IT modernisation for digital enterprises: Think big, think digital, but start small

Every decade or so, a new technology trend arrives with the promise of finally resolving the conundrum of adaptive enterprise connectivity and efficiency.

Mobile, cloud and big data analytics, for example, are already having a profound effect on businesses. The other forces of digitisation now include the Internet of Everything (IoE) and smart devices.

Most importantly, this new era is just not about a hodge-podge of these digitisation technologies that are becoming increasingly popular. It is more about the transformational digitisation of enterprises.

New IT digital architectures as well as digitisation roles are emerging to realise the potential of real business transformation. The digitisation trend is disruptive for organisations as it encourages innovation.

However, for the business to be able to change, IT also has to change in a way that encourages business transformation. In many enterprises, the mish-mash of different applications, development languages, platforms, homegrown and point solutions are simply unsustainable.

This has locked many enterprises in multiple IT siloes, resulting in an unwieldy IT infrastructure that impedes innovation and change. One of the negative effects is that business disappointment has led to the rise of ‘shadow IT’, where business units are acquiring applications (often in the cloud) without involving formal IT channels.

Keeping these systems afloat conflicts with the modern digital business environment, as today’s IT demands adaptability and relevance in a continuously adapting digital world.

This has created the need for businesses to rethink the technology landscape and look for alternative options such as the emergence of robust IT digital architectures that are more adaptable to change. Rationalising application portfolios, then simplifying with fewer data centres, platforms and applications improves IT efficiency and aligns business and IT.

Modernising applications with digitisation addresses the very core of the complexity challenge by enabling IT and business to rapidly respond to the need for change in this emerging amalgamation of the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’.

The key to rationalisation, simplification and modernisation is intelligent business process management (iBPM), which empowers enterprises to achieve the full potential of intelligent business operations, in an increasingly digitalised world.

iBPM is the sweet spot for enabling businesses to take advantage of the IoE and smart machines, as it provides an agile application platform that wraps existing legacy solutions with intelligent, responsive digitalised processes.

>See also: 5 issues affecting strategic decision-making in the digital economy

From smartphone devices to smart TVs and connected cars, the connected world is quickly turning into reality.  As connected ‘things’ and devices become more and more pervasive, the relationship between humans and connected things is going to profoundly affect not only our lives, but also our working environment. iBPM provides the ideal platform for this.

Because iBPM uses model-driven development as the way to create and implement new solutions, business can successfully collaborate with IT. In essence, iBPM becomes the ‘lingua franca’ between these organisations and the main enabler of the digital enterprise.

Some organisations have taken empowering the business a step further so that the business — as opposed to IT — ‘owns the change’. In other words, business can change policies, procedures and decision strategies within processes without having to rely on IT to get things done.

iBPM can play a key role in helping organisations to automate and optimise not only basic work tasks but also intelligent and collaborative work processing with dynamic and even ad hoc activities.

This could be particularly useful for realising the business benefits from data from social media in terms of improving collaboration in the working environment and enhancing customer experience.

By monitoring and analysing the social media behaviour of their customers and pro-actively acting upon it, businesses will be able to achieve faster resolution of complaints and customer enquiries.

Another great opportunity that comes with social media is the emerging trend of crowdsourcing, which will enable organisations to use customer feedback to improve their products and services and even innovate with new business ventures.

iBPM can leverage social media networks to involve customer feedback and trigger certain work processes in response to an interesting idea that appeared in the social media space. A simple example of this could be alerting relevant staff of an interesting suggestion and providing guidance on the next best action required to start turning this idea into an opportunity for the business.

>See also: Preparing for the arrival of digital natives

Moreover, with the emerging of new technologies such as 3D printing, businesses will be able to speed up time to market for new products and even use customer feedback and crowdsourcing to create bespoke products for different customers based on emerging demand.

These technologies will accelerate the creation and the customisation of prototypes and products, with BPM as a key enabler. More specifically, BPM technology can be used to drive knowledge and creativity through intelligent processes and work tasks required to develop the new product.

With iBPM, digital enterprises can view rationalisation, simplification and digital modernisation as a journey, with incremental steps towards full deployment of iBPM solutions.

Some existing applications may survive as systems of record with iBPM-driven processes on top to shield users from the complexity of working with these older and rigid systems. Others can be retired over time with new iBPM-powered applications providing complete visibility into the business logic, enabling fast and easy change.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome of the rationalisation, simplification and modernisation effort, enterprises do not need to embark on enormous and risky ‘big bang’ projects for the big change (digitisation) that is coming.


Sourced from Dr Setrag Khoshafian, chief evangelist and VP of BPM technology at Pegasystems

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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