These days, to serve the backbone corporate needs for more than 100,000 employees globally means betting big on the cloud.

That’s what James Hannah, SVP and global CIO of General Dynamics Information Technology, has done in partnership with the Reston, Va.-based aerospace and defense contractor’s 10 business units, each of which has its own CIO who works autonomously to make decisions about each division’s use of digital technologies for its unique business.

And the results are truly multicloud, as Hannah has opted to work with all the top cloud vendors to fill the company’s various back-office needs — AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Oracle Cloud — as well as Workday for HR and other SaaS vendors for specific needs. GDIT is now 100% on the cloud, having closed its final brick-and-mortar data center at the end of last year.  

“We’ve gone through our digital transformation already and migrated all of our application workloads into either an IaaS or SaaS environment,” says Hannah, whose focus is primarily on corporate systems, leaving each of GD’s other business unit open to make their own selections. “They’re free to go to whatever cloud they need to meet the needs of their customers,” he says.

Still, the 10 units are not all islands. Hannah’s IT division collaborates with and serves the needs of its “sister” business units where it makes sense, such as hosting financial applications for some business units. And there are overarching digital technologies that traverse General Dynamics’ business portfolio,  such as security, toward which all units are working to implement zero trust across the board.

But Hannah is clear about his mission, which is to provide critical services to the employees who serve GDIT’s high-level customers within the US government’s military-industrial complex and partners around the globe. It is not a candy store.

And in doing so, GDIT’s full cloud migration, which started pre-pandemic, is paying off nicely.  

Laying the multicloud foundation

When the IT division started its digital transformation, Hannah and his team performed a thorough assessment of General Dynamics’ corporate workloads to determine which cloud would be best based on functionality. As part of that process, integrations with other systems and applications were taken into consideration to avoid workloads “traversing from cloud to cloud” or “bouncing all over,” Hannah says.

“I think that the clouds are quite good. We saw a lot of reduction in cost,” he says. “We were able to get better metrics and reporting. And it increased or strengthened our DR [disaster recovery] posture overall.”

The next move, Hannah says, is to delve deeper into how GDIT can evolve more corporate assets into cloud-native, virtualized applications that can be optimized for the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings of its 100% multicloud infrastructure. Hannah’s team is also constantly learning how to strengthen and shift workloads to optimize performance and, in some cases, move workloads from IaaS to SaaS when it makes sense.

“That’s part of the evolution to the cloud,” he says. “You’re not going to be in a constant state of transformation. For me, it’s more of an evolution, assessing workloads and making sure they are still where they need to be.” 

GDIT has also automated many tasks within its finance systems such as accounts payable for inter- and intra-company transfers as well as for HR and IT business areas.

None of this is surprising for an IT division of a major enterprise these days, and GDIT is big — roughly 30,000 IT employees tend to General Dynamics’ corporate needs.

Skilling up and battening down

General Dynamics’ overall CTO leadership group is looking at generative AI and the implications and governance around it and how it could be potentially used with customers, Hannah says. But for a defense contractor — which manufactures nuclear submarines, aerospace systems, and combat systems, among other defense units — it is a very complex operation that has just begun, he adds.

Still, the CIO has made use of machine learning models available from one of its cloud providers to train employees for the rapidly evolving digital era and impart upward mobility within GDIT. The initiative is part of GDIT’s Career Hub, which provides employees with training recommendations around skills and certifications to help level up their careers, Hannah says.

“Since going live with that AI modeling capability, we’ve seen about a 30% increase in internal applications driven directly from the Career Hub,” he says.

Employees simply upload their resume or LinkedIn profile to Career Hub and the AI recommends current job openings, similar to the way Netflix makes movie recommendations, the CIO says. It also ties into the company’s learning and development system, providing skills and certification training recommendations that will help employees reach job openings they may not have thought of as suitable because they may presently have only 80% of the required skills.

Hannah is also deploying automation for lower-level repetitive tasks, freeing up GDIT employees to work on more complex tasks, such as rolling out automation within finance to enable speedier metrics, for example. In this way, GDIT’s use of automation helps employees continuously gain skills that not only allow greater efficiencies for the company but greater mobility for IT employees.

But if there’s one thing that keeps Hannah up at night, it’s security, which is pivotal for any enterprise, but especially a defense contractor. GDIT and all 10 business units are waiting for executive orders and guidance as part of a three-year security program currently under way. Still, cybersecurity remains Hannah’s primary focus now and over the next 12 months even as the top brass work on the comprehensive security plan.

“The focus is on transforming and evolving the cyber tools that we have … that’s the primary focus with the threats in this environment,” Hannah says. “We’re always under the watchful eyes of bad actors throughout the world. Being part of a group that always has a target on your back means you need to make sure you’re always looking at all the technologies available to improve your cyber posture as you move forward.”

Gartner analyst Daniel Snyder says the US government and military is relying heavily on partnerships with defense contractors such as General Dynamics to transform. 

“The Department of Defense relies on thousands of networks that are vital to execute its mission. Over the course of the past few decades, the development process has resulted in layers of stove-piped systems that are difficult to integrate,” he says, noting that as part of its digital transformation strategy, the DoD is overhauling its IT infrastructure to leverage the cloud.

“Much of the future success is hinging on the support of its industrial base with systems integrators such as General Dynamics, Leidos, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman,” he says.

Aerospace and Defense Industry, Cloud Computing, IT Strategy, Multi Cloud

Industry body IT Professionals New Zealand has the election year in its sights as it aims to grow the capability of people in tech at all levels—from those entering the industry to new CIOs.

Formerly known as the New Zealand Computer Society, ITP has been operating for 65 years, and is focused on skills, talent and capability of those who work in the digital technology industry.

The organisation’s CEO, Victoria MacLennan, says ITP is working “to support both industry growth and maturity, and we work really closely with education providers to ensure their courses are grounded in industry needs, and are attractive to people who want to learn digital technology skills.”

The organisation has around 5,000 members and 2,5000 student members, and MacLennan is working to open membership to anyone who works in, or aspires to work in, the digital technology industry “because we want it to be an open, broad, supportive organisation,” she says.

So her ultimate goal is to change the face of the industry. “I want to make it easier for people to choose careers working with digital technology; easier for people we don’t usually see in the industry—women, Māori, Pasifika, people with disabilities—to take advantage of how awesome it is and to find that the environment is supportive, inclusive, and they can study and work here without facing discrimination.”

To support new CIOs and aspiring CIOs, ITP is launching its ‘How to be an effective CIO’ course, now in its fourth year. MacLennan said the training came about when a group of experienced CIOs, who went on to run the course, were looking at succession planning challenges for themselves and their own organisations, and wondered where the next cohort of CIOs was coming from.

“They got together to collaborate and design a program to help those who aspire to be a CIO, or they find themselves newly appointed into the role, looking for that kind of grounding that they need to understand how they take that step,” she says.

The 12-week course has a mixture of online and in-person sessions, with up to 20 participants working together in groups, and it’s run in chunks so people don’t have to give up a whole week to attend.

“I’m told all the time by people who’ve been through the course that they still communicate with their cohort,” says MacLennan. “They get together and they’ve got a really good peer support framework.”

The role of CIO has evolved, and MacLennan says people from all sorts of backgrounds are now taking up these positions.

“Times have changed, as we know, and we’re no longer in a world where a CIO is the most technical person who’s been promoted into that role,” she says. “An effective, modern-day CIO needs to be a people leader as much as a technology leader. They need great communication skills and a strong understanding of governance, strategy and how to make decisions for today while focusing on the future. When you’re making that step from being an operational, hands-on tools person to a strategic role like a CIO, how you make those decisions is a unique skill.”

CIOs also need a good grounding in risk,cybersecurity, as well as an understanding of emerging technology and an ability to work with boards and senior leadership.

The other way ITP supports New Zealand’s CIO community is by offering mentoring. “There are many good, really effective CIOs who are mentors,” she says. “They offer their time to support aspiring CIOs or those new to the role. So, for our members, there’s a good process to match you with someone who can help with your career, aspirations, and goals.”

Election year opportunities

ITP also plays a role lobbying Government on behalf of the industry to ensure policy and investment settings include digital technology, “It’s easy for them to forget about us and forget that digital skills are something that are required not only for digital technology industry organisations, but for every organisation that employs people in their IT departments,” she says.

With the NZ General Election coming up in October, MacLennan is pushing hard to remind the Government of the changes the industry wants to see.

“The Government is probably the largest employer of digital technology capability in New Zealand, and uses a mixture of permanent employment and contractors, she says. “But a lot of the challenges we have with the workforce and management of the workforce, particularly in Wellington, comes from the fact that Government suck everyone up.”

She adds that the Government needs to “get their own house in order as an employer and use the workforce and the space more effectively” by using things like the SFIA framework, which has become the globally accepted common language for the skills and competencies for the digital world, and which every organisation in New Zealand can use.

“If you join the government as a policy analyst, there’s really clear roles, responsibilities, and career progressions,” she says. “None of that is applied in a digital technology role context.”

The other area ITP is looking to change is in the education space.

“It’s hard for people to choose a digital technology career and easy for a 17-year-old to follow a construction career path line that’s all mapped out,” she says.  “We haven’t mapped it out to make it easy for digital technology. There are something like seven types of bachelor’s degrees offered across the Te Pūkenga network [the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology], for example, which are all digital technology related. We’ve got to find easier ways of making it possible for people to choose and be less confusing.”

And while it might be a bridge too far for the Government or the Opposition, MacLennan is also keen for procurement to be used as a lever with the private sector, so more investment is made in building new capability.

She points out that there is power in procurement and that it’s one way to get the private sector to look at things differently.

Education Industry, Government, IT Leadership, Technology Industry

Taiwan’s semiconductor factories, the source of many of the chips used in the world’s PCs, servers, and mobile phones, operate under a constant threat of disruption.

The threats are both geological (earthquakes frequently force high-tech plants to shut down despite them being built to withstand seismic shocks) and geopolitical: China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has repeatedly said it aspires to the “complete reunification of the motherland.” It regularly illustrates its seriousness about reunification by holding military exercises in the seas around Taiwan, including a mock blockade and land bombardment earlier this month.

The US doesn’t have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but its Taiwan Relations Act requires it to provide the island with the means of self-defense. The day after China’s exercises concluded, the US began a series of joint military exercises with the Philippines. The drills, running through April 28, include a live-fire attack on a ship and maneuvers in the South China Sea opposite Taiwan.

Against this backdrop of preparation for conflict, a new study by the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) highlights how the world’s reliance on Taiwan’s semiconductor manufacturing capabilities exposes it to critical supply-chain vulnerabilities.

In “Confronting China and Catching Up on Chips,” the Washington, DC, think tank notes that, while the US may be the source of many of the most advanced chip designs, the bulk of the manufacturing happens in Taiwan.

“A Chinese naval blockade of the island, or an outright invasion, would immediately cut off supply of nearly all current production SoCs (systems on chips) designed by the likes of Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Nvidia and supplied by them to Apple, Samsung, Dell, HP, etc.,” the study says. 

Taiwan inside

Even US chip firm Intel could be affected. It’s a rarity among the big semiconductor brands in that it has its own fabs, as chip factories are called, to make the chips it designs—but it also outsources some of its most advanced production jobs to fabs in Taiwan.

South Korea’s Samsung, too, has its own fabs, although the Exynos chips it makes for mobile phones use designs from Arm, but AMD sold its fabs a decade ago and AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm have no fabs of their own. Instead, they rely on contract manufacturers known as foundries to make their chips.

The largest foundry is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), which had a 58.5% share of the contract manufacturing market at the end of 2022, according to data from TrendForce. Samsung, too, does contract manufacturing, and has a 15.8% share of the market. Intel’s fledgling foundry business, launched in 2021, has barely a 1% share.

Overall, TrendForce credited Taiwan with 66.9% of the world’s chip foundry business at the end of 2022, with South Korea at 16.7% and China at 7.3%.

But at the top end of the market, Taiwan wields even greater influence: According to the CEPA report, it makes over 90% of the world’s most advanced microchips, those made with a highly sophisticated process technology of less than 10 nanometers.

Network analysis

CIOs need to work closely with chief supply-chain officers to understand their risk exposure in the Asia-Pacific region, says Koray Köse, Gartner’s senior director analyst for supply chain research.

If your organization doesn’t yet have the necessary analytical tools, now is an excellent time to talk CEOs and CFOs into increasing investment in supply-chain risk management, he says.

Those tools will help organizations understand whether they or their network of suppliers are reliant on raw materials, production capacity, or shipping routes in any potential conflict region.

Start with your own organization and Tier 1 partners, and then, says Köse, “Determine the critical lower tiers’ vulnerabilities as effectively as possible using both supplier relations and technologies, like graph technology to uncover key chokepoints.”

Chain reaction

A lack of supply-chain visibility hampered organizational responses to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020, as well as the blockage of the Suez Canal when the container ship Ever Given ran aground in March 2021.

The Suez incident highlighted the importance of knowing where the goods you rely on originally come from, and how they reach you. Each year around $1 trillion in freight passes through the Suez Canal, but the Taiwan Strait, between mainland China and Taiwan, is the most important transportation route globally, says Köse, with over $5.3 trillion in freight passing through it annually.

Gartner’s 2021 Supply Chain Risk and Resilience Survey found that 70% of enterprises (and 83% of those with revenue above $1 billion) listed improving visibility among their top three priorities to manage risk in the supply chain. Barely half of companies had 90% visibility of even their Tier 1 suppliers; for Tier 2 and beyond, fewer than 4% of companies had such visibility.

Looking beyond visibility

Gaining visibility as far up the supply chain as possible is a key first step, says Köse, but it’s not the only action CIOs should take.

Committing to key suppliers to secure needed volume can help, but he warns against irrational buying. “While safety stock could be nice to have, it’s largely wishful thinking when it comes to the semiconductor space,” and could needlessly tie up critical capital, he says.

And Christopher Cytera, author of the CEPA report that highlighted the geopolitical risks to the semiconductor supply chain, says, “I do not think hoarding is the answer.”

If you do buy up stocks, adds Köse, then it’s important to keep them close to where you want to use them: “Goods bought but left in the region may still be exposed to logistics bottlenecks.”

He says CIOs should consider diversifying their suppliers to different geographic regions, but acknowledges this can be challenging when it comes to semiconductors since many products IT departments rely on contain chips that started their life in Taiwan.

None of these tactics will eliminate supply-chain risk, though, Köse says. Ultimately, it’s about incrementally increasing the time you can keep things running and finding alternatives to concentrated sources of risk.

CIO, ICT Partners, Supply Chain

By Serge Lucio, Vice President and General Manager, Agile Operations Division

This is a continuation of Broadcom’s blog series: 2023 Tech Trends That Transform IT.  Stay tuned for future blogs that dive into the technology behind these trends from more of Broadcom’s industry-leading experts.

Enterprise networks are undergoing a profound transformation. These changes are being driven by growing SaaS adoption, increasing workload migration to the cloud, and the need to support the expanding number of employees who work-from-anywhere.

Traditional enterprise wide area networks, or WANs were designed primarily to connect remote branch offices directly to the data center. They rely on centralized security performed by backhauling traffic through the corporate data center, which impairs application performance and makes them expensive and inefficient. More importantly, WANs lack the flexibility and scalability that digital business requires.

Unlike traditional enterprise WANs, Software-Defined Wide Area Network, or SD-WAN technology meets the complex requirements for fast, reliable access to cloud-based resources. For example, SD-WAN technology makes it possible for an enterprise employee to successfully connect to Microsoft 365 from home. Policy-based routing dynamically determines the best path for optimal performance as it traverses multiple internet service providers and systems for network access, SASE secured connectivity, and cloud network access, before reaching the data center server where Microsoft 365 is running.

But SD-WAN’s reliance on the Internet can introduce new challenges, and new requirements for network observability and monitoring. Every ISP and system in the complex network path between users and cloud-based resources is a potential point of failure, most of which enterprise network operations teams do not own, manage, or even have visibility into.

On January 25, a minor error in a routine configuration change to a router at Microsoft caused a global network outage. This one minor error resulted in widespread connectivity issues for 90 minutes, leaving customers unable to reach Microsoft Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, and other applications. Situations like this can present a troubleshooting nightmare for enterprise network operations teams who need to address complaints from users, but don’t have complete end-to-end visibility of the entire network path from the user to the data center.

Looking Ahead: How I See Network Operations Evolving

I believe that in 2023, SaaS adoption, workload migrations to cloud, and work-from-home initiatives will continue to drive enterprise network transformation. The internet will become an even more integral component of the enterprise networks as organizations continue to augment or replace their legacy WANs by using SD-WAN technology to build high-performance chains of connectivity from lower-cost and commercially available Internet access.

As enterprises continue to transform and modernize their networks to better meet the needs of digital business, they will need a new approach to network observability, and requirements for  in-depth analysis and actionable insights will become increasingly critical.

In 2023 and beyond, effective network operations (NetOps) will demand more extensive coverage of user experience metrics than ever before. Network monitoring needs will expand beyond traditional managed networks to encompass unmanaged third-party networks. Experience-driven NetOps approaches will proliferate and become more tightly aligned with the network. Here’s more on how this transformation will progress.

User Experience Monitoring Will Become Imperative

In response to the increasingly complex connectivity demands of digital business, network architectures continue to evolve, and user experience monitoring has become an essential data source for NetOps. This is not surprising, since customer satisfaction and employee productivity remain in the top three business priorities for many organizations. For the network team, it’s no longer just about the traditional approach to monitoring network health. Teams need real-time insight into the state of the network and how changing network conditions are affecting  user experience so they can react quickly and ensure the delivery of consistent and high-quality network services to support that digital business success.

Monitoring Will Expand to the Edge and Beyond

As digital transformation goes to full throttle, network operations must align with the business more quickly and closely. With nearly half of enterprise workloads projected to be deployed in cloud infrastructure this year, NetOps team responsibilities will extend to both the networks they own and the ones they don’t – including third-party networks like home networks, ISP networks, and cloud environments. This extension will address the visibility and control blind spots that teams confront with cloud and multi-cloud networking.

Experience-Driven Approaches Will Advance

Teams’ increasing need for better visibility and control of both managed and unmanaged networks will drive adoption of Experience-Driven Network Observability and Management solutions and approaches. With this approach, the network team can understand, manage, and optimize the performance of digital services, regardless of the network they may be running on and gain visibility into every communication path and degradation point for the entire user experience delivery chain.

The adoption of experience-driven approaches will increase as organizations seek to improve their ability to monitor and measure the user experience. Gartner expects that by 2026 at least 60% of I&O leaders will use Digital Experience Monitoring to measure application, services and endpoint performance from the user’s viewpoint, up from less than 20% in 2021.

Applying active and continuous measurements can help network teams dramatically improve the network operations workflow. With these capabilities, they can effectively reduce false alarms, validate change and compliance, establish reliable visibility, and boost automation.

Monitoring Will Fuse Better With the Network

Experience-driven network monitoring tools and practices will become a seamless part of the network, translating volumes of disparate data (across network device performance, network and internet paths, alarms/faults/logs/configs, Cloud and SaaS application performance, network traffic flows and user experience metrics) into actionable insights about the current and future state of a network.

Outcomes That Matter

Moving forward, NetOps teams will be expected to deliver more value for the business, so they need to actively monitor and manage the network. By doing so, they’ll gain the detailed intelligence and actionable insights they need to assure network service delivery, and help the business reduce risks, optimize cost and resource efficiency, and boost revenue opportunities.

By delivering the right insights to the right team, they can quickly find and fix issues to improve mean time to resolution (MTTR) of network issues or prove the innocence (MTTI) of the network, while enabling the right team to address the issue. NetOps teams will then be able to proactively prevent network problems before they degrade user experience and derail the business.

Your Next Steps

This year, your organization’s success will be increasingly reliant upon the success of transformation initiatives in such areas as cloud, SaaS, and digitization. The question then becomes “How do you know if your network is ready for the emerging demands of the digital business?” NetOps teams play a critical role in helping these initiatives – and the business – succeed in 2023. Having unified insights to relevant network and digital experience metrics allows these teams to ensure that modern networks deliver optimized user experiences.

Broadcom can help boost your organization’s ability to manage evolving requirements for modern network technologies and support your current and future transformation initiatives. Visit our Experience-Driven NetOps page  to learn more about how we are helping enterprise NetOps teams around the world to break down monitoring data silos, expedite issue remediation, and reduce operational complexities.

To learn more about how Broadcom predicts that in 2023, effective network operations (NetOps) will demand better end-to-end visibility, including more extensive coverage of user experience metrics than ever before, read the report here

About Serge Lucio:

Broadcom Software

Serge Lucio is Vice President and General Manager of the Agile Operations Division at Broadcom. He is responsible for the company’s software solutions that help organizations to accelerate digital transformation and drive organizational agility.

IT Leadership, Networking

Despite popular belief, most of today’s smartphones don’t connect directly with satellites orbiting our planet. The vast majority connect to nearby cell towers rooted in the earth. For the everyday consumer, space-based communications are largely limited to phone packages for use during localized emergencies when network coverage is down, or on remote camping trips via specialized “sat” phones.  

But in our hyper-connected and increasingly hybrid world, the need for more sophisticated communication is now required. Indeed, from an individual perspective, one of the biggest demands we place on our mobile phones and computers is better connectivity and access to the internet, anytime and anyplace. 

Apply the potential of unrestricted internet access through a government and business lens, and the results are even more transformative – from helping intelligence and security services and offices operate in isolated regions, to environmental agencies conducting research in remote parts of the planet. 

As investment and use cases in space-based comms continue to increase, it leaves the world asking, is space the great connectivity enabler? Could the answer to the future of communications really lie in the stars? 

Who’s winning the space-based comms race? 

Space-based communications is enjoying a period of sustained investment, and the tech is becoming significantly advanced. Private sector funding in space-related companies eclipsed $10 billion in 2021, while the EU announced ambitious plans to invest €6 billion in space communications at the beginning of 2022 as we move more operations into space. 

Although household names such as DIRECTV (television broadcasting) and Sirius XM (satellite radio service) represent concrete examples of satellite comms in the mainstream, continued investment is giving rise to more innovative and forward-looking space-based comms. 

Companies such as Iridium and Viasat handle highly specialized public and private sector workloads. Space X’s Starlink is perhaps the most recognizable player in the space-based comms race. Starlink’s aim is to provide affordable internet access to everyone, anywhere in the world, and its service has grown rapidly over the past four years, with more than 3,000 satellites in orbit and over 500,000 customers since 2019. It has clearly demonstrated its influence, reach, and resiliency as the communications network helping Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion.  

Low-orbit earth satellites and SD-WAN combine 

The pros of satellite services are clear: with blanket coverage across our planet, it’s conceivable that one day every square inch will be covered. From an environmental perspective, they’re almost completely fueled by solar power, and can be more cost-effective for communication over long distances. 

As a WAN access technology though, satellite communication does experience its fair share of obstacles. For example, because signals must travel into space and back down to earth, there is the inescapable physics of latency eroding performance.  

Additionally, some providers tend to rely on packet manipulation, such as queuing, to deliver a higher quality service. However, when this is combined with business–focused overlay technology – such as SD-WAN – the packet manipulation can damage network performance. 

Fortunately, several providers have developed ways around this. Starlink’s technology specifically uses low-earth orbit systems that operate physically closer to earth, which greatly reduces latency and the associated heavy processing demands of traditional satellites. This is making it possible to easily integrate space-based access paths into existing terrestrial SD-WAN networks. 

The result: low latency and high bandwidth communications capable of reaching the most remote locations on the planet, where the internet was previously inaccessible. The idea is, anywhere you can see the sky, you can access the internet.  

The next evolution in space commercialization 

MetTel’s successful deployment of SD-WAN on SpaceX’s Starlink service signals a continuing shift as space-based comms transitions to a cloud-based, software-centric approach. 

And more widely, Starlink’s investment reflects the increasing commercialization of space, as it becomes a major provider of global communications.  

According to Harvard Business Review, “95% of the estimated $366 billion in revenue earned in the space sector was from the space-for-earth economy” – goods or services produced in space for use on earth, such as telecommunications and internet infrastructure, earth observation capabilities, and national security, among others. 

Next we’ll see much greater emphasis on the space-for-space economy as humanity moves out to the moon, Mars, and other destinations in our solar system. These new habitats will require the same types of IT infrastructure as we have on earth, as well as connectivity back to earth. 

Ultimately, as mass production and competition continue to drive down costs, space-based comms will bring business-grade connectivity and network management to anywhere on earth – and beyond  – without the need for the costly extension of terrestrial networks to remote locations. 

SD-WAN, Telecommunications

Every business leader wants to be the next hero, praised for sharpening the corporate competitive edge. Business heroes are the ones who solve big problems by leveraging emerging technology to awaken new powers accelerating strategic outcomes. So, why not use artificial intelligence (AI) to step into your higher potential, automating a system that drives more dollar value out of your corporate IT investments?

It’s time to get more value out of accelerated innovation

Thanks to years of accelerated innovation, businesses of all sizes are capitalizing on the agility of digital services and remote work. But at what cost? The challenge today is: How efficient and sustainable is your IT spending when it’s gone unrestrained over the past three years? Business heroes might even be taking on the task of curing a corporate digital transformational hangover. Consider that:

While 78% of companies adopt the cloud, not all are seeing value of their investment. Cloud overspending can be as high as 70% according to Gartner.Roughly 29% of cloud investments go to waste, according to an upcoming CIO study.Shadow IT can consume 30-40% of IT budgets, and it’s not uncommon for companies to have 10-20 times more cloud applications than they anticipate—especially following panic-stricken video conferencing purchases.

Today, IT investments happen at warp speed, and afterward business leaders are expected to govern those investments, normalizing them into the company’s standards of operational excellence. That requires applying security protections to cloud investments and remote work, taking a recount of all IT resources after widespread changes, putting checks and balances in place to manage new assets, and realigning spending with business goals.

While anyone can achieve these goals, only those who can automate them will be celebrated as a hero. But as we all know, a hero can’t win the big prize without first going on a journey.

AI: the journey to intelligent IT expense optimization

AI is making intelligent automation the new business standard. In IT, machine learning and behavioral analytics are no longer used only for making sense of security threat data or predicting network service outages. They are now being applied to address the problems of IT cost control, vendor management, and administration burdens surrounding today’s highly distributed business ecosystems.

Much like a robot vacuum learns the layout of your house, AI-powered analytics can be used to study the entire IT environment alongside its associated services and expenses, correlating this information with usage data. Tracking cloud infrastructure, network connections, mobile devices, and their services generates granular data intelligence, allowing AI engines to “understand” current IT spending trends and “see” how effectively a company uses its existing investments. Let’s look at one example.

IT service sprawl: championing vendor management with AI

AI is solving the problems of vendor management and provider sprawl—issues all too familiar to IT leaders handling an ever-expanding landscape of tools, services, and dashboards. In fact, it’s assisting with some of the downsides of software-defined networks (SD-WAN) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) investments when companies suddenly find themselves with an overabundance of internet service providers (ISPs) to manage. AI works to eliminate the manual work of handling hundreds of ISPs and other sprawling IT service providers.

How does it work? Advanced analytics observe network services, connectivity usage, and the costs of global links across multiple vendors, allowing IT leaders to make quick sense of highly complex telecommunications environments. With a mountain of data crunched across ISPs, voice, and all fixed wireline services, companies can gain contextual clarity into how they are using their network services all in one consolidated view for elevated insights.

AI-powered telecom expense optimization can:

Eliminate the time-consuming need for administrators to collect, review, and correlate expansive datasets including inventories of services, providers, contracts, and service level agreements.Evaluate the usage activities of all network services in one dashboard, identifying unused assets, pinpointing billing inaccuracies, and streamlining the process of chasing down credits when network service providers fail to fulfill their SLA commitments.Prevent telecom service disruptions by automating complex invoice validation and approval processes to pay bills on time and accurately allocate IT costs across business units and departments.

This is one way AI automates IT expense optimization. Let’s explore the others.

Cloud optimization: awakening the powers of AI and closed-loop automation

Everyone is migrating to the cloud, and AI engines designed to automate cloud cost savings have two unique capabilities worth highlighting.

The first important distinction is AI’s ability to recommend solutions for the problems it recognizes. Big data insights and problem identification are the advantages of yesterday—actionable recommendations and automated problem solving are today’s biggest AI benefits. For example, AI can observe your corporate cloud infrastructure services and cloud application investments, essentially guiding you in how to use what you already own more efficiently.

An AI engine might recommend how to:

Optimize cloud service provider contracts, using long-term discounts to lower costs.More efficiently use the cloud storage and servers you have in place.Get more savings out of pausing features, turning off services when they aren’t needed.Reduce redundant applications, consolidating providers to lower IT expenses .Pinpoint unused application licenses, helping reallocate resources to other users.Identify security risks associated with unsanctioned cloud applications.

The second important distinction: the ability for AI to automatically act on its own recommendations. This is the signature of advanced AI capabilities known as “closed-loop automation.” Not only can AI recognize the problem alongside the solution, but it can also make that solution a reality with just the click of an approval button. Tight integration makes this possible. Only when AI engines are connected to the cloud service delivery platform can they manipulate settings and make changes to the control panel on your behalf.

Closed-loop automation marks the moment when AI advances from a data intelligence service to a virtual assistant, doing the more meaningful work of actually solving the core problem.

Using the cloud cost optimization examples from above, here’s what closed-loop automation looks like in a real-world scenario:

AI engine: Recommends using cloud infrastructure pausing features for the IT development environment because resources are only used during business hours.IT engineer: Clicks approve.AI engine: Uses API calls to implement changes inside your cloud service dashboard (inside the AWS environment).

This is the type of automation that gets business leaders crowned heroes. Automated problem solving is the true digital advantage because it literally accelerates business outcomes. Let’s face it, every business hero knows that nothing stops innovation in its tracks like the moment when a computer-automated workflow gets handed back to the human, essentially asking the employee to take it from there.

Arriving at automated IT expense optimization  

After accelerated innovation, harnessing information across the IT ecosystem is harder than it was just three years ago, and AI is the best tool for smarter resource allocation and tighter cost control.

The first step for business heroes is to apply advanced analytics to cloud and network services, so AI engines can start to understand what’s happening inside the IT environment. The key is to align AI to your strategic cost-savings initiatives, knowing which data streams coincide. After using AI to quickly recognize spending patterns and discrepancies between service usage and costs, it then becomes easier to advance into automated problem-solving using closed-loop automation.

Worried about how to get started?

Start with any functional area that is plagued by a combination of complex data with manual administrative processes and lean on IT expense management providers to usher in AI-powered platforms that simplify implementation through software and services. If you have a vast Iandscape of global IT services to cost optimize, look for a partner that can integrate with hundreds of IT service providers across the globe. The best expense optimization teams bring a library of IT spending insights, understanding the latest pricing information as well as how companies should shift their IT investments in response to economic pressures, remote work, and new technology trends.

In the end, business leaders crowned true heroes are the ones who save 15-40% of their IT costs by automating expense optimization. But in doing so, they also help their companies spend less money on the tools they need to simply run the business and more money on digital innovation.

To learn more about IT expense and asset management services, visit us here.  

Digital Transformation, Endpoint Protection, Master Data Management, Remote Access Security, Security Infrastructure

Over the past two decades, cloud computing has evolved from a method that utilized extra data center capacity to the mission-critical infrastructure across enterprises that we see today. But along the way, the transformation and dramatic growth of the cloud have created increasingly complex, multi-account, and multi-region environments that can hinder, rather than accelerate, a company’s ability to deploy and manage globally connected networks.

Enterprise IT groups struggling with this complexity can transform their environments through new cloud-based networking architectures that stress simplicity across multi-environment connections, while also providing additional flexibility that can help reduce overall costs.

“Enterprises should be able to move anything, anywhere, at any time, for any reason,” says Robert DeWeese, Chief Cloud Architect of Next Generation Network & Edge Computing at Kyndryl. “This includes the ability to treat the network as a roadmap for adopting new features and technologies, so that when something new comes along, you can take advantage of it.”

DeWeese says that the complexity issues around multi-cloud and multi-region environments first surfaced when enterprises began creating multiple accounts for their cloud projects and then had to figure out how to effectively connect those accounts.

“They often had to do a complex workaround of networking, VPNs, and other components to make the infrastructure work,” he says. AWS, recognizing the growing complexity, has continued to build out its connectivity services. In 2018 it launched AWS Transit Gateway, the first big evolution in cloud networking. “Transit Gateway changed the game, enabling you to connect one account to another without a complex set of workarounds to bring traffic back to one data center just to go back into another account, or connect a VPN from one account to another,” says DeWeese.

More recently, AWS developed AWS Cloud WAN, which sits on top of Transit Gateway and makes it easier to build, manage, and monitor a global network that connects resources running across cloud and on-premises environments.

“Cloud WAN is different than older technologies in that it’s a managed service,” says Puneet Chopra, Global Domain Leader, Enterprise Networks, SDN and Cloud Based Networking with Kyndryl. The Cloud WAN service delivers three main capabilities to enterprises: automation, orchestration, and agility, which combine to reduce go-to-market times.”

“Now enterprises have a single point of control from where they can configure multiple VPC networks through a drop-down policy, the logic of which via APIs is built in the Cloud WAN, saving immense time,” says Chopra. 

Kyndryl’s Network and Edge Practice has certified and skilled technology experts who can help configure Cloud WAN and Transit Gateway to meet client needs, along with business experts who can provide guidance on the business model to deliver better ROI. “That ROI perspective is important because CIOs and CFOs are often making these purchase decisions together,” says Chopra.

Eliminating the need for complex workarounds

Additional Cloud WAN benefits include:

A single, unified, global point of control that lets users configure an entire network from one network policyA centralized dashboard, monitoring and event bus that shows physical and logical topologiesBuilt-in automation that lets users define their own routing, propagation, and attachment mapping that defines segment relationships through policyAutomatic network creation by AWS (through peering and dynamic routing) based on AWS Region definitions in a core network policy.

Together, Transit Gateway and Cloud WAN give organizations more flexibility in their cloud environments by eliminating the need for complex workarounds. These advances can help organizations simplify their end-to-end connectivity infrastructure to improve speed to execution – which benefits all aspects of the business.

It’s important to work with a trusted partner to configure and deploy the services properly. Learn more about how Kyndryl and AWS are innovating to achieve transformational business outcomes for customers.


As healthcare providers emerge from the operational disruptions caused by the global pandemic, IT and business leaders are renewing their focus on “quality”– specifically, have digital investments provided quality and value for IT systems; is technology improving quality for caregivers inside facilities; and have digital transformation efforts enhanced the patient experience and the quality of care they’re receiving?

Trent Sanders, director of U.S. Healthcare & Life Sciences at Kyndryl, says much has changed for healthcare providers over the past three years. “2020 was reaction mode,” he says. “Healthcare providers kept the lights on and sprinted to solve problems like suddenly having to serve 50% of your population via telehealth.”

In 2021, he says, healthcare providers could see a light at the end of the tunnel, “so there was a lot of planning and preparation to open back up.”

2022, he says, “is all about action and execution. That’s why we’re seeing significant pressure at the board level around technology value realization – are we getting results from the areas where we placed our bets?”

The key for success in many of these new digital transformation efforts will be collaborating with partners in areas such as technology modernization, security, data, and artificial intelligence (AI). “Companies like Amazon and Kyndryl are coming together to help organizations and their employees perform,” says Sanders. “This concept is especially true in healthcare, where many companies are ingrained in decades-old processes that inhibit their ability to modernize.”

Many digital transformation efforts require a level of digital expertise that many organizations are not equipped to handle. “Hospitals and large payer institutions are not in the core business of IT,” Sanders says. “They are in the core business of how to improve the caregiver experience and improve the member population.”

It’s safe to say that healthcare providers, just like organizations in most industries, have moved some applications or workloads to the cloud. But there’s been a slower shift of mission-critical workloads, which in the case of healthcare providers include electronic health records (EHR) applications and imaging systems. Moving those systems to the cloud to make them more scalable, more secure, and more accessible – and enhancing them with advanced analytics and AI capabilities – is an important next step.

“It’s now about taking great technology, great services, and merging together in a programmatic approach to align to better caregiver and patient outcomes,” says Sanders. “Moving an EHR system to the cloud is not the outcome. The outcome is what you can do with it once it’s there.

“It’s also about the services that you wrap around it,” he says. “For example, taking advantage of AWS’s AI and machine learning capabilities to do population and health modeling much faster than you could before.”

The scale, performance, and advanced capabilities of the cloud will help healthcare organizations justify future investments in digital transformation to drive better caregiver and patient experiences and improve the quality of healthcare.

Learn more about how Kyndryl and AWS are innovating to help healthcare providers and other organizations achieve transformational business outcomes.

Cloud Computing

Next CIO returns for 2023 to continue to support the career development of aspiring IT and Tech leaders. 

Next CIO is the annual awards and mentoring programme helping aspiring IT leaders to develop their careers, build their network and improve their skill sets. It is an opportunity for aspiring digital, data, and technology leaders to join an exclusive community that supports inclusion, career development, and progress, and for current CIOs and business leaders to reward their colleagues and peers on what they have achieved. 

2022 welcomed 26 members to the Next CIO Cohort and throughout the year were connected with a CIO mentor and gained exclusive access to some of the UK’s leading digital, data, and technology professionals through workshops and sessions. 

Workshops included balancing great leadership, communicating with the board, determining how we learn and tech skill development strategies, as well as sharp strategy, and the transition to being a first-time CIO. 

Dave Roberts, a next CIO Judge, and mentor shared with CIO: “I think it’s incredibly important to be able to have people on your journey that can give you an unbiased view of what you’re going through at the time”.  

With Next CIO UK targeting digital, data, and technology professionals with aspirations of being in a senior executive role within five years, it represents an opportunity to recognise developing talents while addressing the IT industry’s biggest flaw – diversity.  

A recent report by TTC, discussed in this CIO report, shared that only 22% of senior tech roles are held by gender minorities, a figure that is 6% lower when compared to tech roles overall, while ethnic diversity almost halves in senior roles, dropping from 25% to 13%. 

Howson and Roberts shared last year how aspiring leaders will need a breadth of skills and highlighted how “[they’d] love to see more female leaders and I know that we as a judging group would love to see more diverse leaders in all areas, across the board.”  

“For me, this is a way of helping us reach the next generation of technology leaders, to encourage and showcase a diversity of technology leaders, and show that you can come from any kind of career path to get into that CIO or CTO spot.” 

2023 will host a similar series of workshops and will continue the mentoring programme. Next CIO members will also be invited to various networking events and CIO Forums and Summits.  

How to apply for Next CIO? What to include in your submission? 

Applications for Next CIO UK are now open until 31st March 2023. Award submissions can be made directly by the nominee, or on their behalf by a line manager or senior executive.  You can view the virtual session with judges Dave Roberts, Dom Howson, and Nadine Thomson on how to apply here: 

All entries will be reviewed by the expert judging panel and the winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony in London on 16th June 2022.  

“Have the confidence and apply,” says Thomson. “If you’re on the [webinar], then you’re good enough put an application in. That would be my call to arms.”  

Other top tips from the judges from the on-demand webinar: 

Be authentic, passionate and reflect on your achievements from the last 12 months.   Provide a level of detail on your achievements…but be concise and to the point. Show data and evidence where possible, as well as support from senior leaders.  Show where you’ve had a clear business impact.  Illustrate how you’ve taken new approaches to fixing problems.  Show a willingness to pursue professional development.  Understand that not everyone is a storyteller – but write the submission in your own words  Appreciate that no one is the finished article – everyone is learning.  Ask a colleague to review your application before submission  

Apply for the Next CIO programme here by 31st March. The Next CIO Awards will be hosted at the Goldsmith Centre in London on Thursday 15th June.   


Under new iterations of remote and hybrid work, the solution for some companies may involve monitoring employees electronically. For CIOs asked to implement such tools, it’s critical to understand the legal and ethical aspects of new technologies.

“No one’s saying you can’t do it. You need to have a really good justification for doing it,” says Jennifer Abruzzo, General Counsel of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board.

Abruzzo will dissect those contours at CIO’s Future of Work Summit, a virtual event taking place February 15. The interactive conference will tackle themes of understanding generational differences, creating a vibrant workplace culture, and implementing innovations such as intelligent automation.

The summit kicks off with a conversation with Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, whose new initiative, Moms First, advocates for public and private sector changes to expand workplace choices for women and to remove barriers to equality.

Later, learn from DXC Technology senior vice president and CIO Kristie Grinnell about how the company implemented a “culture first” strategy to grow its 130,000-strong workforce. And join an intergenerational conversation with human resources expert Anthony Onesto about how Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials in technology leadership positions can build a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce that will attract Gen Z employees.

Innovative IT leaders should be testing new models of work such as automation. We will take a deep dive into an effort at Johnson & Johnson to apply intelligent automation across a number of areas – an effort that could deliver a billion dollars in value, according to J&J’s Ajay Anand, vice president, global services strategy and transformation; and Stephen Sorensen, senior vice president, technology services, supply chain, data and intelligent automation.

Another area worthy of exploring is implementing low- or no-code platforms. Breaking down the benefits and challenges of distributed development will be Chris Haas, director of product, app engine, at ServiceNow, InfoWorld Contributing Editor Isaac Sacolick, and Computerworld Senior Writer Lucas Mearian.

IDC’s Amy Loomis, research vice president for the Future of Work practice, will share what the latest research shows about the promise of productivity and flexible work models.

How do you put all of these learnings together, especially when so many IT leaders are dealing with burnout — their own and among their staffs? Get answers during an interactive workshop with Lisa Duerre, a Silicon Valley insider and strategist, and learn what it takes to be an effective leader. The session will leave attendees with valuable insights, leadership tools, and a personal action plan to thrive.

Continuing the professional development conversation, Tom Graham, partner and global head of technology at the executive search firm Stonehaven, shares his perspective on the talent landscape as well as tips for how tech leaders can make themselves attractive candidates for their next position.

The day wraps with an exploration of full stack leadership to build high-performing teams. Hear from Carolyn Levy, president of Randstad Technologies Group; Nick Marchand, vice president of digital and technology operations and cyber security at Cineplex Entertainment; and André Allen, vice president of information technology, chief privacy officer and CISO with the MaRS Discovery District.

Throughout the summit, sponsors including Adobe and Nexthink will offer thought leadership and solutions on subjects such as designing human-first, outcomes-driven experiences and obtaining better employee experiences with network orchestration.

Check out the full summit agenda here. The event is free to attend for qualified attendees. Don’t miss out – register today.

Photo: Speakers at CIO’s Future of Work Summit include (clockwise from left) Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Moms First and founder of Girls Who Code; Johnson & Johnson Vice President of Global Services Strategy & Transformation Ajay Anand; and Jennifer Abruzzo, General Counsel of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board.

Human Resources, IT Leadership, Remote Work, Robotic Process Automation