“Many say it. But at CDW, we actually do it,” said Conor Waddell, vice president and general manager of digital infrastructure at CDW, in an opening session at the 2023 CDW Executive SummIT. “We offer an unparalleled breadth of experience in complex environments and provide lifecycle support.”
This robust partnership is essential for IT leaders today as they struggle to prioritize major industry trends against business priorities. “A new trend like generative AI is real. It’s here, and AI and ML is going to change how we interface with our customers,” Waddell said. But how does that technology impact workflow? And at what point should leadership enter into conversations to establish a plan forward?
CDW Senior Vice President Jill Billhorn said as early as possible: “The sooner IT leaders can insert themselves into the conversations, the better. It really makes a difference.”
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Keeping Up with IT Trends
For IT leaders to participate constructively, they first need to know which IT trends matter most. Experts at the CDW Executive SummIT said the major 2023 trends shaping the industry are cybersecurity, automation, digital velocity, customer experience and digital infrastructure. And in a watershed moment for the industry, these topics are all converging at once.
The result can be something such as ChatGPT. “Chat GPT is everywhere, but bots don’t know what’s happening in the workforce as well as we do. We are the ones that must figure out how this tech will impact the larger organization,” Waddell said. IT leaders have lived experience on their side and a deep understanding of their organizations as they assess trends.
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After identifying the trends, IT leaders must anticipate the result — keeping in mind that any disruptive technology can bring challenges and opportunities.
But results can be predictive. “The ever-evolving nature of technology means that tech companies are all in the business of selling the same thing: the future,” Billhorn said. “Many initiatives factor into the secure packaging and delivery of the future, from automation to digital velocity to security.”
Careful orchestration can bring all those factors together. Establishing a forward-looking, holistic strategy also means communicating objectives across teams. IT leaders should be joining the conversation at every stage. “From marketing to finance to sales, everyone must be integrated and aligned to make the business move faster,” Billhorn said.
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Building a Unified, Strategic IT Decision Framework
As IT leaders work toward a unified IT framework, they must first understand that scaling solutions involves two elements: digital infrastructure and digital velocity. Both must be integrated from the start.
At the CDW Executive SummIT, experts defined both terms. Building digital infrastructure involves scaling solutions so that they support hybrid infrastructure, security and digital experience. Digital velocity is about accelerating those solutions to market with automated tools or agile processes. This process typically harnesses data, intelligent platforms, cloud, and cloud-native technology and talent services.
Waddell cited hybrid work as an example of these two elements coming together. “A moment of crisis spurred innovation. We helped companies leverage their technology toward a better outcome,” Waddell said. “Thanks to the mix of digital velocity and digital infrastructure, we deployed technology to people in their homes and then integrated that with our wider network.”
Ideally, IT leaders shouldn’t wait for a crisis to integrate digital velocity with infrastructure. In fact, combining both yields greater connection and speed. The more collaboration, the better equipped businesses are to manage the current landscape, experts explained.
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Transform Customer Experience with a Software-Defined Approach
Once IT leaders have the digital fundamentals in place, they can use CDW’s software-defined approach to deliver a positive customer experience. This offers more programmability to the IT infrastructure, so organizations can adjust more quickly to market shifts.
“Think of CDW as the engine that lets IT leaders do great things with technology,” Billhorn said. CDW has evolved far beyond selling technology, she explained. Today, the company can function as a partner in thought, communicating the business value across stakeholders.
“We work with product teams, cloud, software engineering and lines of business, expanding our reach beyond IT,” Waddell said. Integrating this strategy across teams is essential so that staff understands the technology and its impact on the business.
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