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In the race to digital, flexible infrastructure makes the difference

Some companies are born digital. Others have to work at it. No matter how their journey began, the most forward-looking digital enterprises have created an ideal back-office environment that supports what they do in the front office to grow their business. That journey is more urgent than ever.

In our new research survey, 52 percent of European enterprises said that it is very important or critical that they can operate as a digital enterprise within the next two years. Additionally, 29 percent of respondents rated their speed of progress toward digital transformation as “fast” while 6 percent said they were moving “very fast.”

Why the urgency? Our research found that the companies that are moving the fastest toward digital transformation are also the ones who rate digital as an important capability for short- and long-term success. The faster these companies move, the quicker they accelerate away from their competitors, gaining an important edge now and in the future.  

The findings are part of our newly commissioned IDC research The Digital Enterprise. In total, 752 European enterprises were surveyed, providing a picture of the strategies top digital enterprises take to strengthen their ability to grow and scale. You can download the full report at this link.  

What is a digital enterprise?

Digital transformation is a fairly broad term, but for the purposes of this research, we focused on a simple proposition. Enterprises today are challenged to achieve more, whether that means creating new products faster, improving customer engagement or playing a larger role in more global markets. To reach their goals, top digital enterprises use emerging technologies – Big Data, cloud, mobile, social media – to transform existing processes or do something new.

Who’s moving the fastest?

Our research found that IT infrastructure is often a key enabler of digital transformation. Among the group of survey respondents who are making the fastest progress toward digital – our “digital leaders” – the flexibility and performance of IT infrastructure was the most influential success factor.

In terms of specific infrastructure capabilities, the hybrid cloud stood out as a priority for respondents. About 53 percent of total respondents said they currently or plan to use a hybrid cloud solution – that figure was 72 percent among digital leaders. The research showed a growing preference toward off-premises IT, with 50 percent of respondents saying they expect to reduce their use of on-premises data centers within the next three years.

Why move off-site? European enterprises want to move infrastructure closer to their customers, and as business becomes increasingly global, this often means working with third-party data center providers for access to in-country facilities.  

Ultimately, the research found that the top digital enterprises in Europe view their infrastructure decisions through a business lens. By thinking strategically about their infrastructure, these businesses are able to scale and improve their position in the increasingly competitive digital economy.   We’ll cover many more findings from our survey in future blogs, but in the meantime, you can download the entire in-depth research report here.