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.