, and enhanced security posture, not to mention more sustainable operations. Organisations can only unlock these benefits when they successfully merge IT and operations into one strategy. The journey will be challenging. But investments in the right technology and strong partner relationships can ease the burden and accelerate transformation, unlocking new potential and competitive advantages.
Adrian Koh is the Head of Secure Power Division Malaysia & Brunei, Schneider Electric