Monday 11 November 2019

Digital Enablement Platform and Business Value

The world is changing fast and "it's no longer the Big beating the small but the Fast beating the slow", due to changing customer expectations around experience. 

Industrial revolution 4.0 has helped fuel the pace with which businesses are evolving or rather revolutionising using smart technologies. It has created a challenge for leaders across different industries. 

With that in mind traditional businesses are undergoing two journeys - "Digital Business transformation" and to support that journey/goal they undergo "IT modernisation". Given the digital journey, most businesses are now focused on - Speed to market, Agility, ease of Innovation and obviously Cost. Digital transformation is not a destination, it's an ongoing journey and same applies to modernisations. Without business objective, modernisation on its own is not enough, modernisation helps save money, but digital transformation help make money.

Key challenge for these two journeys are "Cultural shift" and "Integration Evolution" to align with raised customer expectations. Let's talk about integration evolution as cultural shift is a wider topic and not intended for this blog.  However, I would like to highlight that it's an important one and without that any transformation journey just becomes an overhead and never succeed. 

When I talk about "Integration Evolution", it basically means that organisations have to re consider their integration strategy from the new business capability perspective to support easy adoption and integration of new technologies and design patterns to be digitally enabled.

How does that relate to business though? It does, as business can't be successful in transformation if they don't address it. I don't see business and IT as different teams anymore, they are one team, technology adoption is now driven by business needs and should be delivered based on how business wants to consume it and thus being budgeted as well by them. In case of Digital transformation, strategy is key and is driven by "Digital Leaders", who can best digitally reimagine the business and unite rest of the leadership to deliver. 

Basically, business drivers trigger change in how solutions are implemented, these two are tightly coupled. Hence, it's all about business business and business.
In a survey done by Axway, 91% participants agreed that "being able to integrate seamlessly across different systems, departments, and partners is crucial for business success".

  To address speed to market "evolution of integration" within ecosystem becomes vital. It's not easy when you have to start looking modernising the application ecosystem and at same time support digital business outcomes for your customers. Key challenges around these journeys would be -

Digital Enablement
Distributed Application landscape
How to expose interfaces(API's) for digital business
New Integration patterns to be supported
Security concerns
Leverage investment in different legacy applications and technologies
Central catalog for all API's and Events to allow innovation
Having central ecosystem governance due to hybrid application ecosystem and geo distributed teams
How to achieve process refinement and automation

I have depicted challenges under two different buckets, they sit under one strategy but are addressing two different journeys.

Survey participants highlighted few key challenges that are slowing them down, these challenges can be categorised in four key areas: Deployments (cloud and on-premises), domains (multiple integration patterns), endpoints (number and security of connections), and personas (people accomplishing integrations). The below view depicts these challenges -

What should be the Strategy?

Moving towards Digital Enablement Platform will not only provide a single pane of glass to govern all your integrations but also help build new innovative applications. It helps specialist personas to work as enabler for business functions by creating pre-packaged templates. It allows non tech users to leverage interactive apps and templates with no little knowledge around them helping with speed to market and cost reduction. It can also help CxO's to bring their investment under different technologies(gateway's) under one umbrella for better governance and efficiency. 

This is a high-level view of the platform that organisations should start looking to get too. 

How it Helps? 
Digital Enablement Platform supports all integration interaction styles and patterns as a platform, so it really helps speed up building integrations with hybrid deployed applications and adopt new architecture patterns and technologies. API's and Events in the ecosystem surfaced under unified catalog not only allow to be leveraged by different integrations but can be consumed by different channels to create experience that customers are looking for. 

It's not only the Hub for all integrations but also allow innovation, as API's and events (AI and ML can be leveraged) are route to innovation in digital ecosystem. With use of modern technologies around mini and micro services it also takes away the pain of micro service management which is an overhead when it comes to modernisation of applications and it not just create complexity but also makes the operational management a night mere. 

Business or Trading partner and consumer management is a long process in the organisations and hindrance to speed to do business with new partners or open new business channels. Platform addresses that as well by not only saving time on on boarding process but making it smoother experience with minimum operational overhead. 

While doing all this security is paramount and is a key concern from most business leaders as they move towards hybrid ecosystem and digital channels. Platform becomes the defence line by not only protecting all the inbound and outbound communications, but it also protects all internal interactions and allow central security policy definition and enforcement. 

Basically, it's a recipe that will address all integration challenges that organisations are expected to face during the transformation journey and Axway AMPLIFY has all the ingredients for the required recipe. 

However, with growing complexity of change, platform vendors have to ensure that they keep with the market pace to allow their customers to focus on business capabilities and they support all the required tech capabilities with changing market trends. 

Strategy and Business Value
How it will help derive business value? The measurement of it is more aligned to business objective of getting digitally transformed and impact with experience by generating more revenue and saving on cost. 
  • Gateway to Experience Economy
    It enables organisations for creating experience that their customers are looking for, it helps set the business for today and for future. 

  • Innovation
Digital Enablement Platform provide customers with stream of events and API's which are key for building innovative applications. AI and ML can be leveraged on events across the ecosystem including IoT data that can be part of the business process. This allows customers to build intelligent and interactive apps for their customers. 

Innovation allows business to grow many folds and build experience economy based around customer demands and thus is a big contributor towards business success or getting business into smart business mode.     
  • Speed 
Speed to market is a key while transforming the business, new offerings have to be delivered fast as it is key to keep the customers engaged. Speed to Market is achieved when you have enhanced developer experience with the ability to deliver fast. Platform provides that capability by - 
    • Auto catalog as services and events surface
    • Quick Data Virtualisation through API's in minutes rather days.
    • Quickly deliver Experience API's based on need
    • Allow focus on Business Logic and help speed consumption by taking overhead away
    • Building integration in hours compared to days, for e,g from Salesforce to ServiceNow or from SAP cloud to on-prem.
    • Fast Track on boarding of Trading Partners
All this allow team to deliver offerings quickly to the market. 
  • Agility
Digital Enablement Platform allows customers to adopt new applications and implement new business process in fast changing environment. It allows to build based on changing customer requirements and release those capabilities quickly to the market. 
  • Cost savings
Below are few examples around direct cost saving but should not be limited too -

    • Quick development based on no code low code integration development
    • API's or services that can be reused, so factor of reusable component and ease of API life cycle management help save cost
    • Central Security around all integration patterns save effort and operational overhead around it
    • scalability and high availability of services with least configuration 
    • Operational intelligence along with central alerting across the board saves cost on continuous monitoring of applications
    • Experience driven platform will help different personas with recommendations and suggestions based on their interest
    • Trading partner on-boarding from month/days to couple of hours saves a lot on the process.
Given all above benefits, Digital Enablement Platform should help customers with not only direct cost savings but in also business growth. There is no one formula or framework to measure the benefits as it will depend on organisations and their maturity. However, it's pretty evident from above that Businesses have to have strong platform strategy now to achieve targeted outcome. 


Yes....Platform Platform and Platform! 

If you want to discuss more around it, please connect with our Catalysts to discuss.

Friday 8 September 2017

Architecting your Digital Enterprise

Digital Digital Digital! Is it a Buzz word or is it another technology hype like the past?

I don’t think so, because it’s about business existence now, which was not the case in past. The technology advancement is happening with great pace and with the evolution of smart devices the customer expectation around the experience they can have, has changed all together. 

We are heading towards the experience era – It’s happening now and customer experience network is the way forward.

Business Goal
The goal to onboard the digital transformation is to derive business value that's based on experience offerings -

Where do you stand in terms of Business value from your offerings in the market? 

Are you ready for it?  Let’s see, what needs to be done to onboard.

Digital Foundation

I believe it’s the Leadership team who have to focus on laying the foundation and everyone in the enterprise have to contribute to be part of it.

Digital Enterprises have strong foundation if they are based on three key elements –
  1. Dynamic Culture
  2. Innovation
  3. Smart Collaboration

Digital Pillars

Once the foundation is laid, you will need the pillars to support the digital initiatives.

  • Data – Realise the power of data. In next couple of years there will be immense amount of data that will be generated and enterprises have to make sure that they drive value out of it, both for the enterprise and for customers. Innovation will happen on top of the data set that you have with the help of different technologies.

  • Technology – Technology advancements are happening with great speed and are bringing disruption in the industry. Either adopt it for creating business value or become a failure story for others to get motivated.

  • Experience Marketing – Connect with your customers by doing their behaviour/preference analysis. Inspire them, reward them, empower them.

Build Customer Experience Network
With Foundation and Pillar in place you are ready to innovate and introduce new experience, new services, new products in the market.

Few examples on how businesses are moving – 

Banking – virtual banks/open-Banking, retail banking is going to be new world.

Insurance – collaborate with health industry, housing boards, driving assistance, health clubs, etc.

Logistics - Delivering third party product, how about delivering local take away food to your doorstep. They are already doing door to door marketing flyers, brochure, catalogue.

Retail – shopping stores with auto cart with auto checkout, auto replenishment and doing targeted promotions with other vendor partnership. 

Shaping Digital Architecture (As-Is to To-Be)

Below depict the typical traditional Enterprise Architecture with Legacy applications, file based or web services based integrations running on physical servers or partially on virtual machines(VM).

 Map your portfolio of applications to the 3rd generation products and platform services-

3rd generation is about Cloud, Mobility, Social network, IoT, Big data and analytics.

So, first thing is to map the architecture layer and see what your target would look like. This will give you your inspiration that where you want to be in next couple of years from your technology stack perspective.

Add a Secure Glue
To transform and adopt digital pillars you will need a secure glue to talk to different components of the ecosystem and that glue comes from API’s. Secure way of communicating with internal and external components.

·      API is the secure glue to connect with multiple technologies and applications across the ecosystem.
·      Move towards API{1st}
·      Wrap and enable your legacy with API

It’s not only the secure glue, it more than that. It’s platform for innovation. You can’t innovate if you don’t have an interface to explore the process or data. It’s the innovation channel for everything that you do in the enterprise (internal or external).
Sometimes API’s are like lego blocks, even the producer doesn’t know the real beauty of it and is only known when an external developer builds an innovative product or service from it.

To-Be Architecture
You can’t move big bang from what you have in the ecosystem. So as first step of the To-Be state the old and new world has to co-exist with the balance of having lights on (BAU) and in parallel doing innovative things in small perimeter.

Introduce RED blocks to start with and gradually add green boxes. In some cases, based on the maturity level of the enterprise it will be essential to have RED and some parts of green blocks added in parallel. Like adding Micro Services and Digital Marketing applications but leave BigData/Analytics and Containers to follow.

Logical View

Logically Application Governance should look something like below-

MFT proxy in DMZ and B2B might be fronted by API Management if required to keep one channel.

Infrastructure View
Over the period your infrastructure will shape like this -

Key Considerations for Transformation -
  • Consider having first class security.
  • Legacy modernisation should not end up in legacy.
  • Move away from monolith to modular applications.
  • Choose the right technology for specific use case.
  • Start small, learn fast and scale quickly.
  • Focus on Devops to optimize cost and Time to deliver.
  • There is no silver bullet, do due-diligence based on your ecosystem and find the right approach to modernize.

Hope this helps you take up your Digital Transformation and shape you Organisation into Digital one.