Follow the Digital Leader

How to benchmark your digital transformation pace and path toward success using the GXI

Brian Gero

Do you have the flexibility to adapt and shift to new markets or instantly connect with new ecosystem partners or customers in different geographies? These are just some of the traits of a digital leader.

Digital leaders set the pace on the path toward digital transformation. By seeing the speed and progression of a leader’s digital infrastructure deployments, you can benchmark where you are on your own company’s digital transformation journey.

Based on deployment data collected for the fourth annual Global Interconnection Index (GXI), a market study published by Equinix, we’ve identified the benchmarks for reaching digital maturity you can use as a guide for accelerating your digital transformation journey. We’ve analyzed over 450 Equinix customer deployments worldwide and their 4,500 implementations completed between Q1 2016 and Q1 2020. Forty-four percent of the studied companies are Fortune 500/Global 2000, with a mix of local and multinational deployments across global regions (43% Americas, 36% Europe, 21% Asia-Pacific).

From this information, you can measure your digital transformation progress against others in your and other industries and regions. It also provides you with insights on best practices that will help you plot your own path toward gaining a digital advantage.

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Worldwide Interconnection Bandwitdth Growth CAGR 2019-2023

Where are you on your digital transformation journey?

The GXI identifies typical paths that innovative, growing organizations are taking along their digital transformation journey. For example, the diagram below shows the incremental progression of a digital service provider (e.g., telecommunications, cloud or digital content provider) as it builds out interconnections with hubs, partners and cabinets from initial deployment to the two years that follow:

At the start of its digital journey, the provider deployed two digital core hubs in different metro markets with 10 cabinets and 25 connections to cloud and network service providers. A digital core is where you would deploy digital/virtual infrastructure in strategic interconnection hubs, such as Equinix Fabric, adjacent to rich network and cloud ecosystems and leverage dedicated, private connectivity that bypasses the public internet to connect to strategic ecosystem partners. This approach enables you to modernize your IT systems, optimize application performance, security and scale while gaining efficiency and reducing cost.

By the end of the first year into its digital transformation, the provider extended out to a third metro where it has placed a digital edge hub with 15 cabinets and 60 interconnections to cloud and network providers. A digital edge deployment of an interconnection hub allows you to win over the laws of physics in ways that cannot be done in regional digital core locations. Extending your digital infrastructure at the edge provides additional reach, improved user experience, and the ability to build value closer to employees, partners and customers by enabling local engagement and interactions across edge locations.

By the end of the second year, the provider leveraged the network effect to scale internal systems and developed its offerings for its customers. It then further expanded its reach and coverage across multiple core and edge locations, adding 5 metro hubs (three core and two edge) totaling 60 cabinets and 95 interconnections to cloud and network service providers.

How would your current digital infrastructure deployment compare to this digital service provider?

Are you a digital leader or follower?

We just looked at a digital service provider’s journey, which took a fast path to digital maturity. Where would you place your company’s digital transformation by comparison? Are you a digital leader who is mirroring a service provider in an industry such as banking and insurance or content and digital media? Are you digitizing your corporate and commercial workflows and extending your digital infrastructure to the edge? Are you proximate to the users, customers, partners, devices and clouds you need to support latency-sensitive transactions/applications, enhance the customer experience or scale edge computing and analytics?

Or are you a digital follower who is working toward digitizing workflows, ensuring operational reliability, and scaling compute capabilities at the core, as well as expanding to the edge?

The chart below represents initial deployments, then each subsequent year reflects the digital maturity status at the year-end for digital service providers, digital leaders and digital followers.

Where would your company place in this digital transformation benchmark?

Leveraging the GXI industry data to chart your course

Once you have identified your digital maturity level, you can use the GXI to benchmark your company’s digital standing within your specific industry. From there, you can determine where you need to be in terms of the metros, cabinets, and interconnections you require and who you should be connecting with. For example, if you are in Manufacturing, then you may want to focus on extending your digital edge to Silicon Valley, London or Singapore where manufacturing interconnection bandwidth capacity is on the rise.[i] Or let’s say you’re a digital payments provider that wants to expand its contactless payments solutions to new industries, such as healthcare for telemedicine. The GXI can provide you with the data you need to identify the metros where healthcare is predicted to have the greatest interconnection growth – for example, Washington D.C., Dubai or Hong Kong.

By benchmarking your company’s digital transformation journey using the information in the GXI, you can see the progress you’ve made and where you need to go. From there, you can use the GXI to better understand the macro trends that are driving interconnection growth and the transformational steps for deploying digital infrastructure to power your competitive advantage.

Learn more by reading the Global Interconnection Index Vol. 4.

[i] Interconnection bandwidth capacity is the total capacity provisioned to exchange traffic privately and directly with a diverse set of partners and providers at distributed IT exchange points inside carrier-neutral colocation data centers.

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