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Listen: Next in Tech | Episode 85: Taming complexity for the Digital Next

We’re kicking off the previews for the 451NEXUS conference and Melanie Posey, the conference chair, is back to talk about the sessions and the expanded content with host Eric Hanselman. One of the biggest challenges organizations face in digitization and the shift to hybrid operations is complexity. It’s not simple to tame, but greater use of automation and operational integration can help. The conference covers this and more. Check out the full agenda here: https://spglobal.com/451nexus

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Transcript provided by Kensho.

Eric Hanselman

Welcome to Next in Tech, an S&P Global Market Intelligence podcast where the world of emerging tech lives. I'm your host, Eric Hanselman, Chief Analyst for the 451 Research arm of S&P Global Market Intelligence. And today, we're going to be discussing 451NEXUS, our virtual conference with the conference chair, Melanie Posey, our Research Director for our cloud practice and frequent guest. Melanie, welcome back yet again.

Melanie Posey

Hey, Eric, I feel like I live on the Next in Tech podcast, but always glad to be here.

Eric Hanselman

Well -- and it's great to have you living here. So -- and really, if we think about what's happening with 451NEXUS, we actually in the previous episode gave a little bit of an intro. And Brenon Daly is going to be doing a lot of his M&A research, getting the latest and greatest on what's happening with the markets, deep dive for more from what we had. But I want to talk with you about really what NEXUS has become and the expansion of the program, continuing to be virtual, really a lot of the things we're talking about in terms of what's on the program for this year.


 

Question and Answer

Eric Hanselman

So I will start off saying that we're kicking off October 31 so listeners have -- can have an eye out to where it is. And I will encourage them to get registered for all of the great content that's there. But what's going on at 451NEXUS this year?

Melanie Posey

Well, one thing we are looking at is continuing to try to take a holistic view of what's going on in the IT space. And the theme of this year's virtual conference is taming enterprise IT complexity to deliver the digital next. So what we mean by the digital next is basically how technology will be evolving in what I think we can maybe safely call now the post-pandemic era. And as we all know...

Eric Hanselman

Knock on wood, cross fingers...

Melanie Posey

Yes. Absolutely, cross everything. But it's definitely undeniable that things have shifted since the beginning of the pandemic way back in 2020 now. And a lot of what happened and the different ways in which people worked and collaborated, the different ways that companies sold and went about their day-to-day business obviously has changed as a result of the pandemic. And now I think we're at a stage where we are kind of figuring out, okay, how does it all play out? What have we learned? What did we get right? What did we get wrong? What might we have to go back and tweak?

But at the end of the day, what is really happening is this ongoing reimagination of how technology can be put to work in new and different ways to improve the way organizations engage with and serve customers, how they work and also how to exist in a universe now where it's all about broad ecosystems. It's always been the case that no company is an island, but even more so today in this digital era ecosystems, working with other companies to create value, engaging employees and partners to create value is a signature principle of IT as we go forward.

Eric Hanselman

Well, you bring up something that -- there's been a recurring theme on the podcast. I think that we've been talking about everything that happened during the early days of the pandemic. And all of that sort of urgent -- everybody got to remote work because they had to.

But wherever we are in terms of the progress of the whole pandemic situation, we are at this point at which in so many different areas, we're seeing enterprises trying to figure out, okay, we did the urgent stuff. We got all the urgent parent fire stuff done.

But now the question is, how are we going to put this together for the long haul? And what are those strategic ways of being able to think about our infrastructure, the way people work, all the other aspects of this. We touched on it a little bit with Conner Forrest a few episodes ago, who will actually be part of the 451NEXUS program.

And Conner was talking about some of those transitions, but this really extends not only to the workspace, work tools and all those kinds of aspects, but to our infrastructure as well. And you and I were talking a few episodes back about a lot of the transitions that are taking place in overall infrastructure, some of the concerns about cost management. But those are things that we're going to be digging into in a lot of detail in the 451NEXUS program.

Melanie Posey

Absolutely, Eric. And one of the sessions actually is entitled Flexible infrastructure: cloud, on-premises, hybrid, multicloud, edge – yes, all of the above. So I think that's one thing we'll start to see, is an evolution of organizations, IT environment. As we go forward, it's not 100% this or 100% that. There are varying percentages of different types of IT deployment models or what we at 451 are increasingly calling cloud operating models that are embedding themselves into enterprises' IT environment.

And this whole idea of a cloud operating model is really useful and really flexible as a concept in that it encompasses both locations. So it's on-premises, it's in the public cloud, it's centralized, it's distributed at the edge. So there's a location agnosticism to where IT actually takes place.

But the broader concept is about cloud as more of an operating model. We are -- there are certain characteristics that prevail regardless of location, and some of those are the ability to quickly deploy, ability to self-service and self-provision capabilities when and where they're needed, automation in the sense that identity access management and other types of security are automatically applied to whatever environment ends up getting created.

So from the infrastructure point of view, one way of taming that enterprise IT complexity is to automate it, to make it flexible and scalable, available where needed but with all the appropriate controls and governance on top to at least keep the technology pieces of that complexity at bay.

Eric Hanselman

Well, as you said at the outset, a holistic view to what our environment looks like, really taking the approach of being able to deliver all of the relevant pieces as part of a much larger whole. And I guess, I think back to 451NEXUS' days, originally, this was the Hosting + Cloud Transformation Summit. And this is what? If I'm counting right, is this 17 years this year? 16, 17?

Melanie Posey

17 or 18. But who's counting?

Eric Hanselman

All right. I may have missed the year. But if we think about where the conference came from as a whole, I mean, this is -- the conference is mirroring this evolution in terms of where people need to get to. The Hosting + Cloud Transformation Summit was all about a lot of the core infrastructure pieces, but now you've got to be able to bring together all of the elements you were talking about.

You've got to be able to cover all of this in a way that is integrated, that is able to leverage the resources you need, where you need them in the manner that the end users want to consume them. And that's bringing together a lot of different pieces in ways that have to mesh that we typically have dealt with pretty discretely in terms of how technologies approach this.

And I guess that's one of the things that's driving the content for NEXUS, but that's also being driven by a lot of our perspectives from the analyst side in terms of where organizations need to get to because realistically, we're seeing the -- that shift to be one that really is necessary for organizations to remain competitive. They've got to be able to get to a point at which they can leverage this much richer set of resources to be able to work within what are much more complex ecosystems and to be able to do that and enable methods of work for their employees to be able to actually get a list of done.

Melanie Posey

Yes. Absolutely. And it's interesting you bring up the evolution from the early days of this event as the Hosting + Cloud Transformation Summit because -- and this is one of the reasons we've decided to go with a virtual approach this year, is that there are a lot of different issues that play into the future of IT right now. It's not just infrastructure. It's not just data centers. It's not just security. It's not just AI and machine learning. It's all of those things.

So to present the full complexity of what our IT and business and digital environments look like to date kind of made sense to look at a lot of different topics. And one way to drive that holistic way of looking at things is to have it as a virtual conference.

So just to give an example here. Infrastructure is the foundation of everything. No matter how abstracted your servers and storage and management systems and everything else might seem to be to you as the end user, it's out there somewhere.

And the evolution in IT up until now is to take a lot of that complexity, wrap it up, stick it somewhere so that the people who are writing applications and operating workloads and putting together business plans based on technology don't have to deal with that part. So that remains a foundation. And the evolution on the infrastructure side now is the many different pieces organizations can put together to meet very specific business requirements.

But then when you move beyond the infrastructure piece of things, you have a lot of other issues as well. And a lot of these will be featured as presentations in the 451NEXUS series that'll be coming up towards the end of October. One of them is sort of about what the technology has enabled, and we'll have one of our analysts, Jordan McKee, talking about the future of payments. And this is something that a lot of us became very familiar with during the peak pandemic period where everything you needed to purchase and everything you needed to consume, you had to get it in an online, digital type of fashion.

So what's next for payments on the part of the companies that are consuming payment technologies and also those companies who are coming up with new ways to transform the whole value chain around payments itself? So that's one aspect of this broader holistic approach to technology.

And another one, which I believe, Eric, is coming up on the Next in Tech podcast soon, we'll have our analyst, Paige Bartley, coming in to talk about data security, data privacy, data governance and how all of those things are on a collision course where they're all going to crash against each other unless there's some way we can find to make sure that those 3 things don't operate across purposes.

Eric Hanselman

You are absolutely correct. That is, in fact, the next episode. Good lead there. Thank you. And Paige is being joined by Justin Lam on the data security side. But yes, to your point, there is that issue of the privacy pieces, the security pieces and the infrastructure that supports it all.

You're -- as you were saying before, you got to have identity management. You've got to have a means to be able to integrate all of this in terms of how you're handling data. And there are a lot of different pieces that all of a sudden start to collide as customers, employees want to have different ways to be able to handle that most critical aspect of the fundamentals of their interactions, the data that's actually being generated, the data about them, about what you do, where you've been, what infrastructure elements you have. All of that has to get pulled together in ways that are a lot more complex than historically we've had to deal with.

Melanie Posey

Absolutely. And another aspect of this whole thing, let's get like a little bit macro at this point, is this whole issue of sustainability. And the E in the much talked about ESG paradigm that is governing both investment decisions and increasingly, the buying positions or the decision-making process around what to buy, who to buy from in the technology space as well.

And one of the kind of central focuses of sustainability is data centers where a lot of the cloud is powered from data centers. So looking at the maybe carbon footprint and overall sustainability profile of the data center operators themselves and the cloud providers that operate from and through data centers is a key topic in looking at the extent to which the shift to a digital economy in some ways is on balance, more environmentally sustainable. But is it really?

So looking at sustainability as it relates to the IT industry is a very critical aspect of both overall sustainability, not just in an environmental sense but also something that the tech vendors have to respond to because it's something that their customers are looking at, and it's also something that investors are looking at as well.

Eric Hanselman

Traceability throughout that entire supply chain comes from not only, as you're saying, investor demand, consumer demand. Now people want to know what the sustainability aspects are of all of that. And that's just as big a part of it. And now, of course, we've got to be able to track and manage and understand and bubble up those perspectives to those people who are looking to consume them. Hey, before we get too far in, I want to get -- just touch a little bit about the format because we're going to be breaking this up. It's not one long, continuous event. This is actually going to be staged over a few iterations.

Melanie Posey

Yes. Absolutely. So one thing we've learned over the years is that trying to cram everything into one day and asking folks to spend hours of time in front of the screen, looking at Zoom is maybe not the best way to organize things. So what we're doing instead is taking a bite-sized approach to the event, where there will be individual sessions and more of a webinar type environment, looking at all of the specific topics, some of which we've previewed for you in this podcast and also some maybe larger, I guess, what you could call big-tent events.

And if I can take this opportunity to pitch my session that I'll be doing on ESG, particularly sustainability and its impact on the IT industry, and that will be on October 31, where I'll be having kind of a fireside chat with 3 leaders in the IT space and their senior management folks who are responsible for ESG overall. And we'll be sitting down and having a chat about the role of sustainability in IT vendor operations, why it's important, why it matters and why it's becoming increasingly something that not just investors, but end customers really do care about.

Eric Hanselman

And there will be a link in the show notes pointing to registration for 451NEXUS so that people can actually get to all of this wonderful content. But it can also be found through the S&P Global site, if you haven't gotten the link, if you're listening to this other places where you can't see the show notes.

There is just so much that we could potentially talk about in terms of where we are with the content, all the different aspects that have been -- are pulled together. There are so many different pieces that are coming together for 451NEXUS. We're going to cover a couple of them in some of the following episodes. But again, I will point our listeners to the conference itself. So you'll have 3 weeks altogether in each of these to run through and all sorts of wonderful content.

Melanie Posey

And we hope to see you there -- well, virtually see you in the webinars where we'll discussing these topics. And hopefully, everybody comes away with an idea, if not how to actually tame the increasing enterprise IT complexity, but at least come away with an understanding of what it is and what are the different threads that go into this really exciting time we're in right now, where life is becoming digital, and IT is a huge enabler. And with that, look to see you in the digital realm during NEXUS.

Eric Hanselman

And preparing for the digital next.

Melanie Posey

Very nice.

Eric Hanselman

Hey, I am all about the good segue. Well -- and again, it is -- to your point, it's one of those things that we hope we've got some useful insights around this. These are some aspects about this transition that, I think, if nothing else, organizations need to begin that journey if they haven't already.

I mean we keep talking about the sort of the barbell curve in which the early adopters are getting further ahead and the laggards are falling further behind. So hopefully, this is some insight that lets people at least put some -- put one foot in front of the other in terms of being able to move their journey forward, no matter where they are in that spectrum.

Melanie Posey

So thanks a lot for bringing me on yet again as a guest, Eric, and look forward to you talking more about what's next in tech in the digital next.

Eric Hanselman

There you go. All right. We're right back at it. Well, thank you, Melanie. This has been great. I look forward to hearing more at 451NEXUS. And I suspect you may be back on the podcast a time or 2 more in the future.

Melanie Posey

I look forward to it.

Eric Hanselman

As do I. Well, that is it for this episode of Next in Tech. Thanks to our audience for staying with us. And thanks to our production team, including Caroline Wright and Ethan Zimman on the Marketing and Events teams and studio lead, Kyle Cangialosi. And we're saying [Foreign Language] to Caterina Iacoviello and our intern, [ Michael Asaolu ], as they head on to new adventures. We thank them very much for all the help and inspiration they have been. And to our audience, I hope you'll join us for our next episode because as we've been hinting, we'll be talking about data privacy and data security with Paige Bartley and Justin Lam. I hope you'll join us then because there is always something next in tech.

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