Welcome Brian Nordmann! Our guest blogger this week is the CIO of engineering and environmental consulting firm Dudek, who is sharing his insights about how IT teams can create competitive advantages that attract new opportunities.
Working closely with our business partners, the Dudek IT team tackled a complicated technology challenge that when solved, became a significant differentiator for our firm and competitive advantage because of the value we are uniquely delivering to our clients. Our journey also tells the bigger story of how a willingness to continually innovate is good both for customers and for business growth.
Align IT with business strategy
Gone are the days where the success of an IT department is simply measured by how quickly incidents are resolved or requests are fulfilled; while important, it’s no longer enough in this age where every business is a digital business. In Dudek IT, we view it as our role to make technology choices that further business goals. I’ve been fortunate to work closely with the entire Dudek leadership team to help define our firm’s business strategy. The technology landscape changes fast, affecting both our internal infrastructure choices as well as the solutions we offer our customers. If the IT strategy is not in lock-step with the business strategy, IT will become an anchor slowing the business down.
It’s in the context of developing innovative product offerings for our clients that we arrived at the conclusion that our on-premises datacenter could not take Dudek where we wanted to go as a business. By 2017 we had developed a fast-growing division of the business around Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) flights – drones! The service turned out to be of such high value to our customers that we quickly found ourselves running up against the limits of our IT infrastructure to deliver outcomes based on flight data, in an actionable format, quickly. Producing the highly graphics-intensive maps and other project deliverables from the images collected by drone flights could take as much as five days for a large project involving many acres of land, and sometimes it could take even longer if we were unlucky enough to experience a random power outage or other hardware problem. With multiple drone pilots working on large concurrent projects around the U.S., the time-consuming processing of images and data collected became acute. Even though we could have continued to use traditional VDI, when we looked further into the future, we knew it was not the solution to the growth constraints we faced. It was time to innovate!
Prove business value
Technology deployments limiting your ability to serve your customers puts your entire business at risk. An IT team has to be brave enough to welcome change and, at times, take a few calculated risks. When we were facing five-day turnaround times for processing drone images, we had to change the way we had been working, in order to grow that business. We could buy more physical GPU workstations, expand our existing VDI implementation, or take a calculated risk with the possibility of completely transforming the firm in terms of creating new opportunities. As we explored options, we found the possibility of cloud workstations highly intriguing and understood that the technology could be a game changer. Fortunately, I was able to turn to two of my peers, CIOs at other AEC firms who had experience with cloud workstations, to discuss their experience with moving their GPU workstations to the cloud. Those conversations supported our decision to proceed with a proof of concept with Workspot. The outcome was the proof we needed: Image processing that previously took 5 days, took only 6 hours with Workspot cloud workstations. The ROI for that use case was a complete no-brainer. We proved we had a solution that not only solved a very tricky business challenge, but that also put us on a path to innovation for other use cases, and that is turning out to be truly transformational.
Align. Innovate. Prove. Repeat.
My team and I will continue to explore, and to question the status quo. It’s an ongoing commitment that is part of our DNA. We stay closely aligned with our business partners, and we never stop thinking about how we can innovate to make the business better. We have to prove that our technology choices deliver value to our customers and to Dudek. And then we do it all over again! Not only is this how my team believes we can help Dudek grow, but it’s also what we love to do – work with technology partners who share the same spirit of innovation and commitment to serving their customers that we have. That’s what we’ve found with Workspot.