The future has never looked more complex. IT leaders are asked not only to deliver IT services, but also to improve business outcomes. Employees demand anytime, anywhere access to a wide range of apps and personal devices. The cloud is offering more choices than ever before, and this requires careful orchestration of hybrid and multi-cloud environments, to drive innovation and agility. If that weren’t enough, cyberattacks are on the rise and continue to threaten companies around the globe. You must protect your apps, content, users, and networks.

These seven strategies will help you meet these challenges and simplify infrastructures while providing centralized control.

  1. Focus resources on accelerating business outcomes

If you’re feeling mounting pressure to accelerate business outcomes, you’re not alone. According to a Gartner survey of more than 3,000 tech executives, “at least 84 percent of top CIOs surveyed have responsibility for areas of the business outside traditional IT. The most common are innovation and transformation.” Furthermore, “Gartner, Inc.’s annual global survey of CIOs showed that the CIO role is transitioning from delivery executive to business executive, from controlling cost and engineering processes, to driving revenue and exploiting data.”* Simplifying an ever-increasing complex IT infrastructure will free up resources and help the IT organization drive better business outcomes.  Even though you may have extensive investments in legacy infrastructure, that doesn’t mean you can’t also adopt the latest technologies and innovations, such as the cloud. With a secure digital workspace, it’s possible to unite the old with the new, to create a unique cloud strategy that helps you not only modernize your infrastructure but maximize existing investments.

  1. Enable users to work from anywhere

If there is anything certain about the future, it’s mobility. The need to work anywhere, at any time, on any device, whether it’s personal or company owned, is increasing. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and enterprise mobility market is estimated to grow from $35.10 billion in 2016 to $73.30 billion by 2021, according to business-to-business research firm MarketsandMarkets. Employees expect to have access to whatever device or app they need, whether they’re at the office or on the go. They also expect the same seamless experience, regardless of where they’re working. And it’s no longer enough to just support personal devices; employees are looking for new capabilities, such as machine learning, that will adapt to their patterns and expectations.

  1. Invest in innovation

Perhaps no other technology in recent years has driven more innovation in the enterprise than cloud computing. Cloud-based infrastructures can reduce cost and risk while improving productivity. It can also, allow you to push the enterprise to reach new markets, implement new business models, and develop new products and services. The public cloud, in fact, is now the default platform for innovation, according to InfoWorld. This helps explain why the global public cloud market will grow at a 22 percent compound annual growth rate this year to $178 billion, according to Forrester Research. Your cloud strategy must consider multi- or single-cloud needs—not lock you into infrastructures, clouds, endpoints, or data centers—and allow you to shift strategies as often as innovation demands.

  1. Design and deliver a simplified cloud strategy

In the shift to cloud computing, enterprises often end up with a mix of providers and services. In some cases, employees outside the IT department are using their own cloud services, creating a separate shadow IT environment. Naturally, this drives up costs and increases security risks. When you turn your attention to developing and implementing a centralized cloud strategy, you can use it as the foundation for governing the use of cloud services across the business and IT organization, according to TechBeacon, a digital hub for IT professionals. Your strategy should shift apps and data to the cloud to accelerate innovation and agility, while ensuring flexibility and control.

  1. Get serious about security

The future of security is contextual. When your employees work anywhere on a multitude of devices, the old ways of securing data with firewalls and perimeters is not enough. Security must be smarter and center on the user. Access is based on who the users are, where they are, and what devices they are using. To easily manage this smarter type of security, you need new solutions that think about security differently, such as a digital workspace with a secure digital perimeter.

  1. Be global

Year by year, the world becomes a smaller and smaller place to do business. With easy access to IT resources and staff around the globe, companies are tapping into the huge growth potential of emerging markets and the cost efficiencies of outsourcing. In 2017, the global outsourcing market amounted to $88.9 billion, according to market research firm Statista. Managing a dispersed workforce only adds to IT infrastructure complexity. A single unified platform that centrally manages users, devices, data, workloads, and networks can optimally leverage global resources and comply with data governance restrictions. With cloud data centers available in numerous locations worldwide — 100,000 in the case of Microsoft Azure, for example — IT can store workloads near the people who use them to minimize WAN latency. This geographic flexibility also allows IT to keep data inside national borders as required, simplifying regulatory compliance.

Getting ahead of IT complexity doesn’t have to be hard

This unified platform simplifies the IT department’s increasing complexity, giving you the freedom, creativity, and resources to focus on better business outcomes, stronger security, improved employee mobility, and the other critical strategies that will future-proof your IT operation.

Learn more about how you can combat IT complexity at www.citrix.com/secure-digital-workspace.

*Gartner Press Release, “Gartner Survey of More Than 3,000 CIOs Confirms the Changing Role of the Chief Information Officer,” 2 October 2017