The Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) market is big and growing fast. Already worth more than $8 billion, analysts predict that the market will nearly triple in size to $22 billion by 2025. CPaaS is a cloud platform that exposes communications functions such as SMS, voice, video, and IP chat via programmable application programming interfaces (APIs) so that developers can more easily code these functions into applications, workflows, and systems.

Recently, Ericsson’s CTO Erik Ekudden interviewed Vinod Lala, Chief Strategy Officer at Vonage, on the opportunities on offer at the nexus of CPaaS and 5G. According to Lala, one of the key drivers behind the growth of CPaaS is business-to-customer engagement through mobile apps.

“As customers increasingly…‘live’ in their mobile phones, so businesses have reacted by communicating with them that way, via SMS, chat, or now even video and voice,” he said.

CPaaS simplifies the deployment of multi-modal communications integration and is therefore an ideal solution for both digital native brands and non-native brands looking to reach customers through apps.

The second key driver behind the evolution of the CPaaS market is the arrival of 5G APIs. As Ekudden explained, being able to connect to 5G is “very handy” for developers and enterprises as it provides access to a range of pre-built tools and capabilities including Quality of Service (QoS), network slicing, advanced security features, device status information, and precise positioning.

As Ekudden noted: “There’s a real opportunity to look at what 5G already brings and how that can fuel and enhance capabilities in existing applications and enterprises.”

5G APIs are therefore profoundly important to the development of CPaaS, unlocking network controls and thereby offering a whole new dimension to developers for enhanced use cases.

According to Lala, applications that rely on low latency, such as in gaming or telemedicine, will benefit the most from these capabilities. Indeed, many of the network features synonymous with 5G were built specifically to support such advanced applications.

5G APIs will therefore provide what Ekudden describes as a “missing gearbox” for developers to create new CPaaS use cases on a global scale.

5G APIs are helping to create win-win collaborations where developers on one side have the freedom to innovate, and communications service providers – on the other side –  can create revenue streams through the network value they reveal to developers.

Ultimately this evolution is about exposing and enabling new capabilities that are guided by the needs of enterprises and third-party developer communities, closing the gap between the needs coming from applications, enterprises, and consumers and the network capabilities. CPaaS promises to unlock new layers of innovation both within enterprises and the developer ecosystem that supports them, which in turn will deliver better customer experiences and enhanced value for all.

To learn more about how 5G is empowering and extending the expanding CPaaS market, you can watch the fireside chat in full here.

5G, Telecommunications, Telecommunications Industry

Nowadays, the world seems to experience once-in-a-century storms almost monthly. These cataclysmic weather events often cause extensive property damage, including major disruptions to the power grid that can cripple IT systems. More commonly, human error and power fluctuations can be just as costly and devastating to continued IT service delivery. To avoid costly outages and data loss, businesses must ensure continued operations with power protection delivered by a smart solution like Dell VxRail and the APC by Schneider Electric Smart UPS with PowerChute Network Shutdown software.

If the outage is prolonged, the Dell-APC solution enables remote shut down to protect IT systems and ensure a non-disruptive restart.

When the power goes out, gracefully shutting down connected IT devices — like servers, storage devices, and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) — helps prevent further damage to those devices. It also prevents loss of business data and damage to enterprise workloads and helps ensure a smoother process for restarting and getting the business back up and running.

Why is this so important? Because the cost of downtime can be catastrophic. Estimates of IT service downtime costs range from $80,000 an hour on the lower end of the scale to $5 million an hour for larger enterprises. And that doesn’t account for damage to business reputation — whether a retailer loses its POS systems, or a larger organization loses its online customer service and sales systems.

Dell Technologies VxRail

With so much at stake, a UPS with remote management capabilities is critical to protect the HCI system and workloads it supports. HCI systems, like Dell VxRail, have become the backbone for data centers and larger organizations. HCI has historically been used to support specific workloads like virtual desktops (VDI). However, it has emerged as a workhorse for running mission-critical workloads that require elevated levels of performance and availability. Enterprises should consider deploying an intelligent smart UPS like the Dell-APC PowerChute solution to protect those mission-critical workloads running on HCI.

While HCI is also well-suited for supporting multiple sites, losing power at remote sites can still cause system damage and data corruption. To prevent this type of damage, organizations must install a UPS at every HCI installation. Ideally, the UPS will keep systems operating throughout an outage. However, if an outage lasts too long, businesses must have a process in place to ensure an automated graceful shutdown, followed by a sequenced infrastructure restart. 

To gracefully shut down the HCI, the UPS must be able to communicate over a distributed network. Then it has to initiate a step-by-step restart sequence to ensure hardware and data protection. The automated restart should begin once power is restored. This automated remedy for power interruption can save time and money — and, ultimately, minimize downtime.

Integrated systems like Dell VxRail HCI and the APC by Schneider Electric Smart UPS with PowerChute Network Shutdown software can help businesses simplify and automate the process during catastrophic power outages and ensure business continuity by enabling graceful shutdown and the ability to simply move virtual machines to another system. This level of network protection acts as insurance against catastrophic downtime that could otherwise lead to the loss of all IT services.  

To learn more about how integrated IT solutions like Dell VxRail and the APC by Schneider Electric Smart UPS with PowerChute Network Shutdown software protect business data assets and ensure business continuity, please visit us here.

Watch this video to learn more:

Infrastructure Management, IT Leadership

Kidney diseases are a leading cause of death in the US, claiming more than a quarter million lives each year. Roughly 37 million people in the US are inflicted with chronic kidney disease (CKD) although most are undiagnosed. Left untreated, CKD may advance and can lead to more serious medical issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and complete kidney failure, or End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

The solution for many at that extreme stage is dialysis or a kidney transplant — both of which have a significant impact on the quality of life. Every 24 hours, 360 people in the US begin dialysis treatment for kidney failure, according to the CDC.

One organization at the forefront of clinical care and innovation is DaVita, one of the largest providers of kidney care services, with more than 2,800 outpatient dialysis centers in the US and close to 400 outpatient dialysis centers in 11 countries worldwide. This year alone, the company has served nearly 200,000 patients in the US at its outpatient centers and is actively pushing the kidney care industry to adopt high-quality standards of care for all patients.

While treating ESRD patients through its large network of dialysis centers is the Fortune 200 company’s primary business, the company is also involved in efforts to reduce CKD cases and the need for dialysis treatment and transplants as well. Here, IT is playing a significant role.

“We’ve been working to enable world-class integrated care at scale and transform the delivery of care at each point of a patient’s journey,” says Alan Cullop, SVP & CIO at DaVita.  “Our digital transformation strategy is centered around establishing a consumer-oriented model that helps us customize chronic care management based on the ever-changing conditions of each patient.”

The foundation for DaVita’s digital transformation will be a new technical platform and clinical documentation system that “allows for deeper integration across our applications and improves our ability to capture data throughout the patient’s care,” Cullop says, noting that development has been a multi-year process and deployment is now underway and will be completed in 2023. “We’re providing our physician partners, clinical teams, and patients with digital capabilities that support our efforts to proactively improve the quality of care our patients receive.”  

DaVita also provides millions of dollars in funding to address ancillary issues related to kidney disease sufferers, such as food insecurity and even support to patients impacted by environmental catastrophes such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

In this CIO Executive Council Future Forward podcast, we talk with DaVita’s technology chief about the company’s plan to expand activities from CKD treatment to disease prevention. Cullop also talks about DaVita’s strategies for AI and data analytics, as well as the importance of passion and culture as drivers of technology innovation.

The following are edited excerpts from that discussion. Click on the podcast players below to listen to Parts 1 & 2 of the conversation.

Tim Scannell:  How much of a role do technologies like data analytics and AI play in DaVita’s overall technology and business strategy?

Alan Cullop: We have a very large and very focused effort on AI and data analytics. There’s so much power in data and the insights doctors get early in the care continuum and how we engage with patients even before they are in dialysis. We’re using predictive algorithms to identify signs of undiagnosed kidney disease. We’re also doing a lot with population health management, performing more comprehensive patient assessments, managing our high-risk patients, stabilizing transitions of care, optimizing outpatient care, and really trying to call out things that help us understand disease progression.

We’re looking at a variety of sources of data, putting it in data lakes, and then using that to drive predictive models that really help our doctors and our care teams to stratify our patient’s risk by taking actions at the right time.

A lot of innovation initiatives right now are small and more closely aligned with tangible results. While this may be a great short-term strategy, how might this impact the concept of innovation in general as we move forward?

Alan Cullop: Innovation usually starts with a problem or something we’re trying to solve. And with AI sometimes you stumble on it unexpectantly as a search for the unknown unknown. The trick is to not let the outcomes and particular things we’re trying to solve get in the way of innovative thinking or block our sense of what’s possible.  

Sometimes smaller focused innovation efforts do lead to much bigger ideas. But, ideation sessions, innovation sessions, and hackathons have led to some interesting insights we’ve built upon and can be applied across the board. We encourage our teams to really embrace it, but we’re going to make mistakes. One of the better ways to learn is if you make a mistake, and now you know more than you did before and you know how to perhaps not repeat it.

IT culture is important today, especially in retaining and recruiting talent. As companies shift to a new normal of hybrid working, do you think there’ll be a significant impact on traditional cultural structures?

Alan Cullop: I think there are three fundamental issues or points that help build and sustain a strong culture. First, I am very excited by the increased focus on diversity, inclusion, and belonging in our society. We’ve been very focused on these issues for quite some time and really interested in embracing different perspectives. We’ve made great progress, but it’s one of those things that I would say your work is never done. I’m proud to be a part of the conversation and proud of the engagement level of our teammates.

Second, I think flexibility is crucial. We need to understand how and where our teammates want to work, which roles are conducive with work being done remotely versus hybrid models and find ways to keep our engagement high. For us, that’s a balance. We’re exploring more flexible work arrangements and talking to teammates about how and where they want to work to meet their needs.

Finally, leadership needs to be visible and consistent in terms of demonstrating the importance of culture and engagement. It’s easy to talk about culture, but it’s certainly harder to carve out time to be present and to genuinely engage with teammates on culture. Everyone looks to leadership to be role models and set examples. So, it’s important that we take the time to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

In earlier conversations, you talked about thepower of purpose.’ Can you tell me just what this means to you and how it comes into play at DaVita?

Alan Cullop: I think it’s super important and something we take very seriously. We talk about the power of purpose all the time in healthcare and what it means to stay connected to our patients and their families, and what we can do to really improve their quality of life and in many cases save lives. We bake this into our IT strategy, our team meetings, and our engagement approaches. I love the innovation and enablement that we bring. It personally gives me a lot of energy and passion and a sense of purpose. We’re doing something and we’re giving back to others, which I think for a lot of us helps bring a true sense of purpose.

IT Leadership

This article was co-authored by Duke Dyksterhouse, an Associate at Metis Strategy.

A lobby television isn’t all that uncommon or remarkable for a $4.5-billion-dollar company, but what’s on the 85-inch screen in the lobby of Generac’s headquarters certainly is. Rather than the predictable advertisements or staged photos featuring happy employees, it’s a demo of the energy management firm’s latest innovation, called PowerINSIGHTS.  

It’s an interactive platform. Zip and click and zoom about a map of North America bespeckled with glowing, Generac-orange dots, and as you dance about, watch the handful of key metrics in the UI change to reflect the region examined: UtilityScore, OpportunityScore, PowerScore. Simple metrics, but dense with information, telling not only of any one region’s energy landscape but of the entire energy market’s trajectory. 

Tim Dickson, CIO, Generac

Generac Power Systems

“Every day that I come into the office,” explains Tim Dickson, CIO of Generac, “I see people I’ve never met, people I’ve never even seen, standing around the demo screen in the lobby. And ideas for how to improve it are pouring in. Other business units, like our subsidiary Ecobee, have already gotten involved. They’ve added their assets to the platform.” 

In the world of energy management, Generac’s PowerINSIGHTS platform is a riveting achievement in the race to extract an unprecedented level of intelligence from power grids, which have become more difficult to manage with the rise of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) like solar, EVs, and, of course, Generac generators. DERs are hard to visualize as they come in many forms and run on unpredictable schedules. PowerINSIGHTS changes that. Its glowing orange dots represent the once “hidden” DERs, and its accompanying metrics reveal how such energy in a geography is managed, used, distributed, and so on. 

“This platform brings an incredible amount of unseen energy into play,” says Amod Goyal, one of Generac’s development experts and the manager of the PowerINSIGHTS implementation. “We can see where there’s idle power that a customer might want to sell and where we can redistribute it to help people in need, like after a hurricane. We can do this all without providing any external access to customer data, and we never disclose any personal identifiable information.” 

PowerINSIGHTS’ value and novelty may make you think the platform is the premeditated outcome of an arduous program. Its display in the Generac lobby encourages that suspicion. But PowerINSIGHTS is the unexpected outcome of a hackathon led by Tim and his IT organization. Even more notably, the hackathon was one of Tim’s first initiatives after taking the helm as CIO in August of 2020. 

Conventional wisdom suggests CIOs should master IT fundamentals before they get innovative. The helpdesk must run like a German train station, the Wi-Fi can’t drop (ever), and the conference room must be easier to navigate than an iPhone. While getting the basics right is table stakes for any CIO, if you wait to innovate until your peers commend you for doing so, bring a comfy chair because you’re going to be waiting for a while. Additionally, the master-the-rules-before-you-break-them philosophy is exceedingly narrow. Who made Wi-Fi or conference-room navigation the rule? The CIO is meant to enable the business, and there are many ways to do that beyond ensuring network uptime.  

The best CIOs want to rattle their departments, change their organizations’ stars, and lunge at the big ideas white-boarded in a frenzy of inspiration. But, as is often the case, what if they don’t have the resources, the time, the money, or the mandate?  

Do it anyway, Tim says. You might surprise yourself. On the heels of the successful hackathon and PowerINSIGHTS development, he offered three points of advice and encouragement for technology leaders who want to drive innovation, even if they aren’t sure they are ready: You have more at your disposal than you think, your people are more talented than you know, and you will be known for what you do. 

You have more at your disposal than you think 

Despite what some IT leaders think, innovation is not reserved only for the Googles and the Teslas of the world. Additionally, not all innovative organizations need to be built from scratch. You don’t have to invest in a new kitchen to cook something new; sometimes you need only to step back and consider how you might differently combine the ingredients you already have.  

PowerINSIGHTS is a perfect example of this. No element of the platform is all that novel, Tim says, and Generac had the underlying data for years. What’s more, the geospatial visualization of that data was made possible by a feature of Microsoft Azure that had been hiding in plain sight. The innovation came from a new combination of these elements.  

There may also be significant change agents in your broader ecosystem. For example, to build momentum behind his hackathon, Tim recruited vendors to sponsor it. Microsoft, Databricks, and others sent in experts a month ahead of time to upskill Generac’s workforce. Suddenly, IT employees found themselves learning the things that interested them and developing the skills they wanted to develop. Other departments, feeling the excitement, jumped into the mix and IT employees found themselves solving problems alongside their peers from Connectivity and Engineering, a demonstration of the business partnership CIOs dream of. 

Often, the best inventions seem obvious in retrospect. Keep that in mind when you think your department lacks the resources to build something new. Tim recruited partners to support the hackathon, yes, but what made the difference was Tim’s push to give employees the chance to innovate with what they had. Without that push, it’s likely that the PowerINSIGHTS idea would not have seen the light of day.  

Your people are more talented than you know 

As corporate IT departments evolve, so too are the qualities their leaders seek in candidates. Where nuts-and-bolts, black-and-white problem-solving once may have sufficed, skills like ownership, autonomy, creativity, big-picture thinking, and continuous learning are quickly becoming essential. Because many IT leaders have yet to see their current employees exhibit these traits, they tend to think they lack them altogether. Therefore, they decide they cannot transform their department or make it innovative until they first hire the “right” people. Since that often requires a budget they don’t have, it’s a good excuse to stand still. 

Oftentimes, however, employees already have the autonomy, creativity, and all the attributes that companies covet; they just lack an avenue to showcase those attributes. As Tim predicted it would, the hackathon opened that avenue to Generac’s employees. He elaborated on this insight last year in Metis Strategy’s Digital Symposium: “We had 16 teams participate, 70 people, and we’ve implemented over half of [their] ideas in production deployment. What that showed me is that there was a significant amount of pent-up demand…a significant desire for folks who aspired to do more…and show and present their ideas…in a form that they didn’t necessarily have before.” 

The hackathon revealed such an explosive appetite for innovation that, in its wake, Tim and his colleagues configured a digital COE as a central muscle for nurturing that appetite on an ongoing basis. The COE helps anyone in the organization, regardless of their position or business unit, develop their ideas with emerging technologies. “It allows those people with the ideas an avenue to bring them to light,” explained Tim. “When you have that type of engagement from team members, where they feel their voices are being heard, that’s a model that can scale…so we’ve embraced that here at Generac.” 

You don’t always need better talent to innovate. Sometimes, you need to innovate to find out how good your talent is. That’s the paradox that drove Tim to host his hackathon in the first place. He wanted to learn who and what he was working with. Dickson likens it to karaoke: “You just don’t know who’s going to hop up, grab the mic, and just wail it out,” he says. “It’s one of the most inspiring things to witness. But you have to play a tune worth singing to.” 

You are known for what you do 

Aristotle once wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Tim’s rendition is, “You will be known for what you do.” In either case, the emphasis is on the “do.” Tim’s gentle reminder to his employees, and his advice to CIOs, is that the most eloquent memos and best-laid plans are meaningless if there’s no action behind them. Don’t try to convince anyone that you or your department are innovators or wait for permission to become innovators. Be innovators. 

The key is to get to something real, however rough. If the idea is even halfway decent, says Tim, that will change everything. And PowerINSIGHTS is the perfect example. Prior to the hackathon and maybe even prior to that, Tim and his team could have frittered away time around the water cooler, spitballing the merits of such an innovation to anyone who would listen. But they didn’t. Instead, they built it, crude as the first iteration may have been. At first, the user interface was Spartan, the user experience clunky, but no matter. 

“Once we had something people could see and touch, the whole mood shifted,” Tim said. “The CEO actually… proposed some of the first use cases for PowerINSIGHTS and has remained very involved in the project since.”  

That initial action on the innovation front led to real transformation for legacy processes and technologies as well. In Generac’s case, one of the biggest shifts has been an embrace of cloud infrastructure. “Everything was on-prem when I started. But cloud will be essential to supporting PowerINSIGHTS in the long run, so we’ve stood up a cloud-first infrastructure. And of course, the benefits of that have reached beyond PowerINSIGHTS.”  

We preach often in this column that you don’t have to have all the answers before embarking on an innovation initiative. Tim and PowerINSIGHTS are clear evidence of that. His team had a plan, of course, but they didn’t wait for anyone’s permission to leap. CIOs hoping to reposition their organizations need not wait. By engaging teams across the organization and acting quickly, you will likely discover new opportunities for innovation, energize a team of talented and passionate people, and win respect, quickly, from your peers. 

CIO, Innovation

The digital transformation bandwagon is a crowded one, with enterprises of all kinds heeding the call to modernize. The pace has only quickened in a post-pandemic age of enhanced digital collaboration and remote work. Nonetheless, 70% of digital transformation projects fall short of their goals, as organizations struggle to implement complex new technologies across the enterprise.

Fortunately, businesses can leverage AI and automation to better manage the speed, scale, and complexity of the changes that come with digital transformation. In particular, artificial intelligence for IT operations (or AIOps) platforms can be a game changer. AIOps solutions use machine learning to connect and contextualize operational data for decision support or even auto-resolution of issues. This simplifies and streamlines the transformation journey, especially as the enterprise scales up to larger and larger operations.

The benefits of automation and AIOps can only be realized, however, if companies choose solutions that put the power within reach – ones that package up the complexities and make AIOps accessible to users. And even then, teams must decide which business challenges to target with these solutions.  Let’s take a closer look at how to navigate these decisions about the solutions and use cases that can best leverage AI for maximum impact in the digital transformation journey.

Finding the right automation approach

Thousands of organizations in every part of the world see the advantages of AI-driven applications to streamline their IT and business operations. A “machine-first” approach frees staff from large portions of tedious, manual tasks while reducing risk and boosting output.

AIOps for decision support and automated issue resolution in the IT department can further add to the value derived from AI in an organization’s digital transformation.

Yet conversations with customers and prospects invariably touch on a shared complaint: Enterprise leaders know AI is a powerful ally in the digital transformation journey, but the technology can seem overwhelming and takes too long to scope and shop for all the components.  They’re looking for vendors to offer easier “on-ramps” to digital transformation. They want SaaS options and the availability of quick-install packages that feature just the functions that address a specific need or use case to leap into their intelligent automation journey.

Ultimately, a highly effective approach for leveraging AI in digital transformation involves so-called Out of the Box (OOTB) solutions that package up the complexity as pre-built knowledge that’s tailored for specific kinds of use cases that matter most to the organization.

Choosing the right use cases

Digital transformations are paradoxical in that you’re modernizing the whole organization over the course of time, but it’s impossible to “boil the ocean” and do it all at once. That’s why it’s so important to choose highly strategic and impactful use cases to get the ball rolling, demonstrate early wins, and then expand more broadly across the enterprise over time. 

OOTB solutions can help pare down the complexity. But it is just as important to choose the right use cases to apply such solutions. Even companies that know automation and AIOps are necessary to optimize and scale their systems can struggle with exactly where to apply them in the enterprise to reap the most value.

By way of a cheat sheet, here are four key areas that are ripe for transformation with AI, and where the value of AIOps solutions will shine through most clearly in the form of operational and revenue gains:

IT incident and event managementA robust AIOps solution can prevent outages and enhance event governance via predictive intelligence and autonomous event management. Once implemented, such a solution can render a 360° view of all alerts across all enterprise technology stacks – leveraging machine learning to remove unwanted event noise and autonomously resolve business-critical issues.Business health monitoring – A proactive AI-driven monitoring solution can manage the health of critical processes and business transactions, such as for the retail industry, for enhanced business continuity and revenue assurance. AI-powered diagnosis techniques can continually check the health of retail stores and e-commerce sites and automatically diagnose and resolve unhealthy components. Business SLA predictions – AI can be used to predict delays in business processes, give ahead-of-time notifications, and provide recommendations to prevent outages and Service Level Agreement (SLA) violations. Such a platform can be configured for automated monitoring, with timely anomaly detection and alerts across the entire workload ecosystem.IDoc management for SAP – Intermediate Document (IDoc) management breakdowns can slow progress in transferring data or information from SAP to other systems and vice versa. An AI platform with intelligent automation techniques can identify, prioritize, and then autonomously resolve issues across the entire IDoc landscape – thereby minimizing risk, optimizing supply chain performance, and enhancing business continuity. 

Conclusion

Organizations pursuing digital transformation are increasingly benefiting from enhanced AI-driven capabilities like AIOps that bring new levels of IT and business operations agility to advanced, multi-cloud environments.  As these options become more widespread, enterprises at all stages of the digital journey are learning the basic formula for maximizing the return on these technology investments: They’re solving the complexity problem with SaaS-based, pre-packaged solutions; and they’re becoming more strategic in selecting use cases ideally suited for AIOps and the power of machine learning.

To get up and running fast at any stage of your digital journey, visit Digitate to learn more.

Digital Transformation, IT Leadership

CIO: What is your role and responsibilities at your current organisation?

I am responsible for all technology across Liberis, and currently as an interim looking after product development.

This means ensuring that all of our technology services are running to plan, supporting our business and customers, and running efficiently and to the required level of performance.

As well as ensuring the smooth running of business as usual, there is the development of new product features, the onboarding of new partners and geographical expansion that has to be supported by the product and technology teams. Add to this the architectural enhancement, the integration of new innovations and ensuring that we are a product and technology-led organisation, every day brings a new and exciting challenge.

For example, at the moment, we are building an end-to-end, one-click embedded finance journey. We’re streamlining the application process, evidence collection, quoting, decisioning, and funding – in order to provide funds into a customer’s account in hours. We’re using advanced architectural structures to deliver a fully API-enabled set of services that can be embedded in a partners ecosystem.

CIO: How has your career evolved to becoming an IT director/CIO/CTO?

When I was very young, my family moved to Africa – which was truly a life-enhancing experience. I grew up away from my entire family so it taught me adaptability at a young age. When you enter a class full of people in a strange country, and with a completely different culture, it can be very daunting, so you learn all sorts of techniques to survive. On my return to the UK, there was a mismatch in the education I had received and the available syllabus, so I had to look for an alternative path. I wasn’t able to follow the traditional route of A-Levels and onto university to get a degree, as I didn’t have the requisite base knowledge.

Fortunately, I was able to join an organisation at the ground level and be trained in each new role. I am happy to see the uptake of apprenticeships now as I really believe that learning from the bottom-up gives you a much more rounded skillset.

This is how I found myself in the technology industry and my route has since been fairly traditional, as I progressed through development, architecture, project management and then into leadership roles.

CIO: Tell us about something you have worked on over the last 12 months that you are proud of?

Since joining Liberis, we have practically doubled in size and I am very proud to be part of the team to help realise this incredible business growth – and this is only just the start.

In addition, in the last 12 months, I have been working as a mentor for a start-up accelerator. This involves me giving up time to talk to founders and advise them on their technology and product decisions.

It is incredible how many people have such passion about their ideas and give up so much to try and launch them into a successful business. Starting a company is exhausting both emotionally and mentally and requires incredible self-belief and resilience. It is an honour to help these founders in even the smallest way on their journey.

CIO: What do you do outside of work?

Outside of work, I have an active life doing high-intensity training and yoga. I am a jigsaw puzzle addict and find this to be a fabulous stress management tool.

I love visiting new countries and exploring different cultures; I visited the walled city of Dubrovnik in one of the brief gaps between COVID-19 lockdowns and was privileged to have been there when it was almost empty. It gave me the opportunity to walk around freely and enjoy the history of the town and the magnificence of the buildings. I love cities and I can never get bored of New York and London.  

When I get a chance, I love painting large abstract bright and colourful pictures. I have been to many workshops and worked on many varieties of pictures including a large nude portrait – very tame and decent – but I prefer abstract art. I am also an avid networker and supporter/mentor of start-ups.

CIO: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

It came pretty late in my career but a wonderful lady that I worked with at Vodafone said ‘do not sit back and let your career happen’; you need a plan that you actively manage the same as any other kind of project in life.

Once I started doing this, I took control of my career, which was so incredibly empowering. As a result, I was much more selective about what I wanted to achieve and the results have been incredibly rewarding.

Financial Services Industry, IT Leadership

Many people associate high-performance computing (HPC), also known as supercomputing, with far-reaching government-funded research or consortia-led efforts to map the human genome or to pursue the latest cancer cure.

But HPC can also be tapped to advance more traditional business outcomes — from fraud detection and intelligent operations to helping advance digital transformation. The challenge: making complex compute-intensive technology accessible for mainstream use.

As companies digitally transform and steer toward becoming data-driven businesses, there is a need for increased computing horsepower to manage and extract business intelligence and drive data-intensive workloads at scale. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and real-time analytics applications, often deployed at the edge, can utilize HPC resources to unlock insights from data and efficiently run increasingly large and more complex models and simulations.

The convergence of HPC with AI-based analytics is impacting nearly every industry and across a wide range of applications, including space exploration, drug discovery, financial modeling, automotive design, and systems engineering.

“HPC is becoming a utility in our lives — people aren’t thinking about what it takes to design this tire, validate a chip design, parse and analyze customer preferences, do risk management, or build a 3D structure of the COVID-19 virus,” notes Max Alt, distinguished technologist and director of Hybrid HPC at HPE. “HPC is everywhere, but you don’t think about it, because it’s hidden at the core.”

HPC’s scalable architecture is particularly well suited for AI applications, given the nature of computation required and the unpredictable growth of data associated with these workflows. HPC’s use of graphics-processing-unit (GPU) parallel processing power — coupled with its simultaneous processing of compute, storage, interconnects, and software — raises the bar on AI efficiencies. At the same time, such applications and workflows can operate and scale more readily.

Even with widespread usage, there is more opportunity to leverage HPC for better and faster outcomes and insights. HPC architecture — typically clusters of CPU and GPUs working in parallel and connected to a high-speed network and data storage system — is expensive, requiring a significant capital investment. HPC workloads are typically associated with vast data sets, which means that public cloud might be an expensive option due to requirements regarding latency and performance issues. In addition, data security and data gravity concerns often rule out public cloud.

Another major barrier to more widespread deployment: a lack of in-house specialized expertise and talent. HPC infrastructure is far more complex than traditional IT infrastructure, requiring specialized skills for managing, scheduling, and monitoring workloads. “You have tightly coupled computing with HPC, so all of the servers need to be well synchronized and performing operations in parallel together,” Alt explains. “With HPC, everything needs to be in sync, and if one node goes down, it can fail a large, expensive job. So you need to make sure there is support for fault tolerance.”

HPE GreenLake for HPC Is a Game Changer

An as-a-service approach can address many of these challenges and unlock the power of HPC for digital transformation. HPE GreenLake for HPC enables companies to unleash the power of HPC without having to make big up-front investments on their own. This as-a-service-based delivery model enables enterprises to pay for HPC resources based on the capacity they use. At the same time, it provides access to third-party experts who can manage and maintain the environment in a company-owned data center or colocation facility while freeing up internal IT departments.

“The trend of consuming what used to be a boutique computing environment now as-a-service is growing exponentially,” Alt says.

HPE GreenLake for HPC bundles the core components of an HPC solution (high-speed storage, parallel file systems, low-latency interconnect, and high-bandwidth networking) in an integrated software stack that can be assembled to meet an organization’s specific workload needs.

As part of the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform, HPE GreenLake for HPC gives organizations access to turnkey and easily scalable HPC capabilities through a cloud service consumption model that’s available on-premises. The HPE GreenLake platform experience provides transparency for HPC usage and costs and delivers self-service capabilities; users pay only for the HPC resources they consume, and built-in buffer capacity allows for scalability, including unexpected spikes in demand. HPE experts also manage the HPC environment, freeing up IT resources and delivering access to the specialized performance tuning, capacity planning, and life cycle management skills.

To meet the needs of the most demanding compute and data-intensive workloads, including AI and ML initiatives, HPE has turbocharged HPE GreenLake for HPC with purpose-built HPC capabilities. Among the more notable features are expanded GPU capabilities, including NVIDIA Tensor Core models; support for high-performance HPE Parallel File System Storage; multicloud connector APIs; and HPE Slingshot, a high-performance Ethernet fabric designed to meet the needs of data-intensive AI workloads. HPE also released lower entry points to HPC to make the capabilities more accessible for customers looking to test and scale workloads.

As organizations pursue HPC capabilities, they should consider the following:

Stop thinking of HPC in terms of a specialized boutique technology; think of it more as a common utility used to drive business outcomes.Look for HPC options that are supported by a rich ecosystem of complementary tools and services to drive better results and deliver customer excellence.Evaluate the HPE GreenLake for HPC model. Organizations can dial capabilities up and down, depending on need, while simplifying access and lowering costs.

HPC horsepower is critical, as data-intensive workloads, including AI, take center stage. An as-a-service model democratizes what’s traditionally been out of reach for most, delivering an accessible path to HPC while accelerating data-first business.

For more information, visit https://www.hpe.com/us/en/greenlake/high-performance-compute.html

High-Performance Computing

It’s no secret that the last few years have been challenging for businesses, with the rise of remote and hybrid working demanding new information and communications technology (ICT) options, while the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains.

Economic conditions remain dynamic, and with that in mind, it’s never been more important for businesses to streamline and consolidate their ICT operations – both to face current challenges head-on, and to future-proof their growth path by embracing digital transformation, exploring new markets, and increasing productivity.

Key ICT trends for 2022

When we look ahead at the key trends shaping the next 12 months, decentralised, secure, cloud-based solutions are enabling businesses of all sizes to adopt technologies that have been deployed successfully by larger enterprises. This includes, but is not limited to:

Cyber security
While digital acceleration provides serious benefits, it’s imperative that your cloud services are secure and protected from cyber threats. Every year in Australia there are more than 50,000 instances of reported cybercrime. These attacks are now increasing targeting SMB’s who don’t have the internal expertise to protect themselves. The risks can be mitigated however, with a managed firewall, endpoint security, good policies, and user training.

It doesn’t need to be complicated – at Business ICT Australia, we work with leading security vendors to provide a visibility of your networks and users so you can monitor the health your network and detect and prevent potential threats early.Office-on-the-go
Hybrid workplaces are here to stay. According to Accenture, a majority of workers (83%) prefer a hybrid work model, and 63% of high-growth companies have already adopted a “productivity anywhere” approach to their workforce. Now that ‘the office’ can be anywhere, a business’s ICT set-up needs to be up for the challenge. Our cloud-based Unified Communications solutions offer greater functionality and flexibility, without the large upfront cost of traditional systems and extend voice solutions to the home office and mobile phone – customers never need to know the difference.

Speaking of the cloud, expect to move most if not all your data and applications there too – if they aren’t already. According to Gartner, spending on cloud services worldwide will top $480 billion in 2022 – a staggering $168 billion increase from 2020.Process automation and AI
While Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t a new concept, to date, most organisations are yet to employ it meaningfully. This will change in 2022, with AI set to become mainstream.
Automation provides growth by freeing up your most valuable resource – your people. Companies using cloud technologies to automate their legacy applications and IT operations processes are gaining a significant competitive advantage over those behind the curve. Among early adopters, 75% have seen an increase in revenue and profitability while 80% of firms say their organisation’s agility has improved, according to research from CapGemini.

Companies of all sizes should start to incorporate AI-driven automation in every aspect of business: from customer service to sales and logistics.Digital experience platforms
Technology-assisted client interactions are set to soar this year, as cloud-based digital experience platforms (DXPs) are more widely adopted and deployed to create, manage, deliver and optimise customized digital customer experiences.

A DXP brings together web content management systems with other customer-focused applications such as e-commerce and CRM tools.

Today’s customer demands personalisation, and DXPs allow you to create a personalised customer journey from pre to post-sale. It’s a market estimated to reach USD 30.41 billion by 2030.

Connectivity at the core

Underlying all of this innovation, of course, is connectivity, specifically, business-grade fibre. When you’re running multiple applications that are latency-sensitive and require consistent bandwidth, including IP telephony, contact centre and video conferencing that rely on upload speed as much as download speed, you need the performance and reliability of symmetrical fibre.

Business nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet delivers fibre straight to your business premises. It’s suitable for businesses of all sizes with a range of bandwidth, contention ratios and fault restoration service level options.

Choosing the right partner

The real challenge for businesses is to manage all their ICT needs in such a rapidly changing environment. An ideal ICT partner should provide one monthly bill for all your needs, from business-grade internet to voice, managed network, data, print and cybersecurity. A solution that accesses the latest technology, so you don’t need a whole IT department in-house.

Equally, you want a partner that understands your requirements and can devise a solution that is tailored to your individual business need – with an eye to the future.

Strong partnerships and fast connectivity will provide the backbone for productivity in 2022. Want to fast-track unified business growth? Read Read 7 ways to escape a hacker’s paradise and Business ICT + business nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet Powering productivity and growth

About Business ICT Australia

business ICT

Business ICT Australia is an Information & Communications Technology company focused on providing best in class unified communications, managed networks, mobility and IT services for SMEs and mid-market enterprises. They are a business nbn accredited adviser.

Get in touch.

Nick Kennedy, GM – Product & Technology

Connect with Nick on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/nickkennedy84

Business Continuity, Business Operations, Business Services