Automation is your ‘how’ in the golden circle for digital transformation

It’s not the what or how about a company that will make you buy its product – it’s answering why you do what you do.

Over the recent holiday, I had the opportunity to listen to a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek titled, “How great leaders inspire action”. In his talk, Sinek explains that all great leaders think, act and communicate the exact same way – which is completely opposite to everyone else. Sinek went one step further and codified his conclusion into something he calls the “golden circle”.

As Sinek explains, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” So, it’s not about what or how you do it, it’s why you do it that motivates people – it’s behavioral. It’s why consumers popularized the MP3 Player that Apple sold as the iPod over other manufacturers’ versions at the time – there are countless examples. Okay, so in order to sell anything – a pen, an MP3 player or mainframe solutions, you need to sell people why you do it and a vision of a different and meaningful experience.

What is CA’s and your organization’s why in the golden circle?

Like every other business in the world, CA is facing the biggest disruption of its history with digital transformation. Our customers are also asking big questions about their own businesses – merely meeting Wall Street expectations won’t be enough – the real threats are the ones we hadn’t even imagined.

Think of companies like Uber that are disrupting conventional business models. Our customers choose CA because they realize they need to disrupt themselves and software innovation is the fastest path to unleashing new value and improving user experiences. We too in the mainframe business, as pointed out in a blog post last year, chose to double down on the mission-essential mainframe for the 21st century application economy rather than allow it to languish in the doldrums of the data center or turn a blind eye to newer technologies and methodologies.

Some people have said it’s a risky decision. But as Sinek asks in the opening of his talk, “How do you explain why and how others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?” I can probably tell you everything about our mainframe software that makes it great over its competitors, you’d probably say, “meh”, and move on.

But if I found out more about your company, how you use the mainframe and understand  what a critical role the mainframe plays in your business, you may be more inclined to hear me out. For example, your stakeholders will care little about the details of log management but they will care about missed SLAs or disruptions in critical services. In other words, you care about mission-essential services and experiences that delight your customers and keep you ahead of your competitors.

Be fearless: the ‘how’ in the golden circle is automation, analytics and machine learning

Finding the ‘how’ of your golden circle isn’t for the timid.  As I tell my kids – I can’t predict job descriptions of the future. In fact, a big disrupter will be artificial Intelligence and intelligent automation. This is not only as a critical component of business transformation – this redefines what it means to work in IT and all other facets of industry.

Two recent NYTimes articles, “The great AI awakening” and “The long-term job killer is not China, its automation” juxtaposed together point to the inevitable evolution and necessity to disrupt incumbent practices and business models to remain relevant and viable.

At CA, we are helping customers embrace this inevitable change proactively versus reactively. How we can redefine traditional siloes – both people and technology across their business and even within IT – all with the goal of rethinking the question of what business are we really in and what does it mean to individuals and employees in our organizations?

We’re adding innovations in analytics and machine learning to touch our entire product portfolio – including the mainframe – transforming the entire domain of systems management. Imagine IT systems that can predict when failures will happen. What if we can significantly reduce the human effort in triage and trouble-shooting if outages occur?

Lastly, we just closed on the acquisition of Automic. CA will add Automic’s automation capabilities to its portfolio to address IT operations and DevOps needs on-premises, in the cloud and hybrid cloud environments. With real-time analytics incorporated into an end-to-end platform approach, these capabilities essentially offer increased business agility with solutions that move from IT-centric task automation to business-centric intelligent automation and orchestration. Advanced automation adoption also indirectly addresses the challenge of a diverse and evolving skill mix in the organization – it’s about tapping the right skill for the right tasks but also about continuing to optimize – humans need to tackle the difficult problems while automation should do the rest.

Create your own golden circle

So, as we head into 2017, I encourage you to think about your organization’s next business innovation and ‘why’ you should embark on a digital transformation journey. Consider ‘how’ your business will embrace intelligent automation and ‘what’ your business does or can do to impact the needs of your customers.

Fortunately, the IT industry at large and CA provide solutions and expertise to help you embrace the unknown and address the risks to take the necessary steps on this unprecedented transformation.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on digital transformation and intelligent automation, and where your organization currently is with it – successes, challenges, best practices and even gripes are encouraged in the comments section.


Ashok is General Manager of Mainframe at CA Technologies where he's responsible for the P&L,…

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