Last month, Japan’s Kenichi Ito broke the world record for the 100 meter dash – running on all fours – with a time of 15.71 seconds. Known as “the monkey man,” having perfected the art of moving like a monkey on the ground, Ito sprints on his hands and feet towards the finish line. His performance is reminiscent of Samuel Johnson’s famous adage about dogs that can walk on two hind legs, “It’s not done well but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

But this is exactly what many enterprises are still doing today – building and managing their network on all fours when they should be sprinting on their toes. With network speeds now often exceeding 100 bits per second, traditional approaches to harnessing today’s hyper-distribution of information aren’t sufficient. What’s needed is “Fast IT.”

Fast IT: The Quick Definition

Put simply, Fast IT is an operating model for digital transformation. It is what enterprise technology leaders need to enable business innovation at a faster rate. And it’s what will help their companies win their fair share of the market in the face of current and emerging competition. A highly agile enterprise infrastructure is needed to cope with business challenges in real time – all the time. The principles of Fast IT are four-fold:

  1. Simple: Reduce infrastructure complexity. Integrate business processes across information silos.
  2. Smart: Build in intelligent capabilities and services that fuel growth.
  3. Secure: Dynamically defend against attacks and mitigate threats.
  4. Cloud: Provide a platform for efficient, scalable and adaptable change.

In a Cisco survey of +1,400 IT decision-makers worldwide, 89% said complexity is a major inhibitor to their success. Yet complexity is only increasing, while more than 80% of IT spending is typically spent just keeping the lights on. Businesses want to innovate. They understand the need for faster “time to capability.” Business outcomes are the end goal. But to be successful in meeting these goals, IT organizations need to become both a source and a facilitator of disruptive innovation – to lead digital transformation. This requires a step up in agility, security and operational efficiency. The implication is clear: Out with the old and slow. In with Fast IT.

Automate to Find, Organize and Manage Access to Digital Assets

One good way enterprises can move onto the Fast IT track is by taking advantage of the recently introduced Cisco Automation and Integration Platform. It gives IT organizations the ability to easily integrate any data or application into their business environment using pre-built, plug-and-go connectors. Moreover, the IT team can automate and re-use the integration processes. By combining data and integration to both connect and automate processes, companies can not only accelerate internal access to critical data, they can also do the same for partner companies with which they work externally.

You’ve seen me refer to the need for enterprises to “disrupt or be disrupted” in some of my previous blogs, as companies face digital challenges never experienced before. The Cisco Automation and Integration Platform changes the status quo. It brings together new ways for enterprises to digitally connect people, processes and things. And while speed is a primary benefit to this approach, the secondary benefits are just as impressive. For example, a major U.S. bank was challenged with optimizing the cataloguing, access and re-use of its large and increasing store of digital assets. While we may think that banks run on money, the truth is that they run on data. It is often both their competitive advantage and their principle profit driver. Using the Automation and Integration Platform, this Cisco customer was able to reduce the development time for new mobile applications from 180 days to only 2 days. Even better, they reduced development costs by 30%. That’s a result that can warm even the most hardened banker’s heart.

Open and extensible with an always vigilant eye on security, the new platform gives companies unprecedented control over the hyper-distribution of their information assets. Representative use cases may include process improvements through connecting and exchanging information between data and applications, device connectivity for integration with the Internet of Things (IoT) for operational efficiencies, IT automation, and automation optimization using the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and simplifying workflows both internal and external to the company. And it does all this simply and powerfully. It’s the best kind of disruption.

Let me end with a remark from Bill Gates, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” The time for Fast IT is now. Check out the latest Cisco platform I’ve described to see how you can begin to put your plans for digital business transformation into action.

How is your company changing to become a digital enterprise? What is your starting line?


Mala Anand

No Longer with Cisco