After reading the Value of connectivity white paper published by MuleSoft I found it very relateable to what we do in our company.
Digital transformation is the profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind.
The development of new competencies revolves around the capacities to be more agile, people-oriented, innovative, customer-centric, aligned and efficient. The goal is an ability to move faster than an increased awareness capability regarding changes to decisions and innovation, keeping in mind those changes.
Digital transformation and the importance of the same is a top topic among leaders and business strategists for the past few years. Digital Transformation can be a small project or it can mean refactoring the IT as a whole. In a recent survey conducted by MuleSoft, more than two-thirds of IT decision makers (ITDMs) said they were undertaking digital transformation initiatives, and in certain industries like financial services or retail, that number approached or reached 100%. Studies show that the companies that are taking advantage of digital transformation consolidate their position at the top of the market.
They deliver projects 3x faster and increase team productivity by 300% with MuleSoft than with legacy or homegrown connectivity solutions.
One of the key factors to achieving digital transformation is organizational agility — in other words, how quickly the organization identifies new opportunities and capitalizes on them faster than the competition. In order to understand better, the concept is broken down into its measurable components: speed and productivity. The paper then discusses IT factors that affect the components — reusability, ease of self-service, increased innovation versus maintenance, and the ability to do more by failing fast.
IT cannot simply drive itself into higher agility. Central IT teams face numerous constraints based on time, resources, and the number of projects needing completion. Recently we received a request from a client stating the need for a team to help them implement an SOA solution to integrate the participants in the energy market. The solution would cover 32 systems consisting of over 400 interfaces among them. This came at a time when we already had ongoing projects with most of the resources assigned on them, so there was a need for reorganization in order for this project to be completed successfully.
Customers, employees, and partners demand from every business an always-on, always-available, always-reachable experience; if they don’t get it, they have numerous tools at their reach to express their feelings publicly so the business is under pressure. In response to these pressures, businesses are turning to technology to help them move faster and deliver more to their customers. In fact, agility is the top quality that businesses are looking for when thinking about their IT projects. Agility also depends on extending the IT organization’s capacity to respond to business needs. In order to implement the increased agility there is a need for cultural and an operational transformation. There is a proposal for resolution to this shift:
- Unlock the value of legacy systems with reusable and governed assets — APIs, integration templates, etc.
- Enable architects and developers throughout the enterprise, with technology and with knowledge transfer, to discover and self-serve the assets they need to deliver projects.
- Deploy a flexible, unified integration platform to drive higher innovation and ability to fail fast and succeed sooner.
Creating an integration, access to a system or an API from scratch for each project wastes precious time. Instead, generate speed by doing something one time, creating a productized asset from it, and allowing people to reuse that asset every time it’s needed again. Using a platform for API-led connectivity and a central store of reusable APIs and integration templates, developers throughout the organization don’t have to write and test custom code for new applications – a lot of the work is already done, speeding up delivery of new technology.
Also IT can achieve speed with a new operating model for higher developer access and engagement with self-service assets, such as APIs, templates, best practices, and documentation. These tools should make it easier for the business to access technology. The easier it is for anyone in the business to access technology and assets, the less time the organization will waste in developing applications. IT can also establish a “center for enablement” whose sole function would be to encourage a consumption model within the organization.
Spending time performing maintenance on mainframes, for example, means less time to create and implement new products and services that could make the business go faster. The key to increasing productivity is to change the mix of innovation and maintenance.
The technology program that is used and the business processes present, must encourage testing, experimentation, and a fail fast mentality. With an ability to go fast, teams can experiment and fail fast, which paradoxically makes teams successful in fewer attempts and allows them to take on more.
Fail fast isn’t about the big issues, it’s about the little ones. It’s an approach to running a company or developing a product that embraces lots of little experiments with the idea that some will work and grow and others will fail and die.
Simply “embracing” failure would be as silly as ignoring it. Companies need to learn how to manage it. Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School argues that the first thing they must do is distinguish between productive and unproductive failures. There is nothing to be gained from tolerating defects on the production line or mistakes in the operating theatre.
As a conclusion how an organization will achieve improved agility, and attain digital transformation goals it’s important to think about the principles that will create a new operating model as well as provide tangible benefits from increasing the IT team’s current capacity:
- Ease of use and self-service
- Maintenance versus innovation
- Fail fast and take on more
The nature of doing business is changing. The choice to do nothing is a very risky one. The choice to take a different approach towards connectivity, which will improve your business agility, could be profound, allowing you to meet your business transformation goals.